NYU Engineering Professors Honored for Contributions to Radar Systems, Electrical Transformers, and More

Francisco De Leon and Unnikrishna Pillai Named Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


Francisco De Leon and Unnikrishna Pillai, professors of electrical engineering at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, have been named Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world's largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation.

De Leon was elevated to IEEE Fellow for his contributions to transformer modeling for electromagnetic transient studies. His research helps ensure that electric-utility equipment is designed to be reliable and resistant to damage from lightning strikes and switching hazards. A devoted teacher as well as researcher, he has led a team of students to perform the transient analysis of the smart-grid technologies implemented by New York City’s Con Edison, and also directed a comprehensive study on conservation of energy based on voltage reduction for the company. The widely cited author of more than 100 scholarly papers, De Leon holds several patents and is also an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery and editor/coordinator of the IEEE Power Engineering Letters.

Francisco De Leon

Francisco De Leon

Pillai was elevated to Fellow in recognition of his contributions to adaptive signal processing and radar systems—areas of importance in both military and civilian arenas. Adaptation is the key, he has explained, for anyone needing to transmit a signal because noise and other interference must be taken into account. He cites as an example the trouble that the spinning blades of wind turbines can cause for air traffic controllers. He is recipient of numerous grants from the Office of Naval Research, and points out that with the ever-increasing appetite for extra bandwidth from the wireless world, it is becoming important for the military to transmit signals used for both radar and communications in a bandwidth-efficient manner in time and space, so that, one day, unused bandwidth resources can be diverted to other opportunities. Within the classroom, he has started using short video sessions to complement his lectures, a system wherein students can go back and review source material or view lectures and work out problems before and after class sessions. Pillai has authored and coauthored five textbooks and monographs related to electrical engineering and credits his mentor, NYU School of Engineering Presidential Fellow and Professor Emeritus Dante Youla, for most of his professional success.

The IEEE grade of Fellow is conferred by the organization’s Board of Directors upon members with extraordinary records of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields. The total number selected in any one year never exceeds one-tenth of one percent of the total voting membership.

NYU Dean of Engineering Katepalli R. Sreenivasan said, “The election of Francisco De Leon and Unnikrishna Pillai as Fellows of the esteemed IEEE confirms what I have long known—that our Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has some of the finest, most accomplished faculty members in the nation. Their staunch commitment to both solving real-world problems and educating the next generation of electrical engineers is everything one could hope for in a professor of engineering, and I congratulate them upon receiving this well-deserved recognition.”