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January 5, 2010

Engineer Petar Kokotovic Honored with 2009 Monie Ferst Award

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - Petar V. Kokotovic, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the recipient of the 2009 Monie Ferst Award from the Georgia Institute of Technology Chapter of Sigma Xi.

Since 1977, this national award has honored science and engineering teachers who have inspired their students to significant achievements. It is presented during a day-long symposium focusing on the accomplishments of the winner's former students.

Kokotovic's impact as an educator is evident in the success of his students, who say that his lively and dynamic style inspires innovation while instilling the value of using engineering to solve real problems.

Kokotovic's career as an engineer, researcher and educator spans five decades. He received his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Automation and Remote Control, USSR Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

From 1959 to 1966, he worked as a control engineer at the Pupin Research Institute in Belgrade. He then joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Coordinated Science Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he held the endowed Grainger Chair.

In 1991 he moved to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directed the Center for Control Engineering and Computation until 2003.

Kokotovic is known for several pioneering contributions to control engineering. In the 1960's, he developed the sensitivity points method, a precursor to adaptive control, used for automatic tuning of industrial controllers.

In the 1970's, he introduced singular perturbation techniques for multi-time-scale design of control systems and flight trajectories, which found widespread applications. In the 1980's, Kokotovic and coworkers identified the main forms of adaptive systems instability and introduced redesigns that made adaptive controllers more robust.

In the 1990's, he initiated the development of a popular nonlinear recursive design known as 'backstepping,' now widely used in robust and adaptive nonlinear control.

As a long-time industrial consultant, Kokotovic contributed to the design of automotive computer controls at Ford and to power system stability analysis at General Electric. He led a five-year collaborative research (with United Technologies) on nonlinear control of axial compressors for jet engines.

Kokotovic is a popular mentor, having supervised 35 Ph.D. students and 25 postdoctoral researchers, most of whom have pursued successful academic or industrial careers. With them he co-authored numerous papers and eight books, many of which are among highly cited references.

Kokotovic is a Life Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is the recipient of the three highest control engineering awards: 1990 IFAC Quazza Medal, 1995 IEEE Control Systems Field Award and 2002 AACC Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award.

He has also received an Eminent Faculty Award and delivered the 1991 IEEE Control Systems Society Bode Prize Lecture. For his contributions to graduate education, he was recognized with the 2002 IEEE James H. Mulligan Jr. Education Medal.

About Sigma Xi
Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is the international honor society of research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters at colleges and universities, government laboratories and industry research centers. Membership is by invitation, in recognition of research potential or achievement. Over the years, more than 200 Sigma Xi members have received the Nobel Prize. In addition to publishing American Scientist, the non-profit Society awards hundreds of grants annually to student researchers and sponsors a variety of programs that support science and engineering.


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