In recognition of her exemplary service to the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, Prof. Rhonda Franklin is the 2019 recipient of the N. Walter Cox Award. The citation reads: “The award recognizes an individual who has given exemplary service to the Society in a spirit of selfless dedication and cooperation. The award is instituted in memory N. Walter Cox, a longstanding MTT-S volunteer.”
For Prof. Franklin, the award is a timely acknowledgement of her work as an active and engaged member and volunteer of the MTT-S group. As a researcher, educator, and volunteer, she has displayed her leadership, and selfless spirit in all her undertakings. Her active engagement with the Society began in 1996, at the start of her professional career. Since then, she has undertaken a variety of tasks ranging from reviewing technical papers for the Society’s journals, serving as editor in various capacities, serving on the International Microwave Symposium (IMS) steering committee, several sub-committees, judge for several student paper competitions, and organizer for various workshops and panels. She has also served as a scholarship chair, and has been elected to serve as chair of the Technical Coordinating Committee for Packaging, Integration, and Manufacturing starting in 2019.
However, besides these activities, what has been most profoundly significant for Prof. Franklin and for the many individuals she has influenced, is her work with minority and women students, developing and encouraging their interest in microwave theory, facilitating research and workplace skills development, and actively mentoring them to successfully take on leadership positions in engineering and academia.
Prof. Franklin is driven to inspire, encourage, and empower minority and women students to be the future generation of engineers, scientists and leaders.
PROF. FRANKLIN AS MENTOR
In 2014, Prof. Franklin co-founded IMS Project Connect which is aimed at familiarizing undergraduate and first year minority and women students with the microwave community and industry by facilitating collaboration with the MTT Society through the symposium. She has worked with co-founders, professors Thomas Weller and Rashaunda Henderson, to plan the program which includes developing communication and networking skills, understanding workplace expectations, career opportunities in microwave engineering in industry, academia, and government, and facilitating meetings with industry leaders and scientists. Participants not only engage in these opportunities, but are also expected to turn in a video conveying the import of the experience for them, titled, “IMS through Their Eyes.” A success from its inception, thanks to the strong support and commitment of all volunteers involved, the program is among the first of its kind within IEEE, where a professional society teams up with an undergraduate student education program to impact STEM education.
A leader, mentor, and teacher, Prof. Franklin is eager and enthusiastic to understand how an organization or unit operates, actively listens to ideas and contributions, and works hard to integrate them to resolve problems, and create new initiatives. These are qualities she has demonstrated as an MTT-S volunteer and researcher, who has enthusiastically encouraged, inspired, and supported future generations of women engineers, and continues to do so each day.
Prof. Franklin’s steady commitment is borne out by awards she has previously received:
- 2017 John Tate Advising Award
- 2104 Sara Evans Faculty Scholar/Leader Award
- 2012 CIC Academic Leadership Fellow
- 1998 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
- 1998 National Science Foundation CAREER award
- 1998 Professional Engineering Society Council’s Advisor of the Year Award (University of Illinois, Chicago)
- 1997 Amoco-Silver Circle Award for Teaching Excellence (University of Illinois, Chicago)
And these are just a few of the several she has received. The award will be conferred at the Society’s annual Awards Banquet scheduled during the International Microwave Symposium (June 2-7, 2019) in Boston, Massachusetts. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering congratulates Prof. Franklin and thanks her for her selfless service and dedication.