Dan Koditschek: Electrical and Systems Engineering
Daniel Koditschek is on a mission. The Alfred Fitler Moore Professor and Chair is focused on sustaining and expanding the excellence of research, teaching and scholarship in Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE). Arriving at Penn
Engineering in 2005 from the University of Michigan to assume a leadership position in the School, Koditschek has deftly synchronized the hiring of several key faculty, complementing and solidifying the existing interdisciplinary vision of the department.
Offering this characterization to underscore the broad, cohesive nature of faculty research being conducted at ESE, Koditschek notes, “Our faculty are studying the physical, chemical and electrical properties of devices, they are building systems from these devices, they are creating algorithms that will operate those systems, and developing the mathematics that will enable us to understand, fix, and generalize them.”
Koditschek describes the departmental merger that took place in 2002 of engineering disciplines ‘electrical’ and ‘systems’ as transformational, and a key aspect of his attraction to Penn. The new departmental configuration “represents our School’s response to the rapidly changing intellectual and career landscape of engineering at the vital junction of ‘atoms and bits’.”
How does Koditschek define the department today? It’s all about teaching and research. In addition to training the next generation of engineering innovators and leaders, Koditschek states that the heart of research at ESE “is centered on the development and application of systems theory to the design of physical, biological and socio-technical artifacts that improve the human condition.”
A prime area of research and teaching in the department is in robotics, currently the focus of two new undergraduate classes where the six-legged mobile robot, EduBot, is used as the working platform. Koditschek is eagerly working with his colleagues to build
on ESE’s record number of substantial research awards and appointments of key faculty, including, most recently, Robert Ghrist, the Andrea Mitchell University Professor. “With the dual appointment (in Mathematics and ESE) of Ghrist, who is known for making brand new connections between abstract mathematics and hard engineering problems, we significantly expand the arsenal of tools brought to bear on ESE’s vast problem domain and extend the reach of interdisciplinary research throughout SEAS.”
Credit: Penn Engineering Magazine, “Dan Koditschek: Electrical and Systems Engineering.”
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