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2020 Illinois ECE Alumni Award Recipients Announced

9/27/2020

Ryann Monahan, Illinois ECE

On behalf of the ECE Alumni Board, we are excited to share with you the 2020 recipients of the ECE Alumni Awards. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we were unable to host our annual Alumni Awards Weekend filled with in-person activities. However, we invite you to join us virtually on Thursday, October 1 at 4:00 PM (CT) for an ECE Alumni Awards Panel. Register to join us in Virtual Grainger Auditorium.

The MARCIA PETERMAN ECE AWARD was established by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Board to honor the memory of Marcia Peterman.  The award is presented annually to an alumnus, former faculty, or former staff member for dedicated service to the department. Here is the 2020 recipient:

PHILLIP M. LACHMAN (BSEE '04)
Phillip is a Senior Business Development Manager at ClearMotion, Inc., a venture capital-backed start-up in Boston, Massachusetts, focused on bringing motion control technology solutions to the automotive industry. He is currently responsible for business development of the company's R&D portfolio, overseeing customer account management and developing strategic partnerships. Upon graduating from Illinois ECE, Phillip worked as a Staff project engineer for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, California, leading several classified projects spanning missile defense, satellite development, and nuclear weapons security for a variety of DoD customers.

Phillip M. Lachman (BSEE '04)
Phillip M. Lachman (BSEE '04)

The YOUNG ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD recognizes alumni who have made outstanding professional contributions early in their careers to their fields since graduating from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  Here are the 2020 recipients:

AADEEL AKHTAR (MS ’16)
Dr. Aadeel Akhtar is the CEO and Founder of PSYONIC, a company whose mission is to make advanced bionic limbs that are accessible to everyone, starting with the Ability Hand--a bionic hand that is the fastest on the market, robust to impacts, and gives users touch feedback. When Dr. Akhtar was 7 years old, he visited Pakistan where he met a child his age who had a limb difference, which inspired him to create advanced and affordable prosthetic devices. Dr. Akhtar received his PhD in Neuroscience and MS in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016. He received his BS in Biology in 2007 and MS in Computer Science in 2008 at Loyola University Chicago. In 2015, PSYONIC won the Cozad New Venture Competition and in 2016, Dr. Akhtar won the $20,000 Illinois Innovation Prize.

Aadeel Akhtar (MS '16)
Aadeel Akhtar (MS '16)
PIERRE MARTIN (PHD '10)
Pierre, CTO at Beacon, received a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois in 2010. At Beacon, Pierre’s group develops a technology platform enabling businesses to operate international supply chains with improved efficiency, reliability and sustainability. In just a year after inception, the platform received direct backing and investment from the CEOs of Google, Amazon and Uber. Prior to Beacon, Pierre led development of new software products which reached hundreds of millions of consumers worldwide, as Head of Software Engineering for Amazon's package and freight routing services, Head of Software Engineering for Prime Video Live, and Sr product manager for Xbox cloud gaming platform. Pierre’s interest and specialty is in computational methods and high performance distributed computing applied to a variety of fields, such as physical and digital supply chain optimization, gaming, and semiconductor physics.
Pierre Martin (PhD '10)
Pierre Martin (PhD '10)
 

AKSHAY NAHETA (BSEE '03)
Akshay joined SoftBank Group in 2017 and currently serves as Senior Vice President for Investments. Prior to joining SoftBank, Akshay was the Founder and Managing Partner of Knight Assets & Co., an investment manager focused on arbitrage and value investing. Akshay was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2020 and was included in Fortune’s 2020 list for the "40 under 40" most influential young people in business.

Akshay Naheta
Akshay Naheta (BSEE '03)

The DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD honors Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering alumni who have made professional and technical contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the university. Here are the 2020 recipients:

GALE BEANBLOSSOM (MS '82)
Gale worked in the Aerospace field for over 32 years as a digital design engineer focusing on ASIC design, the Chief Project Engineer for a major defense program, and as a Senior Electrical Engineering Skills Manager at The Boeing Company until she retired in late 2014. Gale proudly served as a member of the ECE Alumni Board and is currently a University of Illinois Foundation member.  She is a past recipient of the Marcia Peterman ECE Award that was established by the ECE Alumni Board for dedicated service as a member of the board. Gale was the 2018 Grainger College of Engineering Convocation speaker.  

Gale A. Beanblossom (MS '82)
Gale A. Beanblossom (MS '82)
YUSUF LEBLEBICI (PHD '91)
Dr. Leblebici received his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in 1990. Since 2002, he has been serving as a Chair Professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and the Director of the Microelectronic Systems Laboratory. In November 2018, he was appointed as the President of Sabanci University. The laboratory of Dr. Leblebici at EPFL has produced 52 PhD graduates since 2002. His research interests include design of high-speed CMOS digital and mixed-signal integrated circuits, computer-aided design of VLSI systems, intelligent sensor interfaces, neuromorphic circuit and system concepts, and VLSI reliability analysis. He is the coauthor of seven textbooks, as well as more than 400 articles published in various journals and conferences. 
Yusuf Leblebici (PhD '91)
Yusuf Leblebici (PhD '91)
 
WILLIAM D. O'BRIEN, JR. (BSEE '66, MS '68, PHD '70)

William D. O’Brien, Jr. is the Donald Biggar Willet Professor Emeritus of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1970, he worked with the Bureau of Radiological Health of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for five years. Since 1975, he has been at the University of Illinois, where he retired in 2012 after a 37-year academic career; however, he is continuing active research and occasional teaching as the Donald Biggar Willet Professor Emeritus in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

William D. O'Brien, Jr. (BSEE '66, MS '68, PhD '70)
William D. O'Brien, Jr. (BSEE '66, MS '68, PhD '70)
YONG RUI (PHD '99)

Dr. Yong Rui is the Corporate CTO and Senior Vice President of Lenovo Group.  He directs Lenovo’s technical strategies, R&D directions, and leads Lenovo Research. Prior to joining Lenovo, Dr. Rui spent 18 years with Microsoft where most recently he served as Deputy Managing Director of Microsoft Research Asia. A Fellow of ACM, IEEE, IAPR and SPIE, and a Foreign Member of Academia Europaea and Canadian Academy of Engineering, Dr. Rui is recognized as a leading expert in computer science and engineering.  He is a recipient of many awards, including the 2018 ACM SIGMM Technical Achievement Award, the 2017 IEEE SMC Society Andrew P. Sage Best Transactions Paper Award, the 2017 ACM TOMM Nicolas Georganas Best Paper Award, the 2016 IEEE Computer Society Edward J. McCluskey Technical Achievement Award, the 2016 IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award and the 2010 Most Cited Paper of the Decade Award from Journal of Visual Communication and Image Representation. 

Yong Rui (PhD '99)
Yong Rui (PhD '99)

 

JACK TRAUTMAN (BSEE '72)

Jack retired from Agilent Technologies in 2007 as a Senior Vice President.  During his time at Agilent, he led the Automated Test Group (ATG), Communications Management Solutions Business Unit (CMS) and Operational Support Systems Division (OSSD).  He also helped lead the successful IPO of the Agilent Semiconductor Test Business, resulting in the creation of Verigy Technologies, Inc.  In these roles, Jack managed businesses in Colorado, California, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and China. Prior to Agilent, Jack spent 29 years at Hewlett-Packard in numerous roles: R&D engineer, GM of the Loveland Technology Center (a captive integrated circuit design and manufacturing business), R&D Manager, Marketing Manager, and GM of the Manufacturing Test Division, and GM of the Bristol, England-based Data Protection Business.

Jack Trautman (BSEE '72)
Jack Trautman (BSEE '72)

Interested in making a nomination? We accept them all year. However, there is a deadline of January 20, 2021, to be considered for the 2021 Illinois ECE Alumni Awards.

Contact Nikki Slack, ECE Alumni and Donor Relations, with any questions.