Vanu Bose, Class of ’87 and Corporation member, dies

Bose helped renew cell service for Hurricane Maria victims

Vanu Bose ’87, a member of the MIT Corporation and a leader in bringing cellular coverage to underserviced regions in the U.S. and abroad, died Saturday of a sudden pulmonary embolism at age 52.

Bose was elected to the Corporation, MIT’s board of trustees, July 1, 2013. Since then, he has served on four visiting committees: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mathematics, Media Lab and Media Arts and Sciences, and Social Sciences, Robert Millard ’73, chairman of the Corporation, wrote in an email to The Tech.

Visiting committees assess academic and other major departments at MIT on a biannual basis.

In addition to his positions at the Corporation, Bose advised several other groups and initiatives on campus, including the Professor Amar G. Bose Research Grant Program (named in his father’s honor), to which he was “passionately dedicated,” Millard wrote.

The grants offer up to $500,000 in project funding over three years, and their purpose is to support faculty who pursue unconventional research.

“The awards acknowledge the spirit of insatiable curiosity that my father embraced,” Bose said at a November 2016 reception, according to MIT News. The elder Bose ’51 founded Bose Corporation and taught as an EECS professor at MIT for over 45 years.

Vanu Bose also made local headlines just last month for his work helping Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico communicate with their families.

Two weeks after the hurricane hit, “only about 15 percent of the U.S. territory [had] cell service,” reported Boston radio news station WBUR. “But thousands of Puerto Ricans [were] able to contact people by cell phone, thanks to the work of a Lexington company.”

The company, Vanu, Inc., was founded by Bose in 1998 and arose out of his doctoral research on “virtual radio architecture” at MIT. Vanu, Inc. specializes in bringing cost- and energy-efficient cellular infrastructure to remote, rural areas, and newly developed technologies have been piloted in locations as diverse as Vermont and Rwanda.

At the time of the Oct. 5 WBUR story, Bose had donated three stations to Puerto Rico and planned to ship 40 more. Each station, a portable 11 by 12 by 4 inch box, operated in a three-mile radius and connected to a satellite dish that reached a switch in Long Island, which was then connected to various telecom operators, Bose told WBUR.

“All of a sudden, everybody started pulling their phones out because all the text messages from their families and relatives started coming through,” Bose said. The renewed internet connection also allowed residents to find resources and arrange to leave the island.

During his time as a student at MIT, Bose earned three degrees: a Bachelor of Science in EECS and Mathematics in 1988, a Master of Science in EECS in 1994, and a PhD in 1999.