Six engineering and computer science faculty members were recognized by UCF on Wednesday during the university’s inaugural Luminary Award presentations for making an impact on the world.

In total, the university honored 45 faculty members at the awards ceremony (see below for full list). The event, themed like Oscar night, honored those who are academic leaders in their field and are making contributions to the world that are having a significant impact.

“Merriam-Webster defines a luminary as a person of prominence or brilliant achievement,” said President John C. Hitt during the ceremony. “At UCF, we dare to dream big. As expressed in our Collective Impact Strategic Plan, we use the power of scale and the pursuit of excellence to solve tomorrow’s great challenges and make a better future for our students and society. Key to our mission is a vibrant and dynamic faculty. In various ways, the honorees help fulfill our vision of enhancing ever more lives and livelihoods through the power of higher education.”

Individuals and teams are changing people’s lives in a variety of ways such as:

  • developing a more effective method of helping veterans with PTSD, giving them and their families hope for a normal life once again
  • creating more effective methods to teach English as a Second Language, which are being modeled around the world
  • helping shape the World Health Organization’s guidelines for communicating risk during public health emergencies

The new awards are meant to not only recognize funded research, but also the many kinds of creative works and scholarships that are just as important to the well-being of our society, said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president of the Office of Research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. She and Cynthia Young, a former vice provost, created the Luminary Awards.

Deans, chairs and directors from across the university nominated candidates based on the nominees’ past three years of performance. A panel from the Office of Research selected the winners.

This year’s recipients from the College of Engineering & Computer Science are:

George Atia, assistant professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
From Big Data to sensor technology, Atia is constantly looking for ways to push boundaries. His current research to advance the processing of neurological signals for real-time brain computer interfaces is gaining a lot of interest and holds the promise of enhancing the quality of life of patients with various paralyzing disabilities. His research offers hope to thousands.

Necati Catbas, professor, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
People rely on the integrity of bridges to stay safe. Catbas is internationally recognized as a leading expert in civil engineering and structural integrity. He is a founding director of the Civil Infrastructure Technology for Resilience, a partnership among academia, industry and government agencies to develop and apply intelligent monitoring, sensing, material, and information technologies to create safer and more resilient civil infrastructure systems.

Hassan Foroosh, professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering
Foroosh is an expert in computer imaging. He is working on multiple projects for NASA and the Department of Defense that relate to image processing and extracting information from those images. He also is dedicated to his students, working hard to make sure they graduate and get jobs. He has had 11 doctoral and master’s degree students graduate since he joined the university.

Jayanta Kapat, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Director of the Center for Advanced Turbo-machinery & Energy Research
Kapat works in the area of turbomachinery and is well known for having drawn interest from industry partners such as Siemens, General Electric, and Embraer, among others. He is a Pegasus Professor, and the director of UCF’s Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research.

Mubarak Shah, Trustee Chair Professor, Department of Computer Science, and Director of the Center for Research in Computer Vision
Pegasus Professor Shah has received international recognition for his work in the area of computer visioning. He has made contributions to enhancing video surveillance and visual crowd analysis. He also oversees the National Science Foundation’s longest running REU site, which prepares students for jobs after college.

Subith Vasu, assistant professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Vasu’s research focuses on combustions. He has published more than 26 articles this year, adding to 50 previous papers. He has more than $2.5 million in grant funding and has mentored six doctoral students, six master’s degree students, and three post-doctoral students. He also has received multiple special recognitions, including the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Young Investigator Award.