Logo: University of Southern California

Sensor Network Pacesetter Bhaskar Krishnamachari Receives 2010 Terman Award

“The relationship between a mentor and student is, above all, one of a trusted friendship, asymmetric only in experience”
Gloria Hayes
October 30, 2010 —

An associate professor and Ming Hsieh Faculty Fellow in the Viterbi School’s Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering with a joint appointment in the school’s Computer Science Department has received the 2010 Frederick Emmons Terman Award of the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Electrical and Computer Engineering Division.

Bhaskar Krishnamachar receives Terman Award from Hewlett-Packard Operations Manager Robert Bouzon in ceremony in Arlington, Virginia. Click on the image to read a transcript of his talk, "The Dangers of Classroom Teaching."
In his letter congratulating Bhaskar Krishnamachari, 1996 Terman Award winner Dr. Prith Banerjee, Vice President of Research and Director of Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, reminded his colleague that the Terman Award is “bestowed upon a notable young electrical engineering educator in recognition of the educator’s contributions to the profession, including the publication of an electrical engineering textbook judged to be outstanding by peers. HP is grateful for the opportunity to join ASEE in recognizing your outstanding work.”

Electrical engineering professor, Stanford administrator and widely-credited Silicon Valley pioneer (with William Shockley), F.E. Terman was known for his mentoring and guidance of many engineering students who went on to establish successful businesses, including William Hewlett and David Packard. Today, the Hewlett-Packard Company sponsors the award.

The textbook for which Krishnamachari is in part being so honored, Networking Wireless Sensors (Cambridge University Press, 2005), was published when he was 28. The volume has been slated as required or recommended class reading at several institutions, including the University of California, Berkeley; Cornell University; Texas A&M; Boston University; Washington University, St. Louis; the University of Vermont; Rutgers; and at several other research entities. It is based on the author’s own course, “Wireless Sensor Networks,” one of the first such curriculum offerings in the world on this subject.

Wireless sensor networks are one of the most rapidly developing new information technologies, with applications in a wide range of fields, including industrial process control; security and surveillance; environmental sensing; and structural health monitoring.

Krishnamachari’s seminal text provides a thorough analysis of how the core challenges of energy efficiency, robustness, and autonomy are addressed in these systems by networking techniques across multiple protocol layers. The work, aimed at students and practicing researchers and engineers, provides a comprehensive survey of topics in wireless sensor networks, including descriptions of more than 100 key algorithms, protocols, and analytical results. Exercises involving in-depth reasoning, calculations, and simulations are an integral part of this text.

But beyond his considerable, early achievements in research, Krishnamachari, winner of a 2008 USC-Mellon Award for Excellence in Mentoring Graduate Students, is a gifted teacher and counselor.

His talents in these fundamentally related areas were rewarded as a graduate student and “Outstanding TA” in computer science at Cornell. They exemplify his desire “to help students immerse themselves in the rich academic life of learning, discovery, sharing, and service, and to help them develop essential qualities of leadership and expertise, through creative curriculum development, teaching and mentoring,” says Krishnamachari.

He has also provided guidance and support to more than a dozen undergraduate students in research. “The relationship between a mentor and student is, above all, one of a trusted friendship, asymmetric only in experience," he says.

At USC, Krishnamachari has consistently received high scores for his teaching. He was a co-recipient of the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation’s Innovation Inside Curriculum Award in 2008, for a graduate course where student teams propose and design their own protocols and applications for mobile devices. He has fostered the development and graduation of nine Ph.D. students and one post-doc, and currently supervises 12 Ph.D. students. He has organized and participated in several events at USC aimed at mentoring Ph.D. students interested in future academic positions.

Krishnamachari obtained his B.E. in electrical engineering at The Cooper Union (1998), and his M.S. (1999) and Ph.D. (2002) degrees at Cornell. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2004, and the Viterbi School of Engineering Junior Faculty Research Award in 2005.

He has received best paper awards at the IEEE/ACM Conference on Information Processing in Sensor Networks (IPSN 2004) and the ACM Symposium on Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless and Mobile Systems (MSWiM 2006). He serves as an editor for the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, the ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks, ACM Mobile Computing and Communications Review, and the Elsevier Journal on Ad Hoc Networks. He is a member of the IEEE, and the Eta Kappa Nu Electrical Engineering and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Societies.

Krishnamachari joins two other Hsieh Department Terman Award winners, Professor Sanjit Mitra (1973), and Professor Keith Chugg (2008). He received the award at the 2010 ASEE Frontiers in Education Conference in Arlington, Virginia, October 27-30.