In Memoriam: John Hadjilogiou

It is with sadness we report the passing of distinguished professor emeritus John Hadjilogiou, who spent 45 years at Florida Tech as a teacher, department head, mentor and classroom innovator in electrical and computer engineering.

Dr. Hadjilogiou passed away in his sleep on March 11 at his Brevard Count home, his family by his side. He was 84.

Born in Egypt to Greek parents, he came to the United States in the early 1960s on a student visa sponsored by his sister. After graduating from the RCA Institutes in New York, a well-known electronics school, he was promptly hired as a research assistant at the RCA Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Influenced and encouraged by the many Ph.Ds. he worked with to seek a higher degree, Dr. Hadjilogiou soon enrolled at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now Polytechnic Institute of New York), where through scholarships and fellowships he went on to earn his bachelor and master’s degrees and Ph.D., all in electrical engineering.

He graduated in 1970 with that Ph.D., and later that year was offered a job at Florida Tech. It was the start of a nearly five-decade relationship that lasted until his retirement in 2015.

Driven by his desire to provide the best engineering education for students, Dr. Hadjilogiou explored and ultimately promulgated new methods of teaching, including what he called a System Design Integration Approach (SDIA). In a paper he presented, he described the broad contours of this method for first-year students:

“The SDIA is fun and exciting for both students and instructors, as each individual student becomes a contributor and co-owner of the course,” he wrote. “During a typical class meeting, the SDIA promotes the evolution and continuous improvement of the course structure by introducing new ideas, posing new challenges, and requesting student feedback—all of which combine to yield extraordinary results.”

It was a snapshot of Dr. Hadjilogiou’s belief in the importance of both student involvement and system thinking. It brought him deserved attention and accolades, including the prestigious Minuteman Plaque from the Air Force System Command, Rome Air Development Center and the MITRE Corporation “for his leadership and vision for the continuous improvement in the quality of undergraduate engineering education nationwide.”

In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Hadjilogiou served as undergraduate electrical engineering program coordinator. Then, in 1980, he was appointed acting head of the ECE department by former head Andrew Revay Jr., who was then dean of the School of Science and Engineering. “John’s leadership, dedication and extensive experience will serve the department well,” Revay said at the time.

He held this leadership position for 12 years, during which he continued to push for additions and improvements. In 1982, the university opened a “well-equipped” microwave laboratory as part of a broader expansion of facilities to accommodate ECE students, Florida Tech’s Pelican newsletter reported.  At the time, there were 600 ECE students starting the academic year as majors in the two disciplines.

Known as Dr. Hadji to his students, the dark-haired professor with the John Travolta-like cleft chin was a mentor to many of them, even a father figure. “He felt a responsibility to help them succeed not only as engineers, but also as caring and giving individuals,” according to his obituary. And his skills were noticed: In May 2011, he was named Most Valuable Panther.

Samuel Kozaitis, a professor of computer engineering and sciences who served as ECE department head for 14 years, said his friend and colleague was critical to the department’s growth and evolution.

“Dr. Hadjilogiou, ‘Hadji,’ was whole-heartedly devoted to the then ECE department and had a significant positive impact on its development,” Kozaitis said. “He was very engaging and loved by students from around the world, who would inquire about him even 30 years after graduating. He was outgoing, generous, funny and full of life and will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

And it was indeed a pleasure to know him and, if one was lucky, to get a taste of his warmth and generosity. According to his obituary, “When people came to his home the ‘whole refrigerator’ came out. John encouraged everyone to EAT! A friend to all, he loved to make people laugh with his jokes and stories. He greeted and welcomed everyone with a smile. John was a positive person who brought joy to his family and everyone around him.”

One example: A notice for an ECE alumni event at his home to mark the 50th anniversary of Florida Tech notes that attendees “are invited to an evening of Greek food, Greek dancing and camaraderie!”

“We would like to express our deep sadness at the passing of our dearest friend John Hadjilogiou,” Muzaffar Shaikh, professor emeritus and president-elect of the Florida Tech Emeriti Group, said on behalf of the group. “John’s sincerity, his dedication to the welfare of the university, his smile, and of course his all-too-familiar voice will never be forgotten. He will most certainly be missed by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. We offer our heart-felt condolences to the family and friends.”

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Hadjilogiou was deeply involved in the Orthodox Church. A longtime president of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Melbourne, he and his wife Fran provided the leadership that organized the first ever Greek Festival at St. Katherine’s on a Sunday in 1972. The event is now a three-day extravaganza that draws thousands for the food, culture and displays.

Dr. Hadjilogiou is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, whom he started dating in 1963 and married on Sept. 11, 1966. Other survivors are his son Steve, daughter In-law Amy, grandsons John, 12, and Christian, 10, and many cousins. He will be laid to rest beside his beloved son Alex.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. April 1 at St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, 5695 N. Wickham Road in Melbourne followed by internment at Florida Memorial Gardens in Rockledge at 12:30 p.m. A traditional luncheon will then be held at the Chart House in Melbourne.

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