Pramod P. Khargonekar

picture of Pramod P. Khargonekar

Vice Chancellor for Research

Distinguished Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering

Ph.D., University of Florida, 1981, Electrical Engineering
M.S., University of Florida, 1980, Mathematics
B.Arch., Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, 1977, Electrical Engineering

Phone: (949) 824-5796

University of California, Irvine
160 Aldrich Hall
Mail Code: 3175
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Control Theory and Technology, Renewable Electricity and Smart Grids, Autonomous Systems, Neural Engineering
Academic Distinctions
Fellow, IEEE and IFAC; NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award; IEEE W. R. G. Baker Prize and Axelby Best Paper Award Award; IIT Bombay Distinguished Alumnus and Distinguished Service Awards; Claude E. Shannon Chair, University of Michigan; Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher; the American Automatic Control Council’s Donald Eckman Award; and the Hugo Schuck ACC Best Paper Award. At the University of Michigan, he received the Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship.
Research Abstract
Pramod Khargonekar, Vice Chancellor for Research and Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, is an expert in control systems engineering. Dr. Khargonekar has served in a variety of administrative roles in academia and federal funding agencies. He has been on the faculty at the University of Florida, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, and University of California, Irvine. At the University of Michigan, he was Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1997 to 2001 and also held the position of Claude E. Shannon Professor of Engineering Science. At the University of Florida, he was Dean of the College of Engineering from 2001 to 2009, and Eckis Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering until 2016. He also served briefly, in 2012-13, as Deputy Director of Technology at the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E. In March 2013, the National Science Foundation (NSF) appointed him to serve as Assistant Director for the Directorate of Engineering (ENG), a position he held until June 2016. In this position, Dr. Khargonekar led the ENG Directorate with an annual budget of more than $950 million. In addition, he served as a member of the NSF senior leadership and management team and participated in setting priorities and policies. In June 2016, he assumed his current position as Vice Chancellor for Research and Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Khargonekar’s research and teaching interests focus on systems and control theory and its applications. Control systems are ubiquitous in modern technological society. Airplanes, automobiles, manufacturing tools and plants, chemical process plants, electric power grid, robots, biomedical devices, and heating and ventilation systems, among others, all contain control systems that ensure their suitable and desired operation. For example, flight control systems ensure airplane behavior during takeoff, cruise, and landing operations. Control theory is concerned with principles, techniques, and tools for analyzing and designing control systems. Often, these analysis and design procedures employ mathematical models of the system to be controlled based on relevant principles and laws from natural sciences. However, due to simplifying approximations and lack of complete knowledge, such mathematical models include errors and inaccuracies. Errors also arise due to inherent variability in manufacturing processes.

Much of Dr. Khargonekar’s early work was on new methods drawn from advanced algebra for analysis of system mathematical models. During the 1990’s, he was involved in a major multidisciplinary project on applications of control and estimation techniques to semiconductor manufacturing. Later, he focused on the field of robust control—a subfield of control theory that addresses analysis and design processes and tools that can systematically and explicitly deal with modeling errors—where he contributed to the development of state space H-infinity control theory, a major achievement in the field of control. He has also contributed to digital control, system identification, and digital signal processing. He has made pioneering contributions to the application of modern control methods to semiconductor chip manufacturing processes, particularly to plasma processes for etching silicon and other materials. Other applications include color xerography and control of reconfigurable manufacturing systems. In recent years, he has focused on the problem of integrating wind and solar electricity into the power grid. The challenge here is to deal with the inherent variability, unpredictability and uncontrollability of these electric energy sources. He is a contributor to three patents, two of which create methods of optimizing tone reproduction curves, an image rendering technique which has relevance to printing technologies. Colleagues at Xerox indicate that these patents are being used in current Xerox Corp. products. His current research and teaching interests include systems and control theory, machine learning, and applications to smart electric grid and neural engineering.

Dr. Khargonekar has authored more than 150 refereed journal publications and 180 conference publications. He has supervised 36 doctoral students. He has served as Associate Editor for six publications: IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control; SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization; Mathematics of Control, Signals, and Systems; Systems and Control Letters; International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control; and Mathematical Problems in Engineering. He has been a member of the IEEE Control Systems Theory and Robust Control technical committee. He has also served as Chair and Member of the American Automatic Control Council’s Donald Eckman Award Committee. He has served as Program Co-Chair of the American Control Conference. Recently, he was a member of the IEEE Smart Grid 2030 Vision committee.

Dr. Khargonekar has had a career-long interest in elevating the educational experience for undergraduate and graduate students and promoting education and scientific careers among women and underrepresented students and faculty. During his tenure as Dean, the University of Florida College of Engineering ranked in the top 10 nationally in the number of Ph.D.s graduated and in the top 15 in the number of Ph.D.s per faculty member per year. Also at the University of Florida, he worked with faculty across several departments to revise the undergraduate curriculum through a program designed to help students get a fast start on their undergraduate classes and to create a minority student mentoring program, both designed to increase students’ success while boosting the quality of their educational preparation. Similarly, in his role as Assistant Director in the NSF Engineering Directorate, he promoted efforts to address science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues at all educational levels, with an emphasis on improving opportunities and outcomes for women and underrepresented minorities in engineering.
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Professional Societies
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC)
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