115 Years, 115 Impactful Moments

Play USC Viterbi’s 115th anniversary trivia game, support local K-12 students

In 1905, USC offered its very first engineering courses out of the physics and mathematics departments.

One hundred and fifteen years later, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering has a name and a host of accomplishments over the ensuing 11.5 decades.

This past May, Dean Yannis Yortsos, working with USC Viterbi vice deans, chairs, and select senior faculty, sought to identify 115 amazing USC Viterbi accomplishments by faculty, students and alumni over that span of time. This list would span all eight departments, the famed USC Information Sciences Institute and various programs of the school.

This list, like many of its kind, suffers from a clear recency bias. It is by no means the definitive list of all the USC Viterbi School’s noteworthy accomplishments! However, despite these limitations, perhaps it will serve as a helpful primer on what George Bekey, USC Viterbi professor emeritus, once called the school’s “remarkable trajectory.”

Test your knowledge of these USC Viterbi “wins” in a “Who Wants To be A Millionaire”-style interactive game above.

Or, for those who prefer to dive right in…the full list of 115 accomplishments for 115 years awaits.


Catalyst for Economic Growths

In 2003, the Center for Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies (CiSoft) is established as one of the school's most successful industry-sponsored research centers.

This collaborative research center with support from Chevron has produced more than 100 Ph.D. students and with funding exceeding $45 million.

Development of the first packet radio terminal concept is led by Tom Ellis at ISI in 1979.

A forerunner of the modern smartphone, the system proposes communicating by radio with the help of a keyboard and display screen.

In 1974, ISI develops the first portable remote-access terminal, a significant step in the evolution to laptop computers. The terminal is used by the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which supports ISI and the burgeoning ARPANET.

In 1981, ISI's Danny Cohen creates the breakthrough Metal Oxide Semiconductor Implementation Service (MOSIS).

Likely the world’s first e-commerce site, MOSIS slashes chip production costs by consolidating multiple customers’ projects onto shared wafers.

USC ISI designs an interface for ARPANET in 1972, which later becomes the basis of the internet.

Over the next several decades, ISI plays a pivotal role in creating and managing ARPANET/internet, including its core concepts, technical standards, and ongoing functionality.

The internet's pivotal Domain Name System (DNS) is invented by ISI researcher Paul Mockapetris in 1983.

The DNS works as a phone book directory for the internet, automatically translating text addresses, which humans can understand and remember, to numerical addresses that computers can understand.

In 2004, with a donation by trustee Mark Stevens, USC Viterbi establishes what is today known as the Stevens Institute for Innovation — the largest naming gift to establish a technology commercialization institute at an engineering school.

USC Viterbi was selected by the National Science Foundation in 2014 to lead a regional hub for start-ups in Southern California: Innovation Node-Los Angeles.

At the time, it was one of only seven such designated sites in the United States, building on USC Viterbi entrepreneurial strength represented by MEPC, Startup Garage, and the Min Family Challenge.

In 1984, Al Dorman, M.S. CE '62, became the founding chairman and first CEO of AECOM Technology Corp, a top-ranked engineering design firm that generated over $20 billion operating in 100 countries in 2019.

Dorman’s most famous early work was the design and construction of Disneyland.

Co-founded by Andrew Viterbi (Ph.D. EE ’62) in 1985, Qualcomm becomes one of the foremost developers of wireless telecommunications products and services; became world’s leading mobile chipset provider in 2007.

In 1977, A.C. “Mike” Markkula Jr. (B.S. EE ’64 and M.S. EE ’66) becomes the co-founder and first investor in Apple. He plays a critical role in helping to build Apple into a Fortune 500 company in less than five years.

The Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize Competition (MEPC) becomes one of the first business plan competitions at an engineering school in 2010 after an endowment from entrepreneur Fariborz Maseeh.

Second Spectrum, the 2013 victor, is currently the official tracking and analytics provider for the NBA, MLS and Premier League.

In 1950, Irving Reed and associates demonstrate Northrop’s MADDIDA, one of the world’s first digital computers, to John von Neumann at Princeton.

In 1959, Irving Reed and Gustave Solomon submit the paper establishing the Reed-Solomon codes. Decades later, the codes continue to fix intractable errors in technologies today. Used in everything from satellite communications to QR codes to your home internet connectivity.

H.C. Andrews and William K. Pratt pioneer the JPEG compression standard, allowing images to be transmitted over the Internet. The Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI) is founded in 1972.

In 1967, alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi publishes a paper describing what later became known as the “Viterbi Algorithm,” the theoretical basis for worldwide cellular communication.

Between 1995 and 2020, Jay Kuo and his alumni contributed immensely to the evolution of MPEG compression standards for video transmission via the Internet.

In 1998, thanks to a generous donation by Alfred Mann, USC established the Alfred E Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering (AMI) to transform scientific discoveries into useful products.