Awards 2010


Jacob Gunther : Advising Excellence Award

Dr. Jacob Gunther received the Advising Excellence Award (2009-10) for the ECE Department. The award was voted on by students within the department and based upon the attributes which Dr. Gunther brings to the department. The students expressed that Dr. Gunther is very helpful in explaining the job opportunities available for graduates and that he has demonstrated patience in working with students by making himself available to listen about their engineering concerns. Dr. Gunther has participated in the events of the student chapter of IEEE and each year he mentors students on their senior projects. Over the last few summers he has worked with groups of undergraduate students participating in an intensive ten-week summer research program investigating signal processing and communication related topics. Dr. Gunther invests a lot of time in preparing to teach, teaching, and helping students with their designs.

Bedri Cetiner : Research Excellence Award

Dr. Bedri Cetiner was selected by the ECE Department to receive the Research Excellence Award (2009-10). Dr. Cetiner’s research focuses on the applications of micro-nano technologies to a new class of microwave circuits and systems, and intelligent wireless communications systems with an emphasis on the multifunctional reconfigurable antennas (MRA) for use in cognitive multi-input multi-output (MIMO) systems. He is the author of numerous journal publications and holds three patents. Funding for his research comes primarily from the National Institute of Justice, as his work will contribute to interoperability between emergency services. He has been an invited speaker at various national locations including Cornell University and UC Berkeley, and at internationally recognized research institutions in Turkey and Japan. His research supports students ranging from undergraduates to PhD students, as well as two full-time research scientists. Before starting his scientific career in electrical engineering, he was a professional basketball player in his native country, Cyprus.

Fon Brown : Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Brown was selected to receive the Teaching Excellence Award (2009-10). Dr. Brown has been instrumental in teaching our computer engineering digital design courses. Dr. Brown has years of experience in industry, which he has now chosen to share with his students. This brings relevance and immediacy to the courses he teaches. For example, even in the introductory Digital Design course, he takes students all the way to where they are designing and implementing a simple microprocessor system. He also has a broad background drawing from physics and math backgrounds as well as his computer engineering. One student commented, “The thing I love most about Dr. Brown is that just when you think he’s more of a software guy, he busts out some crazy Fourier analysis or other hardware-level magic. His well roundedness makes him an excellent professor. Excellent course, excellent instruction.” Dr. Brown has also helped to modernize our Microprocessor Systems class, bringing in new hardware and more modern approaches of construction and debugging. As another student observed, “He is the bomb diggity when it comes to teaching.” We are fortunate to have him in ECE.

Chris Winstead : Outstanding Undergraduate RA Mentor Award

Dr. Chris Winstead was selected as the Undergraduate Mentor of the Year for 2010. Dr. Winstead has supervised the work of several undergraduate students on multiple projects. One of these projects is the Equine Distress Monitor, a portable device used for early detection and intervention of colic behavior in horses. This project has resulted in a filed patent, several publications, as well as a senior project for the student involved. Another project in which Dr. Winstead has involved undergraduates is related to synthetic biology. Starting initially with student volunteer efforts, recently received research support from the National Science Foundation enables research support for students. Dr. Winstead’s involvement with undergraduate research is an outgrowth of his commitment to solid, relevant teaching. In his classes students develop analytical skills and attitudes that transfer well into the research realm. Students are drawn too to his understated brilliance and breadth of interests.

Reyhan Baktur : Outstanding Graduate RA Mentor Award

We are pleased to recognize Dr. Reyhan Baktur as the graduate mentor for 2010 for the Electrical  and Computer Engineering Department. Dr. Baktur serves as the chair of four M.S. Plan A students and two PhD students. Together, she and her students have published five papers in 2009 and  had another paper accepted and another submitted. In addition, another nine papers have been  presented at national or international conferences. Plans are moving along for another five papers (at least) to be submitted in this year between Dr. Reyhan and her students. Among these papers, one was a finalist and honorable mention at a conference. Clearly Dr. Baktur is helping her students learn to be effective and productive researchers. Dr. Baktur is passionate about her area of study, which is antennas and other electromagnetic phenomena, and her passion is  contagious. She draws students into her area, then helps them achieve success in it.

Terry Higbee : Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Higbee has had a long and distinguished career in the aerospace industry. Dr. Higbee’s promise of success started early. While at USU he was the Outstanding Electrical Engineer, IEEE Senior of the Year, and a Robin’s award nominee. At USU, he was employed at the Space Dynamics Laboratory, which helped launch his career in the aerospace industry, while heading the student IEEE chapter and working as a member of the Engineering Council. After graduation from USU he obtained a PhD from Stanford University. Over his career, he has worked for a variety of aerospace firms, including Northrop, Raytheon, Ball Aerospace, General Dynamics Electronics Systems, and Lockheed, and is presently a chief engineer for National Systems at Northrop Grumman Information Systems at Raytheon. He has also worked for NASA as an astronaut in the shuttle manned spaceflight program, and as a research engineer for the U.S. Air Force. He has served on the Colorado Innovation Summit Advisory Board. In these roles, he has been responsible for overall technical guidance, including the development of technology roadmaps, IR&D program oversight and technical review, and contribution to programs and business development. For a lifetime of contributions to the aerospace industry and the defense of this nation, representing USU in many significant settings over many years, it is an honor to recognize Dr. Terry A. Higbee as the outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineering alumnus for 2010.

Ron Thurgood : Distinguished Service

It is a pleasure for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department to recognize Dr. Ron Thurgood for the Outstanding Service Award for 2010 for services rendered to the department, the college, and the state in the area of engineering education. Dr. Thurgood was a member of the Electrical Engineering Department from 1969 – 2002, serving as the interim department head from 1977 to 1978 and again from 1985 to 1986. He spent over 22 years as Associate Dean of Engineering. Upon leaving USU, he became Department Chair of Engineering at Utah Valley State College for two years. Since returning from a mission to Athens, Greece, he has continued to serve education in the state of Utah and, by sending well-prepared students to us, Utah State University in particular, in his role as Professor of Engineering at Snow College. Both as a teacher and administrator, Ron has been committed to the education of the students. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that student educational programs were in place for effective educational experiences. He is a committed teacher and a talented engineer, and while having opportunities to put his skills to practice elsewhere, he has repeatedly returned to share his passion and expertise with students.

Abiezer Tejeda : Outstanding Senior

Abiezer Tejeda enjoys playing the piano we well as participating in table tennis, tennis, basketball and baseball. He loves to learn about other cultures and does so by studying foreign languages. He likes to go hiking, camping and stargazing during summer nights. Abiezer has demonstrated a commitment to education and a passion for   education. He volunteered to participate in the Summer 2009 Research Experience for Undergraduates in Signals and Communications, in which he was an unpaid member of the team of research students. In that work, he was exploring acoustic imaging of rooms. He also volunteered to work with Dr. Chris Winstead, work which has led to his involvement in the program of synthetic biology as a research assistant. He is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and has represented the ECE Department and university at a conference and competition of Region 6. He is also a member of the Dominican Student Association and the Linux Club. Of his education here at USU he writes, “I believe that my role as a professional will be to go out there and give people what school has given me: the power of getting over ignorance, the ability to think objectively, and most of all, a passion for helping others and make our environment and society a better place to live.” His parents are Maria Magdalena Marquez and Florentino Tejeda of Dominican Republic.

Anthony Morgan : Outstanding Pre-Professional Student

Anthony Morgan has been selected as our outstanding pre-professional student. Anthony is a university research  fellow, and is currently working at SDL on a project to be deployed on the International Space Station to measure phase changes in space. He is affiliated with our student branch of IEEE, where he is chair for the SPAVe activity. He has a wide range of activities outside engineering, including rock climbing, reading, debate, singing, cooking, hunting, fishing, and camping. With all of this going on, he is still a good solid student. Long term plans include finishing degrees in both computer engineering and computer science, then going on to study computer architecture in graduate school.

Scott Marchant : Outstanding Junior

Scott Marchant is recognized as the Outstanding Junior for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department for 2010. Scott is outstanding for several reasons. First, he has broad interests outside engineering. He has already completed a minor in Russian, and is nearing completion of two additional minors in computer science and math. Extracurricular activities include Russian translation and genealogical research. Second, he shows great initiative when it comes to applying what he is learning. He runs his own company, Scybot Technologies, where he writes iPhone and iPod apps. He also is employed for another company developing integrated cell, GPS and webserver systems for distributed field measurements. Third, he helps tutor students in math and computer science. Fourth, he is a strong and capable student, holding on to an enviable GPA even with all of his outside interests. As he says, having grown up on a farm, he gets satisfaction from working hard --- and it shows.

Tuerxunjiang Yasen : Outstanding Graduate TA

In the spring of 2009, Tursunjan became the Lab TA for ECE 3870 Electromagnetics I when we first added the lab  component to the class. Tursunjan did a very good job teaching the lab, and many students expressed gratitude for his help. What was very impressive was not only his solid understanding of the material and conveying that to  students, but also how he could reach out to students in general. Many students became good friends with him after the semester was over. Tursunjan’s responsibility to EM I lab includes preparing the Anderson Wireless Center for the lab class, checking equipments before and after the class, teaching the lab, helping out students during and after the lab, and finally grading the lab reports. Because of his hard and fruitful work, he has been asked to be the Lab TA again this year for EM I class. In the fall of 2009, Tursunjan was the TA for the Antennas class. His  responsibility included grading homework, holding help sections when needed, teach Antenna measurements during the semester (there is one in-class measurement lab section for the class). Finally, he was also responsible for the assisting students to perform validations in their final projects. Apart from his own TA responsibilities,  Tursunjan is very helpful to other TAs. Overall, Tursunjan Yasen is an excellent lab TA.

Haiyang Chao : Outstanding Graduate RA

Haiyang Chao has been selected from among a strong competitive pool as the outstanding graduate research  assistant of the year. Here is a list of some of his contributions:

1. Haiyang was one of the finalists for the Best  Student Paper award at 2006 IEEE ICMA for his paper “A Study of Grouping Effect On Mobile Actuator Sensor  Networks for Distributed Feedback Control of Diffusion Process Using Central Voronoi Tessellations”

2. Haiyang is the major work force for CSOIS UAV research program. He served as team member AND graduate advisor for 2008 and 2009 AUVSI UAS Competition. His team won #2 in 2008 and #1 in 2009.

3. Haiyang probably  holds the longest UAS autonomous flight field test hours (total 200+ hours) among graduate students in the world.

4. He was invited to contribute a book chapter on “AggieAir: Towards Low-cost Cooperative Multispectral Remote Sensing Using Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems” ( to appear in Geo-science and Remote Sensing)

5. His paper “Autopilots for Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: A Survey,” International Journal of Control, Automation and Systems (IJCAS), vol.8, is being widely cited.

6. His recently accepted paper by IFAC J of Control engineering Practice on using fractional order flight  controller  marks history: CSOIS is the world first team actually flew fractional order flight controller and showed benefits from extensive flight test results.

7. Haiyang is the USU UAV team leader on research. He is an exemplary contributing team member. He also  provided great service in CSOIS such as mentoring REU students, visitors from various group in in-campus and out-campus communities

8. Haiyang is now serving as the Symposium Co-Chair for the 2nd SUAVTA (Int. Symposium on Small UAV Technologies and Applications) at IEEE/ASME MESA2010. He is emerging as one of the leading players in UAV research.

We commend him for his outstanding contributions and expect to see outstanding results as his career continues to develop.