A visionary, mentor, prolific researcher, innovative academician, and respected colleague and friend, Samiha Mourad, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, passed away in November, 2019.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Mourad later moved to the United States where she became the first woman to receive a doctorate in nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University’s School of Engineering (and only the second woman to be awarded a doctorate in any field at that institution).
Switching career paths from nuclear energy to electrical engineering in the 1970s, she blazed a trail as a prominent researcher in digital testing and computer chip design. In 1987 she joined the faculty of the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University, accepting a joint appointment as Visiting Associate Professor for the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Over her 30 years at Santa Clara, her career trajectory included promotion to Professor in 1992, appointment as Associate Dean for Graduate Engineering Programs 1993-98, and a term as chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering 2014-16. She was the School of Engineering’s first Clare Boothe Luce Professor and was the William and Janice Terry Professor of Electrical Engineering for decades. She retired in June 2017, after which she was awarded Emeritus status by then-President Michael Engh, S.J.
With more than 100 publications in prominent journals and conferences and 3 engineering textbooks to her credit, Dr. Mourad was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) “for contributions to fault modeling in digital circuits and systems.” Highly prestigious, this honor is only awarded to one-tenth of one percent of all IEEE members in a given year. Her expertise and passion for research served her well as advisor to 10 Ph.D. students, a role she embraced with great joy and deep satisfaction.
Dr. Mourad’s influence has had long-lasting effects in the School of Engineering. Ever innovative and far-sighted, she initiated a course in engineering ethics which became the seed of the current graduate engineering core. She was instrumental in establishing the bioengineering department. Recognizing the importance of renewable energy for a sustainable future, she was seminal in instituting a multi-disciplinary master’s degree in Sustainable Engineering—one of the first of its kind in the United States. In honor of her many contributions, in 2006 Samiha Mourad received the President’s Special Recognition Award for outstanding contributions to Santa Clara University in teaching, scholarship, and service.
Generous in her mentorship of any who sought her help, her door was always open to all. In particular, her female faculty colleagues found Sami to be a “pillar of support,” a patient listener, and a wise counselor who helped them navigate their own career paths.
Valued friend and colleague, Samiha Mourad is truly missed.