Michael Athans was born in Drama, Macedonia, Greece on May 3, 1937. He came to the United States in 1954 for a one year exchange visit under the auspices of the American Field Service and he attended Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California. Next he attended the University of California at Berkeley from 1955 to 1961 where he received his BSEE in 1958 (with highest honors), MSEE in 1959, and Ph.D. in control in 1961.
From 1961 to 1964 he was employed as a member of the technical staff at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Mass. where he conducted research in optimal control and estimation theory. Since 1964 he has been a faculty member in the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, where he currently holds the rank of Professor. He also was the director of the MIT Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (formerly the Electronic Systems Laboratory) from 1974 to 1981. In 1978 he co-founded ALPHATECH Inc., Burlington Mass., where he serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Scientific Consultant. He has also consulted for numerous other industrial organizations and government panels. He has acted as the thesis supervisor for 42 MIT doctoral students to date. In 1995 he was Visiting Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens, Greece.