IEEE Award Recognizes Recent Breakthroughs Likely to Be Milestones

Stepping Stone Award honors technical achievements that benefit mankind

27 April 2016

Late last year, the IEEE Region 5 (Southwestern United States) History Committee became aware that a technological feat had occurred in its area. The NASA New Horizons spacecraft, which has opened up exploration at the edge of our solar system and beyond, was coordinated by the Southwest Research Institute and the scientists, engineers, and program managers at its sites in San Antonio, Texas, and Boulder, Colo. The pictures the spacecraft took of Pluto are spectacular, and now New Horizons is heading even farther away from Earth to explore what lies outside the solar system.

The New Horizons landmark achievement can’t yet be considered for an IEEE Milestone, which recognizes technical developments around the world that occurred at least 25 years ago. So the Region 5 History Committee decided to establish a program to recognize scientific and engineering prowess and know-how that might well qualify for a Milestone in the future.

The committee created the IEEE Region 5 Stepping Stone Award, which will be given up to three times a year to honor achievements that take place in the Southwestern United States, organizers say. The honored achievements will be recent developments that have already made a substantial impact in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field. The award will be considered a precursor to an eventual nomination for an IEEE Milestone.

Any Region 5 member or organizational unit can submit a Stepping Stone suggestion by filling out a proposal form and emailing it to John R. Purvis, chair of the region’s History Committee. Once the committee approves the proposal and the award is presented, the person or group who submitted the application will be responsible for monitoring the recipient’s continuing impact.

The committee urges other IEEE regions to consider implementing similar programs to recognize outstanding science and engineering prowess demonstrated in products, processes, and services that will benefit the knowledge and well-being of humanity for years to come.

IEEE Fellow Theodore A. Bickart is former chair of both the IEEE Milestone subcommittee and the Region 5 History Committee.

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