Alumni Board selects nine for departmental honors
On September 8, 2017, the ECE Alumni Board Association honored nine alumni for their leadership, impact, technical achievements. ECE Department Head William H Sanders and Alumni Board President Michael VanBlaricum presented the awards, with Professor John Michael Dallesasse serving as emcee. Engineering at Illinois Dean Andreas C Cangellaris and his wife Helen Cangellaris, Donald Biggar Willett Professor Emeritus in ECE Janak H Patel, Professor Emeritus Timothy N Trick and his wife Dorothe Trick were among those in attendance.
Marcia Peterman ECE Award
The Marcia Peterman ECE Award was established by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Alumni Association to honor the memory of Marcia Peterman. The award is presented annually to an alumnus for dedicated service to the department.
The 2017 award was presented to Chris George (BSCompE ‘97, MSEE ’99) “for fostering deep, lasting relationships between alumni and the university while demonstrating the broad impact of an engineering degree.” George is an intellectual property attorney at Hanley, Flight & Zimmerman. He transitioned into intellectual property law after completing his graduate research in Professor Wen-Mei W Hwu’s IMPACT lab, where he focused on compiler technologies and software optimization. He has served as past president of the ECE Alumni Board and continues to increase alumni engagement and mentor students.
Young Alumni Achievement Award
The Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes young alumni (younger than 40 years old) who have made outstanding professional contributions to their fields since graduating from ECE ILLINOIS.
Richard T. Chan (BSEE ’01, MSEE ’02, PhD ’05), senior design engineering manager at Qorvo, Inc., was honored “for technical leadership in the development of optical communication products and breakthrough contributions to the fast tuning digital receiver system-on-chip architecture.” In less than a year, Richard Chan has led a team of design engineers at Qorvo to develop best-in-class optical communication system products such as modulator drivers and Transimpedance amplifiers (TIA) using GaAs, InP, and SiGe. As a graduate research assistant at ECE ILLINOIS, Chan demonstrated the first GaAs transistor laser (TL) along with alumnus Gabriel Walters and Professors Milton Feng and Nick Holonyak, Jr.
Joanna Parke (BSEE ’00) was recognized “for creating radical change in the hiring practices of the tech sector through dedication, innovation, and leadership.” Parke is the Group Managing Director at ThoughtWorks, overseeing the largest market for the global IT company that operates in 15 companies. She began at ThouthWorks as one of only four female software developers and moved into project management, program management, and client engagement. She led a five-year diversity effort that nearly doubled the percentage of women and minorities on ThoughtWorks’ North American technical staff.
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award honors ECE ILLINOIS alumni who have made professional and technical contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the university.
Azar S. Ali (BSEE ‘81, MSEE ’86) was honored “for promoting peace through leadership and technical contributions to the U.S. Air Force.” Ali is the primary authority and integrator of Pacific Air Forces’ (PACAF) science and technology requirements. He provides technical expertise and serves as the interface between PACAF and entities including NASA, the Department of Energy, and other major commands, services, industry, federally-funded research and development centers, and the scientific community at large.
Milton Feng (MSEE ’76, PhD ’79) was recognized “for seminal contributions to microwave and THz transistors and the realization of the transistor laser.” Feng led the world in transistor research for 4G and 5G wireless and semiconductor laser research for optical interconnect and co-invented the transistor laser, which opens a rich domain of digital photonics for high speed signal processing. In 2003, he “pushed” the transistor speed and demonstrated the world’s fastest speed performance (> 800 GHz). A year later, he and Nick Holonyak, Jr., demonstrated the first laser operation of a quantum-well-based light emitting transistor (QWLET), a transistor laser (TL). In 2015, he invented tunneling modulation of transistor laser and discovered electro-optical bistability.
Shelley Lavender (BSCompE ’86) received the award “for outstanding business and technical leadership in aerospace engineering and defense.” Lavender is the senior vice president of Strike, Surveillance, and Mobility, a division within Boeing Defense, Space, and Security (BDS). The division is one of the world’s largest providers of military airpower. Lavender also serves as the BDS program management leader, as well as the company’s senior executive for the St. Louis region.
Jo Major (BSEE ‘85, MSEE ‘86, PhD ’90) was honored “for the development of the first 980nm pump lasers and leadership in the optical communications industry.” Major is the CEO of InSite Partners, LLC. He co-founded the technical investment firm in 2008 to innovate products for investment and technical support, leading to publications and patents in the fields of remote sensing, 60GHz chip design, and power distribution in ethernet systems. Major received all three of his degrees from ECE ILLINOIS, with his PhD research performed under Professor Nick Holonyak, Jr.
Sundari Mitra (MSEE ’88) was celebrated “for passion, perseverance, and technical contributions as a leader in the semiconductor while inspiring the next generation of female engineers and entrepreneurs.” Mitra is the CEO and co-founder of NetSpeed Systems. She has more than 25 years of experience in the semiconductor sector as a senior executive, entrepreneur, and engineer. Previously, Mitra founded Prism Circuits and served as its CEO from its inception in 2006 to acquisition by MoSys three years later.
David Yeh (BSCompE ‘83, MSEE ‘85, PhD ’90) received the award “for guidance and support of university research and teaching to meet technological challenges of the semiconductor industry.” Yeh is the senior director at Texas Instruments and Semiconductor Research Corporation. He supports university research programs, addressing high-speed, low-power, robustness and manufacturability issues in the design and testing of integrated circuits for digital, analog, mixed-signal, and RF products. In this capacity, he helps SRC members implement research projects supporting continued CMOS scaling, as well as expanding design research to include analog, mixed-signal, RF, and mm-wave topics.