ECE’s Wilton Wins Lifetime Achievement Award
March 14, 2013
Toby Weber

The Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society has named University of Houston Cullen College Professor Emeritus Donald Wilton the recipient of its inaugural Computational Electromagnetics Award.

This lifetime award honors “career achievements and substantial contributions” to the field of electromagnetics. The award will officially be conferred at the ACES’ upcoming conference, set for March 24 to 28 in Monterey, Calif.

Wilton served as a faculty member in the Cullen College’s electrical and computer engineering department from 1983 until his retirement in 2012. Widely regarded as one of the leading authorities in the field of computational electromagnetics, he is perhaps best known for establishing a framework for using computer modeling to study electromagnetic scattering by irregular surfaces, such as the curved wing of an airplane.

The primary article he and his research team wrote on this subject, “Electromagnetic Scattering by Surfaces of Arbitrary Shape,” was published in 1982 and has since been cited more than 3,000 times.

As one of the foundational documents of computer-based computational electromagnetics, he noted, the paper receives more citations today than when it was first written.

 “We couldn’t model anything very complicated at that time on computers with the methods we’d developed. They just didn’t have enough memory. The paper explained basically ‘here’s how you’d do it if you could,’” he said.

 “A few years later, when computers had gotten more powerful, we found people were actually using our methods to solve real problems,” Wilton continued. “Nowadays, both commercial and research codes employ the methods to model everything from computer chips to smart phone antennas to scattering from aircraft and antenna placement on ships and autos.”

This award is just the latest on a long list of honors for Wilton. He is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a recipient of the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. He also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Illinois’ electrical and computer engineering department in 2002. He has served the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society as an Associate and Guest Editor of the journal Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, as a Distinguished National Lecturer, and as a member of its Administrative Committee. Wilton is also a member of Commissions B and E of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI), and has served as chair of U. S. Commission B.

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