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Roger Brockett

Year: 
2014
Citation: 
For inspirational mentorship of generations of graduate students who have participated in defining the field of control engineering

Roger Brockett is An Wang research professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard University.  He was a student at Case Institute of Technology and did his Ph.D. work under the supervision of Mihajlo D. Mesarovic, in the Systems Research Center then led by Donald P. Eckman.   Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in 1969, he taught for six years in the Electrical Engineering department at MIT, where he developed the textbook Finite Dimensional Linear Systems and involved graduate students in a range of topics centering on stability theory and applications.  At Harvard, working along side of Y.C. Ho and an outstanding group of younger colleagues, he initially focused on the theory and applications of nonlinear systems emphasizing the use of differential geometric ideas.  In the mid 1980s, fostered in part by the new NSF Engineering Research Center imitative and the ARO MURI program administered by Jagdish Chandra, the focus of his research turned to the application of control theoretic ideas to problems in robotics, computer vision and other aspects of intelligent machines.  An important part of this transition was the development of a broadly inclusive robotics laboratory, engaging a number of Harvard faculty members as well as involving, long-term collaborations with colleagues and former students at Brown University, the University of Maryland, and MIT.  His teaching has involved the development of courses for engineering students, ranging from a freshman design course to graduate level teaching across the field of control.  His Ph.D. students and post doctoral researchers have, in many cases, gone on to become leaders in the field with their accomplishments being recognized, not only through their “day jobs” as teachers, researchers and managers, but also through their participation in the operation and editorial processes of some of the participating societies of the ACC.