sealPurdue News

August 22, 2002

Purdue appoints new head of electrical and computer engineering

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Mark J.T. Smith, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and former executive assistant to the president at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been named head of Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, effective Jan. 1.

Mark J.T. Smith

"Dr. Smith is a leading researcher in the electrical engineering field of signal processing, and his teaching record is outstanding," said Linda Katehi, the John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering at Purdue and a professor of electrical and computer engineering. "He will bring some fresh and exciting ideas to Purdue."

Smith said he looks forward to taking the helm of the school, which has consistently been ranked among the top electrical engineering programs in the nation. The school's graduate program was ranked ninth in the nation earlier this year by U.S. News & World Report magazine.

"I was struck by the enterprising vision and commitment of the new administration and by the strategic focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration," he said. "This, in concert with Purdue's renowned faculty and outstanding student body, makes joining the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering extremely exciting for me."

Smith earned doctoral and master of science degrees in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1984 and 1979, respectively, and a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978. Smith was executive assistant to the president at Georgia Tech from 1997 to 2001.

He is the first African-American to head an engineering school at Purdue, which is the birthplace of the National Society of Black Engineers and is home to strong minority engineering and women in engineering programs.

"I firmly believe that achieving diversity is a component of achieving excellence," said Katehi, who came to Purdue Jan. 1, 2002.

At Georgia Tech, Smith led the formation of a university coalition called EMERGE, or Empowering Minority Engineers – Scientists to Reach for Graduate Education. The program uses technology and outreach to encourage minority students to pursue graduate degrees in engineering and science.

Smith was selected in a national search to find a successor to Kent Fuchs, who recently left Purdue to become dean of the College of Engineering at Cornell University.

"Mark has a superb research and teaching record," said Leah Jamieson, Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and interim head of Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Smith has written 41 peer-reviewed journal papers and 134 conference publications, and he has won four "best paper" awards from the Signal Processing Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Two of his students have received Sigma Xi Research Awards for their theses. He has been an IEEE Signal Processing Society Distinguished Lecturer and is a Fellow of the IEEE. Smith also has been co-author of four textbooks and has received two teaching awards from Georgia Tech.

"His record of service to the profession is outstanding," said Jamieson, who was chair of the search committee.

Smith has been active as a journal associate editor, conference and workshop organizer, and technical committee chair in the IEEE Signal Processing Society.

He also is a former Olympic athlete. He was a two-time national fencing champion, in 1981 and 1983, and he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team in 1980 and 1984. He was one of the final runners carrying the Olympic torch to the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Writer: Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Sources: Mark J. T. Smith, (404) 894-8065,

Linda Katehi, (765) 494-5346,

Leah Jamieson, (765) 494-3653,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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