A Brief History of the

Southeastern Symposium on System Theory




In the Spring of 1968, Professor Bill Blackwell, recently appointed head of the Electrical Engineering Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI), contacted 20 other electrical engineering department heads throughout the southeastern United States concerning the desirability of a regional conference on system modeling, analysis, simulation and control. The response was enthusiastic.   


After receiving this encouragement, the Electrical Engineering Department at VPI organized and hosted the first Southeastern Symposium on System Theory at its campus, on May 5-6, 1969.  The symposium, which had an attendance of 60, was co-sponsored by the Virginia Mountain Section of the IEEE and held in cooperation with the System Science and Cybernetics Group of the IEEE. The technical program for the first SSST consisted of 24 papers organized into six sessions, and the published proceedings contained 323 typewritten pages in bound form.  


During the planning for the first SSST, and in the early meetings of the Steering Committee, it was emphasized that the primary goal of the SSST should be to promote better communications and stronger contacts between faculty members teaching electrical engineering and systems theory courses at universities in the Southeastern US. It was hoped that the SSST conference would become a regular forum for faculty and graduate students to exchange ideas. Particular emphasis was placed upon the importance of graduate student participation. It was also stressed that the meetings should be held on, or close to, university campuses to afford faculty and students the opportunity to see various departments and activities at the host school.