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Neil Siegel

IBM Professor of Engineering Management and Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Computer Science Practice


  • Doctoral Degree, Industrial & Systems Engineering, University of Southern California
  • Master's Degree, Mathematics, University of Southern California
  • Bachelor's Degree, Mathematics, University of Southern California


Neil Siegel is the IBM Professor of Engineering Management and Professor of Engineering Practice with Distinction, in the department of industrial and systems engineering at the USC school of engineering. He is also a Professor of Computer Science Practice. He is a recognized expert in the design and development of large, complex systems that serve important societal needs, both as a practitioner at the largest scales, and as a researcher.

Until his retirement at the end of 2015, he held the position of sector vice-president and chief technology officer at Northrop Grumman, for the Mission Systems and Information Systems sectors. He led the sector's research portfolio ($600M / year), and oversaw the development of technical solutions for their customer's most-important problems. He also oversaw the sector's 12,000-plus scientists and engineers, directed engineering process improvements, and activities to develop the company's technical talent.

Previously, Dr. Siegel served as vice-president and general manager of the company's Tactical Systems division, and a director of the company's U.K. subsidiary.

Dr. Siegel led the engineering on a large number of successful fielded military, intelligence, and commercial systems, including the U.S. Blue-Force Tracker; the Army's first unmanned aerial vehicle; the Forward-Area Air Defense system; the fire-control segment of the world's first complete laser weapon system; and played important roles for many other systems for ground, sea, space, and cyber-space. These systems have repeatedly been cited as model programs and important national capabilities. He also led work for the steel industry, the movie industry, the healthcare industry, and the electric power industry. He helped to invent techniques to reduce unintended adverse interactions between drugs prescribed by different doctors; these techniques are now used almost universally in the U.S. and Europe, saving thousands of lives each year. Techniques that he pioneered are used in a very large number of mobile consumer electronics devices around the world (including almost every GPS receiver, smart phone, and tablet computer in existence). He is a recognized expert in information networking, especially network management, wireless networks, and networks of mobile devices. Much of his recent research has made contributions in the field of improving development methodology for large-scale systems, through the identification of novel root-causes of system-development failures, new methods to correct those root-causes, and application of those new techniques to problem domains such as health, energy, and Government information systems. He holds nearly 50 issued and pending patents worldwide.

Among his many honors are the following:
• U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation
• Election to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering
• Selection as a Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors
• Selection as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
• Selection as a Fellow of the International Congress on Systems Engineering (INCOSE)
• Selection as a Fellow of the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association (AIAA)
• The IEEE Simon Ramo Medal for systems engineering and systems science
• The TRW Chairman’s Award for Innovation (three times)
• The Army's Order of Saint Barbara
• The iCMG award for system architecture
• The Northern Virginia Technology Council CTO-of-the-year award
• The Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award
• The Crosstalk Award for the best-managed software project across the entire U.S. Government

Recent publications include 3 textbooks, as well as a chapter in a book on ethics in engineering. Public service includes board positions for three charitable organizations, 10 years as an elected public official (California Hazard Abatement District board), former membership on the Defense Science Board, the Army Science Board, and the board of the research foundation of the State University of New York.
Programs that he has led have also won many honors, including the inaugural Crosstalk award as the best-ran software program in the entire U.S. government, the IDGA award as the "Most Innovative U.S. Government Program", and the Federal 100 Monticello Award.

Research Summary

His personal research contributions have centered around the systems engineering problem of developing large, complex (both technically and social) societal systems. He has been the actual lead-designer &/or program manager for several such systems, has draw lessons-learned from those experiences, has used the large volume of actual programmatic metrics available from those experiences to design a research program to create new insights into the root-cause of such failures, and created (and validated through his research programs) a set of novel techniques intended to provide better outcomes for such large system development programs. This has involved the creation of design patterns and design guidelines for such systems, methodological guidance, metrics for assessing the adequacy of a design, and guidance for how best to assign people to tasks on such teams. This research has been validated through its application to real development programs, with striking and significant positive results. He has identified novel root-causes of system-development failures, new methods to correct those root-causes, and at present, is working to apply of those new techniques to problem domains such as health, energy, and Government information systems.

An addition research focus has been how to implement large, mobile, ad-hoc radio networks over relatively low data-rate carriers, focusing on what he calls "infrastructureless" networks (e.g., wireless radio-frequency networks that have no fixed infrastructure, such as cell-phone towers, repeaters, etc.) and techniques for achieving acceptable dynamics through what he calls "force-structure-aware" networks. He has been a pioneer in large-scale deployments of GPS-enabled applications (like the Blue-Force Tracking system).

He has been the sponsor for important research in the field of human-computer interaction. This research has resulted in the controlling patents for computer multi-touch (e.g., controlling the action of a computer through touching a computer screen with multiple fingers simultaneously) and free-space gesture (e.g., controlling a computer through free-space gestures without having to wear specially-instrumented gloves, rings, or similar apparatus).


  • 2020 National Academy of Inventors Fellow, National Academy of Inventors
  • 2012 ICMG Systems Architect of the Year
  • 2011 IEEE Simon Ramo Medal for Systems Engineering and Systems Science
  • 2011 IEEE IEEE Fellow
  • 2010 Northern Virginia Technology Council CTO of the Year
  • 2005 US National Academy of Engineering elected member, US National Academy of Engineering
  • 1996 US Army member, Order of Saint Barbara
  • Daniel J Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Thomas Lord Department of Computer Science
  • GER 202C
  • Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center
  • 3715 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 0193
Contact Information
  • (213) 740-0263