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ALUMNI AWARDS FOR RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

Theodore Rappaport

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 28 - April 18, 1996

Theodore S. Rappaport, professor of electrical engineering and "a remarkable teacher and researcher whose work has received world-wide recognition," will receive the Alumni Award for Research Excellence at Founder's Day.

The Mobile and Portable Radio Group (MPRG) that Rappaport founded in 1990 "is truly a world-class center of excellence that combines all the important features of what a university teaching and research program should be," wrote Leonard A. Ferrari, head of the Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering, in his nomination of Rappaport for the award.

In 1991, Rappaport developed Virginia Tech's first course on wireless engineering, and in 1995, he authored the first textbook on the topic of wireless communication. In six years, the MPRG has produced more than 100 undergraduates and graduates in wireless engineering.

Rappaport's work forms the basis for research, design, and deployment of cellular radio, paging, and personal-communication systems. That Virginia Tech has one of the best programs in this area "is due entirely to Ted's vision, ability, leadership, and hard work," Ferrari wrote. "The number of major companies which support Dr. Rappaport and hire his students attests to the quality of his work."

At Virginia Tech since 1988, Rappaport has generated $6 million in funded research, is co-inventor on three patents that have all been commercialized, and founded the first wireless communications company in Blacksburg.

His work led to the first statistical radio-channel model for in-building radio propagation, and a patented wireless measurement instrument used by more than 300 companies and government agencies world wide. His most recent patent, for the "Real-time Cellular and Paging System Monitor," is being used by law-enforcement personnel to capture criminals who illegally use the air waves.

He has promoted wireless research throughout the academic community. In addition to the symposium on wireless personal communication founded at Virginia Tech in 1991, he worked with sponsors and university administrators to create the Center for Wireless Communications at the University of Mississippi, and provided University of California, San Diego, faculty with the MPRG model to help them establish a center.

Rappaport received the Marconi Young Scientist Award in 1990, and the NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1992. He received a major education grant from the National Science Foundation last year to develop the nation's first wireless curriculum.

He is a Fellow of the Radio Club of America and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is widely published and his work is widely cited in the wireless communication field.

Rappaport earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1982, as well as his master's in 1984, and his Ph.D. in 1987.

Hanif Sherali

By Susan Trulove

In recognition of his contributions over the past 16 years to the theory and practice of nonconvex programming, Hanif Sherali, the Charles O. Gordon professor of industrial and systems engineering, will receive an Alumni Research Award during Founders Day.

Engineers, scientists, and managers use mathematical models to solve problems in a variety of industrial, government, design, and management situations. However, many, if not most, real-world problems do not give rise to mathematical models with "well-behaved" properties. Traditional methods applied to such problems can get stuck at poor solutions. Such "nonconvex" problems occur in production planning and control, location-allocation decisions, telecommunication network design, and engineering design contexts. They have long defied solution.

Sherali's research has attacked many such problems. Over the last nine years, with funding from the National Science Foundation, Sherali and several of his Ph.D. students invented the "Reformulation-Linearization Technique"-groundbreaking work that resulted in a unifying theory that permits the development of algorithms or mathematical rules practitioners can use to solve a variety of full-scale nonconvex problems.

Applications include location-distribution problems, airline gate assignments, a water-distribution system, defense systems for naval battleships, and various engineering design problems.

Sherali is active in the transfer of technology to industry. He worked with the coal industry in the development of strategic and tactical technological, investment, and operational plans in response to the 1990 Clean Air Act. For the past 10 years, he has been developing fleet sizing models, and tactical empty freight car distribution models for the Association of American Railroads and for automobile manufacturers. He has worked on evacuation planning, optimal runway designs, and trip-estimation and diversion strategies for use in intelligent transportation systems.

Sherali's work crosses not only the engineering disciplines, but mathematics, management, and even forestry. His research has been published in some 115 archival journal articles, and in three books. He received the Institute of Industrial Engineer's premier research award, the IIE David F. Baker Distinguished Research Award in 1994, for this work, and for a related application to risk management problems, he received the Thomas L. Saaty Prize in 1995.

The Virginia Tech award also recognizes the respect Sherali has earned as a teacher and scholar. The Charles O. Gordon endowed professor "is an exceptionally well-rounded scholar," wrote ISE professor John Casali. "His research achievements are exceptional, he is an award-winning teacher and scholar, he is an innovator of new research methodologies that serve the theoretician and practitioner alike, he is a captivating lecturer, and he is an inspiration to his students, and a mentor to his junior colleagues."

Sherali earned the university's Alumni Teaching Award in 1993. Casali noted in his nomination that four of Sherali's students have received IIE national theses/dissertation research awards. He has directed 20 Ph.D. dissertation projects and 26 master's theses. He has served on 54 Ph.D. and 58 master's committees.

Sherali earned his bachelor of science degree from Bombay University in 1975 and both his master's and doctoral degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology.