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In Memoriam: Former Professor Leonard Shaw


It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Leonard Shaw on October 22. Shaw, who taught at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering for more than four decades, had first learned of the school as a Stanford University graduate student, while reading textbooks by Professor Mischa Schwartz. Inspired that an electrical engineer of that stature was teaching at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, as it was then called, Shaw applied and was accepted for a faculty post.

In addition to his teaching duties, Shaw served as Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1982 to 1990, Dean of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1990 to 1994, Director of the Westchester Graduate Center from 1994 to 1996, and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies from 1995 to 1996. In those capacities he helped to plan and execute joint programs with institutions abroad in Iran and Italy, as well as courses offered at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey; additionally, he was active in the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and served as Polytechnic's representative to the National Science Foundation’s Gateway Engineering Education Coalition, working with several other universities on innovations in curriculum and teaching methods.

A longtime Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Shaw was a well-respected researcher whose work focused on the filtering and modelling of stochastic processes with applications to signal processing, control, and reliability. His 1975 text, Signal Processing: Discrete Spectral Analysis, Detection and Estimation, written with Mischa Schwartz, first introduced the title's topics to an undergraduate audience.

Shaw is widely remembered as an affable yet efficient figure. “He oversaw the hiring of almost everyone in my generation of faculty members and was a valued colleague, leader and great friend,” Shiv Panwar, now the Director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications and the Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, recalls. “He truly personified the best values of service to this institution, much of it during critical times in the school’s history. He kept in close touch with us and maintained a keen interest in developments at Poly even after his retirement.” Fittingly, his papers can be found in the Bern Dibner Library’s Poly Archives & Special Collections.

The sympathies of the entire NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering community go to the Shaw family.