Two from ECE Win Initial Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize

ECE professors John A. McNeill and Alexander E. Emanuel were among the four WPI faculty members to be awarded WPI's first Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize. At the university's 140th Commencement exercises in May, Emanuel shared the prize with David S. Adams, professor of biology and biotechnology. McNeill was a recipient of the award in 2007, its inaugural year. Richard D. Sisson Jr., the George F. Fuller Professor of Mechanical Engineering, was also honored in 2007. Each award includes a $10,000 prize.

Image on the right: President Dennis Berkey presents Professor Alexander Emanuel with the Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize at WPI's 140th Commencement exercises.

Established in 2007 through the personal philanthropy of Donald K. Peterson '71, chair of the WPI Board of Trustees and former chairman and CEO of Avaya Inc., the Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize recognizes and rewards faculty members who excel in all relevant areas of faculty performance.

Emanuel is known as one of WPI's most devoted and passionate educators and is the only WPI faculty member to have received WPI's Board of Trustees' awards for outstanding academic advising, outstanding research and creative scholarship, and outstanding teaching. He has also won the ECE Department's outstanding teaching award several times.

As a researcher, Emanuel has developed an international reputation for his work on power quality, power electronics, electromagnetic design, and high-voltage technology. Much of his groundbreaking work has focused on the effects of voltage and current waveform distortions on electrical systems. He has published nearly 200 articles and is the founder of the International Conference on Harmonics and Power Quality.

Many student research projects under his advisement focus on power systems, such as the current installation of a wind turbine at a high school in Worcester.

"Outstanding projects such as this one exemplify WPI's ongoing dedication to preparing students for the kind of challenges they are likely to encounter in their professional careers," says Emanuel.  

Emanuel joined the WPI faculty in 1974 after holding engineering positions in Israel, Romania, and the United States, including that of senior research and development engineer at High Voltage Engineering in Westborough, Mass.  

At WPI, Emanuel has held both the George Ira Alden Professorship in Engineering and the Weston Hadden Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He holds BSc, MSc, and DSc degrees from the Technion in Israel.

McNeill was recognized, in part, for his pioneering research in mixed-signal integrated circuit design. His work has been recognized with multiple patents, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (the most prestigious honor bestowed on young scholar educators), and, among other awards, a Best Paper Award at the 2005 International Solid-State Circuits Conference.

Image on the right: Professor John McNeill receives the Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize from Board of Trustees chair Donald K. Peterson '71 in May of 2007.

In 1999 he founded the New England Center for Analog and Mixed-Signal Integrated Circuit Design, a research center within the ECE Department that has brought in more that $1 million in funding and supported over 25 master's and PhD students and some 40 undergraduate Major Qualifying Projects. Current member companies are Analog Devices, Allegro Microsystems, BAE Systems, and Texas Instruments.

McNeill's educational innovations include a new undergraduate analog microelectronics curriculum and three new graduate courses. He has also been generous in service roles within ECE and the university and is an active mentor to young faculty.

For example, research by McNeill and some of his students addresses the need for computer chips that consume much less power, thereby reducing energy consumption and extending the battery life of portable devices such as the field-ready ultrasound scanner being developed at WPI. Other student projects include a device that automatically monitors and controls the use of electricity used to power household appliances such as televisions and power converters.

"Hopefully, these initiatives are preparing future professionals who are well versed in the technical side as well as the business side of industry," McNeill observes.

McNeill joined the WPI faculty in 1994 after holding design and consulting positions at a number of companies, including Analog Devices, EG&G Reticon, Adaptive Optics Associates, and General Electric. He holds a PhD from Boston University and an MS from the University of Rochester, both in electrical engineering, and an AB in engineering sciences from Dartmouth College.

July 23, 2008