Dean of Jonsson School is Elected Fellow of International Federation

Dr. Mark W. Spong

Dr. Mark W. Spong

Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, has been elected a Fellow of the International Federation of Automatic Control for “fundamental contributions to nonlinear control of robots and teleoperation.”

The International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC), founded in 1957, is a multinational federation of national member organizations from more than 50 countries. The Fellow Award is given to people who have made outstanding and extraordinary contributions as engineers or scientists, technical leaders or educators.

Spong has been involved in the American Automatic Control Council (AACC), the U.S. national member organization in the federation, for more than 30 years. He served on the AACC’s board and has received several awards from the council.  He received the John R. Ragazzini Award for Control Education in 2004 and has twice won the O. Hugo Schuck Award for outstanding paper at AACC’s flagship conference, the American Control Conference.

Dr. Jessy Grizzle, the Jerry W. and Carol L. Levin Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan and Fellow of the international federation since 2010, nominated Spong. Grizzle has said that Spong consistently develops solid mathematical results that form the basis for practical systems that are implemented around the world and have become fundamental contributions to the field.

Dr. Mark W. Spong in lab at UT Dallas

Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, works with Hasan Poonawala and Aykut Satici.

His work has led to a solution for the problem of time-delay compensation in bilateral teleoperation, which was a major impediment to the development of undersea and space robots. He showed how poor performance in robot arms caused by uncertainties and joint elasticity could be overcome with advanced nonlinear feedback control methods, which he helped to develop.

He co-authored Robot Dynamics and Control, still one of the most popular textbooks on robot dynamics and control more than 20 years after its publication. Hardware and software he developed, marketed by a company he founded (Mechatronic Systems Inc.), are being used by more than 200 universities around the world. He developed a robot that could play air hockey as a vehicle to investigate research issues in real-time control, machine learning and computer vision.

Spong has shared his knowledge with public audiences as a speaker in the lecture program at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

He has been dean of the Jonsson School since 2008, and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and the Excellence in Education Chair.

During this time, the school has added four departments – Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering and Systems Engineering – to the founding departments of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. In addition to his administrative and teaching responsibilities, Spong runs the Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics and Systems (LARS) and is a founding member of the Center for Control Science and Technology.

His other notable honors include the Pioneer in Robotics and Automation Award from the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, the Senior Scientist Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the IROS Fumio Harashima Award. He was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1996 for his work in robot control.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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