Atef Elsherbeni Retires After 26 Years of Service

Associate dean's stellar career marked by research, scholarship and dedication to graduate students

Atef Elsherbeni received The Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.

During his 26 years of teaching and research at the UM School of Engineering, Atef Elsherbeni has made a significant impact on the nation’s technology development, particularly in the areas of electromagnetic waves, radar power, miniaturized antennas, RFID (radio frequency identification) and personal communications systems.

“The department was known for its electromagnetic research all over the world,” said Elsherbeni, an electrical engineering professor who notes that the reputation of the EE department and its faculty helped bring him here back in 1987. His own work, which has garnered more than $10 million in outside funding, has helped bolster that reputation.

But Elsherbeni, associate dean of research and graduate programs for the School of Engineering and recipient of the university’s 2012 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, recently decided to retire. While he, admittedly, will not miss the paperwork, Elsherbeni said he will miss the interaction with students and faculty in uncovering the fascinating and making sense of it all.

“My efforts in educating undergraduate and graduate students, along with providing them with help when needed for them to have successful future careers after graduation, has been the most fulfilling aspect of my career,” he said.

“My first experience with Dr. Atef Elsherbeni was early in my electrical engineering undergraduate tenure when studying electric circuit theory under his tutelage,” said Markeeva Morgan (BSEE ’01), manager of the Avionics Hardware Subsystem at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “Electric circuit theory is perhaps the most foundational of the fundamental courses taught or learned while studying electrical engineering at the undergraduate level. Studying under Dr. Elsherbeni was a fortuitous opportunity for me. His teaching ability was paramount in my internalizing the basic concepts on which I would build the rest of my understanding.”

Elsherbeni made major contributions toward the continuation of engineering education at Raytheon facility in Forest.

“If one of the missions of the university is to help grow industry in our state, then I can tell you firsthand that Dr. Elsherbeni is a proven resource in this area,” said Bill Dykeman (BSEE ’85), engineering manage for space and airborne systems at Raytheon Systems Co.

Ercument Arvas, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Syracuse University, praised Elsherbeni’s research accomplishments and his national and international recognition.

“I especially want to draw your attention to the fact that being recognized as IEEE Fellow, ACES Fellow, Electromagnetics Academy Fellow and Finland Distinguished Professor is very, very rare in our field,” Arvas said. “I knew all along how he encourages those around him to excel. Last summer, I closely observed his dedication towards his students, postdocs and colleagues in general.”

Elsherbeni earned his doctoral degree in electrical engineering from the University of Manitoba. He joined the UM faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor, rose to the rank of professor in 1998 and was appointed associate dean in 2009.

Elsherbeni serves as the president of the Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society, or ACES.

Vicente Rodriguez, antenna product manager for ETS‐Lindgren and vice president of the board of directors of the Antenna Measurement Techniques Association, said, “Dr. Elsherbeni is a great educator, and his door was always open to his students. He was definitely a mentor for me. The achievements of my own career (two U.S. patents for antenna and RF absorbers; numerous antenna designs turned into successful products) would not have happened without his encouragement and his teaching.”

Ramanarayanan Viswanathan, UM chair and professor of electrical engineering, has worked with Elsherbeni only briefly, but enjoyed the experience.

“I got to know and work with Dr. Atef Elsherbeni for the past one year,” he said. “Atef is a nationally recognized researcher in his area of research. What impressed me most is Atef’s ability to apply his knowledge of fundamentals in electromagnetics to real-world practical problems. The EE department will very much miss his presence. On behalf of EE department, I wish him well in his future endeavors.”

After more than two decades at Ole Miss, Elsherbeni looked around for another challenge and found it at the Colorado School of Mines, where he will be in charge of electromagnetics and antennas undergraduate and graduate education and research. He will start his second career as the Dobelman Distinguished Chair and Professor Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, but he also plans to continue collaborations with the Ole Miss EE department and School of Engineering.

“I will try to direct my research experience towards energy-related topics,” he said.

Elsherbeni is the recipient of the 2003 Outstanding Contributions to Science Award from the Mississippi Academy of Science, the 2002 School of Engineering Outstanding Faculty Member Award and the 1996 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Memphis Section Outstanding Engineering Educator Award. Earlier this year, he received the first ACES Technical Achievement Award, which recognizes one or more demonstrated, original technical contributions in the field of applied computational electromagnetics, supported by publications, patents and products such as developed computer codes.

Former students can keep track of their mentor by watching progress in the development and application of numerical techniques for electromagnetic problems and in the modeling of antennas. Elsherbeni has published 136 refereed journal articles, 28 chapters, more than 330 professional presentations, 26 short courses, 29 invited seminars and 74 technical reports in these areas.

He has also been named as the 2009-2012 Finland Distinguished Professor by the Academy of Finland, a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society, the 2002 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award by IEEE, Region 3; the 2001 ACES Exemplary Service Award for leadership and contributions as electronic publishing managing editor and the 1996 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award by IEEE Memphis Section.

At Ole Miss, Elsherbeni has supervised and graduated 33 master’s and 13 doctoral students. He was engaged in international recruitment that resulted in the enrollment of several Egyptian government-funded Ph.D. students for several departments in the School of Engineering. He also leads a group of engineering undergraduate students to build and launch a satellite “MISSat-1” with its primary mission to capture images of the earth, focusing on the state of Mississippi.