IEEE Fellows Accomplishing More At Younger Ages

These members prove you don't need to be in the twilight of your career to qualify to be a Fellow

5 December 2008

01IEEE Fellows are a select class of members. To become a Fellow, nominees must have achieved an extraordinary record of accomplishments in one of the IEEE fields of interest. The accomplishments should have contributed in an important way to the advancement or application of engineering, science, or technology and have provided significant value to society. But how long does it take to make such outstanding contributions? Must you work decades, or can you be acknowledged for breakthroughs made early in your career?

This year's class of IEEE Fellows proves that you need not be in the twilight of your career or have worked in your field for many years to have accomplished something significant. The 2008 class boasts 182 out of 295 new Fellows between the ages of 31 and 54.

Four of the "young" Fellows have something in common: they're working to make everyday life easier.

02A WIRELESS LEADER The next time you use your laptop to check your e-mail, think about William Webb, whose work in wireless technology helped make Wi-Fi possible. Webb, 41, is head of R&D and is senior technologist at the UK telecommuni-cations regulator Ofcom. He was elevated in the Fellow technical leader category for his "leadership in the deployment of third-generation mobile and wireless LAN technology."

Webb began making his mark in 1991 with variable-level modulation, which he developed while at British Telecom (now known as BT). Webb observed that the strength of a wireless signal—and therefore the amount of information that could be sent over it—varied depending on how close the user was to a base station or tower.

"I came up with the idea of dynamically varying the amount of information you send based on the strength of the signal the users are receiving," he says. That concept has become the basis of Wi-Fi technology.

ONLINE EDUCATOR Manuel Castro's research has helped universities expand their services to students learning at home or in the office. The 50-year-old is an electronics technology professor in Spain at the National University for Distance Education (better known as UNED). He was cited in the educator category for contributions to distance learning in electrical and computer engineering education. Castro's research has touched a number of fields, including advanced microprocessor system simulation and telematics, as well as distance learning.

It's that last area where Castro has had his greatest impact. His research has examined and helped overcome some of the barriers to online education, including providing effective and secure access to course materials to a variety of locations and over differing hardware platforms, remote support and training, designs for teaching environments, and the use of multi-media as a learning resource.

He also has examined how course content and teaching styles can be adapted to online learning. With many thousands of students now taking online classes every semester, Castro's work is already influencing the future of education.

03LIVING ENVIRONMENTS Diane Cook, 45, a professor of computer science in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Washington State University, in Pullman, is working to make your home smart enough to monitor your health and to automate functions for people with disabilities. Cook's research encompasses a broad range of fields, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data mining, robotics, smart environments, and parallel algorithms for artificial intelligence. She was elevated for "contributions to machine learning algorithm design and application" in the research engineer/scientist category.

Cook's smart-home research first used sensors to gather information regarding such things as motion, temperature, lighting, humidity, the use of doors, and interaction with electronic devices. The data was then mined to find the sequences of events that frequently recurred and predict when they would happen again. Actions were then automated. "Now we're trying to adapt to higher-end applications like health monitoring and improving energy efficiency—which will impact a significant part of the population," Cook says.

SIGHT TO THE SIGHTLESS Gianluca Lazzi's work may make it possible for blind people to see someday. Lazzi is a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh. At 38, he was honored for his work as a research engineer and scientist for "contributions to bioelectro-magnetics and implantable devices."

Lazzi's research in the field of bioelectromagnetics led to his becoming a principal investigator on the U.S. Department of Energy's Artificial Retina Project, a multi-institutional collaborative effort among government agencies, universities, and companies to develop and implant an array of microelectrodes into the eyes of people blinded by retinal disease. The project aims to restore limited vision and thereby enable mobility, facial recognition, and even reading.

If you know of an IEEE senior member doing outstanding work, consider nominating that person for the Fellow class of 2010. The deadline is 1 March 2009.

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