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Chew named IEEE distinguished educator

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By Bridget Maiellaro, ECE Illinois
May 7, 2008

  • Prof. Weng C. Chew received the 2008 Chen-To Tai Distinguished Educator Award from the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society.
  • Chew was awarded for “for outstanding contributions to education in the fields of electromagnetic theory and computational electromagnetics.”
  • Chew was recently selected to serve as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Hong Kong and is currently on leave from Illinois. He hopes to return in three to five years.
Weng Cho Chew
Weng Cho Chew

Professor Weng Cho Chew, Y.T. Lo Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering, was granted the 2008 Chen-To Tai Distinguished Educator Award of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Antennas and Propagation Society “for outstanding contributions to education in the fields of electromagnetic theory and computational electromagnetics.”

"Professor Chew's entire academic career has been focused on the education and mentorship of his students, resulting in both cutting edge research and extremely successful Illinois graduates,” IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society’s President and ECE Professor Associate Jennifer Bernhard. “He is certainly deserving of this prestigious recognition."

After earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, Chew went on to obtain his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering in 1978 and 1980, respectively.

While at MIT, Chew served on the graduate and undergraduate research staffs. He then became a postdoctoral research associate and part-time instructor until 1981. Following his education, Chew obtained a position at Schlumberger-Doll Research (SDR), a leading oilfield services company where he had interned during previous summers. While at SDR, he rose to the rank of program leader and department manager. Leaving the company in 1985, he joined the University of Illinois staff as an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“I always wanted to become a teacher, and when the University of Illinois offered me the opportunity in 1985, I jumped at it,” Chew said. “I have made good use of my teaching job at Illinois.”

In 2000, Chew began to serve as a visiting professor at a number of universities and/or companies throughout the world, including the National University of Singapore and Ecole Superieure d'Electricite, MIT, Brown University, IBM, and the Air Force Research Lab. All the while, he remained a faculty member of the University of Illinois; formally serving as director for the Center for Computational Electromagnetics and Electromagnetics Laboratory. In that position, Chew’s duties included obtaining research grants; organizing seminars and workshops; mentoring junior faculty members, junior research scientists, and students; conducting research; and writing scientific papers and books.

Chew was recently selected to serve as the Dean of Engineering at the University of Hong Kong and is currently on leave from Illinois. He hopes to return in three to five years.

“I think it is a good opportunity to share my experience and vision about education with people around the world, especially Asia where I grew up, and help build bridges between East and West,” he said. “Knowledge can help eradicate poverty, offer a higher standard of living, and sustain a better environment for living.”

This is not the first time Chew has received an award for teaching. In fact, he was granted the University of Illinois Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching in 2001 and the IEEE Graduate Teaching Award in 2000. He has also made the “Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent” by their students almost every semester he has taught at Illinois.

Aside from IEEE, Chew is also a fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Institute of Physics. Over the years, Chew has earned eight U.S. Patents, published more than 300 journal articles, co-authored more than 400 conference publications, and authored a book. In addition, he was among the Information Sciences Institute's most highly cited authors in 2002.

Chen-To Tai (1915-2004), whom the award is named after, was a well respected and influential scientist remembered throughout the world for his research on antennas and electromagnetics. Established in 2000, the Distinguished Educator Award is granted each year “to an individual for outstanding service to education in the field of antennas and propagation,” according to the society’s guidelines. The honor is an acknowledgement by peers.

“The honor is important to me because it shows that my work is well recognized by my peers. Some of the earliest electromagnetics books I have read were written by Professor Chen-To Tai,” Chew said. “I feel honored to receive an honor named after him, a distinguished educator himself.”

Chew will receive a plaque and prize of $1,000 at the 2008 IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation Awards Banquet and the 2008 United States National Committee of The International Union of Radio Science (USNC/URSI) National Radio Science Meeting. The event will take place from July 5 through July 11, with the awards presentation taking place Wednesday, July 9.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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