When Ali Abedi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maine (UMaine), endorsed the nomination for the creators of a STEM literacy program for an IEEE-USA award last year, he was confident it would be a winner.
“Not only is the program a unique, hands-on collaboration between a high school and university, but it has great potential to be implemented nationwide,” explains Abedi, an IEEE Senior Member. So, earlier this year, he was delighted to learn that the STEM literacy educator-engineer partnership between UMaine and Bangor High School would be honored at the 2015 IEEE-USA Awards Banquet and Ceremony during the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting in May in Milwaukee.
The partnership is the brainchild of Mohamad Musavi, associate dean of UMaine’s College of Engineering and Cary James, who heads the science department at Bangor High School, and they shared the prestigious 2014 IEEE-USA K-12 STEM Literacy Educator-Engineer Partnership Award. The program they designed and now co-direct provides both hands-on opportunities for Bangor High School students to apprentice with UMaine faculty members, and a rigorous sequence of STEM courses. The partnership is especially geared to attract girls and other minority groups.
“Being recognized with this award is an honor,” says Musavi, “but as associate dean I am committed to expanding students’ interest in engineering at the high school level.”
“Staggering” is how educator Cary James describes receiving the award from IEEE-USA. “It’s one of the greatest moments of my life–because we didn’t expect it.”
IEEE-USA presents a variety of awards and recognitions to acknowledge excellence, outstanding service and contributions that further its objectives. Administered by IEEE-USA’s Awards and Recognition Committee, the IEEE Awards Board and the IEEE Board of Directors have also approved these prestigious awards. IEEE-USA awards and recognitions are in three categories: professionalism, technical achievement and literary contributions. This year, the deadline for submitting nominations for the 2015 awards, to be presented in 2016, is 31 August.
Pamela Jones, who chaired the 2014 IEEE-USA Awards and Recognition Committee, calls the winners “the heroes and rock stars of our profession.”
“Each of them exemplifies the outstanding work being done in the United States to help our members and the public-at-large,” she says. “The 2014 scoring was very close, and nominators who were unsuccessful last year should definitely resubmit their nomination packages for 2015.”
The IEEE-USA Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering Public Understanding and Advancement of the Engineering Profession was presented to IEEE Member Allison Marsh, along with science writer Lizzie Wade. Marsh, who teaches history at the University of South Carolina, wrote a first-person narrative about her experiences as a temporary curator while she was a Goldman Sachs Fellow at the National Museum of American History (NMAH) of The Smithsonian Institution. Marsh wrote how Federal budget cuts have severely undermined the Smithsonian’s invaluable collections by reducing funds for maintaining, cataloging, acquisition and access. Of particular consequence to the engineering community, she emphasizes that the NMAH, which includes the engineering collection, is in what she calls a “curatorial crisis”–with no permanent curator who understands technology and can advocate, as well as care, for the collection.
Marsh’s non-fiction essay, Collective Forgetting: Inside the Smithsonian’s Curatorial Crisis, is the product of a project funded by the National Science Foundation, which brings together science and innovation policy scholars with science communicators. The essay has appeared in Issues in Science and Technology, and elsewhere. In their endorsement of Marsh’s nomination for the IEEE-USA Award, the six editors and educators predict that her work could “help shape the future of the Smithsonian.”
Professional Leadership Awards in each of the six U.S. IEEE Regions are among the most coveted IEEE-USA Awards. From Region 6, Bill Chiu, an IEEE Senior Member and Director of Engineering for Southern California Edison (SCE), received the Regional Professional Leadership Award for his contributions to the power industry, as well as to the IEEE Metropolitan Los Angeles Chapter. An IEEE member since his undergraduate student days, Chiu has gone on to help define and develop some of the major initiatives involving IEEE Standards, to chair and hold a variety of other positions on the IEEE Power & Energy Engineering Society’s Transformers Committee, and to chair the IEEE Technical Council’s Geomagnetic Disturbance Committee, among his many volunteer contributions.
Eremita Miranda, an IEEE Senior Member and a Senior Engineer with SCE, supported Chiu’s nominations. “Bill possesses in-depth vision that helped to create new products and services which have brought this industry to the cutting edge of technology,” she says. “For SCE, these include engineering performance, power grid reliability, and reducing expenses for SCE customers.”
In Region 3, Theresa Brunasso, an IEEE Senior Member and president of D&S Microwave, won the Professional Leadership Award for planning and providing unique speakers and activities to strengthen members’ professional development. Currently Vice Chair of the Atlanta Section and Region 3 PACE Chair, she has arranged a wide array of learning opportunities. They range from Online Reputation Management for Dummies, geared to young professionals and students, to expert speakers who have addressed Life Members on such issues as age discrimination in the workplace and budgeting for retirement.
An active IEEE-USA volunteer since 2010 when she helped with employment assistance, Brunasso recalls that when 2014 IEEE-USA President Gay Blank phoned to tell her she had won the Region 3 Professional Leadership Award, she initially didn’t believe he was calling, and thought it was a robo-call!
Elizabeth Chase Battaglio, an IEEE Senior Member, Atlanta Section Chair, and a project manager in Georgia Power Resource Planning & Policy, nominated Brunasso and says Brunasso’s creativity and ability to think outside the box were just two reasons why she deserved the award. “Theresa volunteers because she truly enjoys it, not because she wants to be recognized,” says Battaglia.
The complete list of all 2014 IEEE-USA Awards & Recognition recipients is at:
Detailed information about submitting nominations for the IEEE-USA Awards and Recognitions is at http://www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/awards/index.html.
Helen Horwitz is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. She was with IEEE from 1991 through 2011, the first nine as Staff Director, IEEE Corporate Communications.