Logo: University of Southern California

New Kids On The Block

A former university president; a retired Northrop Grumman CTO; a Cambridge scholar; and a global robotics leader join USC Viterbi as senior faculty.
By: Natalia Velez
October 12, 2015 —

From left to right: Professors Neil Siegel, David Ashley, Athanassios Fokas and Satyandra Gupta.
Neil Siegel – Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringSiegel joins USC Viterbi as the IBM Professor of Engineering after retiring from a long and successful career in the aerospace industry. Siegel, who has been vice president at Northrop Grumman for nearly 18 years, is the former chief technology officer for Northrop’s Information Systems sector. An inventor of groundbreaking military systems, including the Forward-Area Air Defense system that protects soldiers and civilians and the RQ-5 Hunter, the Army’s first unmanned aerial vehicle, Siegel is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). “Having been a ‘hands-on’ systems engineer for all of that time, I believe that I have a lot to teach prospective engineers,” said Siegel, who holds more than 20 patents. “I have come to USC to do that, as well as to continue my research into methods for improving the development practices of large, complex systems.” He received his B.A., M.S. and Ph.D. from USC.

David Ashley – Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringAshley, who will join USC Viterbi as a professor of engineering practice, is interested in the development and implementation of risk-analysis techniques appropriate for project management and construction engineering. He served as the eighth president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from 2006 to 2009 and was formerly the founding executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Merced and dean of the College of Engineering at the Ohio State University. At Ohio State, he was responsible for curriculum development activities, where he developed and implemented a first-year curriculum focused on creating early engineering experiences and team problem solving. “I am joining an outstanding group of colleagues in the Astani Department with the hope of helping advance the academic stature and impact of our civil and environmental engineering programs,” Ashley said. “We plan to focus on critical infrastructure and built environment issues such as resilience, reliability and sustainability.”

Athanasios Fokas – USC Viterbi School of Engineering (school-wide appointment)Fokas, a highly-cited world-class applied mathematician, currently holds the chair in Nonlinear Mathematical Science at Cambridge University. He comes to USC Viterbi as visiting professor of engineering as part of a four-year appointment beginning this Fall 2015. His applied mathematics research at Cambridge includes areas such as protein folding, fluid mechanics and the medical imaging techniques of PET, SPECT, MEG, and EEG. He is the first ever applied mathematician to be elected in the Academy of Athens, the NAS of Greece; he is a Guggenheim fellow; and he has been awarded the prestigious Naylor prize, one year after it was awarded to Stephen Hawking. Fokas earned his B.S.c in Aeronautics from Imperial College,UK, his Ph.D. from Caltech and his M.D from the University of Miami. “In both Cambridge and in my research center in the Academy of Athens, we have developed several algorithms for the solution of important inverse problems arising in medicine,” Fokas said. “This is an area where USC has tremendous expertise, which will allow me to further develop my research via joint collaborative efforts with other faculty members.”

Satyandra K. Gupta – Department of Aerospace and Mechanical EngineeringGupta will join USC Viterbi in January of 2016 as the Smith International Professor in Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing. His research focuses on automation in manufacturing, which he sees as a key to making high-quality innovative products in the United States. His most recent work addresses issues related to the design and manufacturing of biologically inspired robots, optical micro manipulation, hybrid assembly cells and in-mold assembly. Gupta is the current leader of the Design and Reliability Division at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland. He has also served as director of the Maryland Robotics Center and program director for the National Robotics Initiative at the National Science Foundation. “I am very excited about the engineering+ vision articulated by Dean Yortsos,” Gupta said. “I am looking forward to starting an interdisciplinary center on advanced manufacturing that will focus on enabling innovations and improving lives.”