Prof. Hendrik C. Ferreira

  • Academic Background

    Hendrik C Ferreira was born on July 17, 1954 and educated in South Africa where he matriculated with distinctions in all six subjects in 1971, and received the degrees B. Sc. (Eng.) Electrical (cum laude) in 1975, M. Sc. (Eng.) Electronical (cum laude) in 1977, and D. Sc. (Eng.) in 1980, all from the University of Pretoria.

    From 1980 to 1981, he was an invited post-doctoral researcher, sponsored by the Linkabit Corporation, which was a NASA and satellite communications contractor in San Diego, USA, and which is also the predecessor company of current multinational wireless and cellular communications company, Qualcomm.  During the period 1981-1983 he was employed as a systems engineer and project manager in electronic security systems at consulting engineers GH Marais and Partners in Pretoria, qualifying for registration as professional engineer (Pr. Eng.) with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA.)  In July 1983, he joined the Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg, South Africa as senior lecturer, with promotions to associate professor in 1985 and to professor in 1989. He served several terms chairing staff and line functions within the RAU Faculty of Engineering’s unique pre-1994 matrix structure. When the RAU Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering were re-established in 1994, he served two terms from 1994-1999 as the first chairman.

    Since 1984, he has spent a total of twenty-seven months during sabbaticals or summers at various overseas institutions as a visiting researcher. These institutions include seven universities in both the USA and Europe and two companies in the USA, namely the University of California, San Diego; San Diego State University; University of Notre Dame, Indiana; University of Hawaii at Manoa; University of Essen, Germany; University of California, Davis; Technical University of Bergen Norway; Bellcore, New Jersey and Hysignal, Los Angeles. During 1992 Prof AJ Vinck (Former President, IEEE Information Theory Society) whose chair is with the Institute for Experimental Mathematics at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, initiated a cooperation and exchange agreement between the Telecommunications Research Groups of RAU and Essen. Currently this cooperation is still very active.

    From 1989 until 1993, he held a “Presidential Award for Young Investigators”, a prestigious research grant from the South African Foundation for Research Development (FRD),  predecessor of the current National Research Foundation (NRF). Subsequently, during 1993-2006, he was invited by the FRD and later the NRF to resubmit his research outputs for evaluation by international peers.

    During these re-evaluations, he was consistently placed in the category reserved for “Researchers who enjoy considerable international recognition as independent researchers for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.”

    Following the NRF re-evaluation process of 2012, he received the A-Rating category for “Researchers recognised by the overriding majority of reviewers as a leading scholar in his/her field internationally”.

    During the seventeenth IEEE International Symposium on Power Line Communications, the ISPLC 2013 Award was made to Professor Hendrik Ferreira with the citation:  “For his distinguished research and educational contributions in the Power Line Communications Field and for his leadership in the organization of the International Symposium on Power Line Communications (ISPLC)”.

    His contribution to post-graduate training includes having been adviser for more than thirty previous M. Eng. students who have graduated successfully. Fifteen of these students have so far obtained the D. Eng. degree, while five others are in various stages of completion of their doctoral studies. All of his M. Eng. students elected to do the full research degree, which is based on a substantial research thesis, and six of these students have also received the UJ/RAU Chancellor’s medal for best thesis in the Faculty of Engineering in their year of graduation. Seven of his B. Eng. final year project students have been previously selected as the UJ/RAU representative at the national student paper competition, hosted annually by the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. Twelve of his former postgraduate students have served five different South African Universities as academic staff members and five have reached the level of professor or associate professor. Another former doctoral student sold his company Zyray Wireless in San Diego for $98 million to Broadcom.

    Together with his students, he has published close to 300 papers, notably including close to fifty papers in the Transactions of the IEEE (USA). Best papers awards shared with his students include the 2008 SAIEE Research Journal Best Paper (with Khmaies Ouahada) and the 2012 Best Student Paper at the IEEE International Symposium on Information Theory in Beijing, China (with Thokozani Shongwe.)

    Prof Ferreira is a member of the Technical Committee for Power Line Communications of the IEEE Communications Society. He frequently serves as member of the technical programme committee and as session chair for various IEEE international conferences hosted worldwide. In addition, he often acts as reviewer for international journals and conferences.

    In 1989 he founded the RAU Telecommunications Research Group. During 2010 he established the UJ Centre for Telecommunications currently involving nine staff members and twenty postgraduate students. In this capacity, he has through the years recruited substantial funding for research and postgraduate student support from the South African government agencies FRD, NRF, THRIP, and from local companies Alcatel Altech Telecoms, Telkom, Thales, Armscor and Eskom. In addition to these, he has also obtained overseas sponsorship from Hysignal in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

    Prof Ferreira is a past chairman (1991-1993) of the Communications and Signal Processing Chapter of the IEEE South Africa section. During 2007 he initiated the quarterly Inter-University Colloquium on Information Theory and Communications. He was the founding chairman (2010-2012) of the Information Theory Chapter of the IEEE South Africa Section.

    During 1997-2006 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Transactions of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. For the period 2007-2009, he served as member of the NRF Evaluation and Rating Panel for Engineering. In 2002-2003 he was a panel member for the DST Innovation Fund.

    Service as a chairman and organizer, include the international 1999 IEEE Information Theory Workshop hosted in the Kruger National Park, South Africa (120 participants) the national 1993 IEEE COMSIG conference (180 participants), the 2010 IEEE African Winter School on Information Theory and Communications (60 participants) and the 2013 IEEE International Symposium on Power Line Communications hosted at the University of Johannesburg (80 participants.)
  • Research Interests

    Prof Ferreira’s field of specialization is Digital Communications and Communications emphasizing Emerging Technologies. His fundamental research interest is in Information Theory, and especially in Coding Techniques. Coding Techniques currently find many diverse applications in two disciplines, namely in Electrical Engineering (e.g. in Digital Communications, Data Storage, Telecommunication Networks) and also in Computer Science (e.g. in Information Security). His current applied research is focused on Power Line Communications. Previous applied research activities were in Magnetic and Optical Recording, Communications over Metallic Cable Systems, and Wireless Communications.
  • Additional Information

    Membership of professional societies includes the IEEE (USA), SAIEE (Fellow) and AMS (American Mathematical Society, USA).

    Other active pursuits and avocations include Photography, Literature, Creative Writing, Classical Music, Art, movies and tennis.

    In Photography he was awarded the proficiency title FPSSA (Fellow, Photographic Society of Southern Africa) in 1985 (based on a panel of photographs.) At the international level, his participation in the Photographic Society of America’s annual circuit of about fifty salons hosted worldwide in many countries, culminated in a number three position amongst the top ten exhibitors of wildlife photographic slides in 1988. Currently he focuses on landscape and abstract photography.

    His credits include the cover page photograph of the coffee table book “Gallery”, published in 2004 by the travel magazine Getaway. He has also been the winner of the category: “Landscapes and Plants”, during the national Fujifilm Photographic Awards. Service contributions include being the 2004-2005 President of CCJ (Camera Club of Johannesburg). During 2008 he was invited to present the keynote presentation at the Judging Revamp Workshop scheduled during the annual congress of the Photographic Society of Southern Africa. His keynote paper “On Judging and Evaluation” has since been the introductory chapter in the PSSA Judging Manual.


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