Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Edward A. Friedman '57

Physicist aids developing areas through IT

Edward A. Friedman credits MIT with fostering his optimism. As an undergraduate physics major, he worked on applied-science projects, theoretical research, and public affairs. He discovered a love of James Joyce in humanities class, and in physics, he had long conversations with esteemed faculty members.

“Through hard work and the open, nurturing atmosphere at MIT, I became convinced that anything was possible,” Friedman says.

His positive attitude has led to an adventurous career. In 1963, he graduated from Columbia University with a PhD in physics and joined the physics department at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. On behalf of Stevens, he participated in a U.S. Agency for International Development program to develop a college of engineering in Afghanistan. Ten years later, the college had 500 students and 35 Afghan faculty members, and Friedman received the prestigious Education Medal of Afghanistan.

This story is part of the September/October 2011 Issue of the MIT News Magazine
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

After returning to Stevens in 1973, Friedman became dean of the college and led a curriculum change that required every student to own a personal computer. This made it possible to integrate computers into science, mathematics, and engineering courses. In 1988 Friedman extended this concept to K-12 schools by encouraging the use of IT-enhanced curricula in schools in New Jersey, Florida, and Arizona, as well as in Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.

That experience is central to his current project: bringing computer-assisted medical diagnosis to rural clinics in Africa. His involvement began several years ago, when the United Nations asked him to take a leadership role on computer use in regional health care.

“As I had the opportunity to visit rural clinics,” he says, “I was struck with the extreme shortage of doctors. For example, there are 400 doctors in Rwanda for a population of about 10 million people. Expert systems were the only way to go.”

Friedman is working with colleagues to adapt a software system that some Indian clinics staffed only with low-level technicians and a nurse use to treat more than two-thirds of their rural patients. His team is currently seeking the $2.5 million required for a pilot test in 15 clinics in sub-Saharan Africa.

His family shares his international interests. His spouse, Dr. Arline (AJ) Lederman, a retired fine-art professor, is vice president of the board for the nonprofit Solar Cookers International. His sons are professors: Timur teaches computer science at the University of Paris, and Kerim teaches anthropology at Dong Hua University in Taiwan. Friedman and Lederman live in New Jersey, Friedman’s home state, and enjoy frequent trips to Manhattan.

The latest Insider Conversation is live! Listen to the story behind the story.

Subscribe today
Already a Premium subscriber? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.