Gifts At Work
Inspiring the Technologies of Tomorrow
Through his life and career, engineering innovator and philanthropist Bernard Gordon has demonstrated that an engineering leader can have a tremendous impact on society and on individual lives.
Bernie and his wife Sophia are among Northeastern’s most distinguished and loyal supporters. Their gift to establish The Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (Gordon CenSSIS) within the College of Engineering has propelled the Center’s evolution from an academic research center into a research, technology development, and education powerhouse where faculty and students take on technological opportunities and work with industry to speed their entry to the marketplace.
In making their gift, Bernie and Sophia recognized the value of Northeastern's long tradition of linking education and academic research with areas of application and professional practice, a tradition most notably represented by the university's flagship program of cooperative education.
“I and a lot of other people have always looked upon Northeastern as being a fountainhead of engineering education for people who have a work ethic and are more likely to be truly productive engineers who create products that stimulate the economy and solve problems,” says Gordon, the founder of medical device companies Analogic and NeuroLogica.
Gordon's gift creates a new model for the fusion of academic research and private-sector collaboration. Gordon CenSSIS, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center, is having enormous success leveraging technology transfer and converting promising research in critical areas such as healthcare and homeland security into new products that are improving society and saving lives. The Center works on new ways to probe hidden areas - underground, underwater, or in the human body - and has made discoveries and innovations in areas as diverse as noninvasive breast cancer detection and underground pollution assessment.
“Northeastern’s engineering school is known for being practice oriented because of the co-op program. There is a track record of graduating very practical engineers,” says Gordon, an MIT graduate who was attracted to Northeastern because of its emphasis on marrying research with practical applications.
Building a future corps of engineering leaders is immensely important to Gordon, who has been active in driving reform in engineering education and improving the United States' competitive engineering capability.
Gordon is concerned that engineering education in general has become too specialized, turning out a dwindling number of graduates who can see the big picture. To create a future generation of engineers with advanced leadership capabilities, his gift established an elite masters degree program affiliated with Gordon CenSSIS. Called Northeastern’s Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, this intensive one-year graduate program trains Gordon Fellows to become adept at envisioning new engineering products and leading multidisciplinary teams to bring their ideas to market.
“I sincerely believe the primary function of an engineer is to make jobs for other people. Northeastern is a good place to invest in engineering education because there is likely to be a very practical positive result.”
Gordon pioneered the engineering that transformed analog signals to digital, making possible products like the CT scanner and the DVD. He and his work teams hold more than 200 patents worldwide. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded the country’s prestigious National Medal of Technology.
Northeastern President Joseph Aoun has lauded the Gordons for their support. "Turning promising academic research into technologies that address real-world problems is among the foremost responsibilities of a research university," said Aoun. "The Gordon Center is fostering collaboration to make this happen."