Awards & RecognitionIEEE-USA InFocus

Dr. David Rivera Awarded 2022 IEEE-USA Harry Diamond Memorial Award

By Paul Lief Rosengren

Dr. David Rivera has been awarded the IEEE-USA Harry Diamond Memorial Award, established to honor individuals for distinguished technical contributions in the field of electrotechnology, while in U.S. government service.

Over an almost four-decade-long career, Rivera has proven himself an inventor and innovator in applied electromagnetic engineering resulting in advancements in the art and science of antenna design for submarine applications. He has earned 20 patents (in addition to two secret patents and patents pending) in electromagnetics, as applied to miniaturized antennas and related systems. His contributions have aided the military in safeguarding submarine locations and increasing the efficiency of operations.

“He has come up with many antenna designs over the years quite unlike anything else in the state of the art; unique designs specifically addressing challenging performance requirements. These designs are often the result of Dr. Rivera approaching the problem from a novel and insightful perspective,” said William P. Craig, Technical Coordinator, U.S. Navy, who endorsed the nomination.

Examples of Rivera’s foundational work include:

  • Developing efficient, low-silhouette wideband, ultra-high frequency (UHF), towed antenna systems replacing mast antennas that put a ship’s location at risk
  • Developing first-generation, ultra-compact, UHF antennas for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV). These antennas enable UUVs real-time data exchange with satellites, other unmanned vehicles, ground forces and submarines.
  • Developing special, pressure-tolerant, electromagnetic waveguide systems first used during Operation Desert Storm. These special transmission lines are now in use on all Navy submarines.

The Persian Gulf War, and new warfighting strategies involving satellite use to broadcast across vast distances and varying topography, illustrated a need for substantial reductions in the weight and size of antennas, as well as the need to support larger data exchange at faster rates.

Rivera’s research has led to the development of innovative antennas implemented by the Navy; and recently, by Special Operations forces. He pioneered ways of compressing antenna size to maximize portability and effectiveness. The new antennas developed are more than one-fourth the size of the solid antennas they replace.

“Today’s Navy requires antennas that are lighter, smaller and physically robust, while also maintaining optimal efficiency,” stated Capt. Chad F. Hennings, Commander Officer, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), who nominated Rivera. “Dr. Rivera has led development of next-generation antennas that not only address today’s needs, but also anticipate tomorrow’s — ensuring the Navy’s technological advantage well into the future.”

Rivera earned his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. He presented a summary of his dissertation results at the IEEE AP-S/ Union of Radio Science (URSI) International Symposium, in Washington, D.C. Rivera previously presented at the 2001 IEEE/URSI conference in Boston, Mass. An expanded version of his presentation, chronicling the history of American efforts in submarine towed antenna design, also appeared in the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine (co-authored with Prof. Rajeev Bansal of the University of Connecticut,). The article has been widely cited.

“Dr. Rivera has a sharp analytical mind, excellent experimental skills, and an exceptional ability to persevere in pursuit of his goals against overwhelming odds,” said endorser Rajeev Bansal, Professor Emeritus, UConn. “In my opinion, it is this formidable blend of technical expertise and steadfastness that has enabled him over the years to become such a prolific contributor to electrotechnology in the service of our nation.”

Rivera has also dedicated time and effort in assisting new engineers from the U.S. and abroad, all first-generation college graduates. Rivera counsels his mentees on advanced problem-solving strategies, laboratory and design processes, and the preparing professional-level reports and visual presentations.

When asked why he believes in mentoring he stated, “When I came to work at NUWC in my early 20s, I had no professional work experience, and I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I learned how to do my job by spending countless off-hours at NUWC’s library. When I couldn’t find the answers there, I approached more experienced engineers with my questions. To me, mentoring younger engineers is a way of paying it forward, not just for the engineers I worked with and learned from, but the generations of engineers who wrote the articles and books I studied in those early years.”

This award is named for Harry Diamond, who served the country by developing fuzes, during World War II. The War Department later described Diamond’s proximity fuse as “one of the outstanding scientific developments of World War II … second only to the atomic bomb” in military importance. He held 16 patents for electronics-related inventions. Upon transfer from the National Bureau of Standards to the Army in 1953, the Ordinance Development Division was named the Diamond Ordnance Fuze Laboratories in honor of Mr. Diamond. It has since been renamed the Harry Diamond Laboratories.

IEEE-USA Awards: Nominate a Colleague Today

Nominations for the 2023 IEEE-USA Awards are open now, and will be accepted through 15 September 2023. Nominate someone today!


Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul is the coauthor of In the Time of Covid: One Hospital's Struggles and Triumphs. He worked for more than three decades in corporate communications at NBC, PSE&G, BD and in state government. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard; and an undergraduate degree in political science from Dickinson College.

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