ECE Honors Dr. Nicholas Kyriakopoulos' Career

Photo of Professor Nicholas Kyriakopoulos
April 16, 2018

My Life at GW

By Dr. Nicholas Kyriakopoulos

I came to GW as student and leave as professor. The path has been a challenging but highly enriching experience. In the Gymnasium in Greece, I was fascinated by nuclear engineering, but ended up studying electrical engineering because GW didn’t have a nuclear engineering program. In the decade of the 60s, when space exploration presented exciting technological challenges, I started my career as an aerospace engineer working to improve the reliability of semiconductor devices in space applications. I was happy following that trajectory while working on my doctoral dissertation, until Nelson Grisamore, Associate Dean for Research in the GW School of Engineering, called me, offered me an instructorship and gave me forty eight hours to respond.

A group of young recruits undertook the challenge of transforming a part-time evening engineering program into full-time undergraduate and graduate programs. We developed new curricula  and organized and equipped laboratories to support the new curricula. The original power laboratories were supplemented with modern computer, communications and control laboratories.  At the same time, the School of Engineering embarked on an extensive continuing engineering education program that spanned the globe. Hermann Helgert and I were some of the most active members in organizing and lecturing in that program.

As the School evolved from a part-time operation to full-time teaching and research, the Department expanded into the areas of biomedical engineering and computer science. When the computer science faculty voted to form a separate department, I was elected Interim Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department to organize the new Department and coordinate the division of resources between the two departments. In subsequent years, I continued as the Curriculum Coordinator for the Electrical Engineering program, undergraduate student advisor, and author of Self-Study Reports for ABET. All along, my services to the University included participation in numerous Department, School and University Committees.

Since the early eighties I have been using my engineering knowledge to help society control and ultimately eliminate weapons of mass destruction. In support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, I specified and tested prototype remote tracking and data collection systems for monitoring spent nuclear fuel pools and tracking the transport of nuclear materials by ship and airplane. As a member of the U. S. Delegation to the Committee on Disarmament during the negotiations for the Chemical Weapons Convention, I contributed to the specification and design of the verification system that has become an integral part of the treaty. Under the auspices of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs I initiated a project that resulted in the publication of “Verification of Dual-use Chemicals under the Chemical Weapons Convention: The Case of Thiodiglycol” by the Swedish Peace Research Institute. Subsequently, as a member of the Verification Working Group of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty I contributed to the formulation of the design specifications for the Global Communications Infrastructure of the treaty.

Under the auspices of the Verification Technologies Working Group of the European Safeguards Research and Development Association, I organized a project and co-edited the book “Verifying Treaty Compliance: Limiting Weapons of Mass Destruction and Monitoring Kyoto Protocol Provisions”. As a member of the International Group on Global Security I have contributed to a number of monographs on issues related to the implementation of arms control treaties. The combined experience in the various facets of treaty monitoring and verification is reflected in my current research on modeling treaties with monitoring and verification provisions as feedback control systems.