Fellows Blaze New Paths

This is the first in an occasional series highlighting the accomplishments made by the 2008 class of IEEE Fellows

7 February 2008

This is the first in an occasional series highlighting the accomplishments made by some of the 295 members of the 2008 class of IEEE Fellows.

SAFER SKIES Each time your airplane arrives safely at its destination, you can thank Paul Ebert. His contributions led to the development of the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System used today on all large commercial passenger planes. Ebert, an engineer now with Intellasys in Lansdowne, Va., was recognized for this work in the application engineering/practitioner category.

Collision avoidance systems in the 1970s were not widely implemented because they required expensive new equipment to be installed on each aircraft. Ebert and his colleagues at Mitre Corp. in McLean, Va., developed a better system by redesigning the transponders already used on most planes. They modified the design of the Beacon Collision Avoidance System to improve the quality of the transponder’s range and altitude data to provide the basis for tracking aircraft. Some of their changes included mitigating sources of signal interference and installing enough antennas to assure receiving information at close range.

SMALL PRINT Daniel Gamota is helping to develop the materials, processes, and manufacturing equipment for launching a revolutionary technology: printed electronics. This merges nanotechnology, microelectronics, and graphic arts to produce flexible displays, non-volatile memory arrays, distributed sensor systems, and ad-hoc wireless communication networks. Gamota was recognized in the technical leader category for his work in nanotechnology-based printed-electronic products. He is director of printed electronics at Motorola in Schaumburg, Ill. So far his team has manufactured more than 125 kilometers worth of different digital and logic circuits.

He was the lead editor of Printed Organic and Molecular Electronics [Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2004], the first book to deal with semiconductor inks, semiconductor manufacturing, graphic arts printing, and nanotechnology. He also chaired the IEEE working groups that published the first standards on nanoelectronics and printed and organic electronics: IEEE 1650 Standard Test Methods for Measurement of Electrical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes and IEEE 1620 Standard Test Methods for the Characterization of Organic Transistors and Materials.

CINEMA SOUND His success in bringing realistic sound to the cinema and to home theaters was why Tomlinson Homan was elevated to Fellow in the research engineer/scientist category. He invented several technologies applied in the movie industry, notably the multichannel THX sound system, now found in movie theaters worldwide. The system produces balanced, realistic sound at any location in the theater. Homan went on to tailor system dynamics for computer audio and home theaters. He is the principal of TMH Corp., in Yucca Valley, Calif.

He developed the world’s first 10.2 surround sound system and created what became known as the Holman preamplifier. Texas Instruments is using his technique for automated room equalization in its digital signal-processing chips for receivers and equalizers.

TALENT HUNT Karen Panetta was elevated to Fellow in the educator category for her leadership in engineering education and curriculum development designed to attract, retain, and advance women in engineering. She was cited for creating the Nerd Girls project at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass., where she is a professor of electrical and computer engineering. Nerd Girls is a documentary about a team of female students performing engineering tasks as they build a solar-powered car. The movie follows their personal ups and downs as they pursue their engineering degrees. The film crew followed the team as it drove the car along the East Coast from Rockport, Mass., visiting schools and sharing experiences with teachers and students. Nerd Girls is being developed into a reality TV series of the same name expected to debut this year.

Panetta is chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering Committee and editor in chief of the electronic IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine, launched in December.

These are a few of the many IEEE members making the world a better place. If you know of someone doing outstanding work as an application engineer/practitioner, educator, research engineer/scientist, or technical leader, consider nominating that person for Fellow for the class of 2009. The rank of IEEE Fellow is the institute’s highest member grade, bestowed on IEEE senior members who have contributed to “the advancement or application of engineering, science, and technology.” The deadline for nominations is 1 March 2008. For more information, visit the Fellows Web page.

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