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Steven Leeb wins Edgerton Award

Professor Steven B. Leeb of electrical engineering and computer science was named the 1998 winner of the Harold E. Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award at the April 15 faculty meeting.

The Edgerton Award was established in 1982 to honor annually a junior member of the MIT faculty for distinction in research, teaching and service to the MIT community. The 1997 winner was Associate Professor Julie Dorsey of the Department of Architecture.

"I'm overwhelmed, humbled and very grateful," said Professor Leeb, upon hearing he had won the award. The Edgerton Committee report was presented by Richard Locke, associate professor of industrial relations and political science.

Professor Leeb received four degrees from MIT -- the SB in 1987, the SM in 1989, the EE in 1990 and the PhD in 1993. He began teaching at MIT in January 1993. From September 1993 until August 1996, he was the Carl Richard Soderberg Assistant Professor of Power Engineering. He was promoted to the rank of associate professor without tenure last July.

In summarizing his work, he said, "My research generally involves making things move. I'm concerned with controlling, designing, analyzing and monitoring all sorts of electronic and electromechanical systems for manufacturing operations, electric vehicles, the electric utility and consumer products. My specific research projects range from making monitoring and metering systems for the electric utility to the development of synthetic muscles from a responsive polymer material."

The Edgerton Committee noted that Professor Leeb's research has led to several important contributions and applications, including the development of a multiprocessor-based monitor which can be used to understand patterns of electrical energy consumption in buildings, and the medical use of polymer gels as controlled releasers of medicines and hormones.

Professor Leeb has already received various professional awards in recognition of this work, including a National Science Foundation Career Award in 1996, the committee noted.

His teaching also drew high marks from his colleagues.

"In addition to being an innovative and productive scholar, Steve Leeb is also a crackerjack teacher," the committee citation said. "He has taught core EECS subjects��������������������������� as well as developed a highly innovative 'capstone' class which goes by the title 'Advanced Mechatronics Project Laboratory.' In this class, students first read case studies and then in teams design the mechanics and electronics for a servomechanism.

"Steve has also developed a very popular freshman seminar called Things That Turn, in which students design, build and race electrical vehicles. As a result of his excellent teaching, Steve received the Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award in 1996 and the Bose Junior Faculty Teaching Award last year.

"Steve's committee duties and assignments are numerous. In addition to serving as a freshman advisor, he has supervised students through the summer Research Science Institute and also served as a member of the Common Core, Admissions and Professional Education Policy Committee within his department," the Edgerton Committee wrote.

"Our committee had the pleasure and privilege of reviewing the accomplishments of many talented young faculty members at MIT. It was a difficult task to narrow the selection to one person, but we believe that none is more worthy of receiving this year's Harold E. Edgerton Award than Steven Leeb. Congratulations!"

Edgerton Committee members were Richard M. Locke (chair), associate professor of industrial relations and political science at the Sloan School; Stephen Benton, the Allen Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; Professor Sylvia T. Ceyer of chemistry; and Professor C. Forbes Dewey Jr. of mechanical engineering.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 29, 1998.

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