A Guide to IEEE and ACM Awards

IEEE Awards

If IEEE conferences and publications are important sources of information for you, and you publish your work via those venues, you may well become a candidate for one of the many IEEE awards and recognitions. Most of these awards do not require IEEE membership.  IEEE is a non-profit educational and professional association. IEEE’s technical activities are sustained by volunteer members, including many of your faculty colleagues.

Any professional working in the field is eligible for IEEE membership. Current US dues are $197 annually. You will receive IEEE Spectrum magazine. You may apply for Senior Member status after 5 years of experience and IEEE membership. Most IEEE members active in research also join one or more Technical Societies; additional dues of $18-$60 annually give you substantial discounts on conference registration fees and eligibility for editorial and/or conference leadership appointments. After 65, when your age + years of IEEE membership = 100, you become a life member with no further dues.

IEEE Fellow status is conferred annually on 0.1% of the professional members; about 300 people. There are about 1000 nominees each year. You must be a Senior Member to be eligible for a Fellow nomination. The nominator and 5-7 references must all be IEEE Fellows. Virtually every IEEE member on our faculty becomes an IEEE Fellow. Fellow status signifies recognition by your peers that you are among the leading contributors to your technical field.

IEEE’s Technical Societies organize IEEE-sponsored technical conferences and have editorial responsibility for all the Transactions and Journals. Most IEEE conferences and publications bestow Outstanding Paper Awards.   

Most of the approximately 40 IEEE Societies also offer annual awards for outstanding contributions. People who have made a succession of good technical contributions in the Society’s field may be nominated for a Technical Society Award (TSA). These awards are administered by each Society. Selection processes vary; some are informal.  Some TSAs are very prestigious (see Society web sites for a list of prior recipients) and receive many nominations.  Some include a small honorarium.  Nominations are best made by a senior person working in the field. Although self-nominations are not allowed, it’s OK to ask a senior colleague to nominate you.

The highest level IEEE awards are the ~40 IEEE Technical Field Awards (TFAs) and ~15 IEEE Medals.  These are administered in a structured process by the IEEE Awards Board.  The TFAs frequently are won by mid-career people or teams who have done significant original work, often with impact beyond the scope of a single IEEE Society.  The Medals are seen as career capstones for one or (occasionally) two senior individuals.  The TFAs and Medals each usually attract 3-12 highly qualified nominations. The selection committees often include several prior recipients of that award.

Strong candidates will have won several of the above recognitions and other honors, will be highly visible in professional circles, and will have strong letters of support from leaders in the field.   The TFAs include an honorarium of at least $5K.  The Medals include an engraved gold medal and an honorarium of $10K or more. (See link below to a list of EECS faculty recipients.)

The EECS Department Awards Committee strives to identify good internal nominees for IEEE TFAs and Medals, and other high level national or international awards, and arrange for preparation and submission of nominations.  The Committee has access to academic personnel files.  Candidates are not supposed to be involved in nominations. However, you may be asked for information in addition to that in Dept. files. 

ACM and Joint Awards

ACM is smaller, non-profit professional society, focused on computer science, similar to IEEE.  In pleasant contrast to IEEE, ACM has clear, simple web pages detailing their membership grades and awards.  Current US member dues are $99 annually.  You will receive an online and print subscription to the Communications of the ACM.

Fellow status for ACM is limited to the top 1% of total membership.    Most UCB Computer Science faculty become ACM Fellows.

IEEE and ACM jointly sponsor some of the best conferences in computing fields.  (In areas where IEEE and ACM compete, our colleagues generally find ACM’s offerings to be superior.)  ACM’s 50+ Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are similar to IEEE’s Technical Societies, except their focus is strongly on conference publications, with much less activity in traditional publishing.  Many of the SIGs confer very prestigious awards for outstanding conference papers.  No nomination process; the conference awards committee selects from the presented papers.

There are about 25 high level ACM awards, including the Turing Award with a $1M honorarium, often termed the Nobel Prize in Computer Science.  These have nomination and selection processes that vary, but are generally similar to those for IEEE’s TFAs and Medals.

Created by:  David Hodges, 2018