A Lifetime Of Commitment To Engineering – And Diversity


by Allison Kleber

In recognition of his “seminal research in information coding theory and data compression, and enormous contributions to the promotion of diversity in engineering education,” The Okawa Foundation for Information and Telecommunications has awarded BU ECE Research Professor Robert M. Gray the 2020 Okawa Prize.

According to their official description, “the Okawa Prize is intended to pay tribute to and make public recognition of persons who have made outstanding contributions to the research, technological development and business in the information and telecommunications field, internationally.” Traditionally awarded to emeritus faculty and other well-established scholars, the Okawa Prize highlights those with a lifetime of achievement in the field; a description which certainly fits Professor Gray’s long and accomplished career.

Bob Gray was educated at MIT and the University of Southern California, where he received his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1969. He is the Alcatel-Lucent Technologies Professor of Communications and Networking, Emeritus, at Stanford University, and joined Boston University’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as a Research Professor in July 2013.

His career has, as the award suggests, been marked by dedication to service and the promotion of equity and diversity in engineering. These achievements have garnered him the 2020 Aaron D. Wyner Distinguished Service Award, the 2013 Stanford University President’s Award for Excellence through Diversity, and the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) in 2002 “for embodying excellence in mentoring underrepresented students and encouraging their achievements in science, mathematics, and engineering,” among other honors.