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10 years of news and resources for members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society

Nominate an IEEE Fellow today!

H. Vincent Poor, SPS Vice President-Awards and Membership and 
Isabel Trancoso, Chair, SPS Fellow Reference Committee

IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership of the IEEE. It honors members with an outstanding record of technical achievements, contributing importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology, and bringing significant value to society. Around this time (end of November), the new class of IEEE Fellows is announced. Hopefully, the list contains many names familiar to you. If not, then perhaps it is a good idea to nominate someone yourself! Anyone can be a nominator (no need to be an IEEE Fellow, or even an IEEE member). The nomination deadline is 1 March, and all required information (and an “electronic” nomination kit) is obtained from Please note nominees must be an IEEE Senior Member or IEEE Life Senior Member in good standing, who has been a member for 5 years or more preceding 1 January of the elevation year. Self-nominations are not permitted. The IEEE and the Signal Processing Society would like to put some emphasis on:

  • Underrepresented regions (e.g., Latin America, China, India) 
  • Underrepresented categories (Technical Leader, Educator, Application Engineer), as described below
  • Other underrepresented categories, such as women.

Some hints for nominators Each year, SPS receives about 60 nominations, and IEEE a total of around 800. About 300 of the 800 are successful. While all pertinent information can be obtained from public IEEE websites (see in particular, we would like to give some hints to improve the chances that a nomination will be successful. It helps to understand the elaborate review process. Nominations first obtain a technical evaluation by a relevant Society Fellow Reference Committee. This results in a rank-ordering (numerical grade) and brief essays (150-200 words) regarding the following questions:

  1. What are the technical contributions? These can also be the development or application of products, systems, facilities, services or software. List not more than two, and focus on outstanding, innovative and creative contributions.
  2. What is the evidence supporting the claims? These are usually published papers, patents, standards, developed courses and textbooks. Further evidence can be awards and the number of citations to publications, but can also be news reports, web sites, etc. that discuss the work of the candidate.
  3. What is the importance of the contribution? What is its lasting impact on society?

The essays, rank ordering and score go to the IEEE-level Fellow Committee. The committee is partitioned into small groups, and the nomination forms are randomly distributed over the groups. Each nomination is then scored on four categories. The Society score and rank-ordering is one category, but it counts for only 25% of the total. The main category is Technical Accomplishment (40%). Since the jury groups are certainly non-experts, they will base themselves mostly on the Society Committee essays, so these play an important role. The remaining categories are the attached references letters from 5-8 IEEE Fellows (15%), professional activities (10%), and years in the profession (10%). From this process, it is important to realize that the majority of reviewers are non-experts on the work of a nominee. Nomination forms should be written with this in mind! Focus on clear, tangible contributions and evidence, and do not forget to discuss their impact on society. Clear essays by the Society Committees are very important as well, so help the committee members by making the required input for these essays readily (and compactly) available in the nomination form. The Society Committees do not see the reference letters, as these go directly to the IEEE-level Fellow Committee. Thus, these letters should be written to impress non-experts, and also the stature of the referee should be briefly pointed out. Finally, while many of us are familiar with nominations related to outstanding academic contributions (these go to the category “Research Engineer/Scientist”), there are three other submission categories with equal recognition:

  1. Educator, e.g. for writing an accepted and widely used pioneering textbook, or for the development of a new curriculum or courses that are innovative or unique (with lasting impact on engineering education);
  2. Application Engineer/Practitioner, for product, process, or standards development, for significant technical contributions in the design and evolution into manufacturing of products or systems;
  3. Technical Leader, responsible for a managerial, team, or company-wide effort using technical innovation, and resulting in outstanding performance, economic enhancements, or other advantages to benefit society.

In each case, the contributions are to be judged on the basis of uniqueness, innovation, and wide acceptance. For the latter categories, it is important that the nominator points out clearly what the individual’s technical contribution was to a group effort. In addition, you should add what were the specific technical contributions that the nominee made, which made the achievement possible. Please submit your nomination no later than 1 March. Again the online nomination form can be found at Questions on the IEEE Fellow nomination process should be sent to There are many deserving members of the Signal Processing Society. We encourage you to help them get the recognition that comes with being an IEEE Fellow.

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