Drake appointed to Ford professorship


Dean Joel Moses of the School of Engineering has announced the appointment of Dr. Alvin W. Drake, professor of systems science and engineering, as the Ford Professor of Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Dean Moses said the chair is awarded to outstanding faculty in recognition of special accomplishments. "Al Drake is widely known in the School of Engineering for his innovative teaching of applied probability and his mentoring of graduate teaching assistants. Institute-wide, he is a key figure in efforts to help TAs improve their teaching skills," Dean Moses said.

In 1992, he was the recipient of the School of Engineering's Bose Award for excellence in teaching.

In a letter to the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty, Professor Paul Penfield, head of the department, noted that "Dr. Drake is known for his insightful, caring, compassionate approach to education."

Dr. Drake's principal fields of interest are applied probability, public systems applications of operations research, risk assessment and probabilistic issues in manufacturing. He holds four degrees from MIT: the SB and SM (both 1958), the EE (1961) and the ScD (1962). He was appointed an assistant professor in 1962, then went on military leave for two years serving in the US Army Signal Corps (he received the Army Research and Development Award for work on tropospheric scatter communication) and returned to MIT in 1964. He was named associate director of the Operations Research Center in 1966, associate professor in 1967, and professor in 1973. He was the housemaster of the MIT Alumni Houses for seven years.

Most of his professional activities outside of MIT have been in the public sector. With two associates, he helped found the New England States Police Advisory Compact. He served on the American Blood Commission as vice chair of the donor recruitment task force and on the board of directors for the Northeast Regional Blood Program of the American Red Cross. His longest-running professional organization membership is in the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals.

Professor Drake is the author of Fundamentals of Applied Probability (McGraw-Hill, 1967) and co-author of The American Blood Supply (MIT Press, 1982). He is an editor and contributor to Analysis of Public Systems (MIT Press, 1972). With Dr. Ralph Keeney, he authored a video presentation and study guide, "Decision Analysis" (MIT Center for Advanced Engineering Studies, 1977).

The appointment, effective January 1, is for a five-year renewable term.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 25, 1995.


Topics: Computer science and technology, Faculty

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