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Dragoslav Siljak to Retire from the Department of Electrical Engineering

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Dragoslav Siljak, world-renowned control scientist and professor of electrical engineering at SCU for the past 47 years, has announced he will retire at the end of the academic year.

In 1964, the former Olympic athlete (silver medal as part of Yugoslavia’s 1952 water polo team, and World Cup in 1954), Ph.D. and docent professor from the University of Belgrade, Serbia, accepted then-dean Robert Parden’s invitation to join the faculty as a visiting professor to teach courses in electrical engineering and applied mathematics, attract grants to strengthen research in the department, and structure the electrical engineering Ph.D. program.

Joining reputable control scientist and SCU lecturer Dr. George Thaler and Professor Richard Dorf, department chair, the three formed a research group in control systems and soon received a grant from the NASA Ames Research Center to develop new methods for control design of space vehicles.  Siljak was invited by the control group at NASA’s Marshall Space Center to apply the methods to stability analysis and control design of the Saturn V rocket that propelled men to the moon.

In the 1970s, he initiated research in the theory and application of complex large-scale dynamic systems, which he applied to a variety of models in areas as diverse as electric power systems, large space structures, population biology, the arms race, and competitive equilibrium in mathematical economics. Over the years, the research has involved a large number of scientists and engineers from all over the world, who came to Santa Clara to study complex dynamic systems.  The projects have been generously supported by NASA, NSF, DOE, and DARPA.

A prolific scholar, Siljak has published four books, Nonlinear Systems (Wiley, 1969), Large-Scale Dynamic Systems (North-Holland, 1978), Decentralized Control of Complex Systems (Academic Press, 1991), and Control of Complex Systems: Structural Constraints and Uncertainty (Springer, 2010, with fellow SCU Electrical Engineering Professor Aleksandar Zecevic), and more than 200 papers in scholarly and scientific journals. The book on large-scale systems was reprinted in 2007 as a classic text by Dover Publications, and Siljak’s book on decentralized control was posted on Amazon as #1 in demand in the two areas—control systems and information theory; a used copy of this book has fetched more than $800.

In 2010, Siljak received the Richard E. Bellman Control Heritage Award for his achievements in control theory.  The award is given by the American Control Council for “distinguished career contributions to the theory or applications of automatic control” and it is the “highest recognition of professional achievement for U.S. control systems engineers and scientists.” Siljak is a Life Fellow of IEEE.