Engineers honored for quality-of-life contributions
By Liz Crumbley
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 17 - January 22, 1998
Virginia Tech electrical engineering professors Saifur Rahman and Theodore S. Rappaport have been elected fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The IEEE, with more than 320,000 members in 147 nations, is the world's largest technical professional society. The fellow grade, conferred by the institute's board of directors, recognizes "important individual contributions...that have been reflected in an improved quality of life for society." Only one-tenth of one percent of the membership may be nominated each year.
Rahman, who joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1979, is director of the university's Center for Energy and the Global Environment and also is program director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Energy Processing Systems Program. One of Rahman's NSF projects focuses on in developing a nationwide distribution system for electric power engineering education materials. He also is studying the impacts of electricity use on global climate change, with the goal of developing methods of reducing those impacts.
In addition, Rahman is involved in two major international energy projects. In Malaysia, he is developing models for evaluating energy efficiency programs and their impact on greenhouse gas emissions. As a consultant to the Tokyo Electric Power Company in Japan, he is researching methods of quantifying the cost of electrical service in a deregulated system.
Rappaport has initiated a number of "firsts" since he came to Virginia Tech in 1988. He founded the Mobile & Portable Radio Research Group (MPRG), one of the first two university research centers of its kind in the world; he developed Virginia Tech's first wireless engineering course; he authored Wireless Communications: Principles and Practice, the first textbook on the subject; and he founded the first annual international symposium on wireless personal communication and the first wireless communications company in Blacksburg. In 1996, the National Science Foundation awarded him a major education grant to develop the nation's first wireless curriculum.
His research led to the first statistical radio-channel model for in-building radio propagation and a patented wireless measurement instrument that has been used by more than 300 companies and government agencies worldwide. Currently, Rappaport and students at the MPRG are conducting the first radio propagation measurements in the new National Information Infrastructure (NII) radio band at 5.85 Ghz, which will allow wireless service providers to provide wireless local area networks, internet to the home, and wide-band campus networks without using cable.