All posts by Joanna Goodrich

U.S. Mint Honors Game Developer Ralph Baer

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/us-mint-honors-game-developer-ralph-baer

THE INSTITUTE Gamers and coin collectors alike can now celebrate Ralph Baer’s contributions with an American Innovation dollar from the U.S. Mint. Baer, an IEEE Fellow who is considered the father of the video game, developed the Brown Box, which paved the way for modern home video game consoles including the PlayStation and Xbox.

The Brown Box offered table tennis, football, and other games. It let people play on almost any television and thus spawned the commercialization of interactive video games.

The New Hampshire American Innovation coin, which recognizes the first in-home video game console, mimics an arcade token. It depicts a Brown Box game—handball—on one side. On the other side, the words New Hampshire and Player 1 are engraved on a stamped background. The words In-home video game system and Baer’s name encircle the outside in text that is meant to pay homage to Baer’s Odyssey game.

The coin “honors a story wherein an individual, Ralph H. Baer, made a great and positive difference in our lives and that would not have happened without the time, place, and opportunity that his life in America presented,” his son Mark said in an interview with the Manchester, N.H., Ink Link. “It is good to keep that in mind, particularly in these divisive times. To be sure, we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate.”

The mint began the American Innovation dollar coin series in 2018 to showcase innovations from particular states or territories. The series is scheduled to run through 2032.

THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST CONSOLE

Baer sketched out his idea for the gaming console in 1966 outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. He brought his idea to Sanders Associates—now part of BAE Systems—a defense contractor in Nashua, N.H., where he worked. An intrigued manager gave Baer US $2,500 for materials and assigned two engineers from the company to help him develop a prototype.

The Brown Box, a soundless multiplayer system, included clear plastic overlay sheets that could be taped to the player’s TV screen to add color, playing fields, and other graphics. The console ran games off printed-circuit-board cartridges.

In 1968 the company licensed the system to television maker Magnavox, which named it the Odyssey. The company offered it in the United States in 1972 and sold 130,000 units the first year.

Baer’s 1971 patent on a “television gaming and training apparatus,” the first U.S. patent for video game technology, was based on the Brown Box.

The console was named an IEEE Milestone in 2015. Administered by the IEEE History Center, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments from around the world.

Baer’s original video games are on display in the Innovation Wing at the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Adobe Cofounder Charles Geschke Dies at 81

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/adobe-cofounder-charles-geschke-dies-at-81

Charles M. Geschke

Adobe cofounder

Honorary member, 81; died 16 April

Geschke helped create Adobe in 1982 with John Warnock, his colleague from Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California. Their first Adobe product was PostScript, whose pivotal technology helped spark the desktop publishing revolution.

Geschke earned a bachelor’s degree in classics in 1962 from Xavier University, in Cincinnati, where the next year he earned a master’s degree in mathematics. He then became a math professor at John Carroll University, just outside Cleveland. He left JCU in 1968 to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon under the advice of IEEE Fellow William Wulf.

After gaining his doctorate in 1972, Geschke joined PARC. His first project was to help build a mainframe computer. He also worked on writing programming languages and developed software tools that were used to build the Xerox Star workstation. In 1978 he established the PARC Imaging Sciences Laboratory, where he conducted research in graphics, optics, and image processing. He and Warnock developed Interpress, a page-description language that could be used to control the company’s laser printers. Unable to convince Xerox management of the commercial value of Interpress, the two left the company to start Adobe.

Geschke was chief operating officer of the company from 1986 to 1994 and president from 1989 until he retired in 2000. He served as chairman of the board with Warnock from 1997 to 2017 and a member of the board until April 2020, when he was named emeritus board member.

He received several awards for his work, including a 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, a 2008 Computer Entrepreneur Award from the IEEE Computer Society, and the 2006 American Electronics Association Medal of Achievement.

He was awarded an IEEE honorary membership in 2000.


Ferial El-Hawary

Former IEEE Canada president

Fellow, 78; died 6 May

El-Hawary was an active IEEE volunteer who served as president of IEEE Canada in 2008 and 2009. She was married to former IEEE Canada President Mo El-Hawary, who died in 2019.

A member of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society, she was a vice president of the society’s administrative committee and chair of its membership development committee. She helped establish the society’s Canadian Atlantic chapters.

She was the chair of IEEE Canada’s Eastern Canada Council and a member of the IEEE Women in Engineering committee when she died.

El-Hawary served as editor in chief of The Ocean Engineering Handbook and associate editor of the IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering.

She was president and cofounder of BH Engineering Systems. She formerly was a professor of engineering at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, N.S., Canada. She established and directed the Modeling and Signal Analysis Research Laboratory at the university, and she researched control and signal processing for ocean engineering applications.

El-Hawary and her husband helped establish the Higher Engineering Research Institute in Rio de Janeiro in 1972.

She received IEEE Canada’s 2001 Read Award, a 2000 IEEE Third Millennium Medal, and the 1997 IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society Distinguished Service Award.

El-Hawary received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Alexandria University, in Egypt; a master’s degree in EE from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada; and a Ph.D. in ocean engineering from Memorial University in Canada.


Mark Reed

Nanotechnology pioneer

Fellow, 66; died 5 May

Reed coined the term quantum dots in the 1980s to describe tiny nanostructures that exhibit quantum confinement over all three dimensions. Today the term is widely used in semiconductor lasers, telecommunication devices, biomedical imaging, and drug delivery.

He joined the Yale faculty in 1990 after working at Texas Instruments in Dallas, and he taught electrical engineering and applied physics there for more than 30 years. He was director of undergraduate studies for electrical engineering.

While at Yale, he demonstrated the first quantum dot device and developed the first conductance measurement of a single molecule, the first single-molecule transistor, and CMOS nanowire biosensors.

He authored more than 200 papers and six books, and he was granted 33 patents on quantum effect, heterojunction, and molecular devices.

Reed served as editor in chief of the journals Nanotechnology and Nano Futures, and he held numerous editorial and advisory board positions.

He received a 2007 Pioneer Award from the IEEE Nanotechnology Council.

Reed received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in physics from Syracuse University, in New York.


Ram Gopal Gupta

Chair of the IEEE India Council

Senior member, 72; died 24 April

Gupta worked for India’s Ministry of Information Technology for more than 40 years, becoming senior director.

At the time of his death, he was chair of the IEEE India Council, which coordinates IEEE activities in the country. He served as the 2007–2008 chair of the IEEE Delhi Section .

He received a Ph.D. in nuclear instrumentation in 1975 from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi.


Maurice Papo

Former vice president of IEEE Member and Geographic Activities

Life Fellow, 93; died 17 April

Papo was an active IEEE volunteer for almost 25 years and in 2001 served as vice president of IEEE Regional Activities Board, now Member and Geographic Activities.

He began volunteering in 1983 when he joined the executive committee of the IEEE France Section . He went on to serve as 1997–1998 director of Region 8 (Europe, Middle East and Africa) . While director, Papo established the positions of vice chairs. He helped change the procedures for award nominations and elections, increasing the number of candidates who could be nominated and run. He also was involved in rewriting Region 8’s bylaws.

He served as secretary for the IEEE Educational Activities and Publication Services and Products boards.

Papo had worked for IBM for 35 years, holding several executive positions in Europe and the United States, primarily as an R&D director. After leaving IBM, he became an independent consultant.

The holder of more than 75 international patents, he received two bachelor’s degrees—one from École Polytechnique and the other from Télécom, both in Paris.


C. Sidney Burrus

Former Rice dean of engineering

Life Fellow, 86; died 3 April

Burrus was a member of the electrical and computer engineering faculty at Rice University, in Houston, for 50 years before retiring. He helped develop the curriculum there for the first course in digital signal processing in 1968 alongside fellow faculty member Tom Parks.

Burrus received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Rice in 1958 and 1960. He then served in the U.S. Navy from 1960 to 1962 and taught electrical engineering at the Navy’s nuclear power school, in New London, Conn. After being honorably discharged, he studied electrical engineering at Stanford and earned his Ph.D. there in 1965. He joined the Rice engineering faculty after graduating.

During his career at Rice, he served in several leadership positions. He chaired the electrical and computer engineering department from 1984 to 1992 and directed the Computer and Information Technology Institute from 1992 to 1998. He was dean of engineering from 1998 to 2005 and was interim dean in 2010 and 2011.

The university’s engineering school in November established a teaching and research position in his honor.

Burrus originally specialized in nonlinear analysis but decided to pursue digital signal processing later in his career. He and Parks were interested in digital filters—what they do, how to design them, and how to implement them—according to a 1998 oral history conducted by the IEEE History Center.

“We were interested in algorithms and variations on fast Fourier transforms,” Burrus said. In the mid-1980s, Burrus and Parks published two books that included a unified theory of FFTs and Fortran programs.

For his work, Burrus received the 2009 IEEE Kilby Signal Processing Medal.


Isamu Akasaki

Nobel laureate

Life Fellow, 92; died 1 April

Akasaki helped develop blue light–emitting diodes, a breakthrough in the development of LEDs that earned him a 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. He shared the award with Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Hiroshi Amano of Nagoya University, in Japan. He also received the 2011 IEEE Edison Medal and the 2012 IEEE Kilby Signal Processing Medal.

After graduating from Kyoto University, in Japan, in 1952, Akasaki worked for the IT company Kobe Kogyo, now called Fujitsu, in Tokyo. He left there in 1959 to attend Nagoya University, where in 1964 he received a Ph.D. in engineering.

After graduating he worked for the Matsushita Research Institute in Tokyo for a few years before returning to Nagoya University in 1981 as a professor in the electronics department. Although Akasaki began working on GaN-based blue LEDs in the late 1960s, it wasn’t until 1985 that he succeeded in growing high-quality crystals of the semiconductor gallium nitride, according to his biography on the Nobel website. He began working at Nagoya University with Amano, who was his graduate student at the time. By the late 1980s they had managed to generate blue light from their chips. Around the same time, Nakamura, who was working at chemical company Nichia in Tokushima, built on their breakthrough to produce a bright-blue LED that would eventually enable the chips to be applied to lighting.

Their invention of blue light–emitting diodes led the way for a vast wave of light sources that are less expensive, more durable and environmentally safer than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, according to the Nobel website.

Akasaki left Nagoya University in 1992 to join the faculty of Meijo University, also in Nagoya. He directed its research center for nitride semiconductor core technologies.


Artur Ziviani

Computer science researcher

Senior member, 47; died 24 March

Ziviani was a senior researcher at Brazil’s National Laboratory of Scientific Computation, in Rio de Janeiro. He led its Data Extreme Lab research group and coordinated its graduate program in computational modeling.

He died due to complications from COVID-19.

Ziviani worked as a visiting researcher in 2008 at the French National Institute for Research in Digital Science and Technology in Rocquencourt. He was awarded a merit research fellowship from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico.

He conducted research in the characterization, modeling, and analysis of computer networks, as well as network science, data science, and machine learning. He did interdisciplinary data science research with a networking approach applied to areas including digital health, energy, biodiversity, and bioinformatics.

An active member of the IEEE Communications Society, he was on the editorial board of several of the society’s journals including the IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials. He served on the IEEE Smart Cities Initiative steering committee.

Ziviani received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electronic engineering from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from Sorbonne Université, in Paris.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

A Deep Dive Into IEEE’s Recent History

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/a-deep-dive-into-ieees-recent-history

THE INSTITUTE The IEEE History Center has chronicled the last 37 years of the organization and the impact it has had on electrical engineering in the 21st century. “History of IEEE Since 1984” is available on the Engineering and Technology History Wiki.

Readers can learn how IEEE transitioned to electronic publishing, its efforts to expand its membership globally, successful standard development activities, and other topics.

As digital technologies became more popular in the 1980s, IEEE worked to keep up with the shift from printed publications to digital versions, according to the document. Before the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, the organization experimented with an electronic index, launched in 1986, and CD-ROMs, which were introduced three years later. Using the index, members were able to order from their computer copies of articles published within a 12-month period. The CDs held about 200,000 documents including journal papers and conference proceedings.

Membership in IEEE also evolved during the period. Before 1989, IEEE’s membership was mostly composed of engineers from the United States. But in the 1990s, the popularity of computers and their impact on society and the strong economy fueled global expansion. Today the organization has more than 400,000 members in more than 160 countries.

The IEEE Standards Association made great strides in developing standards worldwide, according to the report. Its most well-known standard is IEEE 802.11, developed in 1997. It’s the official international standard for wireless LANs, operating at 2 megabits per second. Popular Mechanics magazine recognized the standard with its 2003 Grand Prize for Computing.

Although the document’s main focus is IEEE after 1984, its first chapter covers the merger in 1963 of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers—which formed IEEE.

The history of IEEE previously was documented in two books that covered the organization’s first 100years. The Making of a Profession: A Century of Electrical Engineering in America was written by historian A.Michal McMahon. Engineers and Electrons: A Century of Electrical Progress was written by IEEE Fellow John D.Ryder and past IRE president Donald G.Fink. PDFs of the books are available on the Engineering and Technology History Wiki.

COMMENTS AND MEMORIES WELCOME

“History of IEEE Since 1984” is a living document. Readers with an account on the Wiki can make comments and suggest edits. IEEE History Center staff members will review the comments and, if deemed appropriate, will include them. Individual memoirs of IEEE’s history can be added in the first-hand histories section.

The project was funded by the following IEEE societies: Aerospace and Electronic Systems, Circuits and Systems, Communications, Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation, Industrial Electronics, Nuclear and Plasma Sciences, Power & Energy, Robotics and Automation, Signal Processing, Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, and Vehicular Technology, as well as the IEEE Council on Superconductivity and Sensors Council.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Developer of Handheld Cable Tester for U.S. Army Dies at 80

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/developer-of-handheld-cable-tester-for-us-army-dies-at-80

Martin Rosenzweig

Developed a handheld cable tester for the U.S. Army

Life member, 80; died 28 September

When Rosenzweig was working as an electrical engineer for the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Center for Command, Control, and Communications Systems, he and a colleague developed a tool that could test a cable’s strength and connectivity. The Army used the tester during Operation Desert Storm.

While serving as a first lieutenant, Rosenzweig received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Clarkson College of Technology, in Potsdam, N.Y. He was honorably discharged in 1964 and went on to earn a master’s degree in EE in 1969 from New York University.

After graduating, Rosenzweig joined the Army Communications R&D Laboratory at Fort Monmouth, N.J., where he worked to improve tactical switch systems. He helped develop several control switch programs including AN/TTC-25, used by U.S. Army Europe; AN/TTC-38, the Army’s first standard stored program; and AN/TTC-39 (TRI-TAC), for secure switching systems.

In 1991 he joined CECOM. The handheld cable tester he and his colleague developed there consisted of two parts—a power unit that houses long-life batteries and resistors and a 26-LED display unit. The test sets were more rugged and reliable, and lower in cost, than the cable testers the Army had been using. Twenty of the sets were shipped to Saudi Arabia for use in Operation Desert Storm.


John Clemens Deinlein

Safety systems expert

Life member, 70; died 25 January

Deinlein was an expert in safety systems who worked as a principal engineer at power, control, and information systems developer Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee. He helped develop firmware at the company.

Deinlein enjoyed photographing his family during gatherings, according to his obituary. He also liked skiing, cycling, and skydiving.


Walter A. Johnson

Potomac Electric Power vice president

Fellow, 83; died 31 December

Johnson spent nearly his entire career working for the Potomac Electric Power Co., now Pepco Holdings, in Washington, D.C. He retired in 2010.

He was featured in the 1996 Washington Post article “When a Storm Blows Through, He’s Pepco’s Man in Charge.”

Johnson served in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1961 to 1969 before joining Pepco as a drafting room supervisor. He eventually was promoted to manager of the utility’s control center.

He gave seminars and speeches about the concept of central control for electric power companies.

In 1975 he became Pepco’s representative to the Electric Power Research Institute, in Palo Alto, Calif.

After a year, he returned to Pepco as manager of a control center in Maryland. He moved up the ranks at the company and eventually became vice president of special projects, a title he held when he retired.

He also held high-level positions on committees that served the electric power industry, such as the American Power Systems Interconnection Committee, now the North American Reliability Corp.; and PJM, the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland Interconnection.

Johnson received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1960 from Duke University, in Durham, N.C.

He enjoyed cooking, doing crossword puzzles, and gardening.


Chalmers F. Sechrist Jr.

Professor of electrical engineering

Life Fellow, 90; died 29 October

Before Sechrist began his career in academia, he worked as a staff engineer in 1959 in the research department of defense contractor HRB-Singer, in State College, Penn.

In 1965 he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. He was promoted to professor in the same subjects. He also served as associate head of the university’s electrical and computer engineering department. As assistant dean of engineering, he helped create a student exchange program with universities in China, Japan, and Russia.

He conducted research in the school’s Aeronomy Laboratory. His research focused on the lower ionospheric D region, which differs from other ionosphere regions because its free electrons almost completely disappear during the night.

Sechrist took a leave of absence from the university in 1992 to serve a four-year appointment as program manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the U.S. National Science Foundation, in Washington, D.C.

In 1996 he left the university and joined Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, as an adjunct professor of engineering. While there, he created and taught several courses in engineering and technology. He was appointed to the university’s advisory board in 2005 and assisted with the formation of its engineering school.

He received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1952 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He went on to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in EE from Pennsylvania State University in State College.

Chalmers enjoyed amateur radio, golf, and photography.


William John McElroy

Flight instructor and electrical engineer

Member, 69; died 4 August 

McElroy, a senior project electrical engineer, retired from Pacific Gas and Electric in 2019. At the time of his retirement he was a licensed electrical engineer in 11 states.

He worked for several companies and organizations during his 40-year career, including America’s Car Museum, Bechtel, and the U.S. Navy.

McElroy earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York and a master’s degree in business from California Coast College, in Santa Ana.

He enjoyed flying planes and was a flight instructor even though he was afraid of heights, according to his wife.


Peter Kirstein

Father of the European Internet

Fellow, 86; died 8 January 2020

Kirstein was considered the “father of the European Internet,” according to his New York Times obituary. He was the first person to connect a computer outside of the United States to the ARPANET—an Internet predecessor—in 1973. He set up Queen Elizabeth’s first official email account in 1976, according to his obituary.

He helped define and implement computer network standards in the United Kingdom alongside Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn.

His family, which was Jewish, moved from Germany to Britain in 1937 to escape persecution by the Nazis.

Kirstein joined the European Council for Nuclear Research in Geneva in 1959 and worked there until 1963. He then began working for General Electric in Zurich.

In 1970 he returned to Britain and became a professor at the University of London Institute of Computer Science, which was dissolved in 1974. He joined the faculty at University College London in 1973 and served as head of its computer science department from 1980 to 1994.

In 1973 Kirstein built the university’s email gateway to the United States, making his lab one of the first international connections on the ARPANET, according to the obituary.

The research group he led adopted TCP/IP in 1982, and it was the first group to do so in Europe. Without Kirstein, TCP/IP might have never been introduced on the continent, according to the obituary.

Kirstein received a bachelor’s degree in 1954 from Cambridge. He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford, in 1955 and 1958. He also received a doctorate in engineering from the University of London in 1970.


Edward James Lewis

Electrical engineer

Member, 90; died 20 November 2017

After graduating from Hendrick Hudson High School, in Montrose, N.Y., Lewis served in the U.S. Army as a mechanic while stationed in Guam.

He worked for several U.S. companies as an engineer before retiring from Consumer Reports.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1950 from Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y.

In his free time, Lewis enjoyed sailing his boat on the Hudson River.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

How Lasers and Mirrors Proved Gravitational Waves Existed

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/how-lasers-and-mirrors-proved-gravitational-waves-existed

THE INSTITUTE In 1916 Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves—ripples in space-time (a conceptual model of how the universe works)—in his general theory of relativity. But it wasn’t until 2015 that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, using a specialized interferometer in observatories in Hanford, Wash., and Livingston, La., proved the waves exist. The device merges two or more sources of light to create a measurable interference pattern, according to the LIGO website

The interferometer was designed in 1972 by Rainer Weiss, a physics professor at MIT and a LIGO cofounder. LIGO worked in collaboration with the Virgo observatory in Pisa, Italy—which used a similar interferometer design. Since that first detection, LIGO and Virgo have recorded gravitational wave events generated by 10 pairs of merging black holes and two pairs of colliding neutron stars, according to the LIGO website.

On 3 February, Weiss’s interferometer design was commemorated with an IEEE Milestone in IEEE regions 5, 6, and 8. It is the first time a Milestone has been installed in three different regions. The IEEE Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Richland (Washington), and Italy sections sponsored the nomination.

Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world.

“LIGO’s research on gravitational waves provided a completely new window in observing the universe,” Miriam Luizink, director of the Institutes Organization of the Dutch Research Council (NWO), said during the dedication ceremony on 3 February. “It brings deep and significant answers to the fundamental questions of space-time, our universe, its origin, and its destiny.” 

The NWO is one of the European funders of Virgo. In 2015 the Netherlands National Institute for Subatomic Physics, an NWO body, joined the European Gravitational Observatory, a private consortium that runs the Virgo interferometer.

 The virtual IEEE Milestone dedication ceremony is available on IEEE.tv.

A DIFFICULT QUESTION

When Weiss joined MIT in 1967 as an assistant professor of physics, the department asked him to teach an introductory course on general relativity. But he knew little about the subject, according to a 2017 article about the physicist in MIT News. When his students asked him to explain how physicist Joseph Weber supposedly detected gravitational waves using aluminum cylinders, Weiss found that he couldn’t.

Weber’s device consisted of cylinders that were 2 meters long and 1 meter in diameter, as well as several antennae. He claimed that when the device detected gravitational waves, the cylinders would vibrate. No one in the scientific community had been able to replicate Weber’s results, which have since been discredited, according to a 2020 article about Weber on the American Physical Society website.

Weiss, along with his students, designed their own machines to detect gravitational waves. His L-shaped interferometer eventually became the one that detected the waves for the first time.

His design called for a device that had two arms. Mirrors were suspended at the arm ends. When a laser was aimed down the length of the arms, it would bounce off the mirrors and back up each arm. The laser beams would take the same amount of time to arrive back where they started. Weiss’s theory was that if a gravitational wave passed through the interferometer, it should move the position of the mirrors slightly—which would change the amount of time it took for the laser beams to arrive back up the arms.

Weiss refined the design and built a 1.5-meter prototype to test his theory. He found the longer the interferometer’s arms, the more sensitive its optics were, leading him to believe his design would work if built to large enough dimensions.

THE BIRTH OF LIGO

It wasn’t until 1976 that Weiss’s theory started to become a reality. He teamed up with physicist Kip S. Thorne, who started his own gravitational wave experiment research group at Caltech. The two schools formed a collaboration.

Weiss, Thorn, and physicist Ronald Drever, who was a member of the team at Caltech, founded LIGO in the early 1980s. With the help of experimental physicist Barry C. Barish, the three men refined the dimensions and scientific requirements for an interferometer sensitive enough to detect a gravitational wave. Barish, who worked at LIGO as a principal investigator, was promoted to director of the project in 1994.

In the mid-1990s, LIGO received financial backing from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and erected its interferometers in Hanford and Livingston.

The interferometers—the largest ever built—had two 4-kilometer-long arms with a suspended mirror at the end of each that was 25 centimeters tall and 10 cm thick. 

In 1997, under Barish’s guidance, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration was established. It brought together international institutes and research groups to search for gravitational waves. During the IEEE Milestone dedication ceremony, Barish said that “scientific expertise is not in a single place in the world” and that LIGO “leaned heavily on international collaboration and contributions.”

The two LIGO observatories detected the first gravitational waves on 14 September 2015, at 5:51 a.m. EST. The scientists picked up a faint wobble in the observatories and confirmed that the interferometers had been microscopically stretched by “just one 10,000th the diameter of a proton,” according to the 2017 MIT News article. The distortion happened because of passing gravitational waves, which travel at the speed of light.

The signal was the first direct detection of a gravitational wave by an instrument on Earth. Virgo discovered the waves were produced by the merger of two black holes—an event that occurred 1.3 billion years ago, according to the MIT News article. 

Weiss, Thorne, and Barish received the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for their work.

Reflecting on the achievement during the Milestone dedication ceremony, Thorne said the project helped him “understand the power of collaboration and appreciate the different skills everyone brought to the project.”

“I hope our work inspires young people to pursue science,” he said. “I think that’s one of the most important things we can do as scientists.”

IEEE Fellow Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the NSF, said at the virtual dedication ceremony, “The strong partnerships between the LIGO facilities, academic institutions, and the states of Louisiana and Washington were central to this endeavor.”  

This article was written with assistance from the IEEE History Center, which is funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Ohio State President Makes Increasing Interdisciplinary Research and Diversity Her Priorities

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/ohio-state-president-makes-increasing-interdisciplinary-research-and-diversity-her-priorities

THE INSTITUTE Kristina M. Johnson has broken through barriers during her career. She became the first female dean of Duke University’s engineering school, the first female provost at Johns Hopkins University, and the first woman to receive the John Fritz Medal—in 2008—from the American Association of Engineering Societies.

This year the IEEE Fellow added another distinction: first recipient of the IEEE Mildred Dresselhaus Medal. Johnson received the recognition “for leadership and technical contributions spanning academia, government, and business.” The Dresselhaus Medal, introduced last year, recognizes outstanding technical contributions in science and engineering of great impact to IEEE fields of interest.

Dresselhaus, like Johnson, had a few firsts in her career. The life Fellow, who was a pioneer of the electronic properties of materials, in 2015 became the first woman to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor.

Johnson is an expert in photonics, specializing in optoelectronic processing systems. She holds more than 100 U.S. and international patents in the field.

She also founded several companies, but Johnson, who is president of the Ohio State University, in Columbus, says her true passion is academia.

“I just love teaching,” she says. “Seeing the light bulb go off in students’ heads is super exciting.”

She is an advocate for having a diverse faculty and student body, erasing student debt, and increasing interdisciplinary research.

MAKING HER MARK

Johnson grew up in Denver in a family of seven. When her older siblings were doing algebra homework, they would teach her how to do the math, Johnson says: “It was really fun to learn [algebra] when I was a preschooler. I loved it.”

Johnson went on to earn bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees—all in electrical engineering—at Stanford.

She began her academic career in 1985 at the University of Colorado at Boulder as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. She was the university’s first female tenure-track faculty member.

While there she made sure to make her mark. In 1987 she and engineering professor W. Thomas Cathey, who died in 2016, received a U.S. National Science Foundation grant to establish the Engineering Research Center for optoelectronic computing systems at the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, in Fort Collins. The center focuses on creating optoelectronic devices and systems for computing signal processing and artificial intelligence. In its cross-disciplinary environment, students and professors collaborate with faculty from chemistry, mathematics, physics, and other fields.

It was at the engineering center that she and a team of researchers and graduate students developed the technology behind the RealD 3D projection system, which has been used in more than 300 movies including Avatar. RealD uses stereoscopic projection technology and polarization optics to create three-dimensional images.

Her work at the engineering center reinforced her commitment to increasing cross-disciplinary research in academia. It was a point of focus when in 1999 she became dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, in Durham, N.C.

While at Duke, Johnson tripled research funding and increased the university’s endowment tenfold. Some of the money was used to establish the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine, and Applied Sciences. The center supports cross-disciplinary research in bioengineering, communications, materials science, materials engineering, and photonics.

“When you take on really big problems that are important to society, they’re going to require understanding from multiple disciplines,” she says.

During her time at Duke, she increased the percentage of women faculty from 6 percent to 19 percent, according to her Ohio State biography.

“I love engineering, and I want everybody to be an engineer,” Johnson says. “We should be welcoming to anyone and everyone and ensure that anybody can maximize their inherent talent.”

She took her desire to advance cross-disciplinary research and diversity with her when she moved to Baltimore in 2007 to become provost and senior vice president at Johns Hopkins, and to the State University of New York, where she became chancellor in 2017.

Johnson launched Promoting Recruiting Opportunity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Growth, a SUNY program that aims to increase the number of faculty members from underrepresented groups and female teachers in STEM fields at the university’s 64 campuses.

Another initiative, SUNY Achieve, increased the graduation rate at the system’s two-year community colleges by 22 percent, according to Johnson’s biography.

Johnson was appointed president of Ohio State in June. While aiming to increase diversity and cross-disciplinary research at the university, she hopes to improve academic performance and reduce student debt.

“Dr. Johnson is committed to increasing the diversity on campus—not just racially but schools of thought,” Janice M. Bonsu, a fourth-year medical student at Ohio State told the university’s newspaper, The Lantern, in June.

SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT

Johnson took a break from academia in 2009, when she was appointed undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Energy by President Barack Obama.

“It was challenging,” she says of the position. “But it was great to be able to fund important clean-energy research, and support technology for the secretary [Steven Chu], the president, and the people.”

In April 2010, Johnson dealt with one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history: the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The government struggled to determine how much oil was being discharged into the ocean.

Johnson came up with the idea to use particle image velocimetry, a laser optical measurement technique, to estimate at what rate the oil was spilling into the sea.

“PIV allows you to measure fluid velocity using particles in the [water] flow, using a double-exposure hologram,” she says. “Once you determine the velocity, then you know how much oil is coming out.”

She quickly emailed Marcia McNutt, then head of the U.S. Geological Survey, who told Johnson that the USGS had the world’s best PIV system. It was deployed that week.

“That was one of the most exciting—maybe a little too exciting, but fun—things to do: be able to draw on my background and come up with a solution for at least part of the problem,” Johnson says.

After her term ended in 2010, Johnson tried her hand at being an entrepreneur. In 2011 she founded Enduring Hydro, which worked to build and support the hydropower industry. In 2014 the startup partnered with I Squared Capital—an investment firm that specializes in energy—to build, buy, and operate hydroelectric power plants in North America with the goal of producing enough clean energy to fully power 150,000 homes. She served as CEO of the joint venture—Cube Hydro Partners—until 2017, when she joined SUNY.

CONNECTING THROUGH IEEE

Johnson’s father and grandfather were IEEE members. She joined the organization while she was an undergraduate at Stanford.

“We used to have IEEE social hours once a week,” she recalls. “That was great because you could meet other students, and if you were having trouble in a class, you could find somebody that could help you.”

Johnson says IEEE is a great way “to bring people together around common interests and common goals,” and she values “being part of the largest professional society in the world.”

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

How IBM’s Deep Blue Beat World Champion Chess Player Garry Kasparov

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/how-ibms-deep-blue-beat-world-champion-chess-player-garry-kasparov

THE INSTITUTE Chess is making a comeback thanks to The Queen’s Gambit, a popular Netflix miniseries about a prodigy’s journey to becoming the world’s greatest player. But Beth Harmon—the fictional prodigy portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy—never faces a supercomputer the way real-life world champion Garry Kasparov did.

IBM’s Deep Blue made history in 1997 when it became the first machine to beat a reigning world chess champion. A research team led by IEEE Senior Member Murray Campbell and Feng-hsiung Hsu developed the machine.

Kasparov accused the IBM team of cheating its way to victory. In reality, though, scientists had been interested in programming a computer to play chess since the late 1940s, according to an article on IBM’s blog about Deep Blue. It took years for engineers and computer scientists to perfect the artificial intelligence program that would one day beat a world champion.

Five decades in the making

Deep Blue’s story began in 1985, when Hsu, then a Carnegie Mellon graduate student, started working on his dissertation project: ChipTest, a chess-playing machine. Hsu worked with Campbell, who was a research associate at the university, and graduate student Thomas Anatharaman, an IEEE member, to develop ChipTest. Hsu and Campbell later joined IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., in 1989. The duo continued developing a chess-playing machine but this time with other computer scientists working on the Deep Blue project.

The final version of the machine consisted of two 2-meter-tall towers, more than 500 processors, and 216 accelerator chips designed for computer chess, according to a paper Campbell and Hsu wrote about Deep Blue for the Artificial Intelligence journal.

The machine’s software would calculate the basic moves it could make in response to its opponent before the accelerator chips carried out more complex calculations such as assessing possible outcomes of various moves and determining the best one. The computer would decide which route to take based on the information gathered by the chips. Deep Blue could explore up to 100 million possible chess positions per second, according to the IBM article.

“Hundreds of millions of people around the world play chess,” Campbell said in a 2017 Scientific American interview. “It’s known as a game that requires strategy, foresight, logic—all sorts of qualities that make up human intelligence. So it makes sense to use chess as a measuring stick for the development of artificial intelligence.”

The team knew chess was the right game for Deep Blue to play, but the researchers had little experience with chess themselves. The team brought in grandmasters such as Joel Benjamin, who, at 13, had become the youngest-ever U.S. chess master.

The grandmasters helped the team in two ways: assisting in putting together a library of moves for the machine to access during games and playing against the machine so the team could pinpoint its weaknesses.

“Humans have been studying chess openings for centuries and developed their own favorite moves,” Campbell told Scientific American. “The grandmasters helped us choose a bunch of those to program into Deep Blue.

“Chess is an enormously complex game, and that’s why it took us, as a field, 50 years of development to finally beat the world champion.”

KASPAROV VS. DEEP BLUE

After the machine lost its first match in 1996 against Kasparov, the research team went back to the drawing board.

According to Campbell, the team doubled the system’s speed by developing a new chess chip—one with the enhanced ability to evaluate positions the pawns can take. The new version of Deep Blue was able to search up to 200 million options per second, depending on the pawns’ position on the board. The researchers also increased the machine’s knowledge of the game by enabling the chess chip to recognize and evaluate chess concepts including positions and lines of attack. The chips could then search through the possibilities and figure out the best move.

“Part of the improvement is we detected more patterns in a chess position and could put values on them and therefore evaluate chess positions more accurately,” Campbell said in the interview.

Deep Blue and Kasparov squared off again in 1997 in a six-game match. The grandmaster won the first game; the machine won the next one. The following three ended in a draw, and Deep Blue won the final game and thus the match.

Campbell said he and his team were “confident that the 1997 Deep Blue was much better than the 1996 version,” but they still hadn’t expected it to win.

According to IBM, the development of Deep Blue inspired researchers to create supercomputers that could tackle other complex problems such as evaluating marketplace trends and risk analysis in finance; mining data; and analyzing molecular dynamics—which helped medical researchers develop new drugs.

Deep Blue is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., although the museum is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

S.K. Ramesh and Francis Grosz Run for 2022 President-Elect

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/sk-ramesh-and-francis-grosz-run-for-2022-presidentelect

THE INSTITUTE The IEEE Board of Directors has nominated Fellow S.K. Ramesh and Life Senior Member Francis Grosz as candidates for IEEE president-elect. The winner of this year’s election will serve as IEEE president in 2023.

Ramesh is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at California State University Northridge’s college of engineering and computer science, where he served as dean from 2006 to 2017. While dean, he established centers on renewable energy, entrepreneurship, and advanced manufacturing. He created an interdisciplinary master’s degree program in assistive technology engineering to meet emerging workforce needs.

Ramesh is the founding director of the university’s nationally recognized Attract, Inspire, Mentor, and Support Students program, which advances the graduation of underrepresented minorities in engineering and computer science.

He has been an IEEE volunteer for almost 40 years and has served on the IEEE Board of Directors, Awards Board, Educational Activities Board, Publication Services and Products Board, and Fellows Committee.

As the 2016–2017 vice president of IEEE Educational Activities, he championed several successful programs including the IEEE Learning Network and the IEEE TryEngineering Summer Institute.

He expanded chapters of IEEE’s honor society, Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN), globally to serve all 10 regions, and he increased industry support as the society’s 2016 president.

Ramesh was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 2015 for “contributions to entrepreneurship in engineering education.”

He serves on the board of ABET, the global accrediting organization for academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology, and is an experienced program evaluator.

Ramesh has served IEEE Region 6 at the section, chapter, and area levels. He currently serves on the IEEE Buenaventura (California) Section member development team, which received a 2020 Gold Award for its work.

His many recognitions include the 2004 IEEE Region 6 Community Service Award and the 2012 John J. Guarrera Engineering Educator of the Year Award from the Engineers’ Council.

Grosz, who retired in 2012, was an assistant professor of engineering at the University of New Orleans for six years and an adjunct professor for two years, as well as an adjunct engineering professor at Tulane University, also in New Orleans, for two years.

Before and after his time in academia, he designed systems for defense contractors Litton Data Systems, Omni Technologies, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He was granted two U.S. patents—one for a method of transmitting data through a ship’s bulkhead and the second for a NASA fiber-optic communication system for rocket engine testing.

Grosz has been an IEEE volunteer for more than 35 years, serving at the section, region, and institute levels. He has held almost all offices at the section level, including chair, secretary, and vice chair of the IEEE New Orleans Section, and he has been a member of the IEEE Region 5 executive committee for 18 years.

He served on the IEEE Board of Directors as the 2016–2017 Region 5 director and the 2019 vice president for IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA). He was 2017 chair of the audit committee and cochair of the 2019 ad hoc committee on member engagement, which included three subcommittees examining member value and leading MGA efforts in realigning IEEE’s regions.

Grosz, a member of IEEE-HKN, has received several recognitions including an IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the 2008 IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Member Award, and a 1999 NASA Space Act Award, which recognizes a technical innovation of significant value to the agency’s activities.

An amateur radio operator, his call sign is K5FBG.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

IEEE Medal of Honor Goes to Data Compression Pioneer Jacob Ziv

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/ieee-medal-of-honor-goes-to-data-compression-pioneer-jacob-ziv

THE INSTITUTE IEEE Life Fellow Jacob Ziv will receive this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor “for fundamental contributions to information theory and data compression technology, and for distinguished research leadership.”

Ziv and Abraham Lempel developed two lossless data compression algorithms: Lempel-Ziv 77 in 1977 and LZ78 the following year. The two procedures enable perfect data reconstruction from compressed data and are more efficient than previous algorithms. They allowed for the development of GIFs, PNG, and ZIP files.

“The LZ algorithms were the first major successful universal compression algorithms,” says one engineer who endorsed Ziv for the award. “These algorithms, and Jacob’s analysis of them, [have] formed the basis for most subsequent work on universal algorithms.”

Ziv pioneered universal source coding, a series of algorithms that compress data without needing to know anything about the inherent information. Such algorithms reduce the required data rate needed to reconstruct images from undistorted as well as distorted data.

Ziv also contributed to the theory of low computational complexity decoding of error-correcting codes.

He has received several recognitions including the 1995 Marconi Prize, a 2008 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, and a 2017 EMET Prize—known as Israel’s Nobel Prize—in the exact sciences category.

In 1997 he established the Israeli National Infrastructure Forum for Research and Development, which strives to promote R&D programs and projects in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Ziv has been a professor of electrical engineering since 1970 at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa. He served as dean of the EE faculty from 1974 to 1976 and vice president of the school’s academic affairs department from 1978 to 1982.

Born in Israel, he began his engineering career in 1955 as senior research engineer in the scientific department of the Israel Ministry of Defense, where he conducted R&D in communication systems.

He moved to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from MIT. After he received his doctorate in 1962, he moved back to Israel to rejoin the Ministry of Defense and head its communications division.

He returned to the United States in 1968 to join AT&T Bell Laboratories, in Murray Hill, N.J., as a member of the technical staff. He left there in 1970 to join the Technion.

The IEEE Foundation sponsors the IEEE Medal of Honor.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Edmund Melson Clarke, Creator of Model Checking, Dies at 75

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/edmund-melson-clarke-creator-of-model-checking-dies-at-75

Edmund Melson Clarke

Model-checking creator

Fellow, 75; died on 22 December

Clarke was a computer-science pioneer who helped develop model checking, an automated method for finding design errors in computer hardware and software. Intel, Microsoft, and other companies use the method to verify designs for integrated circuits, computer networks, and software.

He died from COVID-19 complications.

Clarke initially studied mathematics and received a bachelor’s degree in the discipline in 1967 from the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, and a master’s degree in 1968 from Duke University, in Durham, N.C. But when he was a doctoral student at Cornell, he changed his field of study to computer science. He conducted his thesis research under the guidance of Robert L. Constable, a pioneer in making connections between mathematical logic and computing.

After graduating in 1976, Clarke joined Duke as a computer science professor. In 1978 he began teaching computer science at Harvard. While there, Clarke and his doctoral student E. Allen Emerson conducted research on methods that could be used to effectively verify how a system performs without errors. In 1981 they published a paper on model checking, “Design and Synthesis of Synchronization Skeletons Using Branching Time Temporal Logic,” in Logics of Programs.

In 1995 Clarke led a team that tested the method on an IEEE standard for interconnecting computer components. They discovered flaws in the standard’s design—which spurred the tech industry to use model checking on its systems.

Clarke, along with Emerson and computer scientist Joseph Sifakis, received the 2007 Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award.

In 1982 Clarke joined Carnegie Mellon, where he worked as a professor of computer science and electrical engineering. He was named an emeritus professor in 2015.

He served on the editorial board of IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering.

If you’ve had a family member who was an IEEE member pass away due to complications from COVID-19 and would like an obituary published by The Institute, contact the editors: [email protected].


Joseph R. Asik

Research scientist

Life senior member, 82; died 17 July

From a young age, Asik was rarely known to leave home without pens, pencils, and a Swiss Army knife, ready to tackle life’s problems, according to his obituary.

He was awarded several scholarships after graduating high school and received a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1959 from the Case Institute of Technology, now Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. During his time as an undergraduate, he was an intern one summer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee, where he worked on a secret atomic project, according to the obituary.

Asik was a research scientist at Ford for 30 years. While there, he was granted 22 U.S. patents.

After he left Ford, he joined Lawrence Technological University, in Southfield, Mich., as a part-time lecturer on automotive and electrical engineering.

Asik had many interests and hobbies including amateur radio, gardening, and cooking Hungarian food.

He received both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Robert F. Heile

Co-founder of an IEEE Wi-Fi standards group

Life member, 75; died 24 September

Heile was serving as chairman of the IEEE 802.15 Working Group for Wireless Specialty Networks at the time of his death. The group, which he co-founded in 1990, is developing standards for the Internet of Things.

After receiving a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Heile joined chemical manufacturer Union Carbide in Houston. He left there in 1980 and became vice president of business operations and transmission products at Codex, in Canton, Mass., where he oversaw development of modems and wireless networking devices. In the 1990s he was a vice president at several Massachusetts companies including TyLink and Windata.

He joined BBN Technologies, in Cambridge, Mass., in 1997 with the mission of developing business strategies to commercialize the company’s wireless technologies, according to his obituary. After the company was acquired by GTE—now part of Verizon—Heile left to become a consultant.

His work at BBN led Heile to get interested in technology standards, according to his obituary.

Heile helped create the ZigBee Alliance, an IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization group responsible for developing and promoting the Internet of Things. He served as its chairman and CEO until 2013, when he joined the Wi-SUN Alliance as director of standards and chief representative for business development in greater China.He received a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, in Ohio, and completed his master’s degree and doctorate in physics at Johns Hopkins.


Noah Hershkowitz

Plasma physicist pioneer

Fellow, 79; died 13 November

Hershkowitz’s research broadened the understanding of the fundamental properties of plasma. His pioneering work on emissive probes, which are small electrodes that are heated until they emit electrons, resulted in the development of a technique for determining plasma potential. This charge of electric and magnetic fields surrounding the plasma can be analyzed by the current emitted by the emissive probe. In 2002 Hershkowitz became the first to measure plasma potential throughout the sheath and presheath—the regions surrounding the plasma with positive ions and neutral atoms—in a weakly collisional plasma made from weakly charged particles.

Hershkowitz began his career in nuclear physics. He changed his field of study because plasma physics “looked like it would be more fun,” according to his obituary.

He was a professor at several institutions including the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, before retiring in 2012.

Mentor to more than 50 doctoral students, he was named professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin after retiring.

He received numerous awards during his career, including the 2004 James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics, the highest honor afforded by the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics, and the 2015 IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award for innovative research and inspiring education in basic and applied plasma science.He received a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1962 from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., and in 1966 earned a Ph.D. in physics at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore.


Thomas D. Walsh

Power systems engineer

Life senior member, 90; died 13 November

Walsh joined Boston Edison in 1950 as an apprentice lineman and retired in 1993 as manager of transmission and distribution. After retiring, he worked as a consultant in the United States and Asia.

Walsh also was a professor at Quincy College, in Massachusetts, and he served on Northeastern University’s RE-SEED program committee, which aims to improve science education in public schools.

He holds several U.S. and Canadian patents and authored numerous technical papers and journal articles.

Walsh had been a Boy Scouts of America leader since 1969 and was awarded the 1999 Silver Beaver Award, which recognizes distinguished service in the organization.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern, in Boston, and a master’s degree from Lesley University, in Cambridge, Mass.


Pinar Boyraz Baykas

Educator

Senior member, 39; died 14 November

Boyraz Baykas was an associate professor at the Chalmers University of Technology, in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the time of her death. She conducted research in the applications of mathematical modeling, mechatronics, signal processing, and control theory.

After receiving her Ph.D. in mechatronics in 2008 from Loughborough University, in England, Boyraz Baykas joined the University of Texas at Dallas as a postdoctoral research associate. Her research focused on driver behavior modeling and active safety-system development.

She joined Istanbul Technical University as an assistant professor in 2010 and conducted research in applied robotics. In 2014 she was awarded a research fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which aims to promote international scientific collaboration. Through the fellowship, in 2016 Boyraz Baykas joined Leibniz University Hannover, in Germany, where she continued her research.

“Her effort to survive in a competitive academic world will hopefully pave the way for younger generations of women and help improve gender balance in academia,” Marco Dozza, her research colleague at Chalmers, told The Institute.

She received two bachelor’s degrees in 2004—one in mechanical engineering and the other in textile engineering—from Istanbul Technical University.


F.C. Kohli

Former Tata Consultancy CEO

IEEE member, 96; died 26 November

Kohli is referred to as the “Father of the Indian IT Industry” for his contributions to establishing and growing the field through his leadership of Tata Consultancy Services. He led a team that installed a computer system to control the power lines between Mumbai and Pune.

Kohli received a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Punjab, in Lahore, India. During his final year at the school, he joined the Indian Navy. While waiting for his assignment, however, he applied for and was awarded a scholarship to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., Canada. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1948 and joined Canadian General Electric in Toronto. While working there, he pursued a master’s degree in electrical engineering at MIT.

After graduating in 1950, Kohli began working in power system operations at Ebasco, the Connecticut Valley Electric Exchange, and the New England Electric System. After a year, he returned to India and joined the Tata Electric Co. in Mumbai, where he helped set up a load-dispatching system to help manage the company’s operations. He was promoted to general superintendent in 1963 and eventually became deputy general manager. When he was promoted to director, he introduced advanced engineering and management techniques for power systems operations.

In 1969, at the request of J.R.D. Tata, chairman of the company, Kohli helped set up Tata Consultancy Services, a subsidiary that provides IT services and business solutions. It is now one of the world’s largest IT software services providers, according to an article on business news website Mint.

Through the new service, Kohli led the installation of the computer system between Mumbai and Pune.

Tata was only the third utility company in the world to install such a system, according to Kohli’s obituary.

Kohli became the company’s first CEO and spent 30 years in the position until stepping down in 1996.

He was the 1995–1996 president and chairman of NASSCOM, an Indian IT services advocacy body in New Delhi, and then served on the organization’s executive committee. He helped shape global partnerships and showcase opportunities to deliver IT services from India, according to the obituary.


Norman Abramson

ALOHAnet developer

Life Fellow, 88; died 1 December

Abramson led the team at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in Honolulu, that developed ALOHAnet, which allowed computers to transmit packets over a shared channel as soon as they had information to send. ALOHAnet was the first use of wireless communications for a data network.

Abramson began his career as a research engineer in 1953 at Hughes Aircraft in Westchester, Calif. Two years later, he joined the faculty at Stanford and taught at the university for 10 years. Some of his early research was in radar signal characteristics, sampling theory, frequency modulation, digital communication channels, pattern recognition, machine learning, and computing for seismic analysis.

He was a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966 before joining the University of Hawaii in 1968 as a professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

When he joined the university, he was tasked with developing radio technology to help the school send data from its remote geographic location to the continental United States, and vice versa, according to his obituary.

ALOHAnet was deployed in 1971, and its protocol is now widely used in nearly all forms of wireless communications.

Abramson retired in 1994 and helped found Aloha Networks in San Francisco, a communications technology supplier.

He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard in 1953, a master’s degree in physics in 1955 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1958 from Stanford.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Forget Electrodes, the First EKG Machine Used Buckets of Saline Solution and Telephone Wire

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/forget-electrodes-the-first-ekg-machine-used-buckets-of-saline-solution-and-telephone-wire

THE INSTITUTE For more than 100 years, doctors have relied on electrocardiography to measure the heart’s electrical activity. The technique has its origins in the work of Willem Einthoven, who in 1905 used a string galvanometer to conduct the first recording of a human electrocardiogram (EKG). The string galvanometer, which consists of a metal fiber stretched between two magnets, was originally developed by French engineer Clément Adair in 1872 to send telegrams.

Einthoven’s EKG work has now been commemorated with an IEEE Milestone. The IEEE Benelux (Belgium) Section sponsored the nomination. Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world.

“The string galvanometer offered the opportunity to record the human electrocardiogram in detail,” says IEEE Life Senior Member Wim van Etten, the section’s Milestone coordinator. “In this way the medical world received an important diagnostic tool to discover certain heart diseases.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Milestone dedication ceremony is still being planned.

THE ROAD TO THE EKG

Scientists began the journey to modern electrocardiography in 1873 thanks to the capillary electrometer—which was invented by Gabriel Lippmann to detect electric current. The machine consisted of metal wires and a tube with one thick end and one thin end that was filled with mercury and sulfuric acid. The tube’s thin end acted as a capillary—a narrow tube that allowed liquids to flow easily in opposition to gravity. When a pulse of electricity was sent through the machine, there were small changes in surface tension between the mercury and sulfuric acid, according to an article about the technology on the National Museum of American History website.

Using the electrometer, British physiologist Augustus Desiré Waller developed the first EKG machine in 1887. It consisted of a capillary electrometer that was affixed to a projector. Electrodes were placed on the patient’s chest and back; when electrical current entered the tube, the mercury leapt up a short distance. The movement of the mercury, which represented the heart’s electrical pulses, was projected onto a photographic plate, a flat sheet of metal on which an image was recorded.

Although Waller was able to record the patient’s heartbeat and the heart’s electric pulses, the device was not accurate or precise, and it was slow in recording the pulses. Waller also did not recognize the clinical importance of the device and technique, according to “A.D. Waller and the Electrocardiogram, 1887,” a 1987 article in The BMJ.

Einthoven, a physiology professor at Leiden University, in the Netherlands, began to analyze Waller’s data in 1901. He found errors in the visual recordings, according to a 2003 article in the Cardiac Electrophysiology Review. Einthoven wasn’t a physicist, however, and he had trouble finding a mathematical solution that would correct the errors. According to an entry in the Engineering and Technology History Wiki, he sought the help of Hendrik Lorentz, a physics professor at Leiden who won the 1902 Nobel Prize in his field. The duo was able to solve the equations and correct Waller’s measurements.

Einthoven wanted to develop a better device that could be used in clinical medicine. After three years of research and building prototypes, he introduced the string galvanometer in 1904 to the field of electrocardiography.

MAGNETIC ATTRACTION

Einthoven’s galvanometer used a thin silver-plated quartz fiber to measure electrical signals. When the fiber carries current, putting it in a magnetic field causes it to be displaced because of the force of the magnetic field on the current, according to “Einthoven’s String Galvanometer,” a 2008 paper in the Texas Heart Institute Journal. The fiber’s movement was magnified and projected on a running film sheet, which recorded the signal. The device measured the electrical signals more precisely, more accurately, and quicker than Waller’s machine, due to the movement of the quartz fiber.

In 1905 Einthoven partnered with the Leiden University Medical Center to conduct clinical trials.

At around 272 kilograms, the machine was too heavy to be transported from Einthoven’s laboratory to the medical center. Instead, hospitalized patients were connected to the string galvanometer using a telephone wire that ran from the hospital to the laboratory, a distance of about 1.5 kilometers.

At the hospital, patients placed both arms in one bucket of saline solution and their left leg in a separate solution-filled bucket. The filled buckets acted as electrodes to conduct the current from the skin’s surface to the string galvanometer, according to the 2018 book Interpreting ECGs: A Practical Approach.

The clinical recordings enabled Einthoven to “characterize the shape of electrocardiograms as a number of successive waves,” van Etten says. Einthoven also identified and coined the terms for P,Q,R,S,T, and U waves, which are components of the basic pattern of electrical activity on an EKG. The waves represent when the heart muscles contract and relax. The names are still in use, van Etten notes.

Einthoven wanted other physicians to be able to use his machine, but because of its size, he had a tough time finding a company that would manufacture it, according to the Engineering and Technology History Wiki.

After several rejections, Einthoven simplified the design. He worked with Cambridge Scientific, in Watertown, Mass. The company mounted the machine on a table, making it easier to install in hospitals. The machine went on the market in 1905.

The EKG machine was first used in medical diagnosis in 1908, and it remains an integral part of diagnosing and monitoring heart disease.

For Einthoven’s invention and his work in electrocardiography—a term he also coined—he received the 1924 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

“The string galvanometer has led countless investigators to study the functions and diseases of the heart muscle,” the Nobel website says.

The Milestone plaque is to be displayed at the Leiden University Medical Center, where the first clinical recording was taken. The plaque reads:

On 22 March 1905, the first successful clinical recording of a human electrocardiogram took place at this location, which at the time was the Academic Hospital Leiden. Willem Einthoven’s pioneering work, from 1901 to 1905, resulted in a string galvanometer specifically designed to measure and record the heart’s electrical activity, which made this medical achievement possible. This invention marked the beginning of electrocardiography as a major clinical diagnostic tool.

This article was written with assistance from the IEEE History Center, which is funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Nobel Laureate Arthur Ashkin, the ‘Father of Optical Tweezers,’ Dies at 98

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/nobel-laureate-arthur-ashkin-the-father-of-optical-tweezers-dies-at-98

Arthur Ashkin

Nobel laureate

Life Fellow, 98; died 21 September

Ashkin was considered “the father of optical tweezers,” according to a tribute written by the IEEE Photonics Society. Optical tweezers can capture microscopic organisms with minimal harm, helping scientists study them. He was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics for inventing the technology.

Ashkin was fascinated by light since he was a teenager, according to the society’s tribute.

He served in the U.S. Army and from 1942 to 1945 was stationed at Columbia University’s radiation lab, in New York City. There he researched high-power magnetrons for radar systems used during World War II. He also pursued a bachelor’s degree in physics at the university.

After graduating in 1947, he attended Cornell, and in 1952 he received a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. He then joined Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J., and stayed at the company until he retired in 1991.

In 1960 he began working on manipulating microparticles with laser light—which resulted in the invention of optical tweezers in 1986. He and his Bell colleagues experimented on laser propagation in optical fibers. The research formed the foundation of the field of nonlinear optics in fibers, according to the tribute.

Ashkin continued his laser research with the help of Joseph Dziedzic. In 1971 they demonstrated levitation of small particles using a vertical laser beam, with gravity acting as the restoring force instead of previous experiments’ glass cell walls or counter-propagating lasers. The duo succeeded in trapping a single atom using a laser in 1985, according to the society’s tribute.

Joseph C. Veniscofski

Railroad foreman

Life member, 67; died 15 April

Veniscofski served in the U.S. Army in Alaska before becoming a foreman for the Metro-North Railroad in White Plains, N.Y. He worked for the rail service for 30 years before retiring this year.

He enjoyed cooking and baking for family and friends, according to his obituary.

Peter Excell

Telecommunications researcher and professor

Life senior member, 72; died 13 August

Excell, who used computers to simulate telecommunications systems, developed a hybrid method that enabled the accurate modeling of a phone and a human head, according to his obituary.

At the time of his death, he was professor emeritus at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, in Wales, and an honorary visiting professor at the University of Bradford, in England.

He joined the University of Bradford as a lecturer in 1989 and 10 years later, was promoted to professor of applied electromagnetics. He taught at the university until 2007, when he joined Wrexham as head of its School of Computing and Communications. While there, he also served as dean and deputy vice chancellor.

Excell continued to teach at both universities until he retired in 2015.

He also worked as a consultant, mainly for oil companies. He assessed how hazardous radio frequencies were to flammable mixtures and explosive devices, and he provided advice about electromagnetic compatibility, according to the obituary.

According to his wife, he had a lifelong interest in steam locomotives, especially narrow-gauge industrial railways and preserved railways. Family vacations often included visits to heritage railways and railway museums, she says.

Excell graduated in 1970 from the University of Reading, in England, with a bachelor’s degree in engineering science. He received a Ph.D. in electrical and electronics engineering 10 years later from the University of Bradford.

Daniel Morton

Aviation electronic control designer

Life member, 78; died 25 September

Morton graduated with a master’s degree from Wayne State University, in Detroit. He then designed aviation electronic controls at manufacturer Bendix, which was acquired by Allied Signal in 1983 and is now a part of Honeywell. He spent his entire career at the company.

After he retired, he spent time traveling and volunteering. He loved reading books about the mysteries of the universe and the human mind, according to his obituary.

Eugene Litvinov

Power systems engineer

Fellow, 70; died 25 September

Litvinov worked for more than 20 years as chief technologist at ISO New England in Holyoke, Mass.

Born in Ukraine, Litvinov began his engineering career at Kiev’s Power Systems & Network Research Design Institute as a senior researcher and engineer. He moved to the United States in 1991 and joined ISO, then New England Power Pool, in 1992 as senior engineer. He was eventually promoted to chief technologist and was responsible for system and market solutions, smart-grid strategy, and R&D. Through his work, Litvinov improved the efficiency and reliability of the power systems used by the company. He was still working at the company when he died.

Litvinov was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences this year “for development of optimization mathematics for new electricity markets and innovative applications for electric grid control, visualization, and planning.”

He was an editor of IEEE Transactions on Power Systems. Litvinov also received several best paper awards from the IEEE Power & Energy Society.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1973 from the National Technical University of Ukraine, in Kiev. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in EE in 1987 from Ural Federal University, in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

ISO, in collaboration with the IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative and the IEEE Foundation, established a scholarship in Litvinov’s memory. The program offers money as well as work experience to undergraduate engineering students looking to pursue a career in the power industry.

Yasuto Mushiake

Inventor of self-complementarity in antennas

Life Fellow, 99; died 6 October

Mushiake in 1948 discovered the principle of self-complementarity in antennas.

“A self-complementary antenna has a geometry such that its complement (where air is replaced by metal and metal replaced by air) can exactly overlay the original structure through translation and rotation,” according to the IEEE Milestones Wiki. Self-complementary antennas, which have a nearly constant wide-range frequency, are used for TV reception, wireless broadband, and radio astronomy. The principle was recognized in 2017 with an IEEE Milestone.

Mushiake joined Tohoku University, in Sendai, Japan, as an assistant professor in 1954. There he conducted research on electromagnetic wave theory, radio propagation, and millimeter- and optical-wave transmission.

In 1956, he left Japan and became a research associate at Ohio State University, in Columbus. He returned to Tohoku University in 1960 as a professor. In 1984 he left to become president of the Tohoku Institute of Technology, also in Sendai. He retired from the school in 1989 but continued to serve as an advisor. He also advised the Matsushita Communication R&D laboratories in Sendai.

He wrote or coauthored several papers and 11 technical books. He edited and helped write the Japanese edition of the Antenna Engineering Handbook.

Mushiake received two honors from the emperor of Japan: a 1991 Order of the Sacred Treasure medal and a 1985 purple-ribbon Medal of Honor, both given to pioneers in scientific research. He also received the 1982 Medal of Honor from the Institute of Electronics, Information, and Communication Engineers.

He founded the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society’s Tokyo Chapter and served as its chair.

He was a member of several Japanese government technical committees.

Mushiake received a bachelor’s in engineering degree in electrical communications in 1944 and a Ph.D. from Tohoku University in 1954.

Donald N. Heirman

Former IEEE Standards Association president

Life Fellow, 80; died 30 October

At the time of his death, Heirman ran an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) consulting company, which he founded in 1997 after retiring from Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J.

He had served in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1965 and continued his service in the Navy Reserves until 1985. He retired with the rank of commander.

He joined Bell Labs in 1985 and worked at the company for more than 30 years. He founded its Global Product Compliance Laboratory and was in charge of its major EMC and regulatory test facility. He represented Bell Labs at the American National Standards Institute and on several international EMC standardization committees.

Heirman was active in the IEEE Standards Association, serving as its 2005–2006 president and on its board of governors and as chair of the standards development committee.

A member of the IEEE Board of Directors, he also served on the board of the IEEE EMC Society, for which he led technical committees on measurements and the smart grid.

He received the 2018 IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award “for leadership and service to industry and the IEEE and for distinguished service to the development, viability, advancement, and pursuit of the technical objectives of the IEEE.”

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Ready for a Career Change? Become a Photonics Technician

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/ready-for-a-career-change-become-a-photonics-technician

THE INSTITUTE Many technologies—including the Internet, television, and medical equipment—depend on the use of photonics, but there is a shortage of trained technicians who can build, install, and maintain equipment in the field. Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling, and detecting particles of light.

In Massachusetts alone, more than 50,000 photonics jobs are going unfilled, according to the “Takeaway” podcast, which reported on the shortage.

To help rectify the situation, IEEE, the Optical Society, and SPIE— the International Society for Optics and Photonics— each donated US $75,000 to pay the tuition of the first 15 students who participate in the Advanced Manufacturing and Integrated Photonics Certificate program.

The 15-month program, which was launched this year, prepares students who have little to no background in science, technology, engineering, or math for a career in the field.

The program was developed by Bridgewater State University, in Massachusetts, and nearby Stonehill College, in collaboration with MIT’s Initiative for Knowledge and Innovation in Manufacturing. The initiative helps create education and training programs, supports research efforts in manufacturing, and helps develop national policy in the field of photonics.

“As technology advances and the resulting applications become mainstream, the demand for technicians grows,” says Douglas M. Razzano, executive director of the IEEE Photonics Society. “These technological advances will continue to create many jobs that require certified technicians.

“This pilot program is the first step in both supporting this level of training and spreading awareness of the obtainable job opportunities available to all in the photonics industry.”

HOW IT CAME TOGETHER

Bridgewater State has run optics-related research programs for 20 years. Stonehill introduced a photonics major and minor this year. Bridgewater already offers undergraduate courses on photonics—which next year will become part of a new accredited photonics and optical engineering degree program, according to a MIT News article.

To receive the certification, students must complete 27 credits—the equivalent of nine undergraduate courses—and work as an apprentice for three months in their final semester. They also participate in two day-long boot camps held at MIT.

The courses cover topics such as fiber optics, digital fundamentals, and photonic integrated circuits.

“The program offers hands-on experience and know-how in everything you will need to gain in well-paid positions in the fast-growing photon and light-based economy,” Bridgewater physics professor Ed Deveney told MIT News. “We hope to grow this new program each year, and help other schools offer similar opportunities to their students.”

ADDITIONAL AID

In addition to financial support from the three societies, the program has received a grant of $1.8 million from the U.S. Office of Naval Research. It also received $4 million from the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, which supports education and projects working to advance manufacturing.

Thanks to the funding, the program was able to build a photonics lab at Stonehill so that students can work with machinery used by technicians, such as a femtosecond laser, according to the program’s website.

MIT also played a critical role in developing the certification program. The school leads the Aim Academy, an education and workforce development initiative by manufacturing institute Aim Photonics. Several faculty members of the academy and MIT have joined the Bridgewater faculty to teach courses in the technician training program.

“I really enjoy the hands-on experience,” student Kenneth Cardoso told The Institute. “I find it interesting, and I just want to learn more.”

Cardoso, who previously worked as a truck driver, says he discovered a passion for manufacturing and computer programming through his classes.

“I’m excited to [take more] courses to see what else I like,” he says. “I never knew about [photonics and manufacturing] until I started this program. Now I found a career that suits me and I enjoy.

“You can’t be afraid to pursue a different career path.”

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

How a Board Game and Skyscrapers Inspired the Development of the QR Code

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/how-a-board-game-and-skyscrapers-inspired-the-development-of-the-qr-code

THE INSTITUTE The use of QR (quick-response) codes has grown in recent years thanks to mobile phones, which can scan them with their built-in camera. Unlike universal product codes (UPCs), which are mechanically scanned by a narrow beam of light, a QR code “is detected by a two-dimensional digital image sensor and then digitally analyzed by a programmed processor,” says an article on Ricardo Illardo’s web design site.

QR codes are used for a variety of applications, including making contactless credit card purchases and scanning airline boarding passes. They have become even more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many restaurants are displaying QR codes that allow customers to pull up the eatery’s menu on their phone, allowing them to avoid touching physical menus.

The QR code was introduced in 1994 by Japanese automotive manufacturer Denso, located in Aichi. The company developed the code to speed up its tracking of car parts.

UPCs contain a series of up to 12 numbers—which limits how much information they can store.

“The QR code can handle numbers of up to 7,087 digits,” says IEEE Member Masahiro Hara, inventor of the code. The codes also are more robust, he says: They can be read accurately even if 30 percent of the code area is soiled or damaged.

The most important feature of a QR code, Hara says, is that it can be read five times faster than a typical barcode. QR codes use short URLs, which condense information into a shorter link that loads faster, according to a post about the differences between UPCs and QR codes on the QR Code Generator blog.

The QR code is now an IEEE Milestone. The IEEE Nagoya [Japan] Section sponsored the nomination. Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world.

The dedication ceremony is being planned for next year due to pandemic restrictions.

FROM BARCODES TO QR CODES

Before the QR code, Denso used UPCs to track automotive parts in its factories and warehouses, according to an entry in the Engineering and Technology History Wiki.

Because many of the boxes had several barcodes on them with different information about each part, the scanning was slowing the production and distribution process, according to an NHK World-Japan episode on QR codes.

To ease the employees’ workload, Hara, who at that time was one of the company’s engineers, set out to create a system that could store more information than the existing barcodes. The IEEE member brought together a team of Denso’s engineers and began developing a new type of code in 1992.

To fit more data into the new code, Hara took inspiration from the 2D barcodes invented in 1987 by engineer David Allais at Intermec. UPCs used only the horizontal axis to hold information, but 2D barcodes used both the vertical and horizontal axes.

Hara also was inspired by the board game Go, according to the NHK episode. In the game, pieces are placed at intersections on the board. Even if the pieces are a little off the intersection, the players still know where the pieces are. Hara applied the idea to the QR code. The pixelated parts on a QR code are doubled so that if some are damaged, others can make up for them, according to an article about common QR scanning problems on the QR Code Generator blog.

When the team began testing its new code with a UPC scanner, the device could not read code. Text surrounding the code interfered with the scanning. Hara had to find a solution, because text was necessary to identify the car parts.

He found his answer one morning while riding a train to work.

“I was just looking out the window when I noticed a tall building standing out from its surroundings,” Hara said in an interview with NHK World-Japan for the episode on QR codes. “That scene stuck with me, and I realized the code, too, needed a special symbol—something to make it stand out from the surrounding text.”

While experimenting with different frames around the code, Hara and his team tried different black-to-white ratios (the widths of the contrasting areas), trying to make one unusual enough to stand out. The team created a database of black-to-white ratios by scanning images from newspapers, then developed software that would analyze the data. After three months, Hara found the ratio of black to white needed for the QR code was 1:1:3:1:1, according to the TV show, and created a box using that ratio. The box was placed on each corner of the QR code—which allowed the scanner to successfully read it.

Denso was granted a U.S. patent in 1998, a Japanese patent in 1999, and a European patent in 2000. The QR code was given the ISO standard 18004:2015 in 2000.

“[To me] the most important thing about [the QR code] is that this technology has been adopted all over the world,” Hara told The Institute. “We are honored the QR code is now an IEEE Milestone and are very proud that the technology is utilized in various fields and that they are contributing to the development of industry.”

The Milestone plaque is to be displayed in the Denso Gallery in Aichi, Japan, an interactive exhibition hall that spotlights the company’s inventions. The plaque reads:

DENSO developed two-dimensional QR Code technology, inexpensive machine-readable optical labels that improved on barcoding by conveying larger amounts of data more quickly. Worldwide businesses soon adopted QR Codes to improve manufacturing, logistics, and management. Camera-equipped mobile phones brought QR Codes into advertising, design, and widespread applications such as electronic payments, giving consumers efficient new ways to access digital information.

This article was written with assistance from the IEEE History Center, which is funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation’s Realize the Full Potential of IEEE campaign.

This Executive Director Is Leading Verizon Into the Future Through Quantum Computing

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/this-executive-director-is-leading-verizon-into-the-future-through-quantum-computing

THE INSTITUTE Jean McManus seemed to be destined to work for Verizon. After all, every telephone company she worked for in her 23 years was eventually acquired by or merged with Verizon.

Her first job out of college was with Contel, which was acquired by GTE in 1990. Later she joined Bell Atlantic, which merged with GTE to form Verizon.

Today the IEEE member is executive director of emerging technologies with Verizon’s technology and product development group in Waltham, Mass.

McManus also mentors the company’s young engineers, especially women. In addition, she works with professional-development programs run by Verizon and IEEE to connect with young professionals and help them reach their career goals.

She was profiled in the 2016 book The Internet of Women: Accelerating Culture Change, which highlights standouts in science, technology, engineering, and math who are making historic contributions to their field.

DESTINED FOR VERIZON

McManus was inspired to pursue engineering by her father, who was an electrical engineer. She received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1987 from Duke University, in Durham, N.C. She then joined Contel as a systems engineer and later transitioned to security engineer.

After the company was acquired by GTE, McManus decided to return to school, and she earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1993 from Brown University, in Providence, R.I., and a Ph.D. in systems engineering in 1996 from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. For her doctoral dissertation, she focused on the delivery of video over networks.

She then joined Bell Atlantic in Arlington, Va., and worked as an engineer on the company’s Video Delivery Through Networks project. The company was conducting a trial in Toms River, N.J., that was related to her dissertation, and “it was a perfect fit,” she says.

When Bell Atlantic refocused its efforts on broadband and DSL, McManus became the lead architect in building the company’s DSL architecture.

“It was really exciting,” she says, “because at that time, most of my colleagues were experts on narrowband technologies. Meanwhile, I was more familiar with broadband technologies.”

McManus was able to define the architecture of broadband technologies such as customer premises equipment (Wi-Fi routers, cable TV boxes, and telephone sets), edge routers and switches, and associated protocols, she says.

Four years after joining Bell Atlantic, it merged with GTE to form Verizon.

After the merger, she was named a Verizon Fellow—which, she says, provided her with a great opportunity to work with the company’s leaders. She began working in the network architecture department and, in 2014, was promoted to executive director of emerging technologies. She leads a proof-of-concept lab and is responsible for product-focused technology innovation.

“Becoming a manager wasn’t in my original career plan,” she says. “I wanted to be an individual contributor, but after 10 years I realized that being a manager would give me more opportunities and would challenge me in new ways.”

In her current position, she says “not only do I have to keep up with technology but I also need to motivate my team of engineers and developers to move forward with their ideas.”

McManus and her team—which consists of network architects, engineers, and software developers—are working on quantum key distribution, and advancing GPS technology using the satellite navigation technique real-time kinematics (RTK). Quantum key distribution is a “new encryption method that uses photon properties to protect subscriber data,” according to the Verizon news release.

FROM ENGINEER TO LEADER

McManus’s expertise lies in telecommunications, specifically on protocols, architecture, and security. She also has worked on technologies such as carrier Ethernet (the use of high-bandwidth Ethernet technology), subscriber data management, and network virtualization. When she was offered the opportunity to be involved in product development, she took it.

“I’m still doing technical work, but it’s now more product-focused,” McManus says. “This [position] gives me the opportunity to think differently about technology and how we can support our customers.”

McManus’s job has two responsibilities: staying up to date with technology and exploring areas in telecommunication that can be improved in support of Verizon’s products and services.

“One part of my day is spent looking to see what’s happening, whether it be research labs, academia, what other companies are doing, or just trying to understand how people are applying technology,” she says. “But, more importantly, what technologies are going to be coming within the next several years.

“The other part of my day is spent interacting with my team. I try to engage with them as much as possible from an innovation perspective.”

DEVELOPING NEW TECH

Within the past year, McManus has led the development of innovative technologies.

She and her team conducted one of the first commercial trials of quantum key distribution in the United States. “We connected three Verizon sites in the Washington, D.C., area and sent a video between two of the sites,” McManus says. “Using quantum key distribution, we received encryption keys to the two sites and were able to detect if someone was eavesdropping on that connection.”

Her team is developing software to enhance GPS location data using RTK. The software “makes GPS more accurate and precise, reducing the error to the 2-centimeter range,” McManus says. “My team has figured out a way to scale it such that we can support the large number of Internet of Things devices.”

Among those devices are drones. The software McManus and her team developed can make them more vertically accurate, giving the pilot a better measure of how high off the ground it is and helping to avoid crashes into telephone wires and power lines.

MENTORING THE NEXT GENERATION

McManus takes pride in being a mentor to women. She says she was inspired to become a mentor when she “saw a lot of women were struggling with how to navigate Verizon.” She says she wanted to provide others the support she didn’t receive early in her career. “There wasn’t such an emphasis on mentoring at that time,” she says.

She works with Verizon’s Women of the World (WOW), a seven-month-long career-development program for employees that aims to help them develop effective communication skills, personal brand development, and self-leadership. The participants are put into groups led by managers.

“Jean shared her experiences working as an executive director and encouraged the women in our group to openly discuss our goals, take action, and share our career successes with each other,” says Sharon Muli, who participated in the program. “I also met individually with Jean, and she offered me guidance on pursuing various career paths and training opportunities. She utilized her connections to introduce me to individuals on other teams and strengthen my network at Verizon.”

McManus, who joined IEEE as a student member, has spoken at IEEE conferences such as the 2019 IEEE Women in Engineering Forum, where she was on a panel discussing 5G.

“It’s great to see the support [IEEE] is giving to women in engineering,” she says. “Some of the things it’s doing to help develop women engineers, and not just at the start of their careers but also making sure that they’re staying in those areas. There’s just a lot of opportunity to really embrace the industry as a whole and develop yourself.”

Conductorless Orchestra Helps EE Students Fine Tune Their Professional Skills

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/conductorless-orchestra-helps-ee-students-fine-tune-their-professional-skills

THE INSTITUTE Diana Dabby grew up surrounded by music—both her parents were pianists. The IEEE member followed in their footsteps and earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. After graduating, she moved to New York City and worked as a pianist, performing at venues including Merkin Hall and Weill Recital Hall.

Although Dabby was passionate about music, she had an unsettling feeling that something was missing. That something turned out to be engineering—which she discovered after she read journal articles about engineering’s relationship to music. She decided to pursue a graduate degree in the field.

After earning a doctorate in electrical engineering from MIT, Dabby became an engineering and music professor. She taught at Tufts University, MIT, and The Juilliard School. She also continued to play concerts, performing at Jordan Hall, Tanglewood, and other venues in Massachusetts.

In 2000, Dabby joined the Olin College of Engineering, in Needham, Mass., where she was one of 12 founding faculty members. In 2002 she established the Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO), which completed its 19th season this year. No conductor leads the orchestra; instead, the students work together to perfect their performances. The program is designed to give talented engineering students an expressive outlet while also helping them develop professional skills such as leadership, teamwork, and communication.

Last year Dabby won a Best Paper Award from the American Society for Engineering Education. Her winning paper—“The Engineers’ Orchestra: A Conductorless Orchestra for Developing 21st-Century Professional Skills”—describes the program’s benefits.

TAKING A RISK

Dabby says music has always been an extension of herself, and she enjoyed the focus and expressivity that came with preparing for her concerts.

Performing “just kept accentuating and improving my musicianship, and I loved that process,” she says. “The idea of reaching one’s full potential was very powerful to me.”

She says she enjoyed taking risks in order to achieve her goal of bettering her skills as a musician.

“I built up a very strong track record with taking risks,” she says, “whether during a performance or in my professional life.”

And taking a risk is exactly what Dabby did after she came across an engineering journal at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. The journal contained articles by engineers whose avocation was music, and they inspired Dabby to ask: “What if a professional musician, one of my colleagues, or I acquired the tools of an engineer? Would we invent something new for music in our own time?”

That idea pushed her to pursue a graduate degree in engineering while working as a performer and freelancer.

In order to apply to graduate programs, she had to supplement her music bachelor’s degree with postbaccalaureate classes.

“I had to [earn] around 127 credits because I had no math or science background,” Dabby says. She did so at the City College of New York.

“I retaught myself algebra and discovered that I loved it,” she says. “Engineering became this wonderful respite from performing. The engineering felt fresh. The music felt fresh.”

After Dabby completed the credits she needed, she was accepted to MIT. For her doctoral thesis, she merged engineering and music. She devised a chaotic mapping tool—a representation of chaotic behavior that is typically used in mathematics—that could be used to make musical variations. The variations, which could be either changes in pitch or in the rhythmic sequence of a piece, could be close to the original work or mutate almost beyond recognition.

Dabby has been granted four U.S. patents for her work.

She says she wanted to “come up with something for music in the 21st century that wouldn’t necessarily occur to those who were not performers or professional musicians.”

CONDUCTORLESS ORCHESTRA

In fall 2000, when the Olin College of Engineering assembled a leadership team and faculty to begin from scratch, it paid attention to a list of skills the U.S. National Academy of Engineering wanted in engineering students. The list included leadership skills, effective communication, and the ability to work as part a team. The Olin faculty members brainstormed how they could help their students develop the skills, and that’s when the OCO was born.

The idea “just popped into my head in our first meeting,” Dabby says. “I thought, Oh my gosh, this could mean a conductorless orchestra. Everyone leads, and everyone follows.”

The students learn how to collaborate with one another and how to communicate effectively. The musicians learn to watch one another to ensure everyone starts and ends together, as well as adjust balance, dynamic levels, and tempo by listening intently and cueing one another, Dabby says.

“It requires the musicians to actively listen to their parts within the context of a larger whole and adjust accordingly,” she wrote in her chapter of the book Creative Ways of Knowing Engineering. The chapter describes the OCO.

Olin had only 75 students in its first year, and the first conductorless orchestra was composed of five engineering students, with Dabby at the piano. These days there are between 12 and 22 students, all selected by audition, in the OCO.

The students select a piece to play, and Dabby creates an arrangement, adjusting the piece according to the instruments the students play.

Each year, the musicians elect two to four navigators, who work with Dabby to ensure rehearsals run smoothly and communication lines remain open within the group. Together, along with two rehearsal leaders, they come up with the agenda for that week’s rehearsal.

During rehearsals, orchestra members can share their thoughts regarding the different interpretations of the piece the group chose to play. The members play each interpretation, and the orchestra votes on which version it wants to perform.

All involved in the OCO learn how to listen, when to speak, and when to refrain from sharing their thoughts.

“Employers see the Olin Conductorless Orchestra on résumés and they’re curious,” Dabby says. “It’s actually helped students get jobs.”

The program also has helped students during their time at the college.

“It’s a stress-reliever,” Dabby says. The OCO “gives [students] balance in their lives.”

The orchestra performs at school functions and travels once a year to play at other venues. Last year it received a standing ovation after performing at the American Society for Engineering Education Zone 1 International Conference, Dabby says.

“There’s always an upcoming performance, and it’s another chance for students to raise the bar,” she says. “For students, it’s a challenge and a neat way to become better while doing something they love.”

2020 IEEE Herz Award Goes to Executive Director of the IEEE Power & Energy Society

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/2020-ieee-herz-award-goes-to-executive-director-of-the-ieee-power-energy-society

THE INSTITUTE Patrick Ryan, executive director of the IEEE Power & Energy Society, was named recipient of this year’s IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award. Shortly after being named, the 64-year-old IEEE senior member died from cancer, on 8 September.

Ryan was recognized “for leadership in creating a successful model for IEEE and society memberships by fostering member value and partnerships with volunteers.” He had joined the society in 2007 as its executive director and remained in the position until he died.

He was successful in increasing volunteer engagement, according to a tribute on the society’s website. He grew the society into the second-largest in IEEE. By the end of last year it had more than 40,000 members.

“I think the major impact was his relationship with the volunteers and staff,” says Dan Toland, director of the society’s operations. “He created many partnerships with the volunteer leadership, and these relationships often turned into friendships.

“His presence will be greatly missed, but his memory will live on in our efforts,” Toland says. “We know he would want us to continue to make IEEE and the society better.”

Ryan championed changing the society’s name, the IEEE Power Engineering Society, to better reflect its mission and vision, according to the online tribute. It was renamed the Power & Energy Society in 2008.

He established business processes to increase funding for humanitarian programs such as IEEE Smart Village, which supports projects that integrate sustainable electricity, education, and entrepreneurial solutions to empower off-grid communities in rural areas.

Ryan also helped establish the IEEE PES Scholarship Plus initiative, which offers money as well as work experience to undergraduate engineering students. Last year he helped launch the IEEE PES Resource Center, a learning platform that provides practical content and educational courses to industry professionals.

In addition Ryan helped to launch four society publications: Transactions on Smart Grid, Transactions on Sustainable Energy, Electrification Magazine, and the Open Access Journal of Power and Energy.

He also increased the society’s portfolio of conferences to reach a larger global audience, according to the society’s tribute.

The IEEE Board of Directors created the award in 2005 to honor Herz, an IEEE Life Fellow and longtime volunteer who served in many capacities including IEEE general manager and executive director. He died in 2016 at the age of 89.

The award, which recognizes a present or past full-time IEEE staff member, includes a cash prize.

The nomination deadline for the 2022 Herz Award is 15 January. For more information, visit the awards website.

K. J. Ray Liu is 2021 IEEE President-Elect

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/k-j-ray-liu-is-2021-ieee-presidentelect

THE INSTITUTE IEEE Fellow K. J. Ray Liu has been elected as the 2021 IEEE president-elect. He is set to begin serving as president on 1 January 2022.

Liu, who was nominated by the IEEE Board of Directors, received 21,120 votes in the election. Life Fellow Saifur Rahman received 15,781 votes and Fellow S.K. Ramesh received 12,852 votes.

At press time, the results were unofficial until the IEEE Board of Directors accepts the IEEE Teller’s Committee report in November.

Liu is a Distinguished University Professor and Christine Kim Eminent Professor of Information Technology at the University of Maryland in College Park. He leads the university’s Signal and Information Group, which researches signal processing and communications.

He has founded several startups including Origin Wireless, which pioneered artificial intelligence for wireless sensing and indoor tracking. Under Liu’s leadership as chief executive, the company invented the world’s first centimeter-accuracy indoor positioning and tracking system. The product is available in more than 150 countries and won a 2020 Consumer Electronics Show Innovation Award.

Liu has held many volunteer positions. He was the 2019 vice president of IEEE Technical Activities. As 2012–2013 president of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, he established a new membership board to offer more benefits to society members—which resulted in increased membership. In 2005 he cofounded the IEEE Signal Processing chapter in Washington, D.C. From 2003 to 2005, he was editor-in-chief of the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine.

He was also the 2016–2017 Division IX director.

Liu created IEEE DataPort, a platform where members can upload and store datasets for free, independently of, or in conjunction with paper submission to more than 64 IEEE journals. It launched last year.

He also proposed and co-led the development of the IEEE mobile app, which allows members to personalize how they engage and connect with all things IEEE, as well as network globally.

Liu was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 2003 “for contributions to algorithms, architectures, and implementations for signal processing.”

He was inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Inventors last year and elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2008.

He has received numerous IEEE honors and recognitions including two IEEE Technical Field Awards: the 2016 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award and the 2021 IEEE Fourier Award for Signal Processing. He is also the recipient of the 2009 IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award and the 2014 IEEE Signal Processing Society Award “for influential technical contributions and profound leadership impact.”

To find out who was chosen as IEEE-USA president-elect, IEEE Technical Activities vice president-elect, and more, read the full annual election results.

This Socialite Hated Washing Dishes So Much That She Invented the Automated Dishwasher

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/this-socialite-hated-washing-dishes-so-much-that-she-invented-the-automated-dishwasher

THE INSTITUTE The dishwasher, a popular appliance in kitchens around the world, has gone through a number of iterations throughout its 170-year history.

The first dishwasher to be granted a patent was invented in 1850 by Joel Houghton. It was a wooden box that used a hand-turned wheel to splash water on dirty dishes, and it had scrubbers. Ten years later, inventor L.A. Alexander improved on Houghton’s machine by adding a “geared mechanism that allowed the user to spin racked dishes through a tub of water,” according to an entry on reference website ThoughtCo.

But the person we have to thank for the modern-day dishwasher is Josephine Cochran (sometimes spelled Cochrane). Her machine was the first to use water pressure instead of scrubbers to clean dishes—which made it more efficient than Houghton’s or Alexander’s versions. For Cochran’s invention, she was inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.

Her technical achievement is worthy of being named an IEEE Milestone, according to the IEEE History Center, but no one has proposed it yet. The Milestone program honors significant achievements in the history of electrical and electronics engineering.

FED UP WITH DIRTY DISHES

Cochran’s dishwashing woes began after she married wealthy merchant William Cochran in 1858. As a socialite, she was expected to hold frequent dinner parties. She served the meals on her expensive, heirloom china. When the household staff hand-washed the dishes, the delicate china often got chipped. She opted to wash the dishes herself, but after she damaged many a plate, she decided to design and build a machine that could handle the task—faster and more carefully.

According to a profile of Cochran on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, she vowed: “If nobody else is going to invent a [mechanical] dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself.”

Although she had no technical background, she came from a family of engineers and inventors. Her father, John Garis, was a civil engineer who supervised a number of mills near the Ohio River in Illinois. Her great-grandfather John Fitch invented the first steamboat to be granted a U.S. patent.

She designed her first model in the shed behind her house in Shelbyville, Ill. Her lack of formal engineering education, however, became an obstacle, so she sought out someone who could help. Mechanic George Butters agreed to assist her in building the prototype.

To make the machine wash dishes efficiently, Cochran measured the width, height, and length of plates, cups, and saucers and constructed wire compartments for the china to sit in. The compartments separated each piece of dishware. At the bottom of the machine was a container that held soap. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that laid flat within a copper boiler, according to the Lemelson-MIT program’s profile of Cochran. A motor powered the wheel, which turned as soapy water was squirted on the dishes to clean them.

Cochran was granted a U.S. patent in 1886 for her machine, which she named the Cochran dishwasher. She advertised her invention in local newspapers and built the machines for friends and family.

COCHRAN MEANT BUSINESS

To expand the market for her machine, she founded Garis-Cochran Manufacturing in the early 1890s in Shelbyville. The business was renamed Cochran’s Crescent Washing Machine Co. in 1897. It helped her connect with not only restaurants and hotels interested in buying her dishwasher but also with investors.

Many potential investors asked Cochran to resign, however, so the company could be sold to a man, according to the Patent and Trademark Office article. She refused and continued to fund the business herself.

To increase sales, Cochran displayed her machine at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where she won an award for the machine’s design and durability. Thanks to that visibility, orders came pouring in and she was able to open a manufacturing facility near Chicago.

Her dishwashers became popular with the hospitality industry, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that dishwashers caught on with the public.

“Some homemakers admitted that they enjoyed washing dishes by hand, and the machines reportedly left a soapy residue on the dishes,” the Lemelson-MIT article says.

Many homes built before the 1950s used a furnace to heat water, and not all furnaces at the time could produce enough hot water to run a dishwasher.

Thanks to changing attitudes about technology and housework, though, the dishwasher’s popularity grew over time.

Cochran never saw her machines become sought-after household appliances. She died in 1913. In 1926 her company was acquired by KitchenAid, now a part of Whirlpool.

Any IEEE member can submit a milestone proposal to the IEEE History Center. The center is funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation’s Realize the Full Potential of IEEE campaign.

Meet Roberta Williams, The Queen of Graphic Adventure Video Games

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/meet-roberta-williams-the-queen-of-graphic-adventure-video-games

THE INSTITUTE Adventure video games have grown in popularity now that people are staying home more due to coronavirus-related restrictions, according to The Washington Post.

Such games are driven by storytelling. Players solve puzzles to move the plot along. Adventure games including Broken Age, Machinarium, and Myst are popular because they feature beautiful graphics and extensive story lines, and they test players’ critical-thinking skills.

One of the people gamers have to thank for the genre is Roberta Williams who, along with her husband, Ken, created a number of early graphic adventure games including King’s Quest, Mystery House, and Phantasmagoria.

She was honored this year with the Pioneer Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards. The award recognizes breakthrough technologies and game design milestones.

Often called “Queen of the Graphic Adventure,” Williams was not an engineer by trade. She was a stay-at-home mom who developed an interest in video games after her husband, a computer programmer at IBM, brought home an Apple II computer with the Colossal Cave Adventure game loaded on it, according to the Lemelson-MIT program’s profile of her.

She enjoyed playing the text-only game, in which the player explores a mysterious cave filled with treasure. She searched for other adventure games to play, but there weren’t many other options. That inspired her to create her own game, and she added graphics to make the experience more interesting.

“Previous games for the Apple II and other home computers were text-only, like a choose-your-own-adventure book in game form,” Smithsonian Magazine pointed out in a profile about Williams.

While Williams wrote the story line, her husband made the graphics. He used a Versawriter, a board of thick plexiglass that had an electronic stylus attached to the top, according to the Lemelson-MIT profile. There was no software at the time that could read the Versawriter, so he created a program to do that.

The couple released their first graphic adventure game in 1980, Mystery House. In the game, the player and several friends were trapped in an abandoned mansion and were being killed off one by one. The player tries to find the killer. Williams says she was inspired by the board game Clue and by the Agatha Christie story And Then There Were None, according to Laine Nooney, a video game historian.

Mystery House became a success, leading the couple to launch their video-game development company, On-Line Systems, that same year. It later was renamed Sierra On-Line. They created more than 20 titles in the 18 years they worked as game developers.

Mystery House became the first of a series of six Hi-Res Adventures. Between 1980 and 1982, the duo created Wizard and the Princess, which was the first adventure game with color graphics, and Time Zone. Wizard and the Princess sold 25,000 copies in two years, according to an article in Computer Gaming World. The game tied for fourth on the magazine’s list of 1982 top sellers.

The game that made Roberta Williams a household name, however, was King’s Quest, the first animated 3D adventure game. IBM requested that the Williamses create a game to be included in its new PCjr home computer, according to a 1984 article in PC Magazine. King’s Quest was the first in a series of eight about the adventures of the fictional royal family of Daventry.

“As a young girl, I always had enjoyed the old fairy tales of yore,” Williams said in a 2006 interview on the Adventure Classic Gaming website. “I read them and re-read them. Therefore, when thinking about designing a game, I naturally gravitated to what I liked and felt comfortable with. I felt comfortable with the idea of fairy tales, and so I put that passion into my game of King’s Quest.”

After King’s Quest, Sierra On-Line released several more games. The most well-known was the horror adventure Phantasmagoria, which was released in 1994. It was the most successful game Williams developed, selling 300,000 units during the first weekend of its release, according to an article in Business Wire. Phantasmagoria featured full motion video and live actors, but it caused controversy in the gaming community because it was for a more mature audience than the other games the company had developed.

Two years later, Sierra On-Line was sold to CUC International, and the couple retired from game development.

“The experience of creating my adventure games was—other than marrying my husband and bringing into the world my two sons—the most fulfilling, wonderful experience I could ever have had,” Williams said in the 2006 Adventure Classic Gaming interview.

Williams’ technical achievement is worthy to be proposed as an IEEE Milestone, according to the IEEE History Center. The Milestone program honors significant achievements in the history of electrical and electronics engineering.

Any IEEE member can submit a milestone proposal to the IEEE History Center. The center is funded by donations to the IEEE Foundation’s Realize the Full Potential of IEEE campaign.