Paying Tribute to Former SMCS eNewsletter EiC Mo El-Hawary

Dear readers,

With a heavy heart and great regret, I pass along sad news to you that our great colleague and friend, IEEE life fellow, former IEEE Canada President fellow SMCS Board of Governors Member, EiC of our SMC Magazine and past EiC of our eNewsletter, Prof. Dr. Mohamed El-Hawary (Mo for everybody) passed away on July 26th, 2019.

I met Mo in February 2016 in San Diego during my first ExCom meeting of the SMC Society where I was formally appointed EiC of the eNewsletter, taking a role that had been his until then, since he had recently been nominated EiC of the SMC Magazine. During these years we have met many more times and exchanged numerous emails and messages where I was seeking for guidance and he generously helped me fulfill my new role as EiC. I will always remember his enthusiasm and wit, in particular when that first day in San Diego he gave me admittedly his best tip: do not let anybody stop you! Go proudly your way as an EiC! I have always since followed his wise advice, not only as an EiC.


Mohamed “Mo” El-Hawary was the president of IEEE Canada from 2002 to 2003. He was an active volunteer who held many high-level positions throughout the organization. He died on 26 July at the age of 76. El-Hawary was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., Canada.

“IEEE was his second family, a family he believed strongly in,” says IEEE Canada President Maike Luiken, a senior member. “The IEEE and our community of volunteers have lost an important member. IEEE was a big part of Mo’s life, and Mo was a big part of IEEE.”

El-Hawary is survived by his wife, Ferial, an IEEE Life Fellow and also a dedicated volunteer and by three children, eight grandchildren, and two sisters.

“His wonderful family, his many students, and contributing to the goals of IEEE were of paramount importance to Mo,” Luiken says. “He was a great friend, mentor, and leader. Along with his plentiful professional contributions and service, his outstanding and quirky sense of humor, his always positive outlook, and his stories will stay with us.”


Born in Sohag, Egypt, El-Hawary received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1965 from Alexandria University, in Egypt. He also earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1972 from the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alta., Canada.

El-Hawary began his academic career in 1972 as an associate professor of electrical engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He left there in 1974 to join the faculty of engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in St. John’s, Canada, becoming chair of the electrical engineering program in 1976. He joined the Technical University of Nova Scotia, in Halifax, in 1981 as a professor of electrical engineering. The school merged with Dalhousie University in 1997. El-Hawary served as associate dean of engineering at Dalhousie from 1995 to 2007. He was also the chair of the university’s senate from 2001 to 2007. He served as director of the school’s international and external relations for the faculty of engineering in 2008 and 2009.


El-Hawary joined IEEE in 1968 and held many positions. In addition to serving as president of IEEE Canada, he was also IEEE secretary in 2004 and 2005. He also served on the IEEE Fellows Committee and sat on the board of IEEE’s honor society, Eta Kappa Nu, of which he was a member. He was also a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society and the IEEE Power Electronics Society and served in various roles with the IEEE Newfoundland and Labrador Section.

 “Mo was consistently active in IEEE Region 7 during the more than 20 years that I knew him,” says IEEE Fellow Celia Desmond, who served as IEEE Canada president in 2000 and 2001. “He organized many events and encouraged a tremendous number of people to volunteer. In fact, it is very impressive that within the last few weeks of his life he contacted me with questions about the process of nominating people for awards.

“But Mo was not only active in Region 7. He also held many positions at the society level and on various IEEE committees. He was well known and will be sorely missed worldwide.”

El-Hawary was also vice president of development for the IEEE Canadian Foundation, a registered charity associated with IEEE Canada.

“Mo was always ready with cheerful and relevant anecdotes to enliven meetings and personal conversations,” says IEEE Life Senior Member David Whyte, who is president of the foundation. “He took on various tasks supporting the philanthropic purposes of the IEEE Canadian Foundation, including taking the lead in updating its promotional materials.”

El-Hawary also received many honors from IEEE, including the IEEE Educational Activities Board’s 1999 Meritorious Achievement Award in Continuing Education and the IEEE Power & Energy Society’s Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award. He also is the recipient of several awards from IEEE Canada, including its A.G.L McNaughton Gold Medal and W.S. Read Outstanding Service Award.

“We honor Mo, his exemplary service to IEEE and IEEE Canada, his distinguished contributions to the engineering profession, and his lifelong passion for, dedication to, and support of his students,” Luiken says.


El-Hawary authored more than 10 textbooks and almost 200 journal papers, so it’s no surprise that he became active in IEEE’s publishing programs as well. He served on the IEEE Publication Services and Products Board and was the founding editor in chief of IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Magazine and PES Letters.

El-Hawary was a leading member of the IEEE Press community and distinguished himself as editor in chief from 2005 through 2007, which were critical years for IEEE’s premier book-publishing unit, according to Ken Moore. He is the former director of IEEE Book and Information Services, which oversaw the IEEE Press program, and now part of IEEE Publishing Operations.

El-Hawary also served as a member of the IEEE Press editorial board from 1996 to 2004 and then again from 2008 to 2011. In 2005, El-Hawary served on the Ad Hoc Committee on the IEEE Press of the Future, a team composed of both volunteers and staff members that proposed several measures to reinvigorate the program, Moore says, including the digitization of all IEEE Press books for distribution through the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

“Dr. El-Hawary advocated passionately to secure the future of IEEE’s book program, particularly for its benefits to members as a source of practical knowledge and technical currency,” Moore says.

El-Hawary served as editor of the IEEE Press Series in Power Engineering. In developing the series, Moore says, El-Hawary attracted and mentored scores of authors and established the series as the number-one source of books in the power engineering field.

“Dr. El-Hawary enjoyed a reputation as the most productive of all IEEE Press series editors,” Moore notes. “He will be remembered for his collegial relationships and for his convivial personality.”


To honor his memory and legacy, we here publish again an interview to him that was published on the eNewsletter issue number 53, which is still very relevant for the Society.

Mo, thank you for everything, we will sorely miss you.

Mariagrazia Dotoli, PhD
EiC of the SMC eNewsletter
Associate Professor of Control Systems Engineering
Politecnico di Bari
200 Via Re David
70125 Bari – Italy
[email protected]

Interview with the Editor in Chief of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Magazine, Prof. Mo El-Hawari, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The eNewsletter introduces Prof. Mo El-Hawary, founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Magazine ( ). The SMC Magazine was started in 2015 and is published quarterly, with two issues already printed. Its scope matches the technology areas within the Society’s field of interest. Article subjects include the integration of the theories of communication, control, cybernetics, systems engineering, human-factors engineering, as well as their application to the variety of systems including human-machine, biological, technological, and societal. The Magazine is intended to communicate to readers about the activities and actions of the SMC Society’s governing body, its Technical Committees, and its Chapters. Furthermore, the Magazine will offer educational material such as technical review papers, publish contributions on educational activities, industrial and university profiles, conference news, book reviews, and a calendar of important events.

eNewsletter: What is the current state of the SMC Magazine after one year of activity?

El-Hawary: I am very pleased to tell you that the Magazine has become a good part of the Society’s landscape. SMC leading experts and senior volunteers are responding to the call for contributions by offering high quality papers and by all indications our coverage has been well received. It is well understood that you face an uphill battle unless you allow yourself a healthy one year or more of high quality material for the content of the early issues of the magazine. This is critical because a healthy magazine relies on a steady stream of contributions.

eNewsletter: What is your vision for the SMC Magazine, and how do you see it evolving?

El-Hawary: When we set out to establish the SMC Magazine as part of the Society’s publications portfolio, leadership wanted to have an arm that disseminates technical articles that introduce and educate about various areas of interest as defined by the scope of the society. This includes tutorials, and review articles. In addition, articles related to current and ongoing work of interest to the society and its members are also valued. Having been part of the team that worked on seeking approval of TAB (Technical Activities Board,) it makes great sense for my vision to reflect that which was foreseen only short few years ago. I personally feel that there exists a highly desirable capability to mirror transaction areas.

eNewsletter: What is the difference between the SMC Magazine and the SMC eNewsletter? Can you advise prospective authors as to where they should submit contributions between these two publications?

El-Hawary: The simplest difference is that the eNewsletter covers items of higher urgency than Magazine items which are not urgent. Longer, more deliberative articles are best suited for the Magazine. Part of the eNewsletter mission is to inform of the current state of the society such as tables of content of the Transactions, Magazine, and Website.

eNewsletter: What advice would you offer to authors who may be interested in submitting their contributions to the SMC Magazine?

El-Hawary: Pay attention to how you present your material in a way that is well understood by a broader audience than those of experts in your subject area. Avoid assuming that your readers are as interested as you are in the area you cover, but hope that, after reading your article, they will want to work in your area.

eNewsletter: Can you tell us a little bit about your research that brought you to this appointment as EiC of the SMC Magazine? How long have you been involved with the SMC Society and in what capacity?

El-Hawary: As engineering undergraduate students we were inspired by the quest for landing on the moon and space exploration. My generation of engineers was attracted to control and system theory and the elegance of optimal and nonlinear control. As a graduate student at the University of Alberta, I studied Sampled Data Control, Nonlinear, Optimal and of course Linear Control under G. Christense, V. Gourishankar, and J. Kingma. In that era, Kalman filters, dynamic programming, Pontryagin’s maximum (or minimum) were recently discovered and fashionable. I became an IEEE Student member in the late 1960’s and joined the Control and Power Societies. SMC was created in the early 1970’s, and I had the good fortune of being invited to organize and chair the 1984 IEEE SMC Conference held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My research work involves fuzzy systems and other aspects of computational intelligence which are part of the fields of interest for the Society.

eNewsletter: In your opinion, what are the strengths and the weaknesses of the SMC Society publications, including the Magazine?

El-Hawary: The strength of the society stems from the well connectedness of its members and senior leadership. Its weakness is that it needs to make inroads to expand its membership base in areas of other closely related IEEE societies. The magazine’s strengths are her authors and contributors. A weakness of the magazine is that it needs a more generous page limit.

eNewsletter: This is an exciting beginning of a new SMC publication. Those of us associated with the eNewsletter and the SMC Society are looking forward to seeing how this publication develops! Thank you for your time!

El-Hawary: Thank you for the opportunity to communicate to our members about what we all see as exciting times.