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Levent Onural, Dedicated IEEE Volunteer, to Receive 2011 IEEE Haraden Pratt Award

Service Has Expanded IEEE’s Mission of Advancing Technology for the Benefit of Humanity Around the World
10 August 2011 – Levent Onural, an engineer and educator who has dedicated over 20 years of volunteer work to improving the global reach of IEEE and promoting its goal of advancing technology, is being honored by IEEE with the 2011 IEEE Haraden Pratt Award. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association.

The award, sponsored by the IEEE Foundation, recognizes Onural for leadership in the worldwide promotion of the values embraced by IEEE. The award will be presented on 20 August 2011 at the IEEE Honors Ceremony in San Francisco, Calif.

An active and dedicated IEEE volunteer since 1989 who has made an impact on the regional and global level, Onural’s first major accomplishment was founding the IEEE Turkey Section in 1989. Where others had previously failed due to  required high-level government approval at that time in Turkey, Onural’s persistence paid off. With support of colleagues, he navigated the lengthy and difficult course of government procedures and approvals to successfully establish the section. The final approval contained an official government decree with the signatures of Turkey’s president, prime minister and cabinet members. The section has continued to be an active and important contributor to IEEE.

One of Onural’s major contributions as director of IEEE Region 8 (2001-2002), which is comprised of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was handling the sensitive issue of U.S government sanctions against certain countries. These sanctions prevented IEEE from holding section activities and conferences in some countries in Region 8, or from publishing research of authors from these countries. Onural saw this as an affront to IEEE’s mission to be a truly global organization. He was instrumental in driving IEEE to work with the U.S. government to have the issue resolved in IEEE’s favor. In a region diverse in culture and geography, Onural also worked hard to create a unifying identity for Region 8.

Onural’s dedication to student education was also exemplified through his volunteer work. As Region 8 Student Activities Committee chair (1995-1998), he initiated many strong programs that increased the number of student chapters and improved the quality of student membership. As vice chair of student activities for the IEEE Regional Activities Board (1998-1999), Onural helped institute student chapters around the world and develop student project activities that are still visible today.

Onural’s outstanding service as Region 8 director and on the IEEE Board of Directors earned him election to the position of IEEE Secretary (2003). While secretary, he developed modifications to the IEEE constitution and guided the changes through the approval process. His changes were critical to ensuring the long-term stability of IEEE, including defining the relationship between IEEE’s president and executive director, and they represent the last time the constitution has been changed.

An IEEE Fellow, Onural’s research interests focus on image and video processing, three-dimensional television (3DTV) and holographic 3DTV. He has pioneered several algorithms for computation of diffraction fields and  holograms and is the author or co-author of more than 170 technical papers. His honors include the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, and his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from the State University of New York, Buffalo. Onural is currently a professor and dean of engineering at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, where he has taught since 1987.


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