How Four IEEE Fellows Changed Their Worlds

Learn about their accomplishments in medicine, the automotive industry, telecommunications, and education

6 February 2009

To be named an IEEE Fellow, a member must have achieved an extraordinary record of accomplishment in an IEEE field of interest. Four new Fellows from the class of 2009 each embody such a record, having made improvements in medicine, the automotive industry, telecommunications, and education, respectively.

MEDICAL IMAGING Susan Hagness, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s College of Engineering, was elevated in the research engineer/scientist category for “contributions to time-domain computational electromagnetics and microwave medical imaging.” Members elevated in this category are “responsible for inventions, discoveries, or advances in the state-of-the-art technological advances.”

One of Hagness’s primary research interests is learning to apply nonionizing electromagnetic waves to detect and treat breast cancer. She led a multidisciplinary team from her school in conducting a comprehensive experimental study of the wideband microwave-frequency dielectric properties of normal and diseased breast tissue.

Here, time-domain computational electromagnetics (CEM) played an important role in developing and investigating microwave breast-imaging algorithms.

“My earlier work on finite-difference time-domain algorithms helped extend these algorithms to problems in bioelectromagnetic effects of microwaves on human breast tissue,” says Hagness. “Now we use CEM tools to evaluate new concepts using computer-based ‘virtual patients.’ ”

Hagness notes that her research has helped inspire female graduate students at the university. “The recruitment and retention of women graduate students in EE is very important to me,” she says. “It is one of the ways in which I want my work to make an impact.”

THE REBEL OF GM Myron Ginsberg, currently a consultant in high-performance computing, was an evangelist for bringing supercomputing to General Motors Research in Detroit in the 1980s. His effort earned him the title of “rebel in residence.” He was elevated to Fellow by IEEE in the application engineer/practitioner category for “application of supercomputers in the automotive industry.” The distinction of Fellow in this category is conferred on a person “responsible for product development, advancement in system, application or operation, project management or construction activity, process development, manufacturing innovation, codes or standards development, or other application of technology.”

In 1983, GM was the first U.S. auto company to buy a supercomputer, which helped the company reduce the time for moving from concept to production of a new vehicle from five years to 18 months. Instead of having to build and test-crash actual prototype cars—an expensive and labor-intensive process that took up to three months per test—GM engineers could use math-based modeling to run computer simulations. “It allowed us to ask ‘what if’ questions,” Ginsberg says, and to get answers fairly quickly.

Having computer models created some interesting, and useful, side effects, he adds. “It allowed us to look at many other things like wind conditions, interior sound levels, and safety, which helped us improve the physical quality of our vehicles,” he says.

Ginsberg went on to teach courses on high-performance computing to industry groups and college students. “I wanted to make it as easy as possible for supercomputer users to get as much performance as possible out of their high-performance machines even if they had no background in EE or computer science.”

CONNECTING INDIA Ashok Jhunjhunwala leads the Telecommunications and Computer Networks group at the Indian Institute of Technology, in Chennai. His group works with his nation’s telecommunications industry to develop world-class telecom and banking products for rural markets. He was elevated in the technical leader category for his “leadership in development of cost-effective telecommunications in remote areas,” efforts that have helped connect rural India with vital services. The technical leader category includes members “responsible for a managerial, team, or company-wide effort using technical innovation and resulting in outstanding performance, economic enhancements, or other advantages to benefit society.”

For example, his group was responsible for designing a wireless communications system for rural areas in the late 1980s, and in 1994 it helped design corDECT Wireless in Local Loop, a low-cost system that connected many of the country’s villages. Jhunjhunwala’s team also developed business models for providing telephony and the Internet in rural India and has developed technologies—including ATM systems and a telediagnostic medical kit—that enhance Internet use there.

Jhunjhunwala is chairman of Mobil Payment Forum of India, an organization working to enable villagers to make financial transactions over their mobile phones. He is currently working on India’s 4G wireless plan, ensuring, he says,“4G wireless technologies are in tune with India’s needs. We want to ensure that broadband takes off in India the way mobile has.”

COMPUTER EDUCATION Nominated in the educator category, Alan Clements received his elevation for “contributions to computer science education.” He is a professor of computer science in the School of Computing and Mathematics at the University of Teesside in Middlesbrough, England. Distinction in the educator category is granted to a member responsible for the advancement of “electrical engineering and scientific technology through education by developing curricula and/or courses that are innovative and unique.”

Clements has authored more than a dozen textbooks, starting with the pioneering Microcomputer Design and Construction, published by Prentice Hall in 1982.

“When I started writing, there was a gap in the spectrum of books, papers, and articles on microcomputers,” Clements says. “Books were either rather theoretical or simply ‘cookbooks’ that did little to explain how systems were designed. I developed a writing style that made my work accessible to all students while often going into detail neglected by similar texts.”

Clements describes his involvement with IEEE as “the greatest single influence on my career over the last two decades because it allowed me to increase the scope of my work and engage with people all over the world.” He serves as editor-in-chief of the IEEE Computer Society Press and has held numerous other IEEE volunteer positions, including six years as director of the IEEE Computer Society’s International Student Design Competition.

“I worked with teams of students from all over the world, which allowed me to encourage them to design innovative and exciting computer-based projects,” he says.

2010 CLASS If you know of an IEEE senior member doing outstanding work as an application engineer/practitioner, educator, research engineer/scientist, or technical leader, consider nominating that person for the Fellow class of 2010. The deadline for nominations, 1 March 2009, is only weeks away.

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