Max Mintz, computer and information science

Max Mintz, computer and information science

Max Mintz, professor emeritus of computer and information science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, died on April 18 after complications from illness. He was 79 years old.

Dr. Mintz earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Cornell University, then taught at Yale University from 1968 to 1972 and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1972 to 1974 In 1974, Dr. Mintz joined Penn’s faculty as an assistant professor of systems. engineering, now part of Penn Engineering’s electrical and systems engineering department. Dr. Mintz was promoted to associate professor in 1976; ten years later, it changed its department affiliation to computer and information science. At this time, he was named the Alfred G. and Meta A. Ennis Associate Professor of Computing and Information Science. Dr. Mintz became a full professor in 1998 and served the department as undergraduate program director and member of graduate study groups (including general robotics and sensory perception [GRASP] team).

Dr. Mintz was well known as an excellent and engaging teacher and counselor. He has twice won Penn Engineering’s S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award for Distinguished Teaching (Almanac December 18, 1990). In 2000 he won the Penn’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching; in its price quote (Almanac April 18, 2000), a student described him as “funny, lively, exciting, clear, passionate and devoted”. A parent commented, “It was Max’s concern and care for my son that made me look at Penn in a way that led me to support the school of many ways. He truly cares about the students and will do whatever it takes to help them succeed. Dr. Mintz has also mentored students, and in 2000 he received the Ford Motor Company Award for Distinguished Advising (Almanac May 30, 2000). Students have “praised” Dr. Mintz in the nomination forms for this award: “A strong relationship with a knowledgeable advisor is the key to a successful academic career.

Despite his advanced age, Dr. Mintz never retired. In the early 2000s, he served on several faculty council and senate committees and served as associate chair of Penn’s University Scholars Program, which provides research funding to motivated undergraduate students. During a recent hospital stay, he was working on his textbook for his freshman seminar course, CIS 181: The Quantum and the Computer, which he planned to publish as a book for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In the professional field, Dr. Mintz has won NSF and Air Force Office of Scientific Research fellowships and served as a Senior Resident Associate of the National Research Council. He has worked on developing a better understanding of the nature of good algorithms for decision-making under uncertainty, with applications to machine perception and robotics. He has published this research widely, writing over 100 articles.

“He was a friend, colleague and mentor to many of us at Penn Engineering,” the school wrote in an online tribute. “We all recognized Max from a block away. He would wear his trademark yellow windbreaker, and he was always ready with a smile, whether you were a colleague, a student in his class, or a member of staff he had known for years. He will be missed by all of us.

Dr. Mintz is survived by his wife, Caroline Mintz. Information on memorial services is forthcoming.

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