Pioneer Series Archive

The MHI-sponsored Pioneer Series showcases members of our very own USC Electrical Engineering Faculty! These talks not only offer a technical presentation from faculty, but more importantly, will feature an oral history interview. These series of interviews will capture the inspiring journeys and stories of the many individuals who have helped shape and develop our department.


Alexander A. (Sandy) Sawchuk
Leonard M. Silverman Chair Professor, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

Wednesday, Jan. 31st, 2018, 3 - 5PM, EEB 132

Title: Signal and Image Processing: Analog, Digital, and Everything In-Between

I summarize my career in signal, image and information processing research, and applications of these principles in various systems over the years. My work has involved both analog and digital computing using optical, photonic and electronic techniques. It includes imaging system modeling; image restoration and enhancement; optical digital computing, interconnections, networks, and data storage systems; digital holography; 3D, stereo, and panoramic image acquisition, interaction and display; multimedia systems; wireless health and body area networks; multimodal sensing and machine learning. I will also review the history of signal and image processing work at USC and the remarkable advancement and evolution of the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering in recent years.


Andrew J. Viterbi University of Southern California Trustee, Presidential Chair and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Title: A Tale of Two Careers: "It was the worst of times, it was the best of times" (with apologies to Mr. Dickens)

The last two thirds of the 20th Century was a period of tremendous upheaval and progress, social, political and especially technological. This was the period during which I pursued two careers which were tightly intertwined. Curiously both were also influenced by our nation’s most threatening competitor, Russia. The first was my academic career and the second my entrepreneurial career, both of which covered over thirty years, with considerable overlap. Though unrecognized at the time, my academic research had roots in the work of the Russian mathematician Andrei Markov, while with full recognition, my entrepreneurial career was launched and initially supported by our Defense research efforts to counter the Soviet threat...


George A. Bekey
Professor Emeritus, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

Title: From Humble Beginnings to Global Prominence

My research career at USC was charecterized by variety. I have always had broad interests, and hence my research did not center in any one area for long periods. In this talk I will describe my wanderings from human-machine systems to hybrid analog-digital computing to biological control systems and finally to robotics. Of course, there were common threads in all these areas and I was successful in obtaining significant research funding in all of them. I will also highlight some of the more successful projects and the PhD students who made this success possible.


Jerry M. Mendel
Professor Emeritus, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

Title: Ode to Joy of Research

To me Research is synonymous with Exploration, traveling into the great unknown and hopefully discovering something that no one else has seen before. Just as Explorers must ask critical questions, many of which are open-ended, in what we call “Research” it’s important, arguably crucially important, to focus on asking the right questions. In this short talk I’m going to focus on some of the questions that I’ve asked or that my students have asked so you get a very good sense of what I mean, beginning with my days as a graduate student, continuing with my years in industry and concluding with my more than 40 years at USC. I have been very fortunate to have experienced the joy of research for more than 50 years, and will also highlight especially joyous moments.

Robert W. Hellwarth
University Professor,  Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

Title: Ode to Joy of Research

Professor Robert W. Hellwarth, University Professor, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics and Astronomy, and holder of the George T. Pfleger Chair in Electrical Engineering, joined the University of Southern California in 1970. Over the past 45 years Professor Hellwarth has made numerous outstanding research contributions in the areas of quantum electronics; nonlinear optics; design and employment of lasers to aid a variety of practical and scientific efforts, from adaptive optics for astronomy to electro-optic modulators for communications. Professor Hellwarth has received several honors including the Charles Hard Townes Award of the Optical Society of America, the Quantum Electronics Award of the IEEE, and he is a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 


Melvin A. Breuer
Professor Emeritus, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering

Title: 50 Years of "VLSI" CAD

Solomon Golomb
University Professor, Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, and Andrew and Erna Viterbi Chair in Communications, Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering


Robert ScholtzRobert A. Scholtz
Professor Emeritus, Ming Hsieh Departmant of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Title: Synchronization Dreams - The Reflections of Bob Scholtz

Beginning with a bizarre adventure from the “biography” of Secret Agent 00111, selected applications of synchronization to digital communication systems are revealed in a quasi-technical, quasi-historical fashion. Learn about the structure of comma-free codes, what characterizes a spread-spectrum system and how spreading and de-spreading systems are related to synchronization, thoughts about communication jamming, adaptation, and randomization, etc. Shakespeare, a science-fiction writer, a Holy Roman Emperor, a movie star, a bookshelf, and several USC faculty can be spotted along the way. This talk will conclude with some applications of synchronization to antenna systems (that is, if we can synchronize this presentation to the allotted time!)