Professor Emeritus Mischa Schwartz Receives RCA Henri Busignies Memorial Award

Columbia Professor Mischa Schwartz, Charles Batchelor Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, has been honored many times during his long and productive career in Electrical Engineering and engineering education. Some of the prestigious awards that pay formal tribute to Professor Schwartz for his work in communication theory and systems, signal processing, wireless systems, computer networking, and the history of communications include

• The Cooper Union Gano Dunn Medal for contributions to technology

• The IEEE Edwin Armstrong Award for contributions to communication technology

• The NYC Mayor’s Award for excellence in technology

• The 2003 Okawa Prize of Japan for contributions to telecommunications and engineering education

• The IEEE Educational Activities Board Vice-President’s award for outstanding contributions to EE education, theory, and practice in the fields of communications, signal processing, and computer networking

• The IEEE Education Medal

• The Columbia University Great Teacher Award

• The Electrical Engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu Emminent Member recognition for “attainments and contributions to society through leadership in the fields of electrical and computer engineering that have resulted in significant benefits to humankind.”

Now we are very proud to congratulate Professor Schwartz on his most recent honor. This past Fall, the Radio Club of America recognized Professor Schwartz with the Henri Busignies Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to electrical engineering and education that have benefited humanity. The award was presented at RCA’s 107th Banquet and Awards Presentation in New York City on November 18, 2016. 

Professor Schwartz joined Columbia’s Electrical Engineering Department in 1973. In addition to his teaching and advising, he founded the NSF-sponsored Center for Telecommunications Research (CTR) in 1985. The center supported graduate student research, postdocs, and faculty collaboration from various departments at Columbia. Professor Schwartz also established an industrial affiliates program through CTR that spearheaded collaborative work with companies including ATT, IBM, Bell Labs, GTE, Bellcore, and Timeplex. CTR research projects focused on communications networking, and included activities on VLSI, systems, signal processing, and image processing.

One of the important technical advances to come out of work at CTR was the development of the MPEG (Motion Pictures Expert Group) standard for compressing video images over lower bit rates. This work was led by Electrical Engineering faculty member Prof. Dimitris Anastassiou. This standard is used worldwide for compressed digital TV.

In addition to his research work, Professor Schwartz is recognized for his contributions to electrical engineering education. He has written 10 textbooks covering all aspects of telecommunications engineering. His first book Information Transmission, Modulation, and Noise, published in 1959, was the first undergraduate textbook to cover modern communication systems from a statistical point of view, and was widely adopted all over the world.. A subsequent book, Computer Communication Network Design and Analysis, published in 1977, grew out of the networks course Professor Schwartz developed and taught at Columbia, and was one of the first books published on communication networks. A later book, Telecommunications Networks, was a best-selling book in the field.

Before Professor Schwartz joined Columbia Electrical Engineering, he was Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (1952-1974) where he was department chair from 1961-1965. Professor Schwartz also worked for five years as a Project Engineer at Sperry Gyroscope Company in the field of radar system studies.

Professor Schwartz is known internationally in the field of Electrical Engineering. and was cited in 1984, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the IEEE, as one of the 10 all-time outstanding electrical engineering educators. He is a Life Fellow and Past President of the IEEE Communications Society and former IEEE Director, a Fellow of the US National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the AAAS and the International Engineering Consortium, and a member of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).

“Founded in 1909, the Radio Club of America is the oldest group of wireless communications practitioners in the world, with members across the globe. Its members are “dedicated to the wireless art and science for the betterment of society.” We extend our warmest congratulations again to Professor Schwartz for being honored with the 2016 RCA Henri Busignies Memorial Award.


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