The T. Morris Hackney Endowed Faculty Leadership Award honors a faculty member who exemplifies the constant guidance and leadership necessary to make the College of Engineering exceptional.

Dr. Kenneth G. Ricks, associate professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering, is the recipient of the 2019 T. Morris Hackney Endowed Faculty Leadership Award.

Ricks was hired at UA as an assistant professor in 2002 and was awarded tenure and named an associate professor in 2008. He currently serves as assistant department head and departmental undergraduate program director for the electrical and computer engineering department.

He has been the faculty adviser of the UA Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robotics Team since 2008 and the Alabama Astrobotics NASA Robotic Mining Competition Team since 2009. The five-time national champion Astrobotics team placed in the top six of the NASA Robotic Mining Competition since the team began competing in 2010. In seven of the last nine years the IEEE robotics team placed in the top six and are current champions of the IEEE SoutheastCon Hardware Competition.

Ricks is a senior member of IEEE, IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, and the International Society of Computers and their Applications. He has won awards from IEEE, ISCA and NASA, and has been recognized several times for his work as an educator including the UA National Alumni Association Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award.

As an associate professor at UA, Ricks has taught 19 different undergraduate and graduate courses and has directed three graduate student dissertations and 19 theses. He has served in several capacities at the Capstone including on the Computer Engineering Curriculum Committee, ECE Awards Committee, ECE Textbook Review Committee, ECE Undergraduate ABET Assessment Committee, Faculty Advisors Council to the Registrar, and as College of Engineering Graduate Council Alternate.

He has published a book chapter, 19 refereed journal articles, 31 refereed conference proceedings, two non-refereed conference proceedings, and a technical presentation. Ricks has given two invited talks, has one patent application, 28 research contracts and grants totaling more than $2.6 million, in-kind gifts organized from external sources totaling $53,000, and 60 monetary gifts organized from external sources totaling more than $150,000. He has served in leadership positions for six conferences, and he has been a journal reviewer, proposal reviewer and an associate journal editor.

In 1989, Ricks earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with a specialization in computer engineering from The University of Alabama. He received his master’s in 1997 and his doctorate in 2002 in computer engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

During his collegiate career, he was a member of several honor societies including Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Golden Key, Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta. At UA, he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, and he completed his master’s and doctorate with a 4.0 GPA.

While at UA, Ricks worked as a co-op student at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as an electrical engineering trainee. From his UA graduation in 1989 until his final graduation at UAH in 2002, he worked at Marshall as an electronics/computer engineer. While in graduate school at UAH, Ricks also worked as an adjunct professor at the university.

This award was created as a tribute to T. Morris Hackney and was made possible by the contributions from John H. Josey and his son, Howard Josey.


2019: Kenneth G. Ricks
 Gregory B. Thompson
2017: W. Edward Back
2016: John Baker
2015: Jay K. Lindly
2014: Susan L. Burkett
2013: Tim A. Haskew
2012: Allen S. Parrish
2011: K. Clark Midkiff Jr.
2010: Kenneth J. Fridley
2009: Viola Acoff
2008: Beth Todd
2007: Kevin Whitaker
2006: David B. Brown
2005: Charles L. Karr
2004: John Wiest
2003: David Cordes
2002: Robert Griffin
2001: Stuart Bell
2000: Lloyd “Pete” Morley
1999: Verle N. Schrodt
1998: Daniel Turner
1997: Gary C. April