(June 2, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on Prof. Azad M. Madni

Dr. Azad M. Madni

“Entrepreneur, Researcher, Educator, Mentor”

AIAA Fellow

Professor, Astronautical Engineering
Executive Director, System Architecting & Engineering Program
Director, Distributed Autonomy and Intelligent Systems Laboratory
University of Southern California

Azad M. Madni is an entrepreneur, researcher, educator, author, and mentor. An AIAA Fellow and AIAA/ASEE Leland Atwood Award recipient, he is currently a Professor of Astronautical Engineering and Executive Director of Systems Architecting and Engineering Program at the University of Southern California. He is the founder and CEO of Intelligent Systems Technology, Inc., a high-tech R&D company specializing in simulation-based training and intelligent decision aiding technologies for defense, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Inspired by President Kennedy’s “we choose to go to the moon” speech in 1962 while in Mumbai, India, he decided early on that he wanted to be part of the space program. He came to the US as an undergraduate and earned a BS degree in engineering from UCLA. He began working for The Ralph M. Parsons Co on defense programs while simultaneously earning his MS in Engineering from UCLA. He returned to UCLA full-time to begin work on his doctorate degree. A few months into the program, he was recruited by Rockwell International to work on NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. It was a dream come true.

He began work at Rockwell as the lead engineer for the Shuttle Entry and Terminal Area Energy Management (TAEM) navigation studies. In this capacity, he made several key technical contributions to the design of the shuttle navigation system including the development of stochastic error models for navigation sensors. His signature contribution to the Shuttle Program was an innovative, probabilistic model-based approach to navigation system performance testing that produced significant cost savings for Rockwell in navigation system testing for the Shuttle orbiter’s Approach Landing Tests and Orbital Flight Tests. For these important contribution, he received five Technology Utilization Awards from Rockwell and a NASA commendation.

In 1977, he was recruited by his advisor to head up the R&D group of Perceptronics, a UCLA startup. He joined the company and was able to contribute right away in a leadership position. He led the company’s R&D in AI and human-machine systems, game-based training simulators, and distributed, virtual reality-enabled simulation-based training systems. He rose to the position of Executive VP for R&D and Chief Technology Officer of the Company. The company experienced impressive growth and was successful in going public. Shortly thereafter, he decided to start his own hi-tech company.

In 1994, he founded Intelligent Systems Technology, Inc., to conduct R&D in innovative uses of AI in complex systems engineering and interactive storytelling simulations for education and training. As CEO, he was successful in growing the company 1588% in the first five years garnering numerous awards and honors. He had created award-winning products and was the recipient of SBA’s National Tibbetts Award for California. He went on the win Developer of the Year from the Software Council of Southern California in 2000 and 2004.

In 2006, he was recruited by the University of Southern California (USC) to assume the leadership of the Systems Architecting and Engineering Program as Director and full professor. He accepted the position in 2009. Under his leadership, the program became a top-rated graduate program in Systems Engineering in the country. In 2016, Boeing honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Visionary Systems Engineering Leadership Award for his “impact on Boeing, the aerospace industry, and the nation.” He is also the founding director of USC’s doctoral program in Systems Architecting and Engineering within the Astronautical Engineering Department.

He pioneered the field of transdisciplinary systems engineering and wrote an award-winning book on the subject, Transdisciplinary Systems Engineering: Exploiting Convergence in a Hyper-Connected World (foreword by Norm Augustine), Springer 2018. He is the co-author of Tradeoff Decisions in System Design, Springer, 2016, Co-Editor-in-Chief of two CSER research volumes, and Editor of MDPI Systems special issue on Model Based Systems Engineering. An ardent STEM advocate and member of USC Provost’s STEM Steering Committee, he has mentored several aspiring entrepreneurs and students especially from under-represented groups since 1994. He conducts research in intelligent systems, distributed autonomy, formal and probabilistic methods, and machine learning in complex systems modeling.

He is a Life Fellow of IEEE, INCOSE, SDPS, IETE, and Fellow of AIAA and AAAS. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including prestigious international awards from eight different professional societies. In 2011, he received the INCOSE Pioneer Award. In 2019, he received the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Pioneer Award, the AIAA/ASEE John Leland Atwood Award, the ASME CIE Leadership Award, the INCOSE Founders Award, and the Society of Modeling and Simulation International’s Presidential Award.


Azad Madni Recognized for Lasting Contributions to Advances in Aerospace Systems

INCOSE Fellow honored with IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Pioneer Award

2019 IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Pioneer Award.
2019 – “For contributions to advanced simulation-based training and intelligent decision aiding for aerospace systems.”

Azad Madni Receives 2019 ASME CIE Leadership Award

Azad Madni Receives the Prestigious INCOSE 2019 Founders Award

Azad Madni Honored by Boeing at USC

Society of Modeling and Simulation International’s Presidential Award for Enabling the Modeling and Simulation Discipline

Collaborate Through Stories: Using Interactive Storytelling to Bridge the Gap Between Engineers and Stakeholders

INCOSE Fellow Azad M. Madni Receives Prestigious Awards from Orange County Engineering Council

Azad Madni Named an INCOSE Pioneer

Distinguished Industry CEO Azad Madni Joins Viterbi School

Winners of the 2017 Engineers’ Council Awards

Engineering Systems: A Convergence of Disciplines