National Academy of Engineering Elects Adjunct Prof. Krishan Sabnani

February 09, 2021

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has elected 106 new members and 23 international members, announced NAE President John L. Anderson today. Included in this list is EE Adjunct Professor Krishan Sabnani for contributions to software-defined routing and networks.


Sabnani has been an adjunct professor in the EE department since 2009. He graduated with a PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1982 at Columbia University under the supervision of Professor Mischa Schwartz.

Krishan was Vice President of Networking Research at Bell Labs from Jan. 2000 to Sept. 2013. In that role, he managed all networking research in Bell Labs, comprising nine departments in seven countries: USA, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Belgium, and South Korea. Krishan retired from Bell Labs in Jan 2017. He received an award upon his retirement - appointment as Ambassador-at-large for Bell Labs. Krishan is the first person to receive this award.

Sabnani has made many seminal contributions to the Internet infrastructure design, protocol design, and wireless networks. Sabnani (with T. V. Lakshman and T. Woo) made a breakthrough in Internet re-design. The main idea behind this work was to separate control functions and complex software from the forwarding portions on Internet routers. This work made it possible for forwarding technologies (e.g., different link layer and switching protocols) to evolve and be deployed independently from control protocols (e.g., routing, security). This contribution is a precursor to the current Software Defined Networking (SDN) revolution. A patent based on this work won the 2010 Edison Patent Award.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature" and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."

Election of new NAE members is the culmination of a yearlong process. The ballot is set in December and the final vote for membership occurs during January. Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE's annual meeting on Oct. 3, 2021.