NC State to recognize military-based research and leadership

September 20, 2012
By Chris Saunders
Michael Steer receiving his award in 2010.

Michael Steer receiving his award in 2010.

Michael Steer, the Lampe Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received the U.S. Army Commander’s Award for Public Service in 2010 for research that has helped U.S. forces detect and counter roadside bombs. Those efforts have saved hundreds of soldiers’ lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Steer is one of many presenters who will discuss NC State’s role in military advancements this Friday at NC State’s 125th Anniversary Military Appreciation event.

Steer began his research by planning to illuminate electronic communications devices like mobile phones with electromagnetic energy and remotely measuring the responses. Those responses informed him about the devices’ components and circuits, giving him better idea of how they worked.

The Army funded Steer’s research so he could extend his application to electronic warfare and explosive devices like roadside bombs that have killed U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. That work enabled Army officials to learn how those explosive devices worked.

“I’m really glad that all that hard work made a difference,” Steer says of his research. “I do remember the day back in early 2005 when someone called me up and told me about the effect the research was having.”

Dan McNeill, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Army.

Dan McNeill, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Army.

Steer will join other presenters who will talk about diverse research involving engineering, textiles and education that is affecting American military daily. When the research portion of the program concludes, NC State will welcome military leaders to speak at a panel discussion about the university’s legacy of leadership. That talk will include an overview of NC State’s ROTC program,  and comments by retired Gen. Dan McNeill ’68, who led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The event is for university officials and will begin at 1 p.m. on Friday. There will be a reception afterward to conclude the afternoon. And the Wolfpack’s game against the Citadel on Saturday will mark Military Appreciation Day for the university.

Steer says NC State research that is geared toward the military reinforces the institution’s land-grant mission.

“The thing that really stands out is how the administration, the faculty and the staff are proud that we’re a part of this,” he says. “At many universities, they wouldn’t bat an eye. But we’ve all bought into that. And we do research that affects real people.”

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