The Information Sciences Institute has a history of solving difficult problems – beginning with its own creation.

In 1972, technology maverick Keith Uncapher received an unusual offer. His work at Santa Monica, California-based think tank RAND Corporation, where Uncapher directed the computer science division, had drawn the attention of the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Create and lead a center for emerging technologies, said DARPA officials, and the agency would provide financial support.

Uncapher initially approached the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was told a decision would take 15 months. But given DARPA's interest, Uncapher felt he had no time to waste.

ISI founder Keith Uncapher

USC: Recognizing a Stellar Opportunity

He then appealed to George Bekey, chair of Electrical Engineering Systems at the University of Southern California and a consultant to Rand. Bekey helped arrange for Uncapher to meet with USC Dean of Engineering Zohrab Kaprielian, who wielded considerable influence – and who thought Uncapher’s concept had tremendous promise.

USC's Board of Trustees authorized the center just five days later. In less than a month, ISI launched operations as a largely autonomous arm of USC's School of Engineering. At Uncapher's insistence, the new center would be located off campus to maximize its entrepreneurial bent.