Member Recognitions: July 2010

These IEEE members recently were recognized for their work by other organizations

7 July 2010

Three IEEE members have been honored with awards from the American Association of Engineering Societies. Life Fellow John S. Mayo won the Chair’s Award, Fellow Karen Panetta won the Norm Augustine Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Communications, and Honorary Member Jerry Posakony won the John Fritz Medal.

Mayo received the Chair’s Award in recognition of his “outstanding contributions to the welfare of the United States.” He was cited for numerous accomplishments during his career at Bell Labs, in Murray Hill, N.J. They include leading the development of digital technologies that made the Internet possible, such as pulse code modulation transmission, broadband optical transmission, and advanced digital switching systems.

Mayo began working for Bell Labs in 1955 as a researcher, and retired in 1995. He held numerous positions, including president, director of the Ocean Systems Laboratory, executive director of the Ocean Systems and the Toll Electronic Switching divisions, and vice president of electronics technology. He worked on the design of the first transistorized digital computer, Tradic, a military project. He also contributed to the development of the Telstar satellite communications system, electronic systems for sonar, and the world’s first long-distance digital switching system.

Panetta was recognized for her leadership in engineering education. The annual Augustine Award is presented to an engineer who has “demonstrated the capacity for communicating the excitement and wonder of engineering.” She was honored for her roles as founder of Nerd Girls, an outreach effort for female engineering students, and as editor in chief of IEEE’s Women in Engineering magazine.

Panetta is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass. Her research includes image and signal processing for security and medical applications, modeling and simulation, and multimedia. She is director of the university’s Simulation Research Laboratory.

A member of the IEEE Computer; Education; Robotics and Automation; Signal Processing; and Systems, Man, and Cybernetics societies, she was 2009 chair of the Women in Engineering Committee.

Posakony was honored for his pioneering contributions to ultrasonics, medical diagnostic ultrasound, and nondestructive evaluation techniques. The Fritz Medal, presented each year for scientific or industrial achievement in any field of pure or applied science, is considered one of the highest awards in the engineering profession.

Now retired, Posakony was senior research scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland, Wash. His work on medical ultrasound technology in the early 1950s has been used in investigating human disease processes, and his development of the ultrasonic transducer helped advance ultrasound technology.


Fellow Max Nikias was named president of the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

Prior to his appointment, Nikias was the university’s provost and executive vice president. He is credited with creating innovative cross-disciplinary programs, enhancing the university’s globalization efforts, and increasing financial support for all students.

He is a member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society.


The Academy of Science of St. Louis presented its Outstanding Scientist Award for Innovation to Senior Member Ganesh K. Venayagamoorthy. He was honored for his work developing intelligent algorithms for monitoring and controlling power distribution. His research is important for the construction of an energy-efficient smart grid.

Venayagamoorthy is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Science and Technology, in Rolla, Mo. His research interests are in the development of advanced computational algorithms for real-world applications including power systems stability and control, smart-grid applications, sensor networks, and signal processing.

He is the founder and director of the university’s Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems Laboratory. The research facility develops and applies technologies and paradigms of computational intelligence to address challenges in dealing with complex systems in a variety of engineering areas, particularly the smart grid.

Venayagamoorthy is a member of several IEEE societies, including Computational Intelligence; Computer; Instrumentation and Measurement; Power & Energy; Power Electronics; and Systems, Man, and Cybernetics.


Fellow Michael Steer received the U.S. Army Commander’s Award for Public Service. He was honored for radar research that has saved the lives of U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Steer is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh. He developed a way to use sound waves in a radar system to detect things located underground, including buried cellphones used to detonate roadside bombs. His research, funded by the Army, was eventually extended to applications in electronic warfare.

He is a member of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society.

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