The overall governance of IEEE-HKN is the responsibility of the Board of Governors, a volunteer organization of IEEE-HKN members that have prominent positions in academia and industry. The Board consists of a president, president-elect, past president, and treasurer, each of whom serves a one-year term. Regional Governors serve the IEEE-HKN’s geographic regions (now aligned with the IEEE Regions), and four at-large members each serve one three-year term. There is a pair of student governors who serve  one-year terms.

2018 IEEE-HKN Board of Governors

Steve Watkins
Steve E. Watkins, President

2018 President, 2017 President-Elect,

2013-2017 Editor-in-Chief The Bridge, 2004-2007 Board Member

Gamma Theta Chapter

Steve E. Watkins is a faculty member (1989-Present) at Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla or UMR) and is currently a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  His technical interests include smart sensor systems, fiber optics, imaging, and engineering education.  He received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989 and M.S.E.E. and B.S.E.E. degrees from UMR in 1985 and 1983, respectively.

He was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the US Air Force Academy, a 2004 IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow, the Faculty-Member-in-Residence for the 2005 Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) Program, a visiting physicist for the U.S.A.F. Phillips Laboratory at the Kirtland Air Force Base, and a visiting scholar for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone in Japan.  At Missouri S&T, he has been the Associate Chair for Electrical Engineering Undergraduate Studies and faculty advisor to the Gamma Theta Chapter (1992-Present) and Tau Beta Pi (2014-Present).  His accomplishments include project coordinator for the campus Smart Composite Bridge project and as a contributor in the creation of the IEEE Student Ethics Competition.

In addition to Eta Kappa Nu, Dr. Watkins is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi and he is active in IEEE (S’80-M’90-SM-98), SPIE-The Society for Optical Engineering (Fellow), and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).  His awards include IEEE-USA 2016 Jim Watson Student Professional Achievement Award, IEEE 2005 Region 5 Outstanding Member, IEEE RAB Achievement Award, IEEE 1999 Region 5 Outstanding Educator, HKN 1993 Outstanding Young Electrical Engineer Finalist, and HKN 1983 Alton B. Zerby Outstanding EE Student.

Last revised: 2018

IEEE-HKN New Board of Governors Elections 2017

The IEEE-HKN Board of Governors and the Educational Activities Board of Directors has ratified the results of this years election, with the following results:

President-Elect 2018: Karen Panetta

Dr. Karen Panetta is a Fellow of the IEEE. Dr. Panetta received the B.S. in Computer Engineering from Boston University, and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Northeastern University. She is currently the Dean for Graduate Education and a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Adjunct Professor in Computer Science at Tufts University. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the award winning IEEE Women in Engineering Magazine and Editor of the IEEE Boston “Reflector” Newspaper. She served as the 2011 Chair of the IEEE Boston Section, which resulted in the Boston Section receiving the 2011 IEEE Large Section Award. During 2009-2007. Karen served as the Chair for the IEEE Women in Engineering, overseeing the world’s largest professional organization supporting women in engineering and science. Karen also served as the Chair of the Boston IEEE Education Society chapter for ten years and is currently the Boston Chapter Chair for the IEEE Signal Processing Society. She served as the 2013-2014 IEEE-USA Vice-President of Communications and Public Relations. She has served as the IEEE Tufts Student Chapter adviser for 24 years and is the Society of Women Engineers Tufts Student Chapter Adviser. Karen is currently on the HKN Board of Governors and a Member-at-Large on the Systems, Man and Cybernetics Board.

Karen has traveled around the globe to inspire youth to pursue engineering through her internationally acclaimed “Nerd Girls” Program, a program that shows how engineers and scientists are creating innovations for the benefit humanity.

Before joining the faculty at Tufts University, Karen was a Principal Engineer for Digital Equipment Corporation.

Karen’s research has spanned many disciplines including developing simulator algorithms for large digital computing systems to her current research in image and signal processing algorithms for security and biomedical applications.

She is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2011, U.S. President Obama presented Karen with the NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. In 2013, she was awarded the E-Week New England Leadership award and the IEEE Award for Ethical Practices. She is also the recipient of the ASEE Harriet Rigas Award, and Anita Borg institute, Women of Vision Award.

Candidate Position Statement:

IEEE-HKN has made tremendous strides revitalizing alumni chapters and student chapters. This has brought attention to the fact that our members are role models for all engineers and are recognized for their unwavering commitment to ethical practices and for life-long learning. IEEE-HKN members should also be recognized as the most prevalent trusted sources for engineering and technology expertise. One of the most important aspects of this pivotal role is ensuring that our governments’ leaders are well informed and understand the implications that their decisions will have on society. Not only should we be disseminators of leading technology, we should also be forging new paths for innovation and economic growth for our IEEE-HKN members by supporting entrepreneurship, diversity in the workforce and inspiring future generations of youth to view engineering and science as a means of achieving a healthy, successful living.

IEEE-HKN can continue to grow and flourish by:

– Strengthening Industry partnerships. Our volunteers are leaders in the world’s most progressive companies. Industry leaders can provide valuable input to help IEEE-HKN prioritize the greatest challenges through round tables and forums with government leaders.

– Changing the public perception of engineers and scientists in the media. It is important that we collaborate with other expert organizations to promote more realistic and positive images of engineers, while stressing the importance of the profession for benefitting humanity.

– Communicating volunteer opportunities for our out-of-work members. Engineers that have been out of the workforce need new contributions on their resumes. IEEE educational and volunteer programs can help transition our out of work engineers back into the work force. Whether they participate in outreach programs, serving as reviewers for conferences or creating new curriculum for engineering education, providing their professional expertise to products and curricula is a winning synergy.

Region 5-6 Governor 2018-2020: Rakesh Kumar

Throughout my 43 year career in the semiconductor industry I have made technical, leadership and management contributions to the development and implementation of new technologies that have been the cornerstone of the many recent revolutions in the electronics industry. While developments such as the Smartphone, computers, drones etc. are taken for granted by the public at large throughout the world, our profession could use a very significant boost in the recognition we deserve. We need to do a much better job communicating to the world in terms that they can understand. We need to do this to gain more prestige and encourage more in the younger generations to make EE a chosen profession. This has been a passion of mine as I have promoted the Solid-State Circuits Society, and have been involved in many IEEE related activities (TAB Strategic Planning, TAB Management, SSCS, EDS, Society for Social Implications etc.). Improving the recognition of our top scholars and better integrating HKN with IEEE is an important goal that could enhance their love of the profession. This is what drove me to accept the role of Faculty Advisor for the Kappa Psi Chapter at UC, San Diego where I an adjunct Faculty.

My 47 years as an IEEE member, and 25+ years as an active volunteer have been very fulfilling, and I would like to help communicate the impact of technologies we help develop worldwide. My experience as a member of the executive team at Cadence and as an industry consultant involved much Marketing and Public Relations interfaces that could be helpful in crafting messages for the community at large. A special focus on millennials, and centennials as well as women and underserved communities, if done right could be especially rewarding for our scholars.

Candidate Position Statement:

If elected I can foresee three major goals:

– Drive an improved articulation of the value proposition for the HKN inductees – give them a stronger reason for continued and active participation

– Strive for closer cooperation between IEEE Student Chapters and HKN Chapters. I find that students are not clear on the benefits and differences.

– Improve the visibility and funding for HKN activities by leveraging IEEE Societies/Councils and/or external sources.

Governor At-Large 2018-2020: James Conrad

James Conrad has spent an equal amount of time working in industry and academia.  He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his master’s and doctorate degrees in computer engineering from North Carolina State University. He is currently a professor at the UNC Charlotte and Associate Department Chair.  He has served as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and as an instructor at North Carolina State University.  He has worked for IBM, Ericsson/Sony Ericsson, and two start-up companies.

He teaches and conducts research in the areas of embedded systems, robotics, parallel processing, artificial intelligence, and engineering education.  He has published eight books in the field of embedded systems and Robotics.

Dr. Conrad also serves IEEE as an ABET Program Evaluator, and serves the community on the Board of Directors for FIRST North Carolina, the state organization supporting the FIRST Robotics program.

Candidate Position Statement:

“IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN) is the student honor society of IEEE and is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing excellence in the IEEE-designated fields of interest.”  The organization has come a long way from its early history of being a stand-alone honor society for Electrical Engineering students.  Its mission and purpose contains two important concepts:  recognition and service.

“Through a variety of service programs and leadership training, student members develop lifelong skills that earmark them for prominent positions in industry and academia.”  Therefore, not only is membership in IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu an honor, it also carries with it a responsibility to give back to the technical community, as well as the worldwide community.

Based on my experiences and background, I feel I would be an excellent advocate for IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu inside and outside IEEE.  Also, based on my experiences and background I feel I could help with the strategic direction of the organization, including identifying several initiatives that could serve the members and community:

– Identifying additional revenue sources for IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu so that we could run more leadership training and outreach activities.

– Coordination more interaction between local sections and IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu Chapters, thus helping Sections identify future Young Professional leaders of their operating units.

– Spearheading a world-wide effort by all chapters to identify a technical, global need that helps humanity, and working with all chapters to formulate plans to address that need.  This has the wonderful benefit of having thousands of student’s world-wide working together in one common effort, thus making a large global impact.

It is my desire to help IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu realize its next level of performance!

Student Governor 2018: Michael Benson

Michael Benson is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan’s Radiation Laboratory and the 2017 Student Representative on the HKN Board of Governors. A 2009 recipient of NASA’s Earth and Space Sciences Fellowship, Michael studies multimodal remote sensing of the environment with a focus on radar. During his tenure at Michigan, Michael has been actively engaged in his community having chaired his Department’s inaugural graduate research poster symposium in 2009 as well as serving three elected terms as the President of the University of Michigan’s graduate student body. During his tenure as student body president, Michael spearheaded numerous policy initiatives resulting in real and meaningful changes for current and future graduate students. A 2015 recipient of the University’s Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors, Michael has been recognized for his commitment to learning and student success and has taught the introductory programming course for students entering the College of Engineering for 2.5 years; the last year as the course’s head GSI. Michael graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University in Boston, MA in Electrical Engineering and hails from Weston, MA.

Over the course of 2017, Michael has served as a member of the IEEE-HKN Board of Governors. During that time, he has aggressively represented the interests of the society’s student members and has successfully lead the IEEE-HKN Ritual Committee, Student Advisory Committee, and the Student Leadership Conference Coordination Committee.


Candidate Position Statement:

Hi HKN! I’m honored to serve as the current student representative on the IEEE-HKN board of governors and would ask for your support to serve for an additional year. Since taking office, I’ve worked to ensure that every decision that our society your voice into account. This past year, I’ve accomplished a great deal, thanks to the strong support of the other members of the Board. I’ve launched monthly meetings with chapter leaders to hear directly from you what issues need addressing while also providing a forum for you to work with other chapters’ leaders. I’ve been privileged to take the lead on initiatives such as creating a financial need fund to help students pay initiation fees to adding additional members to the society’s board of governors. These initiatives are works in progress and require more time to work through the HKN and IEEE bureaucracies. Electing me to a second term will give us the best chance of completing these important programs, in addition to new ideas that I want to pursue.


If elected to serve a second term, I will work on four key initiatives to support good organizational stewardship while also building on this year’s collective accomplishments.

First, I will continue my work to have the Board and its committees engage with the student membership in a regular and meaningful way. This year, I established and hosted monthly meetings for chapter presidents and created a Slack team for all chapter leaders to communicate.  If re-elected, I will continue to work with the Board to create a meaningful role for our student chapters in the governance and long-term planning of the society, including establishing a program where each chapter will have the opportunity to select a member to serve on an HKN committee. HKN will grow into a more interconnected organization which will be able to provide more in terms of resources and support for every chapter.

Second, we need to work, as a society to improve our brand recognition. Our recruitment of new members, as well as our corporate relations, suffer due to poor “brand” recognition. The Board of Governors should develop a plan to raise the visibility of our society and enhance our chapters’ connections to companies.

Third, I will continue to bring coordinated chapter development resources and programs to IEEE-HKN. We will develop a guide to leadership transitions as well as leadership professional development resources. I will work with the Board to develop a list of speakers with expertise in interpersonal and career skills and develop a program where each chapter can be visited by an expert.

Finally, a critical aspect for the society to address is the role of non-faculty alumni. As an organization, we need to better define the role of HKN after graduation, grow our alumni chapters and their activities, and help our member’s transition from being student to alumnus life. The Board needs to pursue a path forward for our alumni members; we can’t let this untapped resource continue untapped.

Student Governor 2018: Kathleen Lewis

I am Houston-born, but grew up predominantly overseas in both Europe and Southeast Asia. Consequently, I call both American football and soccer, “football”, switch between metric and imperial systems and feel at home in almost any environment. After graduating from high school in Singapore, I attended Boston University, where I studied Computer Engineering. This fall, I will be attending MIT to pursue an SM and PhD in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department.


While at BU, I became heavily involved in research. I competed on the BU International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition team my Freshman year and received the Clare Boothe Luce Scholar Award in addition to other research awards. During my sophomore and Junior year, I worked in the Cross-disciplinary Integration of Design Automation Research (CIDAR). Combining my wet lab experience from iGEM with knowledge from my engineering classes, I developed an online platform for synthetic biologists to design and share experiments, order equipment, and collaborate with other researchers. I presented this work at conferences in Seattle and Cambridge. After taking courses in computer architecture and high performance computing, I joined the Computer Architecture and Automated Design (CAAD) lab at BU. My molecular dynamics research resulted in a publication and a poster presentation at a conference in Hong Kong. While at this conference, I assisted my PI in teaching a mini high performance computing course to graduate students. For my senior design project, my team and I worked with the William E. Carter School, a school for students with severe disabilities, to design and develop a robotic wheelchair attachment that automatically opens doors.

During my Junior and Senior year, I became involved in IEEE and IEEE-HKN. As the first president of the joint reinstated BU IEEE-HKN and BU IEEE chapter, I worked hard to lay the groundwork for future officers and members. This included working with university administration to set budgets, seek funding, and market events. Collaborating with the other officers and our faculty advisor, Professor Lee, I also solidified our chapter’s relationship with companies by holding networking events. Additionally, our chapter became the first student organization to co-host an event with Boston University’s College of Engineering (COE). Now, as a BU alumni and MIT student, I plan on acting as a liaison between the two university chapters to encourage collaboration.

Outside of IEEE and research, I have also worked as a summer intern for MITRE and have been actively involved in writing for the science section of our university newspaper, giving tours to prospective engineering students, tutoring, and working as a teaching assistant. In my spare time, I enjoy hobbies such as photography, reading, basketball, and boxing. I also have a passion for overseas mission work.

Candidate Position Statement:

If elected, I will work with the Board to transform IEEE-HKN’s student chapters into a cohesive unit. As individual chapters, IEEE-HKN risks becoming just another item on the resume. I believe, however, that this organization of well-achieved, motivated students can be utilized to make a difference by inspiring collaboration. To become an impactful society, we must create guidelines that will harness the diverse intellect of current student members, build on future generations, and provide incentives for alumni involvement.

From my involvement in iGEM and several other research conferences, I have observed the power that conversation, competition, and outreach have to unite people and create multifaceted solutions to complicated problems. Building on these experiences, I have developed the following initiatives:

– I propose that each established IEEE-HKN student chapter be required to meet with at least one other chapter annually to foster a greater sense of community. These obligatory interactions could be in the form of a Skype call, a day conference with invited speakers, a co-hosted event, or an informal meet-up to discuss current events such as ethical concerns or research ideas in IEEE related fields.

– I strongly encourage an optional annual competition between regions of IEEE-HKN chapters. Structured similarly to hackathons, these competitions could have an overall theme that changes each year (e.g. technological solutions for healthcare or environmental concerns). Participating schools would gather to brainstorm and develop solutions, which would be published in the Bridge and on the IEEE-HKN website. These comprehensive project results would allow HKN to demonstrate its competitiveness as an exemplary society and give students concrete contributions to talk about in interviews. Additionally, holding events such as this could attract attention from industry and provide opportunities for HKN alumni to get involved. The alumni could attend on behalf of their company for networking opportunities, help organize or judge the competition, or serve as mentors to help teams with creative and technical ideas.

– I would enforce a service component for each established chapter. This obligation would aid the recruitment of future HKN members by promoting STEM and IEEE to students outside of the immediate community. Additionally, this outreach has the potential to break down any existing barriers preventing women and other underrepresented populations from getting involved in IEEE and HKN. This service requirement could be fulfilled, for example, by holding free educational workshops (e.g. soldering) for younger students at the university, hosting an event at a local school, or offering tutoring services. I think it is important for members to interact with their surrounding community on behalf of HKN.

operations manual

This manual provides direction for the day-to-day operations of the society.

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process manual

Subsidiary documents to the operations manual are in draft stage and will serve as the organization’s process manual

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IEEE-HKN Committees

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Minutes of the Board of Governors Meetings

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Upcoming Agenda of the  Board of Governors