Spotlight on Four Fellows

These four IEEE Fellows made a difference in engineering education and developed products used at home, in the office, and even outer space

6 November 2009

This is the last of a series of articles highlighting the work of IEEE Fellows in this year’s class. The rank of Fellow is IEEE’s highest member grade, bestowed on IEEE senior members who have contributed to the advancement or application of engineering, science, and technology.

The work of these IEEE Fellows has established an extraordinary record of accomplishment that reaches everywhere. Three of the Fellows featured here fostered breakthroughs in products used in your home and office and in outer space, and the fourth made his impact in engineering education.

The next time you do your laundry, think of Zheng Zhang, the man behind the efficient motors and drives that propel the washing machine. Zhang was recognized for his work at Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Mich., a Fortune 500 company and global manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances. He was a staff engineer there for 11 years until leaving in 2008.

Zhang was elevated in the research engineer/scientist category “for contributions to the design of advanced variable-speed drive systems for appliances.” Members elevated in the category are “responsible for inventions, discoveries, or advances in the state-of-the-art technological advances.”

At Whirlpool, Zhang developed two groundbreaking AC motor systems for washing machines: the controlled three-phase induction motor and the three-phase direct-drive permanent magnet motor. In addition, his work in power monitoring controls allowed Whirlpool’s machines to operate at higher speeds with less noise and vibration. He also developed sensing and control technologies that monitor the amount of clothes in a load and adjust the water level accordingly.

Zhang is owner and general manager of Great Lakes Electric Global, an electronics manufacturer, also in Benton Harbor. He is a member of the IEEE Industry Applications Society and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

David “Dadi” Perlmutter’s innovative work on microprocessor architectures has helped make laptops thinner and lighter without compromising their performance. He is an Intel executive vice president and a general manager of the company's Architecture Group, in Santa Clara, Calif. He was elevated in the technical leader category for “contributions to the mobile personal computer industry.” The category recognizes 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.”

One of Perlmutter’s most important achievements was developing Intel’s Centrino processor, a platform that is designed to improve a laptop’s performance, battery life, and wireless network interoperability. The Centrino is the processor found in most PC laptops today.

As vice president and general manager of Intel’s Mobility Group from 2000 to 2004, Perlmutter supervised creation of the high-performance Intel Core processors and the low-power Intel Atom processors, a key component in the development of the netbook.

Perlmutter also led the teams that developed the Intel i387 math coprocessor and the Intel i860 XP RISC processor, which laid the foundation for Pentium microarchitecture, the way a given instruction set architecture is implemented on a processor.

Thomas Milligan helped make planetary exploration possible with his development of antennas used in outer-space probes. His work while at Lockheed Martin Denver Space Systems from 1976 to 2005 earned him a nomination in the application engineer/practitioner category. The distinction of Fellow in the category is conferred on a person “responsible for product development, advancement in systems, application or operation, project management or construction activity, process development, manufacturing innovation, codes or standards development, or other application of technology.”

Milligan was principal engineer of antenna design at Lockheed until he left to become chief engineer at Milligan & Associates (now Illuminating Resource), a provider of lighting systems and services in Burien, Wash.

He developed several important components for the Magellan spacecraft, launched in 1989 to explore Venus. One was the radar antenna that mapped almost the whole surface of the planet. Another was the altimeter antenna needed to calibrate the synthetic-aperture radar system, in which multiple radar images are processed to yield higher resolution images than would be possible by conventional means. Milligan’s medium-gain antenna onboard the spacecraft helped save the mission when a strong solar storm interrupted communications with the craft’s larger communications antenna.

He also developed the dual-band 1.5-meter-diameter communication antenna for the 1996 Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The antenna became the standard for a series of Lockheed Martin Mars probes, used to relay mission data over NASA’s Deep Space Network, an international system of antennas on Earth that supports interplanetary missions and astronomy observations.

Milligan is a member of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques and Antennas and Propagation societies.

During Steven B. Sample’s tenure as president of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, the university’s Viterbi School of Engineering has consistently ranked in the top 10 in the United States, and Time magazine named USC its College of the Year in 2000. Sample became its president in 1991.

Several of USC’s centers and institutes have become leaders in their fields, including the Institute for Creative Technologies, which focuses on virtual reality and computer simulation; the Information Sciences Institute; and USC’s two National Science Foundation engineering research centers—the Integrated Media and Biomimetic Microelectronic systems centers.

Sample was elevated in the educator category for his leadership in engineering education. 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.”

Sample received the 2008 IEEE Founders Medal for his “lifelong work and support of electrical engineering.” He is a member of the IEEE Education and Industry Applications societies.

Do you know an IEEE senior member or IEEE life senior member who has made significant contributions that have advanced engineering, science, and technology? If you are in government, industry, or academia, you can nominate that person as an IEEE Fellow in one of four categories: application engineer/practitioner, educator, research engineer/scientist, or technical leader. You have until 1 March 2010 to nominate someone.


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