IEEE Honors Five Leaders in Education

Volunteers are recognized for their efforts in undergrad research programs, preuniversity education, and more

7 January 2008

The IEEE Education Activities Board honored five people who have made outstanding contributions in the field of education. The EAB awards ceremony was held on 16 November at the Westin Copley Place, in Boston.

IEEE Fellow Jose F. Valdez received the Meritorious Achievement Award in Accreditation Activities for his work with the Peruvian accreditation association, Instituto de la Calidad en la Accreditación de Carreras de Ingeniería y Tecnologia (ICACIT). Valdez founded ICACIT in 2001 and has been its president ever since. Supported by the IEEE EAB and Peru Section, ICACIT’s goal is to improve the quality of engineering and technology education programs at Peru’s universities by designing them to meet accreditation criteria.

Valdez also has been active within the IEEE. He cofounded the Peru Section in 1968 and served as its chair in 1982 and 1983. He established the country’s first student branch in 1982 at his alma mater, the National University of Engineering, in Lima, and cofounded chapters of the IEEE Education, Engineering Management, and Communications societies.

IEEE Fellow Ferial El-Hawary, received the Meritorious Achievement Award in Continuing Education for her work in developing programs at universities and companies that helped form ties between academia and industry.

El-Hawary is founder and president of B.H. Engineering Systems of Halifax, N.S. Her company provides consulting services and continuing education courses in electric power, environmental engineering, and oceanic engineering. She taught electrical and oceanic engineering at Dalhousie University, also in Halifax, where she established the Modeling and Signal Analysis Laboratory and introduced several continuing education courses.

The Major Educational Innovation Award went to IEEE Fellow Jan Van der Spiegel for his “innovative efforts in promoting undergraduate research.” Van der Spiegel is an electrical and systems engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. He also is director of the university’s Center for Sensor Technologies.

One of Spiegel’s innovative efforts cited with the award is SUNFEST (Summer Undergraduate Fellowships in Sensor Technologies), a program he developed in 1986 at UPenn that provides research opportunities in the sensor field as a way to motivate undergrads to pursue graduate degrees.

Patricia C. Kucera, an elementary school teacher, received the Pre-University Educator Award. She was honored for her work helping young students understand and appreciate math and science. Kucera teaches fourth grade at Pierce Elementary School, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

After attending NASA’s Space Camp for Educators in Huntsville, Ala., in 2001, Kucera helped establish the agency’s Space Shuttle Simulation program at her school. For one week in the summer, fourth-grade students study outer space and work with engineers to construct scale models of the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Kucera was also cited for her work in establishing the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League robotics program in Cedar Rapids. The competition involves 9- to 14-year-old students who use LEGOs to build interactive robotics projects.

And the Vice President’s Recognition Award went to IEEE Fellow John L. Hennessy for his work in reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture and the books he co-authored on the technology. In 1981 Hennessy led a group of Stanford researchers who developed RISC, which revolutionized computer design by increasing performance while reducing cost.

A pioneer in computer architecture, Hennessy is president of Stanford University. Several textbooks he has coauthored on computer architecture design are widely used in classrooms around the world. He joined Stanford in 1977 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering and rose to become dean of the School of Engineering in 1996 and Stanford’s president in 2005.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2008 EAB awards. For more information, visit the call for nominations page.

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