Science & Technology Fellowship Program Recognized with NSF Public Service Award


IEEE-USA and the other science and engineering societies who partner in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Science and Technology Fellowships Program were collectively honored on 27 March with the National Science Foundation’s Public Service Award.

The NSF Public Service Award honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States.  Award criteria include promoting the engagement of scientists and engineers in public outreach and scientific literacy, and contributing to the development of broad science and engineering policy and its support.

IEEE-USA and the American Physical Society joined AAAS in founding what became the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships program, which provides training and networking for the Fellows who are selected by participating societies each year.  The AAAS program currently encompasses the Government Fellowship programs of more than 30 professional societies who have collectively placed more than 2500 scientists and engineers into Science & Technology Policy Fellowships since the first in 1973.  Fellows have served in Congress and in 15 federal agencies, contributing their knowledge to policy-makers while learning first-hand about the policy process.

Retiring U.S. Representative (and physicist) Rush Holt, himself a former Congressional Fellow placed through the S&T Fellowships program, described it as one of the most important initiatives in good governance in the past century.

IEEE-USA’s Government Fellowship Program Highlights

IEEE-USA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) were the first engineering societies to launch government fellowship programs.  IEEE-USA announced its program first, but ASME recruited and placed their first Congressional Fellow in 1973.

IEEE-USA’s first Congressional Fellow (1974) was Willis D. Smith of Seattle, Washington. Smith spent his Fellowship year advising the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs.


Since 1974, IEEE-USA has sponsored a total of 120 Fellowships.

Several IEEE-USA Fellows have used their Fellowships as springboards to public service.  Congressional Fellow Leonard Weiss (1976) served as Staff Director and Minority Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Energy, Nuclear Proliferation, and Government Processes from 1977 to 1986, and the Senate Committee on Government Affairs from 1987 to 1999.   Congressional Fellow Dharmendra “Dave” K. Sharma (1991) was appointed by the Clinton Administration to head the Research and Special Programs Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Congressional Fellow (and former IEEE-USA President) LeEarl Bryant (1993) was the Democratic candidate for the 26th Congressional District in Texas in 1994. And Congressional Fellow Peter Winokur (2001) was appointed a member and later Chair of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

IEEE-USA currently has three Government Fellowship programs.  The Congressional Fellowships place IEEE members in the role of advisers to Members of Congress or congressional committees.  The IEEE-USA Engineering and Diplomacy Fellowships enlist members to share their expertise with various offices and bureaus within the U.S. Department of State. And the new U.S. Engineering and International Development Fellowship will help  the U.S. Agency for International Development find ways to better use technology to advance its international development mission.

In addition into the three current programs, IEEE-USA has also placed Fellows in the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Commerce’s Technology Administration.

For more information about IEEE-USA’s Government Fellowship Program, see:


Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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