As chief scientist at Honeywell's Technology Center and an adjunct professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gunter Stein designed control systems for the aerospace industry and developed the theory of robust multivariable control.
Stein received a doctorate in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1969 and became a research engineer, and later, chief scientist, at Honeywell’s Technology Center in Minneapolis, MN. He developed a specialty in flight controls and navigation systems for fighter aircraft, commercial planes, experimental vehicles, and spacecraft. Stein’s work on control systems extended to a variety of military and spaceflight applications, including launch boosters, reentry vehicles, ship positioning systems, torpedo engines and autopilots, and precision guided weapons.
In his role as a teacher and researcher, Gunter Stein called for a synthesis between competing schools of thought surrounding automated control systems: the classical frequency domain concept of the 1940s and the state space control theory of the 1960s. Stein encouraged the adoption of systems based on robust multivariable control.
A fellow of the IEEE and member of the National Academy of Engineering, Stein was awarded the IEEE Control System Society's first W. Bode Prize in 1989. Stein has been recognized for his success as both a practitioner and an academic researcher and for his insight into the basic limitations of mathematics in controlling difficult systems. Speaking only three years after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, Stein argued that the meltdown exemplified the dangers of failing to “respect the unstable.”