Jonsson School Researchers Earn Honors from Peers
Accolades is an occasional News Center feature that highlights recent accomplishments of The University of Texas at Dallas faculty and students. To submit items for consideration, contact your school’s communications manager.
Spong To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has named Dr. Mark Spong the recipient of the 2020 ASME Rufus Oldenburger Medal, a lifetime achievement award for significant contributions in the field of automatic control.
Spong, the Excellence in Education Chair and professor of systems engineering and electrical and computer engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, will be recognized at the 2020 ASME Dynamic Systems and Control Conference in October.
Spong is a world leader in robotics and control research and education. He joined the Jonsson School in 2008 as its fourth dean and served in that role until 2017.
“I am truly honored to have received this award from the ASME,” Spong said. “The list of recipients of the Oldenburger Medal includes individuals that I have always admired as true giants of the control field. To be included among the list of past recipients is quite humbling indeed.”
Spong established theoretical foundations of robot control and built machines to test and prove those theories. Among the textbooks he has produced, Robot Dynamics and Control is still one of the most popular on the topic more than 30 years after its publication. In 2017 Spong’s research with a postdoctoral student, “Passive bilateral teleoperation with constant time delay,” made Google Scholar’s list of the 10 most-cited classic papers in robotics.
His results have been implemented at companies and research development facilities around the world, including Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Hardware and software that Spong developed are used to teach robotics at more than 200 universities worldwide.
Thuraisingham Recognized for Impact on Technology
Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, Founders Chair in Engineering and Computer Science and executive director of the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, was recognized as one of 12 female leaders of the last 200 years in technology by Wilson Consulting Group, a global cybersecurity consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.
In an article that highlights the historical role and impact of women in technology, the company cited early pioneers such as Ada Lovelace, the 19th-century English mathematician known as the first programmer; Grace Hopper, an American computer programming legend who was also a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy; Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, the first woman to earn a PhD in computer science; and Francis E. Allen, the first woman to win the A.M. Turing Award, often called the Nobel Prize of computing.
Thuraisingham was named alongside 21st-century leaders, including Virginia Rometty, executive chairman of IBM; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube; and Angela McKay, director of intel, emerging threats and risk mitigation at Google. Four members of the next generation of leaders were also spotlighted.
“I am so honored to be in the same group with these 11 other distinguished women — especially Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper,” Thuraisingham said. “I’m also very grateful to UT Dallas for giving me opportunities. As I always tell younger women when I give talks: ‘No. 1 is to try your best to do excellent technical work, then focus on motivating and helping others.’ It will all come together.”
Before joining the Jonsson School faculty in 2004, Thuraisingham worked in industry and government. A leading expert in cybersecurity and data science, she started research programs in data security at the National Science Foundation and participated in data-mining initiatives for counterterrorism.
Thuraisingham is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), American Association for the Advancement of Science, and National Academy of Inventors. She has received numerous prestigious awards from IEEE, ACM and other professional organizations, as well as the Dallas Business Journal’s 2017 Women in Technology Award. She also chaired the 2016 Women in Cybersecurity conference and delivered a featured address at Stanford University’s 2018 Women in Data Science conference.
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