Jakob Van Zyl
Jakob Van Zyl

Dr. Jakob J. van Zyl, manager of the Radar Science and Engineering Section at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the recipient of the 1997 Fred Nathanson Memorial Radar Award presented to the Young Engineer of the Year by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

Van Zyl received the award at the annual IEEE meeting held last month in Edinburg, Scotland. In addition to the commemorative plaque, he receives a $1,000 honorarium.

In his present position at JPL, van Zyl directs the efforts of more than 120 technical engineers and scientists involved in the research and development of air- and- spaceborne synthetic aperture radar hardware and processors. He is also the project manager of GeoSAR, a three-year effort to develop a dual frequency interferometric synthetic aperture radar system that could penetrate vegetation to precisely map the Earth's surface topography.

The Young Engineer of the Year Award was established to grant international recognition for outstanding contributions to the radar art by engineers under the age of 40. The IEEE grants the award to encourage individual technical effort and to foster increased professional participation by developing radar engineers.

Born in Outjo, Namibia on February 24, 1957, Van Zyl received his first degree in electrical engineering from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa in 1979. He followed that with a master of science degree in electrical engineering in 1983 and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1986, both from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA. He holds two patents and 17 NASA certificates of recognition.

Van Zyl's research interests include electromagnetic theory, wave propagation, diffraction and scattering, remote sensing techniques, radar polarimetry and interferometry, and antenna and sensor theory and techniques.

He and his wife, Kalfie, are residents of Pasadena, CA.


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