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Meet the Newest IEEE-HKN Eminent Member

Maxine Savitz is a leader in energy conservation and energy efficiency

2 min read
Photo of Maxine L Savitz
National Academy of Engineering

The IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu honor society recently elevated Maxine L. Savitz to eminent member, its highest membership status. Savitz is currently vice chair of the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

More than 200,000 electrical engineers, computer engineers, computer scientists, professionals, and students in allied fields are members of IEEE-HKN. Eminent members are individuals whose attainments and contributions to society through leadership in the fields of electrical and computer engineering have resulted in significant benefits to society.

Savitz received the honor for her "leadership and technical contributions to national initiatives in energy conservation and energy efficiency, and for service to the nation."

A virtual elevation ceremony took place on 5 June during the IEEE-HKN online graduation celebration. IEEE Fellow Karen Panetta, the 2019 IEEE-HKN president, presided over the event.

"It is a distinct honor to have Maxine Savitz in the IEEE-HKN community, as she has demonstrated throughout her career and in her personal pursuits an unimpeachable character, the thirst for lifelong learning, and a steadfast dedication to serving others and bettering society at large," IEEE Life Fellow Asad Madni, chair of the IEEE-HKN eminent member committee, said during the virtual ceremony. "On behalf of the committee and HKN's global membership, I welcome and congratulate Dr. Savitz." Madni is an HKN eminent member himself.


While working in the U.S. Department of Energy from 1979 to 1983, Savitz was responsible for efficiency programs in industry and transportation. They included building controls, computer programs for building design, compact fluorescent lighting, and batteries for electric vehicles.

In 1985 she joined the private sector, working for AlliedSignal, now part of Honeywell. There she formed and led a division that worked on silicon nitride materials, which now are found in products used on most commercial airplanes.

From 2006 to 2014 she served as vice president of the National Academy of Engineering. Upon hearing of her elevation, NAE's current president, John L. Anderson, said Savitz "has contributed with distinction to our country in the private and public sectors. Her outstanding leadership and commitment to the public good was displayed during her two terms as vice president of the National Academy of Engineering and her eight years on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. She is a role model for all of us and most deserving of the honor."

Savitz has served on numerous National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study groups, boards, and committees. She served on the President's Council of Advisors from 2009 to 2017 and was a vice chair from 2010 to 2017. Last year she was part of an ad hoc subgroup that issued reports on pandemic preparedness and responses.

She was elected an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow in 2013.

Savitz is the 144th person to be elevated to IEEE-HKN eminent member since the title was established in 1950. She joins other engineering leaders in industry and academia, including Martin Cooper, IEEE Life Fellow Susan L. Graham, Leonard Kleinrock, Bob Metcalfe, and IEEE Life Fellow Henry Samueli.

For more information, visit the IEEE-HKN website or email

This article was updated from an earlier version.

Stacey Bersani is the program manager for IEEE–Eta Kappa Nu.

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Self-Driving Cars Work Better With Smart Roads

Intelligent infrastructure makes autonomous driving safer and less expensive

9 min read
A photograph shows a single car headed toward the viewer on the rightmost lane of a three-lane road that is bounded by grassy parkways, one side of which is planted with trees. In the foreground a black vertical pole is topped by a crossbeam bearing various instruments. 

This test unit, in a suburb of Shanghai, detects and tracks traffic merging from a side road onto a major road, using a camera, a lidar, a radar, a communication unit, and a computer.

Shaoshan Liu

Enormous efforts have been made in the past two decades to create a car that can use sensors and artificial intelligence to model its environment and plot a safe driving path. Yet even today the technology works well only in areas like campuses, which have limited roads to map and minimal traffic to master. It still can’t manage busy, unfamiliar, or unpredictable roads. For now, at least, there is only so much sensory power and intelligence that can go into a car.

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