George Haddad: A remarkable legacy

“I love Ann Arbor, I love Michigan,” said Haddad. “The University of Michigan is in my blood.”

George Haddad Enlarge
George Haddad, Robert J. Hiller Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

George I. Haddad became an emeritus professor this past May, 2005 – leaving a remarkable legacy of achievement and leadership in research, teaching, service and administration that spans nearly half a century. Originally from Lebanon, Haddad came to the University of Michigan in 1952, and has been here ever since. With numerous opportunities to go elsewhere, he has remained true blue, stating, “I love Ann Arbor, I love Michigan. The University of Michigan is in my blood.”

Early Career

George enjoyed his time as an undergraduate student. “I belonged to a fraternity, and had lots of very good friends that I’m still in touch with. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in 1956, I went to Motorola in Chicago for 3-4 months, and then decided I wanted to go back to school.”

After receiving his master’s degree, Haddad was convinced to stay at Michigan for his PhD by renowned professor and chair, William Gould Dow (1895-1999), who recognized his gift for communication and encouraged him to remain at Michigan. So he stayed, and upon graduation, Dow (chair of the department 1960-65) hired him as an assistant professor in 1963.

When his thesis advisor, Joseph Rowe, became department chair, he tapped Professor Haddad to become Director of the Electron Physics Laboratory (EPL) in 1968. This was a very challenging time for the lab, and Professor Haddad immediately showed the resourcefulness, vision, persistence and care for faculty and staff that would mark his entire career.

Haddad’s first responsibility as lab director was the difficult task of laying off several individuals who could no longer be supported, and also to reduce the level of graduate student support because the government had ceased to fund microwave tubes, which was the mainstay of the laboratory research at that time. George vowed that he would never again have to let an individual go due to lack of funding. Betty Cummings, then secretary to Professor Haddad, recalls the many hours he spent on the phone with colleagues and granting agencies to ensure the future of the lab. He did receive significant funding in the area of solid-state electronics, he hired key faculty member Professor Ken Wise (Director, NSF Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSystems) in 1974, and said “we rebuilt the whole place, and it’s been growing ever since. We never had to lay off another person.”

Timeline Enlarge

Early Research

Haddad’s research is focused on microwave devices, and finding ways to get them to generate the highest frequencies possible at relatively high power levels and efficiencies. As a master’s student, he built the first X-Band traveling wave maser in the world. Masers, which preceded lasers, were used for low noise amplifiers in such applications as receiving signals from satellites.

His PhD work focused on microwave tubes, which quickly turned to Impact Ionization Avalanche Transit-Time (IMPATT) and GUNN diode transfer electron solid-state devices. The book Avalanche Transit Time Devices, which he edited in 1971, contained contributions from the most prominent people in the field at that time, and became a standard reference in the field. His move from tubes to solid-state devices, combined with his charge as EPL director, led Haddad to build up the area of microwave solid-state devices and integrated circuits. Michigan has remained a leader in these fields for over forty years

George and his wife, Mary. Enlarge
George and his wife, Mary.

Chair of ECE and EECS, 1975-1986

Professor Rowe left the University in 1974, and Haddad was again named to take over his position, this time as chair of the department. As with the EPL, he took over at a time of reduced resources. Adding to this difficulty was the fact that, due to the popularity of Electrical and Computer Engineering, enrollment began to rise sharply, almost doubling in the years 1975-80. Classes on central campus were overloaded, morale was suffering, and the EE departmental ranking by the National Academies in 1978 was 13 in the nation – not good enough for George. In addition, very few faculty positions were available due to the state economy.

The department underwent sweeping changes during the 1980’s – most of them initiated, planned, and executed with Haddad at the helm. These changes included the new EECS building on North Campus, which housed a state-of-the-art Solid-State Electronics Laboratory, the hiring of several dozen faculty, the formation of the EECS Department from three entities, and a virtual explosion of new research centers and funding. This was accomplished through vision, planning, and hard work.

George credits Jim Duderstadt, Dean of the College of Engineering between 1981-86 (and later President of U-M), Chuck Vest, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (and later Dean and Provost at UM and President of MIT), and Dan Atkins, Associate Dean for Research (and later Dean of the School of Information), for their exceptional support and leadership during these formative years.

Haddad recalls that when the Solid-State Electronics Laboratory was built, the facility was empty, and in need of extraordinarily expensive equipment to outfit. He and Wise assisted Duderstadt and Vest in writing a successful proposal to the State of Michigan, which established the Research Excellence Fund. A significant portion of this fund went to the department, and contributed to the excellent facilities in the SSEL, the Radiation Laboratory, and the Optics Laboratory – facilities that exist to this day. In addition, significant funding was devoted to machine intelligence and robotics activities.

Duderstadt called Haddad’s accomplishments extraordinary, and added, “Even while providing such extraordinarily strong leadership, George Haddad maintained a world-class research program, which brought in many millions of dollars, produced outstanding graduate students, and contributed greatly to the nation. The University will long bear the imprint of his achievements and his leadership.”

The current EECS Department was formed during these exciting times. In 1984, three distinct yet related entities merged: the former College of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department, whose roots go back to the original Electrical Engineering Department in 1895; the College of Literature, Sciences & the Arts, Computer and Communication Sciences Department (CCS), which was formed in 1967; and the Computer Information and Control Engineering (CICE) graduate program. The merger was primarily a response to the disparate manner in which computer science and engineering was taught throughout the University, and the desire to improve the national standing of the department, particularly in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).

It was a remarkable achievement to bring together three fairly distinct academic cultures and help them to coexist within a completely new environment. The new EECS Department merged about 35 faculty from ECE, 10 from CICE, and 8 from CCS. In addition, the very first year of the new department, fall of 1984, 14 new faculty were hired. During this time, Professor Haddad relied on his trusted associate chairs, Tom Senior, Keki Irani, and Dave Neuhoff, to handle significant administrative responsibilities.

Tom Senior, associate chair for the Electrical Engineering division during this time, said “You don’t think of the things you have to do when you completely change a department, which we did.” He recalls the summer of 1984 when he and Haddad completely reorganized every course in the new department – each course was systematically numbered by topic and level, while many were eliminated or restructured. “He was the right person at the right time for this department,” said Senior. “George was able to direct and oversee enormous change in a remarkably smooth and effective manner.”

Keki Irani, associate chair for the CSE division during the merger, is happy to still call George, “a very good friend of mine. Working for him, I never felt that I was serving a boss. I was just helping a friend. One thing that impressed me most about George was that he was always fair. He was capable of objectively evaluating a person or a situation and acting accordingly.”

Dave Neuhoff, associate chair for the new Systems Division, had an important role in defining the new organization. As he recalls, “We merged ECE with CCS to form EECS, nearly doubled the faculty, dramatically increased salaries, reconstituted the graduate programs, substantially enlarged funded research and PhD production, and moved to North Campus. As an associate chair, I was an intimate observer of George’s steady hand on the helm throughout this period. We owe most of EECS’s present strength to the developments that he led in that period.”

At the same time, Professor Haddad improved the climate for faculty in significant ways, making it possible to divide their time more equally between teaching and research. He changed the teaching load from two courses per term plus one lab, to one course per term for those doing significant research. He and Duderstadt ensured that faculty would receive a portion of the money that was generated by overhead on their research, an issue he advocated during his tenure on the U-M Research Policies Committee (’76-’79). He also successfully lobbied for faculty to take three month summer salaries from their research grants in order to continue their research during the summers.

Chair to CHFM

Once the move from East Engineering on Central Campus to the EECS Building on North Campus was accomplished in 1986, Haddad stepped down as chair, only to jump right into leading a major program, while also fulfilling the duties of director of the SSEL. Saying that “lady luck was on our side,” Haddad became aware that the Department of Defense was establishing the University Research Initiative (URI) to create major research centers at universities. After writing a successful proposal, he and a team of more than 12 faculty established the Center for High Frequency Microelectronics (CHFM). Funded at $15M for the initial five-year period, with an additional $5M from the state, the CHFM essentially doubled the research funding in the department.

Haddad and an oscillator Enlarge
202 GHz GaAs TUNNETT diode oscillator - presented by Dr. Heribert Eisele to Prof. Haddad on the occasion of his 60th birthday. This oscillator yielded two separate world records for TUNNETT diodes, one in April 1995 and another in October 1998.

“With the CHFM, we started a major effort to make the fastest transistors in the world,” said Haddad. “We had a great program based on III-V semiconductor materials for very high frequency applications ranging from microwave frequencies up to optical frequencies. We did work in microwave integrated circuits, high frequency transistors, optoelectronic integrated circuits, nanoelectronic devices and circuits – the whole gamut.”

The CHFM opened new research avenues for graduate students, including state-of-the-art millimeter wave integrated circuits, sub-0.1-micron field-effect transistor technology, advanced epitaxial growth technologies, optoelectronic devices and integrated circuits, and quantum-based electronic devices and circuits. The ability Michigan now had, with the SSEL, to produce microwave integrated circuits led to the first university courses on the subject. In addition, the Center’s pioneering efforts in quantum-based electronic devices and systems put Michigan at the leading edge of technology that even now, nearly two decades later, remains at the forefront of engineering research. Throughout its 12-year history, the CHFM trained hundreds of students, many of whom became leaders in the field either in industry or academia.

George credits his very good friends and colleagues Pallab Bhattacharya, Dimitris Pavlidis, Jasprit Singh, Duncan Steel, and Roberto Merlin for their key roles in making the program in compound semiconductor materials and devices for high frequency electronics and optoelectronics one of the best in the world. George stated that “this research, coupled with the outstanding research of Ken Wise, Khalil Najafi, and Rich Brown on Integrated Sensors and Circuits based on silicon micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology, made the SSEL the laboratory to
emulate at other major universities.”

Drawing on the solid foundation of the SSEL and CHFM, Haddad recalls that thereafter, “every year for about 10 years we established a major center or program. It was a very exciting time.” These included the Center for Space Terahertz Technology (Fawwaz Ulaby, director), the Center for Ultrafast Optical Sciences (CUOS, Gérard Mourou, director), the Center for Display Technology and Manufacturing (DTM), the Center for Neural Communication Technology (CNCT, Ken Wise and Dave Anderson), several centers in optoelectronics (Pallab Bhattacharya), and several multiinvestigator, multi-disciplinary (MURI) programs.


Devices Enlarge

Back to the Chair’s Office

In the midst of running the CHFM, Haddad was asked again to chair the department in 1991. Rather than a time of rapid expansion and growth, it was now a time for management of existing resources, and maintaining the momentum gathered during the previous decade. Haddad adapted to these new circumstances, revealing a keen ability to handle financial issues. His many years managing the EPL, SSEL, CHFM and a wide variety of smaller grants served him well, as did his work on important University committees, in particular the Economic Status of the Faculty (’73-’76) and the University Budget Priorities Committee (’88-’91).

Virginia Wait, administrative manager for the department since 1989, said that “George understood the administrative systems better than anyone else I had
ever worked with. He knew what could be accomplished, and what
you needed to do to accomplish it.”

Among these accomplishments were the continued hiring of excellent faculty, a continual acceleration of research funding, and PhD student production that reached an all-time high. Haddad stated that he is grateful for great support from the College of Engineering during these years, through Dean Peter Banks, and associate deans Erdogan Gulari, George Carignan, and Bill Martin.

Haddad created an environment in which faculty and staff alike could thrive, and feel appreciated. Pallab Bhattacharya, professor in SSEL, came to Michigan in 1984. He said, “George provided faculty an environment to work unfettered – the room to grow and to realize our dreams. This was crucial for our success.”

“A great department cannot exist without great staff,” says Haddad. Assisting him in his role as department chair at different times, he is always quick to praise Betty Cummings (SSEL Administrative Manager), Wait, and Karen Liska (EECS Human Resources Coordinator) for their excellent and dedicated service to the EECS Department. Liska stated that George “set the tone in the department for past and future generations of staff to make this department what it is, in an atmosphere that continues to promote and perpetuate excellence.” George also freely praises the excellent leadership of his associate chairs during these years: Kang Shin, Dave Anderson, Toby Teorey, and Pramod Khargonekar.

His final report on the status of the department in 1997 showed a very strong department, both in national rankings and in fiscal health. The timeline on pp. 6-7 shows the growth in research funding, number of faculty, PhD students graduated, and enrollment of graduate students from the time that George first became chair in 1975, to when he left in 1997, having served nearly 19 years in that office. It became time to turn his attention again to research.

Continuing Research

As before, just as Haddad would step down as chair, he and several other faculty members were awarded a large grant, this time a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) to study Low Power/Low Noise Electronics. This continued research begun under the URI program, as well as new areas in microwave MEMS, and a focus on wireless communications. George worked with Linda Katehi (now Dean of Engineering at Purdue), Gabriel Rebeiz (now at UC-San Diego), and Clark Nguyen (currently on leave serving with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) on some of these new areas. “My own work has always been on the devices themselves, ranging anywhere from microwave frequencies to terahertz and optical frequencies. The last major program I have right now is to develop terahertz sources to be used for chemical and biological sensing. The terahertz frequency range is still unexplored territory.”

The best devices for generating significant power levels to reach the high terahertz frequencies are still IMPATT diodes, and close derivatives such as Tunnel Transit Time (TUNNETT) and GUNN devices. “Even though I have done a great deal of research on various electronic and optoelectronic devices, my last graduate student thesis is similar to my first one,” explains Haddad, “in trying to extend the frequency range of these devices up into the terahertz frequencies. We have devices that generate enough power for the lower frequencies, and devices that generate significantly higher levels of power at the infrared and optical frequencies. The goal is to build solid-state devices which we can use to detect the molecular activity in the terahertz range, which lies in the middle of these lower and higher frequencies.” He is continuing this research in cooperation with two research scientists who have worked with him for many years, Jack East and Heribert Eisele (now at the University of Leeds). He says, “both have been a real asset to the department, and have helped a great deal over the years.”

The Great Communicator

Haddad’s special gifts as a communicator were recognized early on by William Gould Dow. As Dow described in a letter written in 1963, he would often bring external visitors to various labs in the department. When he would stop by and ask Haddad about his activities, “[George would] undertake a fine description of what he was doing, tailored precisely to the degree of sophistication or lack thereof the visitor possessed. I just listened with admiration.” He had this same effect on students.

“Students, Students, and Students!”

Without exception, his students praise his ability to make complex topics comprehensible. Paul Greiling, Director and Manager, Microelectronics Laboratory, Hughes Research Laboratories, Inc., received his BSE, MSE, and PhD degrees at U-M, and studied under Haddad. He stated that Haddad’s “enthusiasm for the subject matter was contagious and his popularity as a teacher convinced many students to pursue solid state microwave devices as a major field of study at Michigan. Over the last 20 years I have interviewed and hired many of Professor Haddad’s students. Without exception, he trains and graduates students who are equal to, or superior to, those coming out of any other University.”

A gifted teacher can alter a student’s entire future. Robert J. Trew, Department Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering at North Carolina State University, and former Director of Research for the Department of Defense, stated that as a first year graduate student, “standing in the hall before George’s class became a turning point in my career. I became intrigued by the material he was presenting on the blackboard. I subsequently enrolled in his class, from which he recruited me as a graduate student, and I have never looked back.”

Haddad has been very involved in the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTTS) throughout his career. He served as Editor of the IEEE Transactions on MTT for three years, and served on the Administrative Committee for eight years, as well as on a variety of other committees. He has involved all of his students in the professional society – Bob Trew has served as president.

The students were, and still are, Haddad’s most precious concern. In writing the annual report on the status of the department in his last year as chair, he stated that the most important product of the department is: “Students, Students and Students!” He trained and graduated 57 PhD students, and still maintains close contact with many of them. He is only a bit chagrined that some have retired before he did!

A Leader with Vision and Integrity

Being an effective chair can be part visionary, leader, administrator, salesman, spokesman, caring father. Haddad was all of these. He took on the role of “Father of EECS” in a natural way. Having “grown up” in the department, receiving his BS, MS, and PhD degrees all in EE, he was called to be department chair twelve years after being hired as an assistant professor, and he was instrumental in the formation of the current EECS Department.

“George is the renaissance patriarch of the EECS Department,” said Ulaby, EECS professor and VP for Research at U-M. “He shaped its identity, hired half of its faculty, and propelled it into one of the very top departments in the country.”

“He had just the right combination of long range vision for the institution, a tremendous sense for recruiting top talent, and an abiding faith in his people that made him such a successful leader of the EECS Department,” said Pramod Khargonekar, EECS Chair following Haddad, and now Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Florida.

Trust is critical to be an effective leader, and Haddad’s honesty was unquestioned. This has instilled great loyalty in others, whether they worked with him one year, 10 years, or 40 years. Kang Shin, hired by George 23 years ago, said, “I admire him in many ways, but his straightforwardness and fairness stands out. He set a very high standard.”

Rich Brown, who was hired by George in 1985, served as interim chair, and is now Dean at the University of Utah, said, “George has been the greatest advocate a faculty member could hope to have. He was a creative and bold leader, who made the changes needed to make EECS one of the top departments in the world. He was always willing to use his own resources and connections to build infrastructure that enabled the work of others.”

Haddad created an environment within the department that is very supportive of each individual, while encouraging excellence at all times. He pays special tribute to Betty Cummings, who worked for him in some capacity for close to 40 years. “I don’t know what I would have done without Betty,” said Haddad.

“It’s been a great journey.”

Cummings’ words are echoed in those of many others: “He knew that the success of either the lab, or the department, lay in the individual success of everyone in it – and whether you were a senior or junior faculty member, or staff member, he promoted your success. This has made individuals extremely loyal to Haddad. Even those who work for him for a short period of time garner tremendous respect for his leadership, his vision, and his ability to move things forward, all with a great sense of humor.”

“I’m very fortunate to have been able to work with so many great people over the years,” reflects Professor Haddad, “most of whom I hired,” he adds with a chuckle. “It’s been a great journey.” When asked what he is going to do now –aside from continuing his research and service activities, he said, “I’m going to have a good time – I’ve always had a good time.”