Bonnie Heck Ferri Wins IEEE Education Award

Bonnie Heck Ferri has been named the recipient of the IEEE Education Society's 2007 Hewlett-Packard/Harriet B. Rigas Award. Ferri is a professor and the associate chair for graduate affairs in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). The award recognizes outstanding faculty women who have made significant contributions to electrical and computer engineering education. Ferri will receive the award at the 2007 Frontiers in Education Conference, which will take place Oct. 10-13 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Hewlett-Packard/Harriet B. Rigas Award specifically honors female faculty members who have significantly benefited electrical and computer engineering education through excellence in teaching, encouraging and supporting increased participation of women in both fields, demonstrated scholarship and research, development of educational technology that enhances student learning and/or service to the engineering profession.

In her role as associate chair for graduate affairs, Ferri is responsible for one of the largest graduate ECE programs in the country. She oversees graduate curricula and student recruitment, admissions and advising for a program comprising approximately 1,000 students. As part of her ongoing efforts to improve the education and experience of ECE graduate students, Ferri has instituted training policies for graduate teaching assistants.

A talented and valued teacher, Ferri has maintained superior student ratings on teaching effectiveness throughout her 19-year career, and she has won two teaching awards. Ferri also has been very active in curriculum development and in applying technology to innovative teaching. She has played an integral role in developing several undergraduate and graduate courses in controls, as well as in the introduction of computer-enhanced and Web-based instruction in courses on signals, systems and controls. She has created a broad range of supplemental electronic materials to support the courses she teaches, and she was a pioneer in the use of WebCT at Tech. Her book Fundamentals of Signals and Systems, co-authored with Professor Emeritus Edward W. Kamen, has been adopted by more than 50 universities around the world.

Ferri joined Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in 1988 as the School's first full-time, tenure-track female faculty member. She became the first woman faculty member named to an ECE administrative leadership role when she was named as associate chair for graduate affairs in 2006. Ferri has been an outstanding role model and leader for the women faculty hired subsequently, as well as for ECE's female undergraduate and graduate students.

As part of her longstanding commitment to promoting the engineering profession to women, Ferri has worked closely with the Women in ECE (WECE). Ferri is a faculty advisor and founding member of this student organization, which raises awareness among young women about opportunities in electrical and computer engineering and provides community and resources for those pursuing this career path. WECE has undertaken an ambitious outreach program targeting undergraduate and graduate students, as well as female K-12 students. With help from WECE students, Ferri has developed and conducted numerous sessions on ECE material at various camps for middle school and high school students.

In addition to her many contributions to education at Tech, Ferri has also taken a leadership role on educational issues within the IEEE Control Systems Society. For example, she was appointed to a two-year term as chair of this society's Technical Committee on Education, she organized several sessions on control education at conferences, and she guest-edited a special issue of the IEEE Control Systems Magazine called 'Future Directions in Controls Education.'

Ferri earned her B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, her M.S. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech. Her research area is in control systems, and she is particularly interested in control theory, industrial controls, embedded controls, and software architecture for control systems.

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