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Ericsson to underwrite UCSD chair

Telecommunications firm Ericsson will fund an endowed chair in wireless communications at the University of California, San Diego, the school announced Wednesday.

Professor Laurence Milstein, long-time faculty member and expert in digital communication theory will be the inaugural Ericsson Endowed Chair in Wireless Communication Access Techniques.

The new chair -- the 21st at the Jacobs School -- is one of two endowed chairs and two faculty fellowships to be provided by Ericsson through its corporate commitment to the UCSD Division of Calit2.

Milstein joined the UCSD faculty in 1976. He is a professor and former chairman of the Jacobs School’s Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department. Previously he was a professor of electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Before that, Milstein spent six years in the Space and Communications Group of Hughes Aircraft Company, which he joined in 1968 after earning his doctorate from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

Milstein typically serves as an advisor to between 15 and 20 doctoral students, and a handful of Master’s degree candidates. He says the biggest advantage of being selected to hold the Ericsson Endowed Chair is the extra funding that will go to support those graduate students.

“I don’t expect the Ericsson chair to change my research qualitatively,” he said, in a statement. “But quantitatively, the Ericsson chair is a tremendous opportunity to fund students who I couldn’t have sponsored otherwise.”

Milstein’s work in digital communications theory has focused on spread-spectrum wireless technologies.

“I believe that the name of the endowed chair recognizes my work in code division multiple access which goes back to its early days as primarily a military technology,” Milstein said.

Most of the support received by Milstein over the years has come from the Pentagon – notably the Office of Naval Research and Army Research Office – and from consulting with defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Hughes. More recently he has worked on potential commercial uses of spread spectrum technologies, with funding members of UCSD’s Center for Wireless Communications (CWC) and from Ericsson.

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