Gary May Receives AAAS Mentor Award

Gary S. May, professor and Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has received the 2006 Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The award was presented at the organization's annual meeting, held Feb. 15-19 in San Francisco.

The Mentor Award is given to an individual for extraordinary leadership that increases the involvement of underrepresented groups in the science and engineering fields. These groups include women, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and people with disabilities. Honorees must have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students through completion of their doctorates or helped to increase the diversity of doctoral students in a department or institution.

"I am honored to have received this prestigious award and to have been recognized by my peers at the national level," May said. "I am particularly grateful to the AAAS, to the National Society of Black Engineers, who nominated me, and to my students, who have worked so hard and made this important work possible."

May founded, and continues to direct, two Georgia Tech programs that increase the diversity of people pursuing advanced studies in engineering: SURE and FACES, both funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). He launched SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science) in 1992, modeling the program on a similar one he had developed as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. May established FACES (Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science) at Georgia Tech in 1998.

SURE is a ten-week summer program of full-time research for talented minority undergraduates. The program exposes these students to ECE research and encourages them to pursue graduate studies in engineering and science. Approximately 30 juniors and seniors are teamed with a faculty mentor and a graduate student mentor to undertake projects in the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences, and the Packaging Research Center. The SURE program has been very successful, with 90 percent of participants going on to graduate school.

May, in collaboration with ECE Assistant Professor Paul Voss, has led recent efforts to secure funding for SURE International. This new initiative involves summer undergraduate research at the Georgia Tech Lorraine campus in Metz, France. May learned in January that the NSF has granted three years of funding for the project.

"SURE International adds a globalization component to our students' undergraduate research experience," May said. "Through the NSF grant, we will give five students per year the opportunity to perform research overseas. These students will work with the faculty at Georgia Tech Lorraine as well as with our partner laboratories."

Like SURE, FACES encourages minorities to pursue advanced degrees. FACES has the added goal of increasing the number of underrepresented students who choose an academic career in engineering or science. The program is a collaborative effort among partner schools Georgia Tech, Morehouse College, Emory University, and Spelman College. FACES features an academic year undergraduate research program to stimulate student interest in attending graduate school.

"Programs like SURE and FACES are so vital because having qualified scientists and engineers is critical to U.S. competitiveness in a global economy," May said. "We have traditionally underutilized people from underrepresented groups, and this has adversely affected our domestic talent pool of scientists and engineers."

Currently, only 6.8 percent of science and engineering tenure-track positions at American universities are held by minorities. Georgia Tech is committed to building a diverse community of students, faculty, and staff, and it is one of the top producers of underrepresented minority Ph.D.s in the country. Programs like SURE and FACES are crucial to increasing the numbers of minorities and women who receive advanced degrees in science, math, and engineering, and who go on to careers in these areas.

"Diversity adds quality and creativity to any enterprise, including science," May said. "Doing a better job of educating America's minorities will ultimately lead to a more thriving scientific community and one that better reflects our increasingly heterogeneous society."

May received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1985 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987 and 1991, respectively. He joined the ECE faculty in 1991. Working in the microelectronics group, May has focused his research on computer-aided manufacturing of integrated circuits. In 2001, he was named Motorola Foundation Professor and was appointed associate chair for faculty development. May served as executive assistant to Georgia Tech President G. Wayne Clough from 2002 to 2005.

May has authored more than 200 articles and technical presentations in the area of IC computer-aided manufacturing, and he served as editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing from 1997 to 2001. He was an NSF "National Young Investigator" (1993-98) as well as an NSF and an AT&T Bell Laboratories graduate fellow. He has also worked as a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J. May is a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Society of Black Engineers.