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 Engineering Legend

From an Olympic water polo medal to designing systems for the rocket that put men on the moon: the life and work of engineering professor Dragoslav Siljak was profiled in Santa Clara Magazine.


Dragoslav Siljak should be so lucky to write another book with the staying power of one of his earlier efforts. In 1991, he published a mathematical bible for those trying to understand, control, and predict the kind of vast decentralized systems that increasingly rule modern life—such as electric power systems, communication networks, and mobile robot formations. Two decades later, that landmark guide, Decentralized Control of Complex Systems, had fallen out of print, but it still topped Amazon’s best-seller lists in two technical categories, with used copies selling for as much as $800. The title was republished earlier this year.


“I hit the gold mine,” says Siljak, the Benjamin and Mae Swig Professor of Electrical Engineering. His life’s work has been dedicated to bringing control and understanding to highly complex systems, some with thousands of variables. “It’s a perpetual topic.”


Now as Siljak, the author of four books and hundreds of papers, enters retirement after nearly 50 years at the University, his thoughts have turned to a different kind of writing—his memoirs for his grandchildren to read. He may not conjure another best-seller, but Siljak—a man with a shock of white hair, square jaw, and a you’ve got to hear this intensity—definitely has tales to tell.


Please click here for the entirety of the article by Sam Scott ’96.

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