In memoriam: Mahmoud Riaz

Professor Emeritus Mahmoud Riaz of Minneapolis, a long-time professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 1959 to 1999, passed away on Aug. 10, 2012. He was 87. Riaz is best known for his solar energy research in the 1970s.

Riaz was born Feb. 27, 1925 in Paris France. Riaz received his LL.B. (bachelor of laws) from the University of Paris in 1944, a bachelor of science from the University of Cairo in 1946, a master’s in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1947, and an electrical engineering and doctorate in science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1952 and 1955, respectively.

Riaz began his teaching career in 1947 as a teaching assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he eventually became an instructor and assistant professor in the 1950s. He came to the University of Minnesota in 1959 as an associate professor in electrical engineering and became a full professor in 1978. He was part of the department’s energy systems research group until he retired from the University of Minnesota in 1999.

Riaz published numerous professional journal articles, sponsored research reports, textbooks, monographs, patents, and instructional materials. He gave talks at professional conferences and participated in worldwide invited talks. One of the highlights was presenting a six-week invited lecture series on Solar and Electrical Energy Systems in the People’s Republic of China in 1979. He also provided presentations for the National Science Foundation’s Review on Solar Energy Projects and the International Seminar on Large-Scale Solar Energy Test Facilities.

For many years Riaz, together with Professor Jack Judy, organized and taught multi-week refresher programs in math, science, computing and engineering, called Modern Technical Concepts. Courses were taught in residential retreat settings for engineering managers from companies like IBM and 3M.

Riaz’s awards included the First Prize Paper Award from the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1958, the Journal Premium from the Journal of Franklin Institute in 1971, and the Levy Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1972.

Riaz was a senior member of IEEE, Life Fellow of Franklin Institute, an associate member of IEE-London, and a member of International Solar Energy Society and Sigma Xi.

Among his many University assignments, Riaz served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Electrical Engineering and on several University committees including the Scholastic Standards Committee, University Patent Committee, and Honors Program Committee to name a few.

In addition to his academic career, Riaz had an extensive consulting career serving major industries such as Boeing, Honeywell, NASA Electronics Research Center, and Sundstrand Aviation.