Logo: University of Southern California

Building A Global, Solutions-Focused IEEE

USC alumnus José Roberto Boisson de Marca aims to advance technology and solve global problems as IEEE president
By: Stephanie Shimada
July 18, 2013 —

Roberto José Boisson de Marca
When USC alumnus José Roberto Boisson de Marca stepped into USC Viterbi professor Robert Scholtz’s office for the first time in the early 1970s, he never imagined the professional connections and lifelong friendship that would follow.

Scholtz was one of the “Magnificent Seven,” the communications group that founded the USC Communications Sciences Institute (CSI) in 1982. Together, Scholtz, Sol Golomb, Charles Weber, Lloyd Welch, and others served as the perfect mentors for the young de Marca, who always knew he wanted to work in communications technology.

The “Magnificent Seven” taught de Marca both sides of their profession: teaching and research. They showed him how to collaborate and work in a team effectively.

“They were good teachers, good researchers and good human beings,” de Marca, who holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from USC Viterbi, said. “They were all friends and helped each other to do well. This was a very good example for me.”

Now de Marca is taking this knowledge to his position as president-elect of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional society. He is the society’s first non-North American president, bringing more than 30 year’s of IEEE experience to his new position, including past leadership positions on four boards.

IEEE, which was formed in 1884, brings together the global community of electrical engineers to collaborate on world-changing technologies that can help benefit humanity. de Marca passionately believes that knowledge sharing among the field’s top professionals can lead to solutions for life sciences, urban challenges, engineering, and the Internet.

“Technology will play a major role in solving the problems of the world and protecting the lives of people in the future,” said de Marca, who has also served as a professor at the Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro, and scientific director of the Brazilian National Research Council.

de Marca enters IEEE at a time when technology is moving faster than ever and the engineering field has become more multi-disciplinary. He wants to ensure that IEEE stays at the forefront of international leadership and innovation.

“I will continue to motivate and create opportunities for the top people in the world in technology to choose IEEE to publish their research and attend conferences,” de Marca said.

Over the years, de Marca has shown a knack for bringing diverse people together. USC alumnus and former Ph.D. classmate Walter Braun remember him as an open, lively and interesting person. Braun recalls de Marca engaging everyone in the room at Scholtz’s pool parties, and constantly networking at school functions.

“He was interested in the context outside of just studies,” said Braun, who is now a consultant at Braun Communications Consulting GmbH. “He wanted to talk to people.”