CU Professor Elected To Lead World's Largest Technical Professional Society

Published: Dec. 14, 2004

University of Colorado Professor Michael Lightner has been elected to lead the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world's largest technical professional society with more than 360,000 members in 150 countries.

Lightner is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center.

Lightner will serve as IEEE president-elect in 2005 and take office as IEEE president on Jan. 1, 2006. As president-elect, he will serve as a member of the IEEE board of directors and executive committee.

The IEEE is a leading authority in more than 40 technical areas ranging from aerospace electronics, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. The organization produces 30 percent of the world's literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields and has developed more than 900 active industry standards. The IEEE also sponsors or co-sponsors more than 300 international technical conferences each year.

Lightner has been a faculty member in CU-Boulder's College of Engineering and Applied Science since 1981. He also is a fellow at the Graduate School's Center for the Integrative Study of Work, co-director of the Blurr digital innovation laboratory with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and chair of the advisory board of the Institute for Bioenergetics at CU-Colorado Springs.

His research interests are focused on developing and applying technologies to enhance learning, with specific interest in technologies to support people with cognitive disabilities. He was instrumental in obtaining the $250 million gift to the University of Colorado establishing the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities in 2001, and he currently serves as the institute's senior engineering adviser.

This fall he received funding with Cathy Bodine of CU-Denver and Health Sciences Center to co-direct the first-ever Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Cognitive Technologies, established through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The center is focusing on a dozen research and technology development projects to assist people with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer's, mental retardation and traumatic brain injury.

Lightner joined the IEEE as a student in 1971 and has served in numerous volunteer and leadership positions. Most recently, he has served as vice president of the IEEE Publications Products and Services Board with oversight responsibility for production of more than 126 technical periodicals and books, and content delivery of a database containing more than 1 million documents. He was elected an IEEE fellow in 1997 and received the organization's Third Millennium Medal in 2000.

He also has received the Max S. Peters Faculty Service Award, John and Mercedes Peebles Innovation in Education Award, and the Charles A. Hutchinson Memorial Teaching Award from the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Prior to joining the CU faculty, he was a member of the technical staff at Bell Labs. He also was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois for two years, a visiting scholar at the IBM Watson Research Center and a visiting professor at the University of British Columbia. He earned his doctorate in electrical engineering at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1979 after receiving his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Florida.