Award fund established to honor late electrical engineering alumnus, professor


By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The A. J. Ferraro Graduate Research Award in the Department of Electrical Engineering will become an endowed award, thanks to a gift from Carol M. Ferraro in honor of her late husband, Anthony J. Ferraro, an alumnus and professor emeritus at Penn State. The fund originally was established in 2012 as a nonendowed award with gifts from individuals honoring Anthony Ferraro’s retirement.

“We are grateful to the Ferraro family and friends for their generous gift to endow the Ferraro Graduate Research Award in the electrical engineering department at Penn State,” said Kultegin Aydin, department head and professor of electrical engineering. “This award will help us recognize and support the work of talented graduate students who have demonstrated excellence in their research.”

The award will be given annually to one doctoral student and one master’s degree student for one academic year. It will support students whose research is in the fields of electromagnetic, microwave or antenna theory, all areas in which Anthony Ferraro made significant contributions.

Ferraro received his bachelor’s degree in 1953, his master’s degree in 1956 and his doctorate in 1959, all in electrical engineering at Penn State. After completing his studies, he accepted a position as a faculty member in the Penn State Department of Electrical Engineering, where he taught and researched for 42 years, after which he was named a distinguished professor emeritus.

Ferraro’s work was internationally known and focused on antennas and ionospheres/electromagnetics. While serving as the principal investigator of multiple Office of Naval Research contracts and grants, he proved the feasibility of generating extremely low frequency (ELF) radio signals by modulating the ionosphere current systems from ground-based high frequency transmitting facilities. He also demonstrated that these signals can be transmitted and received via this method over thousands of kilometers, which has immediate potential for long-path communications.

Ferraro developed the theory and concept of radio wave phase interaction, which is used as a diagnostic tool to study the ionosphere. He also was involved in the design of several ionospheric heating facilities around the world, as well as with the design and development of the High-Frequency Active Auroral Program (HAARP) in association with ARCO Power Technology Inc. and Penn State.

Ferraro was awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 1984 Centennial Medal and named an IEEE fellow in 1988. He was selected for the first Kirby Chair Professorship in the Department of Electrical Engineering and also was recognized for his contributions to communications and space sciences at Penn State by having the Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory Library named in his honor.

It is the Ferraro family’s hope that through the A. J. Ferraro Graduate Research Award, Ferraro’s legacy will live on, and promising graduate students will continue to contribute to the fields about which Ferraro was passionate.

This gift will advance “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit


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Megan Lakatos

headshot of anthony ferraro

Anthony Ferraro. IMAGE: PROVIDED