South African-born founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors Elon Musk will receive honorary membership of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2015, becoming the second person from South Africa to receive the honour in the past eight years.
The IEEE has awarded honorary memberships only 42 times since 1981 and memberships are not automatically awarded every year. The membership is awarded for life. In 2007, former Eskom CEO Ian McRae received honorary membership of the institute for “contributions to electrification and development of the electrical grid in Southern Africa”.
Honorary members are elected by the board of directors from among those who have “rendered meritorious service to humanity” in the IEEE’s designated fields of interest and who are not members of the institute.
The IEEE says Musk’s citation “acknowledges his leadership in and innovative contributions to space-exploration technology, combating global warming and promoting science education, paediatric health and clean energy”.
Musk’s nomination was proposed by Prof Duncan Baker, formerly of the University of Pretoria.
Musk attended Pretoria Boys High before moving to Canada in 1988. He went on to help create PayPal, and launched SpaceX and the Tesla Motors.
He is also involved in supporting numerous South African social endeavours, according to the IEEE.
“For nearly a century, the IEEE awards programme has paid tribute to educators, researchers, inventors, innovators, engineers and scientists whose exceptional achievements and outstanding contributions have made a lasting impact on technology, society, and the engineering profession,” the institute says.
“Each year the IEEE awards board recommends a small number of outstanding individuals for IEEE’s most prestigious honours.”
The award will be presented to Musk at the IEEE honours ceremony on 20 June 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
The South African section of the IEEE has around 1 300 members. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media