ECE grads receive college Distinguished Achievement Awards
At Engineers’ Day, held October 8, 2010, eight UW-Madison engineering alumni were recognized for their significant career achievements. Two ECE alumni were among them. Dawn Ann Harms and Nitish V. Thakor both received Distinguished Achievement Awards.
awn Ann Harms, a Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, native was a first-generation college student. Her professional career is marked by a journey from design engineer to corporate leader and she now is vice president of marketing and sales at Space Systems/Loral, a world-leading manufacturer of communications satellites headquartered in Palo Alto, California.
In her position, Harms is responsible for securing and sustaining more than $1 billion annually in gross sales of realistic satellite systems in a high-stakes, vital and vibrant international industry.
In 1984, at age 25, Harms enrolled at UW-Madison and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. She began her engineering career designing traveling wave tubes at Teledyne MEC in Palo Alto, California. In 1987, she became business director for the company’s commercial communications product line.
Harms joined Ford Aerospace, which became Space Systems/Loral, as a subcontract engineering manager in 1990. In this capacity, she specified and negotiated requirements for microwave components and provided technical oversight for the subcontracts with vendors worldwide. In 1993, she served as sales director of the company’s Asia Pacific business development and then vice president of marketing and sales for the Americas in 1996 before advancing to her current position.
In 2010, Harms was elected to the board of directors of the Society of Satellite Professionals International. She frequently participates in worldwide conference panels representing the satellite manufacturer’s perspective within the industry and in advanced engineering, management and leadership programs. She served on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Industrial Advisory Board for five years and hosted events to foster relations between alumni and the ECE department. She is excited to rejoin the board beginning in 2011.
Harms is a member of the Bay Area Badgers, Wisconsin Alumni Association, Special Need Children Center Foundation and a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. Harms resides in Sunnyvale, California, with her husband, Greg, who is also an engineer in the space industry. They are the proud parents of Alyson, Geoffrey and Derek. Alyson is currently in law school at the University of San Francisco and their twin sons, Derek and Geoffrey, are entering the first grade. Harms is a board member of Amazing Creations Preschool and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal School. In her free time she cherishes family time at their vacation home on the Pacific coast.
itish V. Thakor is a professor of biomedical engineering (BME), electrical and computer engineering, and neurology at Johns Hopkins University. He now directs the Laboratory for Medical Instrumentation and Neuroengineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to carry out interdisciplinary, collaborative engineering research on technologies for basic and clinical neurosciences.
Born in Nagpur, India, Thakor developed an early interest in both engineering and medicine. The first in his family to travel abroad and obtain a PhD, he completed a master’s degree in biomedical engineering in 1978 and a PhD in electrical and computer engineering in 1981, both from UW-Madison. While an undergraduate in electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Thakor developed his first interest in medical electronics and instrumentation. His undergraduate thesis was inspired by now-BME Professor Emeritus John Webster’s research, and he eventually joined Webster’s lab at UW-Madison. It was here that he developed the first portable microcomputer-based abnormal heart rhythm monitoring instrument under the supervision of Webster and BME Professor Willis Tompkins.
During his early career teaching at Johns Hopkins, Thakor carried out research on implantable defibrillators. He is now engaged in pioneering work on brain-monitoring technologies for neurocritical care, and more recently, on brain-machine interface and neural control of prosthetic limbs. He has published more than 200 refereed journal papers, edited one book, generated 11 patents, and co-founded three medical device companies. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal IEEE Transactions on Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering.
Thakor is also the director of a National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering neuroengineering training program for doctoral students. He has supervised more than 50 graduate students and as many postdoctoral fellows and research faculty. He has given more than 25 keynote or plenary talks worldwide.
Thakor is a recipient of a research career development award from the National Institutes of Health and the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and of IEEE and is a founding fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. His honors also include the Technical Achievement in Neural Engineering Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society and a distinguished alumnus award from the Indian Institute of Technology.
Thakor andhis wife, Ruchira, have four children: Mitali, Milan, Jai and Vir.