Past IEEE SSIT President Gerald L. Engel Dies at Age 76

By on March 28th, 2019 in Magazine Articles, News and Notes, Social Implications of Technology

Gerald (Jerry) Engel, past President of IEEE-SSIT, died in August 2018, in Waterbury, CT at the age of 76. Known to friends and colleagues as “Jerry,” Engel served two terms as IEEE-SSIT President, first in 1999-2000, and again in 2011-2012.

Engel co-hosted the ISTAS 2001 conference in Stamford, CT and also generously hosted many SSIT Board of Governors meetings at the University of Connecticut. He was an elected at-large member of SSIT BoG for many years, and served in many other SSIT posts.

Engel brought with him to his service to SSIT many prior years of leadership experience in positions within the IEEE, the IEEE Computer Society, and the ACM. “Brian O’Connell always joked that Jerry was the adult that put SSIT back on track,” said Bradley Kjell, who served on the SSIT BoG with Engel, and who with O’Connell and others was part of a small Connecticut-based contingent of active IEEE-SSIT members starting around the late 1990s.

Engel was born in Cleveland, OH, on 5 July 1942. He earned the B.S. degree from Hampden-Sydney College and the M.A. degree from Louisiana State University. In 1974 he received a doctorate in education from Penn State University.

He joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut in 1984, where became the first holder of the Leonhardt Chair of Computer Science and Engineering, and where he taught for over 30 years. From 1991 to 1995, he was loaned from the University of Connecticut to the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate (CISE) of the National Science Foundation, where he served as a program director (1991-1993) and acting deputy director for Computer and Computation Research (1994-1995).

Engel helped develop the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB), and served as chair of the Computing Sciences Accreditation Commission. He was instrumental in the development of the integration of CSAB and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). He was awarded the ACM Distinguished Service Award for 1991 and was named a Fellow of the ACM in 1994.

Within IEEE, Engel served as Division V Director and Chair of the Ethics Committee. He was President of the IEEE Computer Society in 2005.

Jerry served as a trusted advisor and mentor to many in SSIT, including to Laura (Jacob) Edelson who served as SSIT President in 2013-2014. “Jerry was a great mentor to me, both within SSIT and professionally,” she said.

Newspaper obituaries noted survivors as his wife Doris S. Engel, his daughter, Samantha Engel, his son Shannon Engel, grandson, Jack, and niece, Mary Ann Engel. Donations in his memory were invited to be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.