On July 31, 2020, the IEEE Educational Activities Board (EAB) recognized Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Bruce Eisenstein with the IEEE-HKN Distinguished Service Award. Nominated by Dr. Timothy Kurzweg, Director of the School of Engineering at Penn State Behrend and former Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Vice-Provost of Undergraduate affairs at Drexel University, Eisenstein was honored by the IEEE EAB and IEEE-HKN Board of Governors “for exemplary volunteer service to the IEEE-HKN organization and its professional community.”
The IEEE-HKN Distinguished Service Award was created in 1971 to recognize members who have dedicated years of voluntary service to Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), resulting in significant benefits to all of the society’s members. Eisenstein was nominated for this award due to his efforts in alleviating the organization's financial stress by creating a plan to save HKN in the mid-2000s. In Kurzweg’s own words, “Without Dr. Eisenstein’s plan and effort, HKN would have dissolved.”
Eisenstein utilized his IEEE network to develop a proposal for the two organizations to merge and receive a $5M donation from the IEEE to the merged IEEE-HKN organization.
“This was an aggressive plan, and was not universally supported by either of the existing HKN chapters, or the IEEE,” explained Kurzweg. “Eisenstein had to work both sides of the merger proposal—securing an adequate number of HKN chapters to pass a motion to merge with the IEEE and also securing an adequate number of IEEE Board of Director members to pass a motion to merge with HKN. A great deal of politicking and personal intervention by Eisenstein was necessary to convince the chapters. He was ultimately successful, and received majority approval for the merger in 2008.”
Eisenstein offered the following sentiments on this achievement:
“I feel very emotional about Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) because it is the only organization that honors the best of the electrical and computer engineering undergraduates. So you can imagine my dismay when I was elected President of HKN in 2008 and was greeted with the news that the organization was out of money and would have to close after an illustrious 100+ years of existence. I realized that the IEEE with about 400,000 members worldwide did not have an undergraduate honor society and that a merger would benefit both organizations. It took three years of intense negotiations, but the merger was completed and today IEEE/HKN is a vibrant, international organization of which I could not be more proud. The Distinguished Service Award is for me icing on the cake.”
IEEE-HKN is hosting its first ever IEEE-HKN Experience in the fall. This online event will last for 10 days, and will consist of technical and career development sessions, networking and social events, and alumni mentoring programs. The event will conclude on November 7 with a virtual awards recognition ceremony, where Eisenstein will be formally recognized for his achievement, along with other EAB awardees.