Computer engineering students, prof, win three prestigious IEEE awards
University of Houston-Clear Lake’s computer engineering students and faculty have won three prestigious awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. For the fourth time in 10 years, students won the Outstanding Student Small Branch Award for their region. Additionally, the university was awarded the Outstanding Small Section Award, and Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering Ishaq Unwala received the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award.
The IEEE, an international organization of professional engineers from over 180 countries, is the largest of its kind in the world.
Associate Professor of Computer Engineering Hakduran Koc, who has been UH-Clear Lake’s IEEE student branch counselor, or adviser, for 10 years, said the highly coveted award is given on the basis of certain criteria. “The award is given to just one small student branch — meaning, a branch with fewer than 50 students, in each region,” Koc said. “It’s awarded on the basis of the quality of the events and activities that were planned in the last year. We had a well-attended conference last year, we have officers’ meetings throughout the year, fundraising events through the Student Government Association and the College of Science and Engineering, and we have special, innovative activities with other IEEE units as well as non-IEEE organizations.”
Koc said the group learned how things were done in the past and took leadership roles in carrying out plans. “I am here just to advise,” he said. “The students, especially Harold Schmoyer, who is our branch’s chair, did all the work. They should get all the credit.”
Schmoyer, who is getting his Master of Science in Computer Engineering this month, said the organization’s goal is to offer students the opportunity for professional development in areas like leadership skills. “At UHCL we are learning technical skills, but at the student conference we had, some people from industries like NASA and Hewlett Packard came to talk to us about the need for soft skills and how they tie into engineering,” he said. “Most of us, within five to 10 years, will become managers. Those soft skills are needed if we are to become good leaders.”
Schmoyer said that he’d had a great experience as a student at UHCL, due in part because of his involvement with IEEE. “Without the help of Dr. Koc, I would never have heard of IEEE, but because all our professors are in it, and it’s such a large professional organization, I was able to participate,” he said. “We are the student version of that organization, but this experience is going to transcend into my career over my lifetime. I’ve made great connections and I’ve gotten good exposure into my profession.”
He said his career aspiration was to become a computer engineer at NASA. “I’m thankful I came to UHCL because a lot of my professors have strong ties to NASA,” he said. “I’ve had great profs and I think I have a lot of confidence in what I’m learning to prepare me for the career I want.”
Koc said that he always teaches his students the importance of extra-curricular activities to help develop their communication and leadership skills. “It’s a way for professors and students to get to know each other better and show their teamwork,” he said. “Soft skills are very important in engineering. I believe I have the smartest and most hardworking students. I am so happy to have them.”
Learn more about UHCL's Computer Engineering program online.