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Prof. Amar Bose 1929-2013

Prof. Amar Bose died yesterday at age 83. When I started studying electrical engineering at MIT many years ago he taught the first 2 terms of circuit theory, the core of the sophomore year. He was by far the best teacher I ever had in any topic and at any level. While the subject of his teaching in the course I took was circuit theory, frequent asides taught many other life lessons.

The remainder of this post is from MIT’s obituary for him:

Dr. Bose received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate from MIT, all in electrical engineering. He was asked to join the faculty in 1956, and he accepted with the intention of teaching for no more than two years. He continued as a member of the MIT faculty until 2001.

During his long tenure at MIT, Dr. Bose made his mark both in research and in teaching. In 1956, he started a research program in physical acoustics and psychoacoustics: This led to his development of many patents in acoustics, electronics, nonlinear systems and communication theory.

Throughout his career, he was cited for excellent teaching. In a 1969 letter to the faculty, then-dean of the School of Engineering R. L. Bisplinghoff wrote, “Dr. Bose is known and respected as one of M.I.T.’s great teachers and for his imaginative and forceful research in the areas of acoustics, loudspeaker design, two-state amplifier-modulators, and nonlinear systems.”

Paul Penfield Jr., professor emeritus of electrical engineering, was a colleague of Dr. Bose, and he recalls what made Dr. Bose different. “Amar was personally creative,” he said, “but unlike so many other creative people, he was also introspective. He could understand and explain his own thinking processes and offer them as guides to others. I’ve seen him do this for several engineering and management problems. At some deep level, that is what teaching is really all about. Perhaps that helps explain why he was such a beloved teacher.”

Dr. Bose received the Baker Teaching Award in 1963-64; he would receive further awards in later years. In 1989, the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching was established by the School of Engineering to recognize outstanding contributions to undergraduate education by members of its faculty. The award was established in order to serve as a tribute to the quality of Dr. Bose’s teaching; it is the School’s highest award for teaching. In 1995, the School established another teaching award, the Junior Bose Award: recipients are chosen from among School of Engineering faculty members who are being proposed for promotion to associate professor without tenure.

“Amar Bose was an exceptional human being and an extraordinarily gifted leader,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif said. “He made quality mentoring and a joyful pursuit of excellence, ideas and possibilities the hallmark of his career in teaching, research and business. I learned from him, and was inspired by him, every single time I met with him. Over the years, I have seen the tremendous impact he has had on the lives of many students and fellow faculty at MIT. This proud MIT graduate, professor and innovator was a true giant who over decades enriched the Institute he loved with his energy, dedication, motivation and wisdom. I have never known anyone like him. I will miss him. MIT will miss him. The world will miss him.”

In 1964, Dr. Bose started Bose Corporation based on research he conducted at MIT. From its inception, the company has remained privately owned, with a focus on long-term research.

“Dr. Bose founded Bose Corporation almost 50 years ago with a set of guiding principles centered on research and innovation. That focus has never changed, and never will,” said Bob Maresca, president of Bose Corporation. “Bose Corporation will remain privately held, and stay true to Dr. Bose’s ideals. We are as committed to this as he was to us. Today and every day going forward, our hearts are with Dr. Bose; and we will do everything we can to make him proud of the company he built.”

In 2011, to fulfill his lifelong dream to support MIT education, Dr. Bose gave to MIT the majority of the stock of Bose Corporation in the form of nonvoting shares. Under the terms of the gift, dividends from those shares will be used by MIT to sustain and advance MIT’s education and research mission. MIT cannot sell its Bose shares, and does not participate in the management or governance of the company.

In expressing appreciation to Dr. Bose on the occasion of the gift, MIT’s then-president, Susan Hockfield, said of him, “His insatiable curiosity propelled remarkable research, both at MIT and within the company he founded. Dr. Bose has always been more concerned about the next two decades than about the next two quarters.”

“Amar Bose was a legend at MIT,” said MIT Chancellor Eric Grimson, who served as a faculty colleague of Dr. Bose in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “He was an incredible teacher, an inspiring mentor, a deep and insightful researcher. He has influenced multiple generations of students, both directly through the classroom and laboratory, and through the many students he influenced who have themselves pursued careers as faculty, propagating Professor Bose’s approach to mentorship and teaching.”

Dr. Bose was given many awards and honors during his lifetime. He was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar, an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Vanu G. Bose ’87, SM ’94, PhD ’99, son of Dr. Bose, said, “Personally, my single greatest educational experience at MIT was being a teaching assistant for my father in his acoustics course (6.312). While my father is well known for his success as an inventor and businessman, he was first and foremost a teacher. I could not begin to count the number of people I’ve met who’ve told me that my father was the best professor they ever had and how taking 6.01 from him changed their life.

“My father’s 66-year relationship with MIT was an integral part of his life. He would often talk about his mentors, professors Ernst Guillemin, Norbert Wiener, Y. W. Lee and Jerome Wiesner, as having played critical roles in shaping his life and work. It was because of everything that MIT did for him that my father was so pleased to be able to give back to MIT through his gift.”

Another tribute to Bose from MIT site.
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