In Memoriam: Andrew P. Sage (1933-2014)

Andrew P. Sage

Andrew P. Sage, the first dean of the School of Information Technology and Engineering at George Mason University (GMU), died Oct. 31 at his home in Fairfax Station, Va. He was 81.

“Few people have had such an extraordinary impact as Andy has had, as a pioneer and leader in systems engineering, as the founder of the School of Engineering and IT at GMU, as a prolific author and as an educator,” says Ariela Sofer, professor and chair of Systems Engineering and Operations Research at GMU. “He successfully crammed several lifetimes of achievements in the course of his career. And he did that with collegiality, generosity and grace. His broad contributions continue to live within us, and will guide generations of systems engineers in years to come.”

A longtime member of INFORMS, Professor Sage was born on Aug. 27, 1933, in Charleston, S.C. He received a BSEE degree from the Citadel, a MSEE degree from MIT and a Ph.D. degree from Purdue University, the latter in 1960. He received honorary Doctor of Engineering degrees from the University of Waterloo in 1987 and from Dalhousie University in 1997.

Following the receipt of the doctoral degree, his first professional association was as an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arizona. He was a faculty member of the University of Florida from 1964-67, and at Southern Methodist University from 1967-74, where he served as director of the Information and Control Sciences Center and chair of the Electrical Engineering Department. From 1974-84, he was the Lawrence R. Quarles Professor of Engineering Science and Systems Engineering at the University of Virginia. During portions of this time, he was associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research, chair of the Chemical Engineering Department and chair of the Systems Engineering Department.

In 1984, he became First American Bank Professor of Information Technology and Engineering at George Mason University and the first dean of the School of Information Technology and Engineering. In May 1996, he was elected founding dean emeritus of the school and also was appointed a University Professor.

His early theoretical contributions are perhaps best exemplified by the text “Optimal Systems Control,” which served for 25 years as a pedagogical work in control systems engineering. Other early notable textbook works during this time included “System Identification” (1971), “Estimation Theory: With Applications to Communications and Control” (1971), “Probability and Stochastic Processes” (1973), “Linear Systems Control” (1978) and “Methodology for Large Scale Systems” (1977).

His interests in the process and management issues associated with systems engineering have led to a number of more recent research efforts, journal papers and to such texts as “Economic Systems Analysis” (1983), “Software Systems Engineering” (1990), “Decision Support Systems Engineering” (1991), “Systems Engineering” (1992) and “Systems Management for Information Technology and Software Engineering” (1995). More recently, he co-edited the “Handbook of Systems Engineering and Management” (1999) and co-authored an undergraduate work titled “Introduction to Systems Engineering” (2000).

The major thrust of these recent works and the research leading to them is identification and description of an appropriate systems engineering framework. This framework highlights the understanding that production of high-quality and trustworthy products is largely due to an effective process lifecycle, and that this lifecycle is determined by efficacious systems management as driven by organizational policy.

Professor Sage directed 50 doctoral dissertations in these areas and many students who worked with him hold responsible positions in industry, government and education.

Professor Sage served in many professional and public service efforts. He was editor of IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Transactions for 27 years ending in 1998, and he also served as IEEE president. He was active with the International Council on Systems Engineering and was founding editor of its journal, Systems Engineering. In 1994 he received a Superior Public Service Award from the Secretary of the Navy in recognition of his efforts on the Center for Naval Analysis Board of Trustees. An elected Fellow of the IEEE, the AAAS and INCOSE, Professor Sage received the Frederick Emmonds Terman Award from the ASEE and the Outstanding Service Award from the International Federation of Automatic Control. He also received the first Norbert Wiener Award, as well as the first Joseph G. Wohl Outstanding Career Award from the IEEE SMC Society.

In 1994, Professor Sage received the Donald G. Fink Prize from the IEEE for his paper “Systems Engineering and Information Technology: Catalysts for Total Quality in Industry and Education.” In 2000, he received the Simon Ramo Medal from the IEEE for his contributions to systems engineering and systems science, as well as an IEEE Third Millennium Medal. In 2002 he received an Eta Kappa Nu Eminent Member Award and the INCOSE Pioneer Award. In 2007, he was elected as a charter member of the Omega Alpha systems engineering honor society. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004 for contributions to the theory and practice of systems engineering and systems management.

Professor Sage’s outside interests included tennis, fine and performing arts, and travel.

Professor Sage is survived by his wife LaVerne, his daughters Theresa and Karen, his son Philip, their spouses and two grandchildren.

Sources: Ariela Sofer, IEEE, George Mason University and the Washington Post