Makela: Bliss Professor of Engineering

Abel Bliss Professorship in Engineering

The Abel Bliss Professor in Engineering was established through an estate gift from Helen E. Bliss in memory of her father, Abel Bliss.

Ms. Bliss graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1911 with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Early in her career, she taught engineering at a high school in Shreveport, Louisiana. She later moved to Washington, D.C., where she served as a clerical worker with the Bureau of Aircraft Production and then as an executive secretary at the law firm of Ivins, Phillips & Barker until her retirement in 1962.

Abel Bliss Jr. entered the university in 1872 to study civil engineering, but unforeseeable circumstances pressed him to leave before completing his degree. In June 1875, the university granted him a partial certificate in civil engineering. His business ventures included agriculture and real estate, and by 1929, he was a partner in the land development and oil production company of Bliss & Wetherbee.

Faculty: Jonathan Makela 

Jonathan Makela
Jonathan Makela

Jonathan J.  Makela is an outstanding experimentalist, observationalist, and leader in the field of geospace remote sensing. His research primarily involves the investigation of upper atmosphere variability in charged particle densities that impact the integrity of tracking, communications, surveillance, geolocation, and navigation systems. Professor Makela and his research group develop, test, and deploy suites of sensors to sites worldwide to study both the quiet-time and storm-time behavior of the Earth’s upper atmosphere at low- and mid- latitudes. 

Professor Makela received the B.S. degree (Hons.) in Electrical Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Cornell University in 1999 and 2003, respectively. He was a National Research Council Research Associate with the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, USA, from 2002 to 2004. After that, he joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Urbana, IL, USA, where he is currently a Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in The Grainger College of Engineering. He also holds a research affiliation with the Coordinated Science Laboratory. In addition, Makela is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), Commission G, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He was the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award in 2007, the Zeldovich Medal from COSPAR and the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2008, and the Henry G. Booker Fellowship from URSI in 2008.  In addition, he gave the CEDAR Prize Lecture in 2015 in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions to the Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) community and the William B. Hanson Lecture at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall 2021 meeting in recognition of impact in his field through innovative approaches to observation and interpretation in space physics and aeronomy.

A passionate educator, Professor Makela has taught a variety of engineering courses at all levels of the undergraduate and graduate curriculum and has actively contributed to the development of meaningful experiences for students both in and outside of the classroom and instructional laboratory. He has mentored numerous undergraduate research projects, facilitated immersive international experiences for undergraduate and graduate students, and led innovative course and curriculum developments in his department and across the college as a faculty member and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. His educational efforts have been recognized numerous times through the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students, receipt of the 2009 Ronald W. Pratt Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and receipt of the 2011 Mac Van Valkenburg Early Career Teaching Award from the IEEE Education Society.