Elec­trical engi­neering pro­fessor emer­itus John Proakis has received nearly a dozen awards and aca­d­emic honors in his time, but he con­siders his most recent one the defining achieve­ment of his illus­trious career: The James H. Mul­ligan, Jr. Edu­ca­tion Medal, which rec­og­nizes engi­neering edu­ca­tors’ imag­i­na­tion, vitality, and lead­er­ship and rep­re­sents the highest honor in edu­ca­tion awarded by the Insti­tute of Elec­trical and Elec­tronics Engineers.

It really is the cul­mi­na­tion of the pre­vious awards that I’ve received,” said Proakis, who began his North­eastern career more than four decades ago.

Over the last 40 years, Proakis has authored 10 telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions text­books on topics ranging from satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion to under­water acoustic com­mu­ni­ca­tion. His books are pop­ular in col­lege class­rooms across the globe and have been trans­lated into seven dif­ferent languages.

He has worked with the top edu­ca­tional pub­lishing houses, most recently editing an ency­clo­pedia of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions for John Wylie & Sons, Inc.

Writing text­books is a lot of fun,” said Proakis. “It’s a part of teaching—a way of pre­senting the mate­rial in a way that stu­dents can absorb it.”

While edu­ca­tion has always been his cen­tral focus, Proakis has also been a long-​​time cham­pion of the impor­tance of research in aca­d­emic learning. He hired some of the Col­lege of Engineering’s cur­rent dis­tin­guished researchers and sev­eral of his own grad­uate stu­dents have gone on to become world-​​leading researchers in their fields.

For instance, his former stu­dent Milica Sto­janovic is a fore­most authority on under­water acoustic com­mu­ni­ca­tions and is now a pro­fessor of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering at Northeastern.

With the help of Sto­janovic and other lab mem­bers, Proakis has devel­oped sev­eral methods for reli­ably trans­mit­ting, receiving, and decoding com­mu­ni­ca­tions sig­nals across a variety of chan­nels. “The dis­tor­tions and noise are dif­ferent in dif­ferent chan­nels,” he said. “But the problem of receiving a signal and recov­ering the data is very similar.”

Since he retired in 1998, Proakis has remained on the fac­ulty as a pro­fessor emer­itus. In this role he has con­tinued to write and con­duct inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research with many of his colleagues.

Proakis will offi­cially receive the Mul­ligan award in a cer­e­mony in Ams­terdam in August 2014.