The Michigan Engineer News Center

Keki Irani (1924-2018): In Memoriam

Prof. Irani was a model faculty who made important contributions to the EECS department, was always supportive of students, and who supported the department at critical times throughout the years.| Short Read
EnlargeProf. Emeritus Keki Irani
IMAGE:  Prof. Emeritus Keki Irani

Keki Irani, professor emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, passed away on Wednesday, May 2, at the age of 93.

Prof. Irani was a model faculty who made important contributions to the EECS department, was always supportive of students, and who supported the department at critical times throughout the years.

Prof. Irani was born in Bombay, India on May 20, 1924. He attended the University of Bombay, where he received BSE (Mech) and BSE (EE) degrees, in 1946 and 1947, respectively. In 1948, he came to the University of Michigan where he earned MSE and PhD degrees in EE, in 1949 and 1953, respectively.

Following employment at Philips Telecommunications Industries from 1950–56 and after serving as a faculty member at the University of Kansas from 1956–61, Prof. Irani joined the University of Michigan in 1962 as an associate research engineer. He was promoted to associate professor in 1963 and professor in 1968.

As a faculty member in a rapidly developing field, Prof. Irani was known for developing and maintaining expertise in many aspects of both computer science and computer engineering. Over the years, students praised him for his ability to present extremely complicated subjects in a clear and exciting manner. In 1992 he received the Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Engineering.

EnlargeKeki Irani historical photo
IMAGE:  Prof. Irani in the 1960s, about when he joined U-M.

Within the college, Prof. Irani served as chief program advisor for computer engineering from 1977-86 and from 1990-96, and was instrumental in the development of the computer science and computer engineering curricula. He served as associate chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 1976–84 and as associate chair of the Division of Computer Science and Engineering in the newly formed Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1986–90, both critical periods in the evolution of the department.

In particular, he played a key role in establishing the undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science and engineering. He was instrumental in faculty hiring, curriculum development, and introduction of courses and counseling services. It is largely due to his efforts that we now have a thriving program in CSE.

Prof. Irani supervised more than 50 doctoral students, many of who have gone on to positions of leadership in academia and industry. The author of more than 85 publications, he made contributions to remarkably diverse areas, including control theory, computer display and communication systems, computer scheduling, database systems, computer architecture, parallel computing, artificial intelligence, and programming languages. He was elected a fellow of IEEE and had a long-standing involvement with the ABET engineering accreditation organization.

Although he retired in in 1998 in his early 70s, Prof. Irani continued to come to his office in the department for as long as he was physically able. He was also truly a life long learner, and continued to read books on mathematical logic, one of his favorite subjects, for many years after his retirement.

Prof. Irani is survived by his wife, Alice Irani; his children, Sandy and David Irani; and four grandchildren: Kate, Dan, Matt, and Alice.

Prof. Emeritus Keki Irani
Keki Irani historical photo
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