Engineering names Spira honorees

Author: William G. Gilroy and Nina Welding


Thomas E. Fuja, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Robert C. Nelson, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, are the 2007 recipients of the Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching, according to James L. Merz, interim dean of the University of Notre DamesCollegeofEngineering.

The award recognizes faculty in electrical engineering and aerospace and mechanical engineering for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, classroom activities and curriculum development. It was established in 2000 by Joel Spira, the founder, chairman and director of research at Lutron Electronics, and his wife, Ruth. Known for their commitment to promoting excellence in engineering education, the Spiras have established similar awards atCarnegieMellonUniversity,CornellUniversity,LehighUniversity, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,PennsylvaniaStateUniversity,PurdueUniversityand theUniversityofMichigan.

Fuja, whose research encompasses digital communications, error control coding, joint source-channel coding and information theory, joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1998. Prior to that, he had served on the faculty of theUniversityofMarylandand as program director for communications research at the National Science Foundation.

A fellow of theInstituteofElectricaland Electronic Engineers, he earned bachelors degrees in electrical and computer engineering in 1981 from theUniversityofMichigan. He earned a masters degree in 1983 and a doctorate 1987, both in electrical engineering, fromCornellUniversity.

Nelson earned bachelors and masters degrees in aerospace engineering from Notre Dame in 1964 and 1966, respectively, and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Penn State in 1974. He returned to Notre Dame as a faculty member in 1975, after having served as an instructor atPennStateand as a stability and control engineer at the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory.

A fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, he also served as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the Institute for Aerodynamics and Flow Technologya part of the German Aerospace Center in Göttingen, Germanyduring the 2002-03 academic year. His research interests include aircraft stability and control, fluid mechanics and aerodynamics.

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