Picture of Dr. Steve Watkins

Dr. Steve E.Watkins

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering HKN & TBP Faculty Advisor

Electrical Engineering


Dr. Steve E. Watkins is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the Applied Optics Laboratory at the Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly the University of Missouri--Rolla). Dr. Watkins is active in IEEE (senior member), IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, SPIE (Fellow Member), ASEE, and Tau Beta Pi. He served as the 2018 President of IEEE-HKN and 2019-2022 Vice-President of Educational Activities of the IEEE Education Society. His research and teaching interests include smart sensor systems, UAV instrumentation, fiber optics, imaging, engineering education, and pre-college education. He was an IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the USAF Academy, Visiting Research Physicist at the USAF Phillips Laboratory, and a Visiting Scholar for NTT Japan. He was coordinator of the campus Smart Composite Bridge project and is advisor to the following student groups: IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi. Dr. Watkins earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in electrical engineering from Missouri S&T in 1983 and 1985, respectively. He also holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Watkins joined the Missouri S&T faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor of electrical engineering. He was named associate professor in 1996 and professor in 2004. He served as Interim Department Chair from June 2020 to July 2022 and is a member of the Academy of ECE at Missouri S&T. 


Selected Publications

  • D. Erdos, A. Erdos, and S. E. Watkins, “An Experimental UAV System for Search and Rescue Challenge,” IEEE Aerospace and Electronics Systems Magazine, 28(5), 32-37, (2013).
  • T. M. Swift and S. E. Watkins, “An Engineering Primer for Outreach to K-4 Education,” Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 5(3/4), 67-76, (2004).
  • S. E. Watkins, “Smart Bridges using Fiber Optic Sensors,” IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Magazine, 6(2), 25-30, (2003). (Invited Paper)
  • S. E. Watkins, G. W. Sanders, F. Akhavan, and K. Chandrashekhara, “Modal Analysis using Fiber Optic Sensors and Neural Networks for Prediction of Composite Beam Delamination,” Smart Mater. Struct., 11(4), 489-495, (2002).
  • S. E. Watkins, C. Zhang, R. M. Walser, and M. F. Becker, “Electrical Performance of Laser- Damaged Silicon Photodiodes,” Appl. Opt. 29(6), 827-835, (1990).

Selected Honors and awards

  • Fellow of SPIE 2018 and Senior Member of IEEE 1998.
  • Member of Tau Beta Pi, IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, Sigma Xi, and Phi Kappa Phi; Missouri S&T Academy of ECE 2013.
  • Distinguished Service Award from IEEE-HKN 2021.
  • Jim Watson Student Professional Awareness Achievement Award from IEEE-USA 2016.
  • RAB Achievement Award from IEEE 2004.
  • John Meredith Lifetime Achievement Award from IEEE R5 2021.
  • ASEE Meritorious Service Award from ASEE ECE Division 2023.
  • Presidential Citation for University Student Outreach from Toastmasters International 2003.

 Current Professional Activity

  • Vice-President for Educational Activities and Awards for IEEE Education Society, 2014-20
  • Chair, ASEE ECE Division, 2019-20
  • Co-coordinator for S&T Pre-college Robotics Summer Camp


  • R. Dua, S. E. Watkins, and D. C. Wunsch, Neural Network Demodulation for an Optical Sensor, U.S. Patent No. 7,603,004 [Issued 13 October 2009].

Scholarly Activity

1 patent, 3 book chapters, 51 archival papers, and 94 other papers

For selections see: Missouri S&T Scholars Mine (Papers)

More Information


Research Interests:

Smart Sensor Systems, fiber optics, UAV instrumentation, engineering education, and pre-college education




  • PhD in Electrical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin
  • MS in Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla
  • BS in Electrical Engineering, University of Missouri-Rolla