Rabab Ward

Rabab Ward

Rabab Ward
IEEE Vice President-Educational Activities

Rabab has 45 years of post-doctoral experience in leadership, education and research. She was IEEE Division 1X Director, President of Signal Processing Society, Director of UBC research institute ICICS of 160 professors (1996-2007), held high leadership positions at University of British Columbia and was member of advisory boards and committees of international organizations including NRC, NSERC, NSF, RSC, PIMS, QNRF. She has published widely in signal processing and applications. Her work was transferred to US and Canadian industries.

Rabab holds many firsts for women in engineering, e.g., the first woman to join the professional engineering society in her country of birth, Lebanon (1967), to be appointed as lecturer in engineering in Zimbabwe (1975), as professor in engineering in British Columbia (1981), and the first woman holding a Ph.D. to be appointed as professor of electrical engineering in Canada. In 1972, she was the second woman to earn a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Berkeley.

Rabab is Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the (USA) National Academy of Engineers, the IEEE, the Canadian Academy of Engineers, and the Engineering Institute of Canada. A winner of multiple awards including the 2023 IEEE Fourier Award for Signal Processing, the Machlachlan Award( 2007), the top professional engineering award of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists in B.C, Canada for demonstrating “engineering at its best" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CYKE_mfrkw, and the 2008 IEEE SPS Norbert Wiener Society Award for technical achievements and leadership in the profession. Her research had a wide impact on society.
Her research interests are mainly in signal and image processing and their applications to multimedia, medical imaging, face recognition, infant cry signals and brain computer interfaces. She has published 240 refereed journal and 350 refereed conference papers, and holds ten patents. She developed an improved method for processing mammograms so that 68% of breast cancer could be detected a year earlier than was previously possible, pioneered self-paced brain computer interfaces which allows people with mobility impairments to control various devices at any time they wish, and developed an automatic method by which cable television operators could test cable systems without having to stop TV signal transmission.

Rabab is professor emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UBC, Canada, she was the UBC Science and Engineering Coordinator (2008-2015)

The 47 Ph.D. and 50 research Master students she graduated/supervised are greatly contributing to industry and academia . She was honoured with the most competitive UBC Killam Senior Mentoring Award (2014) https://www.grad.ubc.ca/awards/killam-awards-excellence-mentoring ,whose criteria include supporting diverse students to reach their full potential in ways tailored to each individual. A goodwill ambassador in popularizing engineering, a pioneer and role model for women in engineering, Rabab has volunteered countless hours addressing high school and undergrad students about engineering and reaching out to prospective women engineers.

Significant IEEE Activities


  • 2023 IEEE VP Education
  • Member of Ad-Hoc Committee on IEEE your professional Home (2022)
  • Member of Ad-Hoc on President-Elect Election Pilot (2022)
  • Member of TAB/EAB Ad Hoc on Continuing Education Development (2022)
  • Chair Education Subcommittee in IEEE Humanitarian Committee (2022)
  • Member, Tellers committee (2022)
  • IEEE Director Division 1X (2020-2021)
  • TAB N&A Committee (2021-present)
  • Ad-Hoc Committee on strengthening the IEEE Constitution (2021)
  • IEEE Ad-Hoc Committee on Election Practices and Oversight (2021)
  • Co-Chair, IEEE Life-Long-Learning Committee (2020-2021)
  • Young Professionals Executive Committee (2020)
  • TAB Management Committee (2018)
  • WIE Executive Committee (2018)
  • Chair, TAB Ad-Hoc Committee on Africa and Education (2016-2017)
  • Member-at-Large, TAB Strategic Planning Committee (2017)


  • Chair, Signal Processing Society (SPS) Awards Board (2019-2021)
  • President/President-Elect, IEEE Signal Processing Society (2014-2017)
  • V.P. Conferences, SPS (2003-2005)
  • Member of SPS Board of Governors (2002-2005, 2008-2010, 2014-2017)
  • Fellow Reference Committee (2008-2010)
  • Conference Board (2006-2007, 2012-2014)
  • Editorial Board of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine (2006-2009)


  • Awards Committee (2013-2014, 2017-2020)
  • Co-founder, Vancouver SPS Chapter (2004)
  • Chair, IEEE Vancouver Student Chapter (1985-1987)
  • V.P. Western Canada (1990-1995), Canadian Society for Electrical and Computer Engineers (merged into IEEE to become IEEE Canada Region 7)

IEEE: Chairing 4 Flagship Conferences

  • Co-Chair “MGA’s IEEE Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (2016)
  • Chair, International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (2013)
  • Chair, International Conference on Image Processing (2000)
  • Co-Chair, International Symposium on Circuits & Systems (2004)
  • Chair, Symposium on Signal Processing and Information Technology (2006)
  • Chair, Multi-Media Signal Processing Workshop (2012)


  1. Led IEEE TAB effort on Africa and Education; sponsored around 30 educational and professional development courses/workshops/tutorials in six African countries (2016-2017). Each year, over 400 individuals attended /participated, including faculty and students from more than 18 universities across Africa, and government and industry professionals
  2. Responsible for the African Distinguished Visitor Program of the IEEE Ad-Hoc Committee on Africa (2019), raised $10,000 from societies and put 14 lectures in 5 African countries, reaching many hundred attendees from universities and industry.
  3. As President of SPS, initiated several programs that targeted industry practitioners, chapters, young professionals and women.
    These included the introduction of the yearly Distinguished Industry Speaker program, special awards for industry and chapters, SPS Blog, educational webinars, travel grants for industry practitioners to attend SPS conferences, and professional development events for women and young professionals in all SPS major conferences, Introduced a redesigned SPS website, enhanced SPS social media presence, extended the Student Career and the Women Luncheons to all SPS major conferences. Introduced special measures to allow all nationals affected by any travel ban to participate in SPS conferences.
  4. Outreach to educate and advocate for engineering and signal processing among high school students and public-at-large, Rabab produced and directed six PR videos. The videos “What is Signal Processing” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EErkgr1MWw0 and “Signal Processing and Machine Learning” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mexN6d8QF9o each received over 110,000 hits on YouTube (and translated into Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic). Another video “Under the Radar” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vcii84n7piw won the Favourite Audience Award and was on the entertainment program of all Air Canada flights in 2017.

Relevant Experience

International Academic Experience/Connections in Many Countries :

  • Studied 5 years atUniversity of Cairo, Egypt; and 5 years at University of California, Berkeley.
  • Engineer (1966-1967), Ministry of Hydro-Electric-Resources, Lebanon
  • Lecturer/Senior lecturer, (1975-1979) E.E. Dept., University of Zimbabwe
  • Professor, teaching/research/service and leadership, since 1979, ECE Dept, UBC, Canada
  • Advisor to UBC VP Research and International on the Middle East (2009-2014)
  • Consulted/interacted with industries in Zimbabwe, USA and Canada.
  • Member of international advisory team of her highness Sheika Mozah of Qatar, (2006-2008),to establish/enhance research in Qatar.
  • Member of UBC consulting team (2001-2003) who designed a new university for Kuwait, having each graduate proficient in engineering and business.

IEEE Education Related Experience :

  • Leader of TAB Ad-Hoc on Africa (2016-2017): we stressed “Educating the Educators in the Digital Era". Although the attendees of our courses were university lecturers in Africa, we also held several lectures and events for students, industry practitioners and government policy makers.
  • Responsible for the Africa Distinguished Visitor Program, for IEEE Ad-Hoc Committee on Africa (1918)
  • Member of the IEEE Working Group on Engineering Education in Africa (2019-2020)
  • Co-chair/member of IEEE Ad-Hoc on Long-Life-Learning, 2020-2021 .
  • Member of TAB/EAB Ad Hoc on Continuing Education Development (2022-)
  • Initiated the Education Webinar series at SPS (2017)
  • Chair, Education Subcommittee, Humanitarian Activities Committee

My rich volunteer experience in MGA and TAB and proven collaborative skills are important because the success of IEEE education activities is significantly enhanced by its active participation with Societies/Councils, Sections/Chapters, and Standards.

Why should we select you to serve in this position?

I have passion for education and in taking IEEE Education Board to a higher level.
I have proven leadership qualifications in collaboration with stakeholders to enhance institutions.

-Director of UBC ICICS (1996-2007), a multidisciplinary research institute, whose vision was to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration amongst UBC depts and between these depts. and the hi-tech industry. During my tenure as Director, we expanded the vision of the Institute, and increased the number of professors and student members. For example, the number of professor membership increased from 62 to 160 (from 4 to15 departments across various fields of engineering, science, business, medicine, dentistry, forestry, pharmaceutical, and arts). This increase necessitated that we significantly modify the Institute's structure, policies and procedures which I led and instituted.

To raise funding for this expansion, I led 120 professors to win a countrywide competition, obtaining $ 22.4 million from Canada and BC governments and $10 million in equipment from industry. This resulted in a new 7 story building dedicated to multidisciplinary research.

UBC’s Science and Engineering Research Coordinator (2008-2015), (UBC has 2 campuses and 67,000 students). During my tenure, the UBC portion of competitive NSERC funding rose significantly and became the highest amongst all universities in Canada. NSERC is Canada’s government agency that funds research to universities and colleges

President, Signal Processing Society (17,000 members), nurtured to success many new conferences and Transactions which were introduced just before I became president (but needed strengthening). My main focus otherwise was offering better services to our members.

Position Statement

The fast advances in technology are changing many industries including how we teach and learn. AI and other technologies will enable engineering education to become personalized to the learner, with blended (classroom and online) delivery, and using immersive and interactive tools (via gaming, augmented/virtual reality). It will also be more existential and teamwork oriented, aided by greater industry partnership. I envision IEEE to be at the forefront of these educational advancements and Education Activities (EAB) taking the lead inside IEEE.

Presently almost all IEEE OUs offer education. These programs have been designed independently at different times and differ amongst OUs. EAB will coordinate, enhance and propel all these offerings. It will also deliver important programs that OUs do not offer. EAB will continue to take the lead in partnership and collaboration with all OUs and will actively strengthen its existing and recent joint efforts with MGA and TAB. The formed panel of educators from S/Cs will be extended to include other OUs.

Strategic planning will stress fiscal stewardship and progress will be measured by the impact, reach and outreach of our efforts. The underlying principles with be strengthening IEEE as the professional home of engineers, strengthening our life-long learning programs and steering education towards equitable, sustainable and low carbon goals. Last but not least is closing the gender, ethnic and colour gaps. This must start early in schools where no one is now teaching engineering. For example, we need to continue strengthening our K-12 offerings for teachers and volunteers.

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