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Abbas El Gamal named Chair of Department of Electrical Engineering

El Gamal is an expert in network information theory and digital imaging systems, and a key figure in several Silicon Valley companies.

The Stanford University School of Engineering has announced that Abbas El Gamal, the Hitachi America Professor in the School of Engineering, will become Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering as of September 1, 2012.

El Gamal has been on the faculty of electrical engineering since 1981 and was Director of the Information Systems Laboratory from 2004 to 2009. His academic contributions have spanned information theory, wireless networks, integrated circuit design and design automation, and imaging devices and systems. He is author or co-author of more than 200 papers and holds 30 patents.

In his primary field, network information theory, El Gamal studies the absolute performance limits of communication and computing networks and develops algorithms and protocols to achieve these limits. He developed the standard academic course on network information theory, which has since been adopted by many schools, and co-authored the field’s first textbook, Network Information Theory.

Likewise, he was a pioneer in field programmable gate arrays (FPGA)—a type of integrated circuit that can be electrically reconfigured to implement differing functions. El Gamal co-founded Actel, only the second FPGA company in the world, and was among the first to use FPGAs in education. He holds key patents and wrote several highly cited papers on basic architecture and design of FPGAs.

El Gamal was also a key figure in the development of CMOS image sensors, the technology widely used today in cell phone and digital cameras. His work in the field actually predates digital cameras. Later, he started the industrially funded Programmable Digital Camera project , which has graduated several leaders in image sensor industry and research, and developed an award-winning course on the topic.

“Abbas is a natural leader and he has thought deeply about the department and future directions electrical engineering might take. He has been on the faculty for more than 30 years, has been widely recognized for his research and teaching and has been a major figure in several Silicon Valley companies. These are the qualities you look for in a chair and we are thrilled to have him in this role,” said Dean Jim Plummer.

“I am truly honored to be the next chair of this great department and look forward to working with all my colleagues to keep electrical engineering at its preeminent position in the School of Engineering and to help build new bridges between our department and others in the School and across Stanford University,” El Gamal said.

A Fellow of the IEEE, Professor El Gamal has received several honors and awards for his research contributions, most recently the 2012 Claude E. Shannon Award—the highest award in information theory, named for the founder of the field.

Abbas El Gamal received his BS Honors degree in electrical engineering from Cairo University in 1972, and an MS in statistics and a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University in 1977 and 1978, respectively. He taught at the University of Southern California before joining the Stanford faculty.