Kishan Baheti speaking at the National Science Foundation.

This webpage is part of the memorial activities for Dr. Baheti at the 2022 American Control Conference.

Dr. Radhakishan Sohanlal Baheti, a pioneering member of the IEEE Control Systems Society (CSS), passed away on March 9, 2021 at the age of 76. He served as a program director for the Energy, Power, Control, and Networks Program in the Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), overseeing a broad spectrum of research areas in control theory, power systems, robotics, multiagent systems, and data science.

Dr. Baheti received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering in India from Visvesvaraya Regional College of Engineering, Nagpur, and Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, respectively. In 1970, he came to the United States and received an M.S. degree in information and computer science from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from Oregon State University. In 1976, Dr. Baheti joined the Control Engineering Laboratory of General Electric (GE) Corporate Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York. His work focused on advanced multivariable control for jet engines, signal and image processing systems, computer-aided control system design, vision-based robots for precision welding, model-based fault identification, and parallel implementation of Kalman filters. Dr. Baheti and his colleagues received the IR-100 Award for the robotic welding vision system. During his tenure at GE, he organized a series of educational workshops for engineers that resulted in innovative product developments and enhanced university collaborations with GE.

In 1989, Dr. Baheti (or Kishan, as he was fondly known to his friends and colleagues) joined the NSF as a program director in the Division of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems. For more than 30 years in this role, he was a tireless worker for the support of the entire control system community in the United States and abroad. Among his many seminal contributions were the development of NSF initiatives on cyberphysical systems, semiconductor manufacturing, the National Robotics Initiative, and the NSF Electric Power Research Institute (NSF-EPRI) Initiative on Intelligent Control.

In addition to his usual directorial duties in control engineering, Kishan was also involved in many multidisciplinary research initiatives:

Pramod Khargonekar:

I had the good fortune to work with Kishan closely from 2013 to 2016 during my tenure as assistant director for the Engineering Directorate at NSF. I saw him directly in action as he worked with colleagues from many other divisions to develop numerous new programs in smart grids, wireless communications, sensors, micro and nano systems, science of learning, and dynamics and control of biological and medical systems. Without his creative energy and people skills, our community would have missed many of these opportunities.

Kishan served as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. He was a member of the CSS Board of Governors, chair for the Public Information Committee, and Awards chair for the American Automatic Control Council. He received the Distinguished Member Award from the IEEE CSS. His other awards include the 2012 Robert H. Janowiak Outstanding Leadership and Service Award from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA), Outstanding Men of America Award, and multiple service awards from the NSF. In 1997, he was elected Fellow of IEEE.

Kishan is best known for his pioneering advocacy for the control systems research community in the United States through his continuous collaboration with IEEE CSS and IEEE Power & Energy Society. He was instrumental in bringing researchers and educators in these communities together through a series of workshops, tutorials, special sessions, and industry engagement events held at leading conferences. From 2013 to 2019, he organized six international workshops on distributed energy management systems that brought together leading international researchers in smart grids from the United States, Japan, Germany, Norway, and India. In recent years, he also led NSF efforts in the 10 big ideas on harnessing the data revolution, connecting researchers in control theory with those in machine learning and data science. His openness to new directions, new areas of research, and community building are deemed as legendary by all his peers.

Aranya Chakrabortty:

Kishan played a leading role in shaping the intellectual direction of our field, and a number of us got our very first grants through Kishan’s programs at NSF. He was the biggest cheerleader there is for young researchers in our community … Looking at the volume of work that Kishan has done in his life makes me feel that if I can even rise up to his knees, I would consider that to be an achievement of a lifetime.
Participants at the System Identification Workshop, GE CR&D, June 5–6, 1986. Front middle: Kishan Baheti and Lennart Ljung; second row: Howard Kaufman (far left) and Joe Chow (second from right).  

Kishan was an avid long-distance runner, a marathoner, an ardent yoga practitioner, and a voracious reader. He frequently participated in local run events in the Washington, D.C. area as well as in the Boston Marathon.

Kishan Baheti running in the Boston Marathon

These many professional accomplishments and impacts only capture a partial picture of Kishan Baheti. While he was a brilliant and successful professional, his personal qualities made him a great human being and a friend to many. He was kindhearted and magnanimous. He had deep compassion for fellow human beings. He had a tremendous capacity to see the positive and good in each and every situation, no matter how difficult. He believed in others and helped them believe in themselves. He had that rare quality: wisdom. As a part of the control systems research community, we are all deeply grateful for what we have received from our beloved Kishan. We will miss him sorely and will cherish his memories forever.

May Kishan rest in peace.

The material comes from Control Systems Magazine, Aug 2021, Page 99-102.

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