IEEE Members Make Headlines: April 2016

One developed lifesaving technology; another created programs to increase classroom diversity

8 April 2016

IEEE members frequently make news through their groundbreaking contributions to society. The past few weeks have been no exception.

Member Mohammed Al Shehhi was honored for his work on a system that could save children from suffering heatstroke or dehydration as a result of being left alone in a hot car. His Smart Solar-Powered Ventilation System for Vehicles invention received a 2016 Innovator Award from the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Interior. Al Shehhi is a researcher at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, in Abu Dhabi.

More than 30 children die each year from being left in a vehicle in the UAE, where temperatures can soar above 40 °C. Al Shehhi’s system can detect whether a child is still in the car after it has been parked for several minutes. Sensors in the vehicle activate a device that cools the car’s interior and sends a text message to alert the child’s caretaker.

The U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented IEEE Fellow Larry Hornbeck with an Academy Award of Merit—its highest honor in the category of science and technology. Hornbeck, a research fellow at Texas Instruments in Dallas, was cited for inventing the digital micromirror device (DMD), an optical semiconductor found in TI digital light processing (DLP) projectors.

Fellow C.L. Max Nikias received the 2016 Diversity Award from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association. He was honored for his efforts to increase cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity among ECE students and faculty at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. Nikias, USC’s president, was dean of the university’s Viterbi School of Engineering from 2001 to 2005.

While he was dean, he helped launch resources to encourage diversity and inclusion, including USC’s Women in Science and Engineering program, which aims to increase the number of women in tenured and tenure-track faculty positions.

As university president, Nikias has increased financial aid for underrepresented students in the form of Pell Grants, which are awarded based on need and do not have to be repaid. USC ranks among the top U.S. private research universities in Pell Grant recipients.

Member Justin Odom received a Modern Day Technology Leader Award at the 2016 Black Engineer of the Year Awards STEM Global Competitiveness Conference, held in February in Philadelphia. The annual awards are presented to people who are shaping the future of engineering, science, and technology.

Odom, a general engineer at Commonwealth Edison in Illinois, designs primary power distribution systems. He is a U.S. representative on the administrative council at Cigre, a Paris-based international organization that works to improve electric power systems.

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