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Honoring engineering innovators

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

Northeastern University yesterday unveiled the Bernard M. Gordon Tribute to Engineering Leadership, a high-tech interactive archway in the center of campus honoring engineering leaders, including its namesake, an innovator and Northeastern benefactor.

Located between the Egan Research Center and Snell Engineering Center, the Gordon Archway uses lights and graphics to honor 10 groundbreaking engineers. These include Gordon, several Northeastern trustees and benefactors, and innovators like Dean Kamen and Seymour Cray, said Simon Pitts, director of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program.

Gordon, considered to be the father of the high-speed, analog-to-digital conversions that make much of today’s modern life possible, donated $20 million to Northeastern in 2006 to launch the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, which seeks to identify and prepare the next generation of engineering leaders. The archway, dedicated to Gordon, aims to inspire even more with the life stories of prolific engineering pioneers and leaders.

The program and Gordon’s ongoing support to the university “helps secure Northeastern’s position at the forefront of engineering leadership and education,” said Provost Stephen W. Director, who spoke during a ribbon cutting ceremony held Thursday afternoon.

President Joseph E. Aoun said that Gordon, who was unable to attend the ceremony, wanted the archway to achieve one simple goal: showcase engineers and leaders who changed the world.

“And now, you can be interacting here with engineers, like Bernie, who really have changed the world,” Aoun said.

The president said he had just returned from a trip to Silicon Valley, where an alumnus who now works at Google told him the industry must always stay on top of the latest trends because missing them can be the death knell for innovators.

“What we are doing here is honoring people who are not afraid to innovate. We are honoring people who are not afraid of missing trends,” he said,” because they set the trends.”