Irreplaceable Sam Stearns Remembered

November 15, 2022

Sam Stearns headshotECE remembers the loss of one of our finest teachers: Samuel D. Stearns. We recently sat down with ECE Professor Marios Pattichis and spoke to him about his old friend and colleague, who died on June 11, 2021.

Marios said he first met "Sam" when he arrived at UNM as an Assistant Professor. He had know of him through his 1985 book on Adaptive Signal Processing.

"He was a tall man, soft-spoken, with a beautiful smile. I remember going to lunch with Sam at the Frontier Restaurant," said Marios.   

"As one of the founders of the Signal Processing area at UNM, he was interested in passing Signal Processing courses to me and the next generation of Signal Processing faculty. I was very impressed by his commitment to UNM."

Samuel D. Stearns received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, in 1953, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 1957 and 1962, respectively.  

Sam retired as a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy. He worked at Dikewood, Sandia National Laboratories as a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff. He was an IEEE Fellow and professor emeritus at UNM. His Fellow citation reads, “For contributions to education in digital and adaptive signal processing systems and algorithms.”

Sam was a long time board member of the Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems, and Computers, the second largest conference on Signal Processing and one of the oldest. 

"Luckily, I was able to replace him on this board soon after he retired from the board," said Marios.

"His latest book on Digital signal processing with examples in MATLAB® was published in 2016."

Sam's textbook was based on fundamental principles from mathematics, linear systems, and signal analysis, and digital signal processing algorithms. These principles can be used in a wide range of application areas like engineering, communications, geophysics, computer science, information technology, medicine, and biometrics.

"Sam was irreplaceable," said Marios. "I was very happy to see him continue teaching at UNM, many years after I arrived.

And we are please to take this Day of the Dead to remember Sam Stearns fondly. Because only by remembering can Sam's spirit live on to inspire us on to greater heights.