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Oral-History:Abraham H. Haddad

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About Abraham H. Haddad

Abraham H. Haddad attended Technion-Israel Institute of Technology before receiving his master’s and doctorate at Princeton University. After graduating, Haddad began teaching at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Most of his career has been in academia. Haddad has also taught at Georgia Tech and Northwestern University, and worked at Dynamics Research Corporation and the National Science Foundation. He has been active in the IEEE’s Control Systems Society – holding positions such as editor of The Transactions on Automatic Control, secretary, chairman of the publications committee and Control Systems Society President in 1992. He also served as secretary for the American Automatic Control Council (A2C2) from 1990 to 2003. Haddad has received IEEE awards such as the Control Systems Society Distinguished Member Award in 1975, Centennial Award in 1984 and the Third Millennium Award in 2000.

In this interview, Haddad talks about his career in control, but also his involvement in the IEEE and A2C2. He discusses why he chose academia over industry, and control over communications. Haddad also speaks about influences and highlights of his career, and the many positions he’s held in the Control Systems Society and A2C2. Issues within the engineering field are also talked about, including engineering education, perceptions of engineers, women and minority engineers, the future of both control engineering and general engineering, and the importance of broad thinking.

About the Interview

ABRAHAM H. HADDAD: An Interview Conducted by Daniel Abromovitch, IEEE History Center, 9 May 2002

Interview #546 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, IEEE History Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Abraham H. Haddad, an oral history conducted in 2002 by Daniel Abromovitch, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Abraham H. Haddad

Interviewer: Daniel Abromovitch

Date: 9 May 2002

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

Education and Going into Academia

Abromovitch:

I’m Danny Abromovitch from the IEEE Control Systems Society Industry Committee. Today we’re interviewing Abraham Haddad, who has a long history of involvement with Control Systems Society and A2C2. Thanks for being with us. I wanted to ask you to start out [with] your background or really where you grew up and early influences.

Haddad:

Well, I got my degrees at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, and then a Ph.D. and Masters at Princeton University. I was really in the communications area, but the area was at the interface between control and communications. It fell right in estimation detection problems. So when I, after Princeton, moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana, the communication group was very deterministic. And I figured it was easier to work with the control group since it was really broader in its outlook and interest. And that’s how I got involved in control. My research at the time was dealing with estimation-detection problems involving, for example, military systems and maneuvering vehicles and so on. So it really was an element of control and I continued to work in that area during my tenure at Urbana-Champaign.

Abromovitch:

Who [was] your advisor?

Haddad:

My advisor at Princeton was John Thomas, and he has quite a few famous students, including Gene Wong who was Department Chairman at the University of California at Berkeley. He was also in the Office of Science Advisor to the president.

Abromovitch:

So then he was more communications there.

Haddad:

Yes. Well, stochastic systems, stochastic processes. He and [Moshe] Zakai worked together, and Zakai received the Control Systems Award a few years ago, in 1993.

Abromovitch:

You chose academia when you got out of graduate school. Why that choice?

Haddad:

Well, academia was more interesting, more freedom to do whatever you want to do with research, provided you could get support for it. The only industry that was interested in me at the time was Bell Labs, and I interviewed there with one of their groups. But the process was a lot longer, so when I received an offer at Urbana, which was very highly ranked at the time in electrical engineering, I decided to accept. It was a place one would really want to go to.

Abromovitch:

So since then, you’ve been to a lot of different universities.

Haddad:

Yes, I’ve been a lot of places. Urbana was great research wise. It was a good place even to start a family and raise children, but not a good place to permanently be, simply because there was not much for spouses to do. And so we looked to leave the place after about, well, 12 ½ years. And since then, we have had quite a lot of experiences. We spent about nine months in a small research company in Massachusetts, Dynamics Research Corporation, and spent four years at the National Science Foundation, five years at Georgia Tech, almost fourteen years at Northwestern University.

Abromovitch:

You had a stint at Tel-Aviv University.

Haddad:

That was a sabbatical. I had a sabbatical at Tel-Aviv and also recently I had sabbatical that involved four different universities, including Tel-Aviv, the University of London, Newcastle in Australia, and Canterbury University in New Zealand.

Abromovitch:

So I remember at another time you’re talking to me about Israeli universities being a very European continental, European type system of research.

Haddad:

The structure of research is more European, but in term of promotion and tenure processes, they try to follow the American example. And since they ask for a lot of letters and make sure the person is really doing good research and they weigh the letters quite heavily. And their research is supported primarily by the government, so it’s really more like a twelve-months kind of job rather than nine months academic plus summer support.

Abromovitch:

So do you think Northwestern is where you will be retired from?

Haddad:

[Laughter] Yes, I don’t WANT to move around anymore. Northwestern’s been a very good place. It is a private university, the only private university in the Big Ten. It has a lot of ability to call out for interdisciplinary collaboration with other parts both within the college and with other university departments.

Major Influences, CDC and Work Applications

Abromovitch:

Switching to the big events in your career, can you tell us about any large influences on your career - whether people or events - that had a strong effect on your choices and what you did?

Haddad:

Well, my advisor, John Thomas, was a very strong influence in which direction to follow and how to deal with an academic position. And he is really very good at preparing you for university work in terms that he does advise you, not just to finish the thesis for him, but to look at the thesis as the beginning rather than the ending. And, at Urbana I had strong influences from people like Joe Cruz, who was, at the time, very highly involved with the Controls Systems Society. And people like Mac Van Valkenberg who was a leader in the area of circuits and systems and so on.

Abromovitch:

Were there any specific events, whether technical events or global events that made you think, ‘Oh, I, I should turn my work this way’?

Haddad:

None that I can think of really. It was more like a continuum kind of thing. There was no really major milestone that leads to one way or the other.

Abromovitch:

I was curious. When we do these history things, we’re always curious about the stories that people have to tell. Do you have any favorite stories from your long career and all the places you’ve been and people you’ve interacted with?

Haddad:

Oh, this is a tough one. You didn’t prepare me for that. [Laughter]

Abromovitch:

Sorry. We could come back to this.

Haddad:

Well, the thing that really sticks to mind, and I don’t want to call it a story, but one of the highlights, was I organized a CDC in Las Vegas and that was the first CDC ever held in Las Vegas. And at the time, when I approached the Society to have this, they agreed to do it because at the time I was at the NSF. They said, ‘Well, if the government thinks it’s okay, it’s okay, because they’re afraid it might be considered a boondoggle.’

Abromovitch:

Yes.

Haddad:

So we had a beautiful suite with mirrors and so on. And that was very interesting for people to come and look. I did have a run-in with the IEEE hierarchy one day. The program had sort of a dancing girl on the cover and it was not considered appropriate. So on the cover of the Proceedings, we had the Hoover Dam instead. [Laughter]

Abromovitch:

Back to your work. Is there one piece of work that you’ve done that is your favorite piece of work that you’ve done, or a period of time - something that you were working on that stands out in your mind?

Haddad:

Mostly, it’s really a lot of little things rather than one big event. I try to really relate to work applications. So when I was in Illinois, I used to consult a great deal for the military with the Army and its missile command and we had interesting work applications. What do you call it? The tracking and so on to missile guidance. And later on when I was at Georgia Tech, we followed that with doing work on, again, with the Air Force at the time, with maneuvering vehicles. More recently, I have been working with a few colleagues on an interesting problem with communication networks because of the work in networks, many of the communication systems people who deal with the network congestion paid very little attention to what was involved in feedback. And now I see a lot more interaction with industry. For example, there is a small group, a nice group at NU and a group at Urbana working in this area, or a similar area. So this group is doing very interesting work on problems that are really important to try to improve the quality of service in communication networks and reduce congestion and so on.

IEEE Awards

Abromovitch:

The list of awards that you’ve been given are quite spectacular. I want to ask you about this IEEE Centennial Award you were given in1984, and the Controls Systems Society Distinguished Member Award in 1975, and most recently the IEEE Third Millennium Award. Can you fill us in on the events surrounding these?

Haddad:

Well, these are awards that were given for service. For example, the Centennial Medal was given for the key people who were active in the Control Society at the time. At the time I was editor of The Transactions on Automatic Control. I was the longest serving editor of The Transactions except for the founding editor who was [George] Axelby. Of course, Christos Cassandras will beat my record as well.

Abromovitch:

And one of the questions that people want to know: what is your power source? How do you keep going, remaining so active? [Laughter]

Haddad:

I have a lot of energy. I don’t know where it’s come from. And I really wake up very early with the sun. So it’s really, I can’t really sit still and you see that. The same thing happened to my children in the same way. They always constantly have to be in motion. I like to do a lot of things for the Society in addition for the university and for research and so on. Otherwise, it gets very boring to do the same thing over and over again. I like to have variety.

Control Systems Society and A2C2

Abromovitch:

I’d like to switch over to your involvement with the Control Systems Society and the A2C2 because I know as long as I’ve been involved in control, you’ve been involved with running the A2C2 and the Control Society. Can you tell us - how did you get involved?

Haddad:

[Interposing] Well, first I started with the Control Society and I was appointed associate editor in’76, which was about 26 years ago. And I found that very interesting, being the associate editor at the time. And the work with the Automatic Control Transactions was very extensive because there were very few associate editors and we used to decide on the papers at the meetings three times a year of the editorial board. And that was quite time-consuming, and it required really very careful planning to attend that, you’ve got the reviews and so on. You have to make sure that the reviews arrive on time. At the time, Steve Kahne was editor, and he really was a very big supporter of people who did a good job. Many times when he was in a higher position, he would always ask me if I wanted to serve on this or that. It was very difficult for me to say no to him because he’s always been very supportive. After that, when I left Urbana, I went to Dynamics Research Corporation. An NSF position was open and Steve, with other colleagues, asked me if I wanted to apply for the NSF job. At NSF, that was really a great way of getting involved. I was more involved with the society than before because the program I was directing, Systems Theory and Operations Research, was a really bigger component of the Control Systems Society. That got me more involved with the society and I became secretary of the Society, or secretary-administrator, whatever the title was at the time. I also served as chairman of the publications committee. Following that, when Mike Sain stepped down from the editorship, they told me I was their first choice when they contacted to serve as editor. And, of course, that was a position that was really a plum in the sense that it was editing the premier journal of control at the time. There were not many others. Control Systems Technology wasn’t out yet. Automatica was the only competition we had. The Control Engineering Practice wasn’t yet out. So it really was something you cannot say no to. Starting with that, of course, I kept my hand in other things as well. For example, organizing a CDC in Las Vegas in ’84. Of course, I always, being in the Control Society, attended most meetings of both ACC and CDC. So in 1988, I guess, Bill Miller expressed his intention of retiring as Secretary of the AACC. I was approached by several people from the Society, Bill Powers and Steve Kahne - Bill Powers was President at the time of the AACC - to serve as secretary. They promised me it would be just until the IFAC Congress, which was in ’96. But, you know, once you get to do this, it really becomes addictive, because there’s so many things you need to do. And you really want to make sure that things keep running smoothly. Well, the way I see it, I like to make sure things run well. I don’t care about title, so I prefer to be a secretary of that organization rather than its president, because you can go on to do things other than worry about the limelight. And I think this as I am coming to the end of my term as secretary of the AACC. By the way, during that time, I also was President of the Control Systems Society at one time. And also at the same time, I was running the ’93 American Control Conference. So quite an interesting period. There were a lot of things happening, and we were undergoing at the same time program review by department - I was chairman of the department at the same time.

Early Days and Issues of Control Systems Society

Abromovitch:

Can you tell us any stories from the early days, what the Control Systems Society was like or the history of the society?

Haddad:

Yes. I wasn’t there at the creation, so to speak. It was people like Joe Cruz and John Zaborszky who were. But I was there early enough that I was aware of all that was going on. For example, in the structure and the way the editorial board was working. The Transactions were the premier activity of the society. And that’s why they put all this Information Dissemination Committee, they called it, to make sure that every paper received very careful scrutiny, and to maintain quality control. The result of that was, of course, [it] caused a lot to become very critical of anything. So it took a long time to finally get a paper in good shape. And so in the early days it was very, it’s still true, as a matter of fact, by the time paper is out, really quite a lot of thought went into it. And so sometime during that period, in the ‘80s, they were trying a little bit to open the process up to make sure the society would be more open to other ideas, and new things, and so on. For a long time we were stuck on several mathematical areas such as H-infinity and so on. So the attempt was really trying to make it broader. That’s really when they reorganized the whole structure. For example, this liberated TAB, liberated various committees to avoid having everything just centered in this whole committee, which was the Information Dissemination Committee. For example, all technical committee members at the time, early on, were associate editors, who really did nothing other than handling papers. The organization was trying to create a Technical Activities Board, to look at new areas, to look at applications. That has always been something haunting the society - how to do more with applications rather than just publish raw theorems. That’s when the society started also to make sure that we do that better. Some people said, ‘well, let’s bypass Transactions and start a new one called the Control Systems Technology.’ But it really shouldn’t be looked at that way. I was president when we voted on the Control Systems Technology. It was simply to allow both things to exist, because one is very good and provides the theory, the basic foundation. It does have applications but the emphasis was on the theory, while the Control Systems Technology was supposed to try to cover broader aspects of applications. And I think this was a good decision, because if you just look at the vitality of both Transactions, they’re all doing very well and they all have a backlog of papers; they have a lot of people interested in publishing in them. As a matter of fact in the latest ranking, both are highly-ranked journals.

In addition, the involvement of the Control Society with the AACC really is a good thing, because of the fact that AACC tends to bring all these other engineering disciplines, mechanical, civil , and chemical, plus aerospace and so on, was trying to really cover the application in a broader sense and not just stick with one thing. And that’s been a very nice complementary relation. We have the CDC and the ACC and you have enough overlap, you have also enough differences so you get to see a variety of activities that involve control. What is happening now is very critical. It is very important to try outreach to new areas, because I’ve seen, both at this conference and also at previous conferences, more emphasis, trying to do financial engineering control, involvement in biotechnology or other areas that we haven’t addressed before. Today’s paper, for example, by Dawn Tilbury, was great to see the involvement in the PLC control. So really we are seeing the Control Society today expanding to try to cover many more areas and be more relevant, not just on a guidebook basis, but also on today’s problems.

Abromovitch:

We’re going to come back to that in a minute, but I’m curious. Were you editor when Control Systems Magazine -

Haddad:

The Control Systems magazine started before I was editor, I think. I was in the BOG at the time when it started. And we used to have a newsletter, but the newsletter was very dry and it was just not something you keep. So it was decided we’d have a magazine that would apply to the rank-and-file members. Because every member at the time used to get the Transactions and the newsletter. But the Transactions, as you know, is not readable by rank-and-file engineers. That really was the impetus to start the Control Systems Magazine. And Mo Jamshidi, who was the first editor, really did a wonderful job trying to get papers that are readable by everyone, address technology issues, describe society news, describe other control news. It became one of the top magazines in the field. Eventually, only after all three publications became successful, then the society thought let’s unbundle so that you don’t force everybody to take all the Transactions and the magazines. The magazines are given for membership fees, and the others are given for extra fees. And I don’t think that many people really dropped either Transactions simply because of the fact that the quality is there, and they would like to keep receiving those.

Abromovitch:

Did you interact with Herb Rauch much?

Haddad:

Yes. Herb Rauch was the second editor, following Mo Jamshidi. As a matter of fact, Herb Rauch followed me two or three years later as President as well. It took a while to get him to relinquish the magazine so he could go on and do more wonderful things for the society. But during his term as editor, the magazine really flourished and became much more successful

The Control Field and Society

Abromovitch:

I want to ask you about the past and the future of the Control Systems Society, and control in general, as a field. What do you think that our strengths and weaknesses are?

Haddad:

The strength of the control field is the fact that it’s very solid. You have a lot of good people, strong people working in it, who make a lot of tremendous contributions in any area they can take, not only in terms of applications, not just in the control field, but you look at department chairs, there are many department chairs that are Control Society members. So it’s really a very important area. What the weakness I would say is the fact that the way it develops in academia, especially in the EE department, it tend to be a little bit, more and more abstract and less applications oriented. And that’s due to the fact that reviewers for NSF, for example, for funding this research, tend to be the same kind of people who review the papers. So you have sort of like a positive feedback. So you have the same kind of work funded and get published and you get very, very, more and more abstract and distilled information. We tried to open that up with an appointment that was done in the ‘80s of a special associate-editor-at-large, who was given a mandate, to try to bring survey material, bring papers that are broader than just the standard thing. And that’s really helped. I remember a paper by Dagfin Gangsaas that was very nice about aerospace control, or papers by Mike Athans about C-cubed. So we tried to really open the Transactions to more than just transactions, but the whole control field to really do more than just prove theorems. And that’s really the thing. The strength , as I said, is the fact that it’s very solid, but you need to really try to infuse it with some applications or industrial relevancy. With the NSF move away with the centers and so on, stressing the need for industry collaboration that is happening, actually. You see that in many places. For example, when I was at Georgia Tech, many control people were moving into working in manufacturing. If you look now, control people who used to be very theoretical are working in centers, manufacturing centers, at Stanford; you find that at Illinois; you find that at Michigan, a lot of places. We see that applications are really getting exciting for control engineers to work with. We see that now with the communication network in the fact that Transactions [is] having a special issue coming up very soon on control and communication networks. So we see a lot of broadening of the field, and that’s really a positive step. And I think what made it stuck on this thing was already a method that was - very, very you have to distill every paper until you get it published. Now you see more openness and better responsiveness to application.

Abromovitch:

I want to follow up on this, because it seems that control engineers tend to be, if you look among the engineering profession, among the lowest paid. If you graduated a couple of years ago during the Internet bubble, if you said that you were a communications systems engineer, you’d probably make twice as much and have a lot -

Haddad:

[Interposing] But not now.

Abromovitch:

Not now, but it seems that - why do you think? Do you think that’s because of the theoretical -

Haddad:

[Interposing] I think, for awhile, there was a lot of emphasis on, again, very dry mathematical tools, which sometimes people who got PhDs or whatever it is, really didn’t know even how to apply them. It’s sort of like the people who write their dissertation are motivated by other dissertations rather than motivated by real problems. But the job market and other things work to balance. You have feedback, you know, so it works in the sense that you see more people working in a variety of areas. There are more control people now working practically every area. You were right about the fact that the control doesn’t always get the credit. An aircraft will not fly without the control engineers. But it’s not visible. So you won’t see that in the thing. You look at the one that designed the body and whatever and the displays, whatever it is. But control is behind the scenes, and that’s really one thing that a great many people in the industry don’t understand. But control engineers, because of the way they are trained, are in a sense, very problem-solving, they really can apply it to a wider area. That really makes it, actually, more saleable in a way. If you really are willing to say, I’m not just working in H-infinity or I’m working on this, this. You find that now as broad as you can make it. And you can work in communication, you can work in signal processing, because, when you design digital controller, already what is it? It involves signal processing issues, involves computer engineering issues, how to implement and so on. So, if you are in control, if you are willing to broaden, you have the fundamentals, because there’s a very good foundation, a training foundation. And that’s really the important thing to remember about control.

Abromovitch:

Do you feel that that creates a brain drain on the society, in that we’re training a lot of engineers who end up working in other fields?

Haddad:

[Interposing] I’m not saying they’re working in other fields. They are applying control to other applications areas. You know, robotics, 90% of the work is control. They call it a separate society in the IEEE now. But many of the people are still members of the Control Society. It’s true for publications they publish in a different journal. They’re doing control in many cases. It’s really the same thing with communication and so on. Since the Control Society is part of IEEE, it shouldn’t really be a matter of competition, of ‘oh, you are not here, but you are there.’ It’s really more what the people are doing that’s important. More interdisciplinary work is really what is called for in many engineering disciplines, not just electrical, not just control, but every place. You think of information technologies, pervasive everywhere. You look at biomedical as a discipline, you have control problems there. You have chemical problems, you have biological problems. Again, you have a lot of control engineering. As a matter of fact, one of the papers for this workshop that’s coming up Saturday is dealing with this kind of problem.

Directions for Control

Abromovitch:

What do you think is one of the promising future directions for control research and education, as well as practice and application?

Haddad:

Education, I guess, I’m still a believer that you really have to do the standard basic control theory, because it’s really a very strong educational tool. You learn a lot of stuff. And feedback is something fundamental. It changes the structure of the system. No matter what your field on the system side. ECE can divide into three areas: systems, computers, and physics, optics, and so on. But the control, as a matter of fact, now we have even interest in control into optics as well. So it’s really hard. Controlling solid state manufacturing, I mean, this is something which is a very fundamental problem in control. When you do research, in MOCVD, and so on, creating all these devices out of this material. When you try to put them back to export them to the manufacturing for production, you need very strict control. Teaching control on a fundamental basis is as good as it is. What is important is to keep adding what we see now, a lot of laboratory examples. Because at one time, some universities abolished their laboratories for control. When I was at Georgia Tech, they didn’t have a lab in control, but they started it about five years or so after that because they felt it’s very important to have a laboratory to really get people to feel what feedback does, how to do the feedback designs. Now, what areas to cover after that and what areas to emphasize; you cannot do it in one course. It has to be a combination of things, and it’s really very difficult to point just to one solution because it’s a very broad field. I think people who are doing non-linear control don’t know much about stochastic control and vice versa.

I would say, again, the future really would be in the applications. One of the key areas, I think, is hybrid systems, whatever it’s called now. For a while, everybody called anything that changes structure hybrid. But certainly you know there are a lot of applications dealing with hybrid systems like manufacturing or communication networks. And there are students that are working a lot. It’s a very important area, because it really has a lot of applications. There are too many applications for me to mention but they all involve control. The difference here is now we don’t have to look for everything or look for a close form solution. So you have to look for a process, look for a way of computing solutions rather than in the old days, when you had to come up with some analytical solutions.

Abromovitch:

And you see those same areas for applications and practice, research and communications and -

Haddad:

Yes. I, I believe so. The main thing there is really you have to get - I’ve seen people working, for example, in even places like Wall Street, financial engineering and so on. Or I’ve seen a very good paper recently about margin trading in terms of our buying power and so on and so forth. And it’s very important, it’s a very interesting stochastic control problem you have. So the reason there’s room for that - as a matter of fact, people in the control area are finding jobs in places involving investment or stock trading.

Women and Minority Engineers

Abromovitch:

From your perspective having seen a lot of things, do you think that the engineering field is addressing the issue of women in engineering and doing a good job or a poor job?

Haddad:

I think the universities are trying to do that, because that’s where it starts when you’re trying to get more women in engineering, or a minority I would say. What is not being done properly, I think, in my opinion, from empirical observation, is when hiring is being done, women are hired and considered for promotion. People are recruiting women students into engineering and into control specifically. But when it comes to tenure and promotion, tenure committees tend to be still the same kind of old boy network kind of thing. And you find sometimes that very good women do not get tenure at some universities. I’ll give you an example. I know someone, for example, a woman who was at some university that shall remain nameless, a woman who was pregnant and was told that you can have the year, the tenure clock will be halted for a year because it’s maternity leave. But, obviously, the promotion committees aren’t going to see as much production as if she didn’t take a leave. Which is, you know, it’s very condescending, very poor planning and so on. Fortunately, that woman did get tenure, but really this kind of attitude by male chairmen or male committee chairs is not very conducive to a woman engineer. I was very pleased to see a lot of women engineers at this conference, by the way. So it does keep increasing.

Abromovitch:

So do you think that engineering firms are finding places for women engineers?

Haddad:

I think so. An engineering firm, I think, more so simply because of all the equal employment or whatever it is. But universities tend to be, because nobody can really tell the tenure committee what to do. But you have to be a little bit more, ‘Oh, is she doing exactly what we want her to? She has X number of papers in this X and this Y journal kind of thing other than doing a lot of different things.’ The university’s the only thing I can grasp because I really have more experience at universities. [Laughter] And they tend to be a little too demanding in terms of when a woman comes for tenure than when a man comes for tenure.

Abromovitch:

You mentioned minorities in engineering.

Haddad:

That’s a tougher question. It’s very difficult really to address that. The number is small. It has to really start at the elementary school or high school level. Try to get the students to apply to engineering schools and so on. Engineering schools have to be more open about what kind of thing they need to do. When I was chairman at Northwestern, I hired two black female faculty members. One of them has just become a full professor.

Abromovitch:

I had a friend that went to grad school, a black female PhD from Stanford. And I remember when she finished she was such a rare commodity. By the time she got to that point - by then it was almost too late.

Haddad:

Yes. You need to start at the elementary school. Get people involved. People have to go to the inner city schools, trying to get the people involved interested. You cannot just do it by fiat; you cannot do it just at the upper level. It has to be started at the grass roots. And it’s a lot of work, because society has to really be accommodating to be as diverse in our field, at least as it is in other fields.

Perceptions of Engineers

Abromovitch:

Do you think that there’s always been a perception of engineers, in particular, probably not [in] a very friendly way? For a while, during the Internet bubble, there was a little bit less of that, at least if you said you were working for a dot-com. Do you think there are ways that the society or IEEE can address those types of image issues that might be keeping people away?

Haddad:

I don’t know. This is not new - I mean, people have said you need something like LA Engineer, like you have LA Law, and so on. I really don’t know. Engineering is still basically very - the image to the outside, to non-engineers is not very well understood. And it’s generally because since the work is behind the scene, people don’t see it. They see the end product and they don’t think that engineering really had a hand in this. So it’s very difficult really to do anything other than more education, make films, movies or videos to educate the public, some PBS programs. You need to have some things for show. And some years ago, during the centennial year, ’84, I think IEEE tried to produce some videos. It was interesting at the time, but they didn’t follow through with that. What happened after that is they [were] available for about a year or two.

Abromovitch:

I’m curious, because during the past few years, there have been a lot of consumer appliances which advertise fuzzy logic control and while I don’t want to go into that particular area, it seems like those types of consumer appliances haven’t drawn the attention of control engineers. And so while a lot of people can tell you, ‘Oh, this washing machine has a fuzzy logic controller,’ it seems a shame that they’re not telling you, ‘Oh, this has an H-infinity control.’ Do you see that as something that the controls community should try to address?

Haddad:

I’ve seen it mostly in Europe and Japan and so on. I haven’t seen it in this country, too much of this fuzzy logic or other kind of appliances. People really don’t look at appliances with what kind of engineering is in it. The thing either works or doesn’t work and they don’t really look at the technology, ‘Oh, what great technology.’ Unfortunately, it’s simply because in our society, in a lot of the educational system, there’s not enough emphasis on science and engineering at the elementary and high schools. Bozenna Pasik-Duncan tried to organize a workshop for high school teachers to try to get control and other areas of engineering and so on in the curriculum. So it’s really important to try to get all the schools - to get the kids early, because they are eventually forming the public, and at the moment they tend to be excited by a lot of things, but engineering somehow doesn’t do the job of trying to excite everybody.

Abromovitch:

So you see that more of the global problem of engineering, not specifically control engineering.

Haddad:

That’s right. It’s a global problem with engineering because you don’t see that with any engineering discipline, they all have similar problems. You don’t see that with doctors, you don’t see that with lawyers. But with engineers, it’s very common.

Future of Control Engineering

Abromovitch:

What do you think the next ten years holds for control engineers in particular, and engineering in general? What do you expect to see? What do you think we should be doing?

Haddad:

Well, what we are doing really, it seems to me; we are moving in the right direction. I see both. I’m on the editorial board of the Transactions and I see the way we are trying to move, looking into new special issues with ACC, for example. I see what kind of thing we are looking for, new avenues to really look in the control response. Control really is always going to be a very dynamic profession. And it’s really its life, that’s a strength as well. So it’s really difficult for me to say which area we should go into or not go into, because the spectrum is very broad. As I said, there are people working on optical systems, working in communication, so there are a lot of new areas that you get into. One of the key areas in all this is solid state, for example, nanotechnology and so on. Control has a role to play, because you cannot just do it by relying on the physicists because we need to get feedback in there to make sure whatever you do or whatever you use would be produced in the right quality. And that you cannot do without control. The society - the younger people in the society are bright, and I think it’s in good hands.