First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Joseph V. Lillie


Full name

Joseph V. Lillie

Birth date


What Award did you receive from IEEE?

Haraden Pratt Award

Place of Birth

Lafayette, LA USA

Where did you grow up

Breaux Bridge, LA USA

Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession

  • Father: Charles H. Lillie - Trade School for Refrigeration
  • Mother: Antonia Lafleur Lillie - Nursing School
  • Sister: Business School 2 years - Worked in the tourism and historical related areas
  • Brother: PhD in Computer Science - Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel
  • Sister: BS Math and Computer Science - Retired General Manager IT with Chevron
  • Sister: BS - worked in Medical Supply Industry
  • Me
  • Brother: PhD Geology - Oregon State University Professor - Retired
  • Brother: PhD Entomology - Retired Air Force Colonel

What did you want to do when you grew up?

Astronaut and go to the moon

What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?

One of seven kids - 9.5 years from oldest to youngest. Church, family and education were a very high priority. Not much money but we had everything that we needed.

Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)

Joke Telling, Coin Collecting and collecting news articles for the US Space Program.

Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?

Played high school football, alter server at Catholic Church

Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?

Worked with my dad in his appliance repair business, delivered newspapers, worked at a grocery store, worked at a movie theatre, anything to learn and make a quarter.

Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips? Favorite holiday/family gathering?

As a kid we went as a family on a one week vacation every year. Visited my dads home state of Iowa several times, trip to Washington DC, trips to Florida, visited relatives in California, Illinois and other states. All of this was by car with several stops along the way. (With 9 in the car someone always needed the bathroom.)

EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?

Math, math, math, always liked number and equations, solving problems was just fun.

Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?

English and French

Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?

University of Southwestern Louisiana, now University of Louisiana, it was close to home. Major: Electrical Engineering - lots of math and problem solving.

Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job

South Central Bell, was part of AT&T then became BellSouth, now back to AT&T, retired after 30 year career. 16 additional years doing consulting work primarily in the Quality Management System area. The best job for me was performing quality management system audits.

Has your career turned out as you expected?

Not exactly but no regrets - I still may make it to the moon one day.

Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?

IEEE has been a real help for me in developing non technical skills. IEEE allowed my to give back to the profession by serving and assisting others with career development.

You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?

Recognition of my contribution to the Institute as well as the contribution of others (both volunteers and staff) that I have hade the privilege of working with along the way.

Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?

Get involved in IEEE, participate in networking opportunities and use these opportunities to help in the development and improvement of technical and non technical skills.

Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?

Be a better listener and be willing to accept the advice of others.

Was there a project that you were so passionate about that you continued to pursue it even though there may have been doubts about its success?

The IEEE NextGen Financial System

What career achievement are you most proud of?

Receiving this award

Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?

Still collecting coins and selling items on eBay.

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

A wife of 50 years and two children who are both Electrical Engineers

Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?

Cajun food like gumbo or crawfish etoufee. Anything else with Tabasco.

Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?

Country Music, On The Road Again by Willie Nelson and I've Been Everywhere by Johnny Cash

Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.

My wife, no explanation necessary

What are three things people may not know about you?

  • 1989 International Cajun Joke Telling Champion
  • Been to all 50 US States
  • Always have Tabasco available but I do not own stock in Tabasco

Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)

My Mother and Father

What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?