All posts by Joanna Goodrich

IEEE Sections Receive Grants for Their Innovative Ways of Helping to Fight the Coronavirus

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IEEE COVID-19 coverage logo, link to landing page

THE INSTITUTE The IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee and the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology joined forces to award grants to IEEE volunteer projects that could immediately impact the fight against the coronavirus and its effects. The technologies and programs being developed by various IEEE sections include ones that are intended to supplement online education, help stop the spread of the virus, and provide support to medical professionals.

The grants, totaling more than US $226,000 as of press time, were given to more than 50 projects in 21 countries. Updated information can be found here.

Below are six projects that were awarded grants of $5,000, the highest amount a project could receive.

• The IEEE Columbus [Ohio] Section, in collaboration with local community groups and eight nonprofits, is developing systems for a self-sustaining urban farm in Columbus’s Milo Grogan neighborhood. African Americans—who make up more than 80 percent of residents there—have been disproportionally affected by the virus. About 45 percent of the neighborhood’s residents live below the poverty line, according to a 2016 study by the nonprofit Greater Ohio Policy Center, making it difficult to afford healthy food, like fresh produce.

The IEEE section is developing automated lighting and watering systems for the urban farm. The lighting system’s cycles will be determined by the type of LEDs being used in a specific area of the farm and the growth stage of the produce in that area, according to IEEE Senior Member Carl Lee. The water system’s schedule will be based on the type of plant, what growing medium is used, and what type of nutrient mixtures are added to the growing medium.

The Milo Grogan 365 Fresh Produce Farm will provide local restaurants and residents, who will also manage the farm, with organic produce year-round. The farm, which is expected to start food production in 2021, will also create jobs and revenue for the neighborhood.

• The IEEE Nigeria Section is building a robot that can quickly detect whether a person has COVID-19 symptoms, by, for example, checking for low blood oxygen levels and elevated body temperature. The IEEE section’s robot will use machine learning algorithms and absolute accuracy metrics to ensure the measurements are precise.

The section is also developing a program to train city leaders in Jos, in the Plateau State, how to make alcohol-based hand sanitizer and create personal protection equipment. The hand sanitizer is being made from a mixture of either grounded camphor or wild spinach as well as ethanol, glycerin, and lavender oil, according to IEEE Senior Member John Oyewole Funso-Adebayo. The PPE are made from tight-woven cotton fabric that is sewn by hand or by a sewing machine, he says. Many of the city’s residents live in camps and are internally displaced persons—those who were forced to flee their homes but remain within Nigeria’s borders.

• Volunteers from the IEEE Ecuador Section and members of the IEEE student branch at Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral, in Guayaquil, are developing an online digital literacy program to teach basic programming to high school students.

The educational system on the Galapagos Islands, located off the coast of Ecuador, is not equipped to offer online classes because instructors lack computer literacy. The goal of the program is for the high school students on the Galapagos Islands to teach basic programming and digital applications virtually to others. Members of the IEEE student branch will serve as mentors and facilitators.

• Residents of the underserved community of Siddapura, in Bangalore, India, have no way to protect themselves against the coronavirus. To help them, the IEEE Bangalore Section is using a 3D printer to produce personal protection kits. The kit includes a finger protection cover [to protect wearer from exposure to the virus], a printed handy [to hold or grab items], a door opener, and an elbow-operated soap dispenser.

• Low-cost, foot-operated hand-washing systems with soap and water dispensers are being developed by the IEEE Uganda Section. The systems will be installed by IEEE members on university campuses in Uganda that have an IEEE student branch. The units will be made using locally available materials and will not require electricity. Therefore, they could also be installed in remote, off-grid communities.

Attention IEEE members: are you part of a team responding to the COVID-19 crisis? We want to hear from you! Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, if you are helping deal with the outbreak in some way, let us know. Send us accounts of anywhere from 200 to 800 words, or simply give us a rough idea of what you are doing and your contact information. Write to:[email protected]

The University of Rhode Island’s IEEE Student Branch Offers Remote Tutoring to EE Students to Supplement Their Online Courses

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IEEE COVID-19 coverage logo, link to landing page

THE INSTITUTE The COVID-19 pandemic has forced universities around the world to close their campuses and offer classes online. Faculty members and students have had to adjust to this new way of teaching and learning. To help with this transition at the University of Rhode Island (URI) in South Kingstown, members of the IEEE Providence Section Student Branch are offering remote tutoring to their classmates.

Faculty members are now spending more time preparing handouts, presentations, and tests for class and have less time to interact with students, said IEEE Member Peter Swaszek, the university’s associate dean of Academic Affairs, in a news release about the tutoring program.

“Students can’t just wander into a professor’s office or converse with friends while leaving class. Faculty and students lost that connection in the sudden transition to online learning,” he said.

The remote tutoring sessions, which are conducted through the Webex video conferencing program, offer students the chance to not only ask questions about the material presented in class but also gives them a way to socialize with each other.


The IEEE student branch has been offering in-person tutoring sessions to the university’s EE students for the past few years but, now that the campus is closed, the tutors had to change the way they offered their services, according to the news release.

“These are challenging classes that have been made more challenging by the fact that they are not in person,” said IEEE Student Member Nicholas Amore, president of the IEEE student branch. “Adding remote study sessions provides students with more opportunities to reinforce concepts or clarify issues.”

The response to the IEEE student branch’s online tutoring sessions has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Amore. The tutors had to set up an additional room in Webex to accommodate the number of students who signed up.

Having two rooms allowed for smaller groups, which gave tutors the ability to answer more questions, said IEEE Student Member Robin Hall, a member of the student branch, in the news release.

 In addition to helping students understand the material, the sessions also allow them to socialize with each other during a time of social distancing.

“It’s important for students to still connect and maintain a semblance of normalcy during these times,” Amore said. “The barrage of news [about the pandemic] and changes to schedules can be anxiety-inducing. Some of that anxiety can be alleviated by keeping a schedule similar to what we had when we were all still on campus.”

The tutors have also started recording tutorials as a way to supplement their live sessions.

“We are releasing basic tutorials on such subjects as LTspice, a free software that simulates circuits,” Amore said. “The tutorials will help students check homework answers and allow them to visualize what certain circuit topologies do, which is beneficial because they don’t have access to a lab.”

Takuo Aoyagi, Inventor of the Pulse Oximeter, Dies at Age 84

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THE INSTITUTE Takuo Aoyagi, the inventor of the pulse oximeter, died on 18 April at the age of 84. His invention—a medical device that can measure a person’s blood oxygen levels—is part of the standard of care for illnesses such as asthma, pneumonia, and lung cancer. It is also a key tool in monitoring the progression of COVID-19. A low oxygen level—or hypoxemia—is a symptom of the virus.

For his contributions to pulse oximetry, he was awarded the 2015 IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology.


Aoyagi grew up in the Niigata Prefecture in Japan.

When he was nine years old, his interest in science and engineering began. He became fascinated by the original oximeter, which was invented by Glenn Allan Millikan in the early 1940s to warn military pilots fighting in World War II that their body was being deprived of oxygen. The device was integrated into the pilot’s altitude mask and was clasped to the earlobe. The earpiece used a small incandescent bulb, filters to generate different wavelengths, and photocells to detect light. Oxygen levels could be determined by how much light passed through the earlobe.

According to an article on pulse oximetry in the journal Chest, early oximeters were cumbersome and required heating the earlobe, which could cause burns. Aoyagi devised an alternative way of measuring blood oxygen that did not suffer from these limitations.

He did this work at the electronic medical equipment manufacturer Nihon Kohden, in Tokyo, which he joined as a manager in the company’s R&D department in 1971.

In 1972, Aoyagi was investigating a noninvasive cardiac output device and discovered that arterial pulsatile “noise” interfering with the accurate dye dilution curve contains important information about the oxygenation of blood in a person’s arteries. A dye dilution curve is a graph of the concentrations of Evans Blue, a natural dye found in blood, as it is pumped into and away from the heart.

This discovery led Aoyagi to invent the pulse oximeter in 1975. His oximeter consists of a probe containing a light-emitting device and two photodetectors. It’s clamped onto a thin body part—typically a fingertip or earlobe. The oximeter passes two wavelengths of light through the body part to a photodetector on the other side. It measures the changing absorbance at each of the wavelengths, allowing the device to determine the absorbencies caused by the blood pulsing through the arteries. The oximeter rapidly and noninvasively assesses blood and respiratory problems in patients and allows clinicians to also detect heart abnormalities.

Aoyagi was granted a U.S. patent for the device in 1979. All of today’s oximeters are based on Aoyagi’s principles of pulse oximetry.

In 2007, the WHO deemed the pulse oximeter an essential device for reducing complications during operations and included it on its Surgical Safety Checklist.

An Autism Screening Tool Led Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan To Devote Himself to Humanitarian Work

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THE INSTITUTE When Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan was an undergraduate at Anna University, in Chennai, India, he met with local families to see how technology could improve their quality of life. Many had children with autism, the IEEE senior member says, but because the parents were poor, the kids didn’t receive the medical care they needed. In some cases, the parents didn’t know much about the developmental disorder.

For his undergraduate dissertation, Veeraraghavan created software that helps screen children for autism.

He completed the early-screening system in 2004. Parents answer a series of questions about their child’s motor skills, and social and language development. Using an inference engine to evaluate the answers, the system determines whether the child is reaching the correct developmental milestones. It then generates a report stating whether the child demonstrates developmental delays. If so, the screening system provides a list of nearby specialists.

The screening tool can detect developmental delays in children as young as 18 months.

The system, which was deployed in more than 20 Indian schools and health care clinics, spearheaded the creation of other early-intervention programs for children with autism in rural areas.

After Veeraraghavan graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering, he launched another technology-based humanitarian program: Brahmam Innovations. In Sanskrit, brahmam equates to knowledge. The program aims to improve the living conditions of underserved communities.

Veeraraghavan does all that while holding down a full-time job as a senior technical program manager for Amazon in Boston.

For his humanitarian work, he is this year’s recipient of the annual IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award, which is sponsored by IEEE Young Professionals and the IEEE Photonics and Power & Energy societies.

“This award is special to me because it recognizes both the technical and leadership contributions I’ve made to humanitarian efforts,” Veeraraghavan says.

The award was scheduled to be presented at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony on 15 May in Vancouver, during the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Veeraraghavan has a long association with IEEE. His undergraduate thesis advisor suggested that by joining IEEE he could improve his system through networking with other engineers.

“Joining the organization helped me find like-minded people who have a passion for developing technology and for humanitarian work,” Veeraraghavan says.

While he was developing his screening system as a student, he presented a paper about it at a conference in 2005. He won best paper and was approached by the chair of the IEEE Madras Section about featuring his screening technology in an article in the section’s newsletter, IEEE MAS Link. Some of the local IEEE members who read the article became his mentors and encouraged him to become more involved with the organization.

Local schools and health care facilities began to use Veeraraghavan’s autism screening technology in 2006. When he visited health care providers who were using it, he was introduced to the children’s families, who expressed their gratitude.

“That was the first time I saw the impact my technology had on the community,” he says. “Families who used the screening system told me that it changed their lives.”

Those interactions inspired Veeraraghavan to found Brahmam Innovations.

Although launching the program wasn’t smooth sailing, he was able to turn to his IEEE network for help.

“Although I could understand how to solve the community’s needs with technology, I didn’t know how to make the application scalable so it could be offered to everyone,” Veeraraghavan says. “I didn’t have a mentor to guide me on how to do this, but I was able to find several through IEEE, specifically the IEEE Madras Section.”

IEEE Members Vedantadesikan Krishnaswamy and Suresh Chander were two mentors who guided Veeraraghavan in his journey, both as founder of the Brahmam program and as an IEEE member. Krishnaswamy, who died in 2007, taught Veeraraghavan about the potential impact technology could have on disabled children. Chander introduced him to IEEE programs available to students and YP members.

To introduce himself to more members, he presented his autism screening system at the 2008 IEEE Region 10 Congress, which brings together students and young engineers from throughout IEEE’s Asia and Pacific region to learn about advances in technology, attend workshops, and meet IEEE leaders.

That opportunity provided the program with visibility, and the connections Veeraraghavan made led to collaborations with other engineering communities, nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and disability advocacy groups, he says.

The program now is running projects in Uganda and the United States as well. Engineers are working to create self-sufficient villages using artificial intelligence, provide a continuous source of clean water and electricity, and address challenges faced by hospitals that care for neonatal and prenatal patients.

“Brahmam Innovations allows me to build a better tomorrow and to serve society,” Veeraraghavan says.


After joining IEEE, Veeraraghavan played a large role in many of the organization’s humanitarian efforts in his native country. He led a collaboration between the IEEE Young Professionals committee and the IEEE Women in Engineering Madras affinity group, which established the Sangamam program in India. The initiative teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to women and children in rural areas and aims to create self-supporting communities.

In 2008 he moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass.

While there he took on IEEE leadership roles. He was chair of the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (IEEE SIGHT) projects committee from 2015 to 2017. During that time, he doubled the number of projects being funded. He then joined the EPICS in IEEE proposal committee and taught Boston high school students about STEM careers.

“Every IEEE member has a social responsibility to positively influence society through technological innovations and by mentoring students from underrepresented groups,” Veeraraghavan says. “When the community grows, the region grows; when the region grows, the nation grows; and when the nation grows, there will be global growth.”

For the past two years, Veeraraghavan has been a member of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee. And he is now the global chair of IEEE SIGHT.

Veeraraghavan has increased the number of new projects being funded by IEEE SIGHT—which now total 21. He also increased the group’s membership by 200 percent, to 10,645. Under his leadership, IEEE SIGHT Celebration Week was held for the first time, in December. The event aims to increase awareness of the program within IEEE and to celebrate the humanitarian efforts volunteers and groups have made. The first IEEE SIGHT Day, a virtual event that was held on 28 April, was intended to foster a spirit of community for the global IEEE SIGHT network.

“Sampath’s exemplary leadership, vision, and pioneering innovations for IEEE humanitarian programs is truly inspiring,” says IEEE Senior Member Darwin Jose Raju, an IEEE SIGHT subcommittee member. “It reflects how IEEE members’ innovations can transcend global boundaries to serve the needs of underserved communities at grassroots levels. His significant contributions to technology-based humanitarian programs perfectly match with IEEE’s core mission in advancing technology to serve humanity.”

Budapest’s Electric Underground Railway Is Still Running After More Than 120 Years

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THE INSTITUTE As Budapest’s population grew in the late 1800s, the streets were becoming congested with horse-pulled and electric tramways. The city’s leaders began looking for a convenient way for people to travel across the city that would alleviate congestion on the roads. Their solution was to construct a public transportation system underground.

It took a little less than two years to build an electric underground railway: the Budapest Metro Line No. 1 system. The first such railway in continental Europe, it began operating in 1896.

The tunnel it used was constructed using modern tools such as electric cement mixers and excavators.

Among the railway’s innovative elements were bidirectional tram cars; electric lighting in the subway stations and tram cars; and an overhead wire structure instead of a third-rail system for power.

The Budapest line, still in use today more than 120 years after its inauguration, is now an IEEE Milestone.

Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world. The IEEE Hungary Section was the sponsor.

“The railway system influenced the construction and design of subways in Boston, Buenos Aires, Paris, and other cities around the globe,” says IEEE Senior Member Peter Kadar, the section’s Milestone coordinator.

The dedication ceremony, originally planned for 25 March at the Budapest Underground Railway Museum, was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The metro line runs underneath Andrassy Avenue, which connects the city center—Vorosmarty Square—to City Park. Back in the 1890s, the avenue allowed only pedestrian traffic, so city leaders decided that would be an ideal location to start construction, which began in 1894.

The main sewerage canal that ran underneath the avenue presented a challenge, Kadar says: It limited how tall the tunnel could be. Workers had to use the “cut and cover” approach to build the structure. They dug a shallow trench and constructed the tunnel inside it. The street was rebuilt over the tunnel once the structure was complete. It was the first time the “cut and cover” technique was used to create a tunnel under a main road, Kadar says.

Concrete reinforced with iron sheets was used instead of bricks to build the tunnel because it was lightweight, strong, and had a long lifespan, according to the Engineering and Technology History Wiki entry about the Milestone. The ferroconcrete also was used to build ticket booths, station platforms, and entrances for 11 metro stations along the 4-kilometer route.

It took 2,000 construction workers working double shifts to complete the project, which took only 21 months.


Although it was not the first underground train system, the Budapest Metro Line was the precursor to today’s subways. It was the first underground railway to use bidirectional tram cars—cabins on either end of the train, each with their own driver. Other underground trains at the time used locomotives with a single driver, who operated a crossover switch to shift the train to another track. That limited where the train could switch direction. The bidirectional carriages, however, gave drivers the ability to reverse direction when necessary, allowing more flexibility.

Existing tram cars were modified to accommodate the tunnel’s height constraints. Standard railway vehicles at the time were too tall for the 3-meter tunnel. Each tram car had two chassis that supported the vehicle and provided it with traction and braking but made the cars too large for the tunnel. To lower the cars’ height, the engineers built a low-floor chassis. It had fixed wheels attached to a small axle base as well as a motor and brake discs. Each carriage was connected by a goosenecked chassis, which used a ball and coupler.

The Budapest line was the world’s first low-floor tram, Kadar says.

To power the railway system, engineers installed overhead lines instead of laying a conventional third-rail system along the tracks. The trains used electric current collectors to connect with the overhead wires.

A power station was built on Akacfa Street, about five blocks south of Andrassy Avenue, where a 350-volt DC current was generated for the railway. The current powered the tram system as well as the lights in the cars and stations. Budapest was the first city in the world to use the electric current collector system underground.

The Milestone plaque will be displayed at the entrance of the first station, which is the site of the Budapest Underground Railway Museum. The plaque reads:

In 1896 Budapest Metro Line No. 1 was inaugurated, the first underground railway designed specifically to use electric power, rather than adapted from steam-powered systems. It offered several innovative elements including bidirectional motor carriages, the “gooseneck chassis,” and electric lighting in the stations and carriages. This line’s design influenced later subway construction in Boston, Paris, Berlin, and other metropolitan areas worldwide.

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.

Mark Humayun Builds Bionic Eyes

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THE INSTITUTE While Mark Humayun was attending medical school in the 1980s at Duke University, in Durham, N.C., his grandmother began to lose her eyesight because of complications from diabetes. After deciding to research how he could use technology to help her retain her eyesight, he spent the next 20 years looking for a solution.

That journey ultimately led Humayun, an IEEE Fellow, to help invent the Argus II, a retinal prosthesis system approved in 2013 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The first implantable device for people with retinal neurodegenerative diseases, it has helped more than 300 patients worldwide for whom there was no foreseeable cure.

Humayun, a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, built the Argus II with three other faculty members, after working on the original Argus. He also is director of the university’s Ginsburg Institute for Biomedical Therapeutics.

For his work, Humayun is the recipient of this year’s IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology. The award, which is sponsored by the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, is scheduled to be presented at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony, during the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, to be held on 15 May in Vancouver.

Humayun received his medical degree in 1989 from Duke and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 1994 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He is the only ophthalmologist ever to have been elected as a member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering.

The IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology is not the first honor Humayun has received for the Argus II. In 2016 he received a U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, presented by President Barack Obama.

“It’s very gratifying when peers acknowledge you,” Humayun says. “Certainly, it rises to a different level when the president of the United States gives you a national award. It was one of the highlights of my career.”

The path to developing the Argus II wasn’t easy.

“No one believed in the project at first,” Humayun says. “It took over a decade to build the team to what it is now and to increase the faith physicians and engineers have in the technology.”


Two research projects that experimented with electrodes inspired the technology behind the Argus II.

While investigating how technology could help his grandmother’s vision, Humayun discovered research that was being conducted into the causes of epileptic seizures. Physicians were stimulating the patient’s occipital lobe—the brain’s vision center—with electrodes, hoping to determine whether that part of the brain caused seizures.

“When the surgeon touched the occipital lobe, the patient would see a spot of light even though there was no light,” Humayun says. “That discovery made me think: Could electrical stimulation be used to restore eyesight?”

During the same period, another innovation was being developed: cochlear implants, surgically implanted electronic devices that provide a sense of sound to people who are deaf or severely hard of hearing. The implants use electrodes to stimulate the auditory nerve.

The Argus II is not able to restore full vision, but it can offer a person some functional sight: the ability to see boundaries and outlines of objects and people—which can help them navigate their environment.


The Argus II is made up of wearable components and an implant. The device, which bypasses the light-sensing cells in the eye, can be used by patients age 25 and older who don’t have damaged optic nerves. If an optic nerve is damaged, as occurs with glaucoma and other conditions, the implant can’t stimulate it.

The implant includes a receiving coil; an antenna, which is placed under the muscles around the eye; and a 60-electrode array. The array is surgically placed in the back of the patient’s eye, connecting it to the retina’s remaining neurons. It sends information to the brain’s visual center via the optic nerve.

To create information the implant can use, the patient wears eyeglasses containing a miniature camera, which captures video of the scene in front of the wearer. That information is then sent wirelessly to a processor, which is about the size of a cellphone and can be worn on a belt or carried in a pocket. The processor converts the video into instructions that are sent wirelessly to the implant. The implant’s electrodes then stimulate the retina, allowing the patient to decipher the image the camera captured as flashes of light.

“The electrode array electrically stimulates and jump-starts the otherwise blind eye,” Humayun says.

Each patient meets with an occupational therapist or low-vision therapist to relearn how to function with sight. Patients also are required to return periodically to their ophthalmologist to get the software and the system’s electronics adjusted to meet their changing needs.


When Humayun and his team first began the Argus project, they had to resolve several issues with hardware and software. How, they wondered, do you make a device that doesn’t deteriorate in the eye? And what kind of electrical pulses could be viewed as an image?

After working on the device for more than 15 years, the team began clinical trials in 2007, testing the technology on patients for 30 minutes without implanting it. The first patient was able to see for the first time in the very first test session after having been blind for 50 years.

“Witnessing the first patient see a spot of light for the first time was a defining moment for me and the project,” Humayun says.

After news spread that the test was successful, more engineers, physicians, and scientists sought to join Humayun’s team, which now includes more than 200 people.

Humayun says his IEEE membership helped him raise awareness of his work. “The organization helped me connect with engineers from many different fields, such as biomedical, electrical, industrial, and mechanical.”

Two IEEE Fellows who joined Humayun’s team were instrumental in its success: Gianluca Lazzi and James Weiland. Lazzi is an engineering professor at USC who specializes in antennas and wireless communication. Weiland is a professor of bioengineering and ophthalmology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“Mark has accomplished extraordinary things at the intersection of engineering and medicine in his career,” Lazzi says. “His pioneering contributions to the field of artificial sight are so unique, fundamental, and visionary that they have created a paradigm shift in entire fields. I am incredibly excited about what lies ahead.”

Ray Liu and S.K. Ramesh Run for 2021 IEEE President-Elect

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THE INSTITUTE The IEEE Board of Directors has nominated Fellows Ray Liu and S.K. Ramesh as candidates for IEEE president-elect. The candidate elected in this year’s election will serve as IEEE president in 2022.

Liu is an engineering professor 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 AI 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 using the principle of “time reversal.” The invention is now available in more than 150 countries.

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 IEEE Signal Processing magazine.

He was also the 2016–2017 Division IX director.

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

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

He has received numerous IEEE honors and recognitions including the 2009 IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award, the 2014 IEEE Signal Processing Society Award, and the 2016 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award.

Ramesh is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at California State University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science in Northridge, where he served as dean from 2006 to 2017. While dean, 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 enhances the graduation of underrepresented minorities in engineering and computer science.

He has served on the IEEE Board of Directors, Awards 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 globally to serve all 10 regions and increased industry support as the 2016 president of IEEE’s honor society, IEEE-HKN.

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

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

Ramesh has served Region 6 at the section, chapter, and area levels. His many recognitions include the 2004 Region 6 Community Service award, and the 2012 John Guarrera Engineering Educator of the Year award from the Engineers Council.

IEEE Medal of Honor Goes to Transistor Pioneer Chenming Hu

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THE INSTITUTE IEEE Life Fellow Chenming Hu will receive this year’s IEEE Medal of Honor “for a distinguished career of developing and putting into practice semiconductor models, particularly 3D device structures, that have helped keep Moore’s Law going over many decades.”

Hu has been called the Father of the 3D Transistor due to his development of the Fin Field Effect Transistor in 1999. Intel, the first company to implement FinFETs in its products, called the invention the most radical shift in semiconductor technology in more than 50 years.

Hu received the 2014 U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation “for pioneering innovations in microelectronics including reliability technologies, the first industry-standard model for circuit design, and the first 3D transistors—which radically advanced semiconductor technology.”

He was awarded the 2009 IEEE Nishizawa Medal “for achievements critical to producing smaller yet more reliable and higher-performance integrated circuits.”

Hu has been a professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1976. He is a member of the board of semiconductor manufacturers Ambarella and Inphi.

He was chair of Friends of Children with Special Needs, a nonprofit in Fremont, Calif., that supports developmentally delayed children and adults, and also was a chair of the East Bay Chinese School in Oakland, Calif., where children and adults learn Mandarin.

He is also the founding chair of Celestry Design Technologies, creator of analysis programs for the semiconductor industry. Celestry was acquired in 2002 by Cadence.

From 2001 to 2004 he was chief technology officer at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world’s largest IC manufacturing company, based in Hsinchu.

Hu has authored five books, written 900 research papers and holds more than 100 U.S. patents.

Hu received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1968 from the National Taiwan University, in Taipei. He received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley in 1970 and 1973, respectively.

The IEEE Foundation sponsors the IEEE Medal of Honor.

The award is scheduled to be presented at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony during the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, to be held on 15 May at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.

This article appears in the March 2020 print issue as “Medal of Honor Goes to Transistor Pioneer.”

Founder of Italy’s Pavia Museum of Electrical Technology Works to Keep Engineering History Alive

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THE INSTITUTE Although not a trained historian, IEEE Senior Member Antonio Savini says he has always been interested in the origins and evolution of technology. It’s important not only to preserve electrical technology and artifacts, he says, but also to explain their impact on society.

“If engineers do not understand the evolution of technology,” Savini says, “they lack important knowledge that could be applied to their own innovations.”

He became a member of the IEEE History Committee in 2012, and he still serves on it today.

While working as an engineering professor at the University of Pavia, in Italy, he helped establish the university’s Research Center for the History of Electrical Technology in 1998. The center promotes exhibitions, meetings, and lectures and conducts research.

In 1999, Savia was tasked with leading the effort to conceptualize and design the university’s Museum of Electrical Technology. Savini was the museum’s director until he retired in 2015, but he’s still involved.

“The intent of the museum was to preserve the memory of important steps in the evolution of electrical technology,” he says.

The oldest artifacts on display are from the early 1800s.


Since 1980, the University of Pavia has been collecting old and new electrical equipment to teach its students about how machines work. Most artifacts were industrial equipment, such as large power generators, high-voltage insulators, and a tramway, Savini says. The university wanted to build a museum to showcase its collection, but it didn’t think it had enough variety, he says.

According to an article in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library about the museum’s establishment and its efforts to build its collection, two major Italian organizations stepped up to help. Energy company ENEL and telecommunications company SIRTI each had museums of their own but were looking for one central place to house all their technology-related exhibits, so they offered their collections to the university. That decision spurred the construction of the Pavia Museum.

The University of Pavia’s electrical engineering department uses the museum’s artifacts as teaching aids.

One of the artifacts from SIRTI collection was a German enciphering machine used in World War II, an Enigma, Savini says.

The museum opened its doors to the general public in 2007. During the first year the museum was open, it attracted more than 4,000 visitors, including student field trips. Since that initial year, it has continued to add exhibits and events.


When Savini began curating the museum, he asked a team of experts to help him. They included representatives from European science and technology museums.

To show visitors the evolution of electrical technology, the museum has five exhibition areas: Early Electricity (up to around 1880), Electricity Comes of Age (around the end of the 19th century), Electricity for Everyone (early 20th century), Electricity Everywhere (later 20th century), and Electricity Today and in the Future.

Today’s technology museums are competing with TV programs and websites that cover the history of tech. “Museums—where wonderful objects such as a replica of Volta’s electric battery, Thomas Edison’s DC generator, and a German Enigma machine are preserved in a silent and isolated environment—are struggling to attract enough people,” Savini says.

To modernize, the museum has incorporated touch screens that describe each artifact’s importance and impact on society.


Savini’s goal for the museum was not only to showcase the history of technology but also to promote the relationship between science and art through exhibits and partnerships with other universities and museums.

People’s knowledge about the connection between art and science is fragmented because of how both are viewed in modern times, he says.

“Both engineers and artists work on the basis of curiosity and creativity,” he says. In the past, he notes, there were instances when innovators, like Leonardo da Vinci, were engineers as well as artists, and vice versa.

Savini says that one of the most memorable experiences he has had in trying to bridge the gap between engineering and art was in 2016, when a group of students from the Milan Academy of Art visited the museum. While giving them a tour, Savini says, they were particularly fascinated by an exhibit on the history of electricity.

“They thought of electricity as something mysterious and wanted to know more about how it worked,” he says. That experience led him to lecture at the art school about electricity. It also spurred him to start a project in which the academy’s students were asked to prepare artworks for the museum incorporating electricity or inspired by it. The museum displayed the installations, paintings, and sculptures for a couple of months.

“In the future,” Savini says, “we want to exhibit pieces of art from famous artists who have been inspired by electrical technology.”

Five IEEE Members Were Among Those Who Died in Ukrainian Plane Crash in Iran

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THE INSTITUTE IEEE mourns the loss of five members from Canada who died on 8 January when Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 was accidentally shot down in Tehran shortly after takeoff.

Pedram Mousavi and his wife, Mojgan Daneshmand—as well as their two daughters—were among the victims. The senior members were engineering professors at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Mousavi taught mechanical engineering. Daneshmand specialized in radio frequency microsystems. Both were active members of the IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society (APS) and the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society (MTTS). The couple were on the steering committee of this year’s IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation.

Mousavi was an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation.

He received his bachelor’s degree in telecommunication engineering in 1995 from the Iran University of Science and Technology, in Tehran, and emigrated to Canada to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. There he received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1997 and 2001, respectively.

Daneshmand received her bachelor’s degree in 1999, also from the Iran University of Science and Technology. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Manitoba in 2001 and her Ph.D. in 2006 from the University of Waterloo, in Ontario. All the degrees were in electrical engineering.

She was an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation and the IEEE Canadian Journal of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was co-chair of the IEEE Northern Canada joint AP/MTT chapter.

She received the 2016 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Lot Shafai Mid-Career Distinguished Achievement Award “for pioneering contributions to microwave-to-millimeter, wave microsystem-based antenna and microwave technologies for communication and sensing, and being a role model for women in engineering.”

Among the other passengers were three IEEE graduate student members.

Zahra Naghibi was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Windsor, in Ontario, who worked as a research assistant at the university’s Turbulence and Energy Laboratory. She was the 2019 co-chair of the IEEE Windsor Section Young Professionals group and was re-elected this year.

Iman Aghabali was a graduate student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.

Mansour Esnaashary Esfahani was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Waterloo. The school established a memorial fund in his honor.

“The horrific crash has caused a tremendous loss across Canada, within the IEEE community, and at many academic institutions,” Jason Gu, IEEE Canada president, says. “On behalf of IEEE Canada, I extend condolences to all the families, loved ones, and friends of the victims of this terrible tragedy. They were outstanding volunteers, members, and friends and will be terribly missed.”

Victoria Serrano Helps Panamanian Students Discover STEM Through Lego Robots

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THE INSTITUTE IEEE Member Victoria Serrano, an engineering professor at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá in Chiriquí, has come across many preuniversity students who don’t have a clue what kinds of STEM careers are available. She understood because she didn’t become interested in electrical engineering until she was in high school.

In 2016 she decided to help such teens by launching STEM Beyond the Borders. The program used robots to teach preuniversity students in Panama about STEM subjects. Classes were held not only in classrooms but also in public marketplaces and church recreation rooms.  

The program received financial support from the IEEE Control Systems Society and EPICS in IEEE, which aims to empower students to apply technical solutions to aid their communities. Today, Serrano continues her mission through independent outreach efforts in the country.

For her work, Serrano received the 2019 IEEE Education Activities Board Meritorious Achievement Award in Outreach and Informal Education. The award honors IEEE members who teach STEM skills outside a classroom setting.


Serrano, born and raised in Panama, found her calling for educational outreach while pursuing her master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering at Arizona State University, in Tempe.

She says she was determined to focus only on her studies; however, a fellow graduate student, Michael Thompson, asked her to help out at the university’s Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers chapter and the ASU Mechanical-Autonomous Vehicles Club, where students research, design, and fly small radio-controlled aircraft. When Serrano visited local schools on behalf of both organizations, she taught the preuniversity students about mathematical concepts, using hands-on activities such as designing mechanical birds.

“When I realized what wonderful things could be done through outreach programs in the United States, I wanted to bring those types of projects to my home country,” Serrano says.

When she created the curriculum for STEM Beyond the Borders, Serrano took inspiration from those volunteering activities.


She says the most popular hands-on activity she teaches today in Panama is building Lego Mindstorms snake robots and racing them. Serrano creates the obstacle course, which has a curvy trajectory. She devises a theme for each session she teaches, such as military combat.

The students use blueprints to build their robots. Components include a DC battery, temperature and sound sensors, a Wi-Fi nano adapter, and a USB cable.

The students program and control their robot using the computational platform Matlab and simulation software Simulink. They conduct experiments to learn more about their robot’s speed to better prepare it for the race.

The project takes about two weeks to complete.

“When developing my program, I didn’t focus only on having the students build the robot,” she says. “They also learn math concepts such as distance, time, and how to calculate velocity.”

After the race, the students prepare a presentation and a poster to explain what experiments they conducted and why.

Serrano says one of her most satisfying moments is learning that one of her students has decided to pursue a STEM degree because of the program.

Of the 15 high school students who participated in the first STEM Beyond the Borders session in 2016, nine went on to study engineering at Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá.

Since then, Serrano has taught close to 100 students through her program.

As the demand for sessions and locations grows, Serrano is developing new ways to bring the program to more students across Panama.

She created CIATEC, which lets students access her Mindstorms robot-building course as well as a session on how to build circuit boards using Arduino, an open-source electronics platform. CIATEC incorporates the Spanish words for science (ciencia), art (arte), and technology (tecnología).

This 40-Year-Old Transistor Changed the Communications Industry

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THE INSTITUTEWhile working as an electronics engineer in 1977 at Fujitsu Laboratories in Atsugi, Japan, IEEE Life Fellow Takashi Mimura began researching how to make the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor quicker. The MOSFET, which had been invented in 1966, was the fastest transistor available at the time, but Mimura and other engineers wanted to make it even quicker by enhancing electron mobility—how speedily electrons could move through semiconducting material.

Mimura began to research an alternative semiconductor to the silicon used in the MOSFET, hoping it would be the solution. He came across an article in the Applied Physics Letters journal on heterojunction superlatticesstructures of two or more semiconductors of significantly different bandgaps—developed by Bell Labs in Holmdel, N.J. The superlattices, which used a modulation-doping technique to spatially separate conduction electrons and their parent donor impurity atoms, inspired Mimura to create a new transistor.

In 1979 he invented the high-electron-mobility transistor. His HEMT used a heterojunction superlattice to enhance electron mobility, improving on speed and performance.

The invention now powers cellphones, satellite television receivers, and radar equipment.

The HEMT was dedicated an IEEE Milestone on 18 December. The IEEE Tokyo Section sponsored the Milestone. Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world.


The HEMT consists of thin layers of semiconductors—n-type gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide—as well as a heterojunction superlattice; a self-aligned, ion-implanted structure; and a recess gate structure. The superlattice, which acts as a diode, forms between the layers of n-type gallium arsenide (a highly doped narrow bandgap) and aluminum gallium arsenide (a nondoped narrow bandgap). Using different bandgap materials causes a quantum well to form in the superlattice. The well lets electrons move quickly without colliding with impurities.

 The self-aligned, ion-implanted structure consists of a drain, a gate, and a source, which sit on top of a second layer of n-type gallium arsenide—the recess-gate structure. Electrons originate from the source and flow through the semiconductors and heterojunction superlattice into the drain. The gate controls the current flow between the drain and the source.

According to a paper in IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, the recess-gate structure decreases the chance of a current collapse—a reduction of current after high voltage is applied. A current collapse would decrease the transistor’s response at high frequencies.

The Milestone plaque, displayed in the exhibition room on the ground floor of Fujitsu Laboratories in Atsugi reads:

The HEMT was the first transistor to incorporate an interface between two semiconductor materials with different energy gaps. HEMTs proved superior to previous transistor technologies because of their high-mobility channel carriers, resulting in high-speed and high-frequency performance. They have been widely used in radio telescopes, satellite broadcasting receivers, and cellular base stations, becoming a fundamental technology supporting the information and communication society.

 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.

Paying Tribute to Former IEEE President Joseph Bordogna

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THE INSTITUTEIEEE Life Fellow Joseph Bordogna, who died on 25 November at the age of 86, was the 1998 president of IEEE.

Bordogna worked to make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education available to all students in the United States. He spent his entire academic career at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.

He served as deputy director of the U.S. National Science Foundation for six years, following nine years heading the NSF’s Directorate of Engineering.

He made technological contributions to a variety of areas including early laser-communications systems and holographic recording.


Bordogna attended the University of Pennsylvania on a Navy ROTC scholarship and in 1955 received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After graduating, he joined the U.S. Navy as an operations officer and was part of the unit that in 1959 recovered the Jupiter AM-18 space capsule.

After leaving the Navy, he worked for a year as an electronics innovator at RCA in Camden, N.J. He applied for and was granted a fellowship to pursue a master’s degree in science at MIT from the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation, a nonprofit in New York City that financially supports young biomedical scientists.

After earning his degree in 1960, he returned to RCA and worked on communication systems, holography, lasers, radar, and transistors. While working at the company, he also attended the University of Pennsylvania, where in 1964 he earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

Bordogna then left RCA to begin a long career at the university. He started off at Penn as a professor of engineering and rose through the ranks, becoming the associate dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1973. Eight years later he was named dean of the school. He was appointed in 1976 as director of the university’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering.

He held both positions until he left the university in 1990 to become head of the NSF’s engineering directorate.

“Out of all his accomplishments, I think his greatest one was his transformative impact on the engineering side of the NSF,” says Charles K. Alexander, 1997 IEEE president. “He significantly enhanced and expanded the engineering research programs as well as the engineering educational programs.”

While at the NSF, Bordogna provided key leadership and guidance to the U.S. Antarctic Program. In recognition of his work, a plateau in Antarctica was named after him, as noted in a Penn Engineering magazine profile.

When he left the NSF in 2005 to return to Penn, he had been the agency’s longest-serving deputy director.


Bordogna joined IEEE as a student in 1955 and was elevated to Fellow in 1976. He was an active volunteer and held several positions in the organization. He was president of the IEEE Education Society from 1977 to 1981 and was 1987–1988 chairman of the IEEE Philadelphia Section. He served as IEEE’s representative to the ABET, the accrediting body for U.S. academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology.

He was a member of IEEE’s honor society, Eta Kappa Nu.


In that 2009 Penn Engineering profile of Bordogna, former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman, once a student of Bordogna’s, said he was an “incredible teacher” who was devoted to his work.

After Bordogna’s return to Penn, he spearheaded the creation of two dual-degree programs—one in management and technology and the other in computer and cognitive sciences.

According to the magazine article, Bordogna lived by a mantra: “We cannot afford to lose one brain.”

Throughout his career, he encouraged students from underrepresented groups to study STEM subjects. In 1973 he founded the Philadelphia Regional Introduction for Minorities to Engineering program, which provides students from middle schools and high schools with educational resources, hands-on activities, and field trips. And he served on the board of the 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education, in Conshohocken, Pa.

E-books Help You Stay Up to Date on 5G, Renewable Energy, and Other Technologies

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THE INSTITUTEWiley-IEEE Press has released 10 new books that cover several technologies including 5G networks, electromagnetics, magnetic field measurement, synthetic aperture radar, and other technologies.

You can review the e-books by logging in to the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, clicking on Browse from the drop-down menu, and selecting Books. You can then search by the book’s title to download or purchase PDFs of selected chapter excerpts. To place an order, visit

Enabling 5G Communication Systems to Support Vertical Industries

By Muhammad Ali Imran, Yusuf Abdulrahman Sambo, and Qammer H. Abbasi

This book explores how 5G communication systems can make delivery services more efficient and cost effective. The authors suggest solutions such as smart transportation, using a smart grid, and environmental monitoring.

Optical and Wireless Convergence for 5G Networks

By Abdelgader M. Abdalla, Jonathan Rodriguez, Issa Elfergani, and Antonio Teixeira

A guide that provides insights on managing an ecosystem of mixed and multiple access network communications focused on optical-wireless convergence that considers both fronthaul and backhaul perspectives. Topics covered include fiber-wireless, hybrid fiber-wireless, and visible light communication.

Power Electronics in Renewable Energy Systems and Smart Grid: Technology and Applications

By Bimal K. Bose

In this e-book covering power-electronics applications, Bose discusses a variety of renewable energy systems including wind, solar, and geothermal energy. He also discusses fuel cell systems and bulk energy storage systems.

The Wind Power Story: A Century of Innovation that Reshaped the Global Energy Landscape

By Brandon N. Owens

This comprehensive resource looks at the history of wind power, how the technology has evolved, and where it’s headed.

 The book also examines government funding, the role that fossil fuels have played in wind-power innovations, and the importance of entrepreneurs in further developing the technology.

Engineered to Speak: Helping You Create and Deliver Engaging Technical Presentations

By Alexa S. Chilcutt and Adam J. Brooks

Want to communicate better with peers and other audiences? This guide for helping engineers become better communicators breaks down the art of public speaking into 10 steps.

Design Technology of Synthetic Aperture Radar

By Jiaguo Lu

This book provides detailed information about fundamental concepts, theories, and design of synthetic aperture radar systems and sub-systems. SAR is a powerful microwave remote sensing technique used to create two- and three-dimensional high-resolution representations of landscapes, independent of weather conditions and the amount of sunlight.

Magnetic Field Measurement With Applications to Modern Power Grids

By Qi Huang, Arsalan Habib Khawaja, Yafeng Chen, and Jian Li

An authoritative review of magnetic field measurement and its application to smart-grid technology. The authors cover substations, generation systems, transmission systems, and distribution systems.

Systems Engineering of Software-Enabled Systems

By Richard E. Fairley

An in-depth overview of the most current methods and techniques that can improve the connection between systems engineering and software engineering. The book reviews the traditional approaches to developing software-enabled systems and explores how they differ.

Time-Domain Electromagnetic Reciprocity in Antenna Modeling

By Martin Stumpf

This book covers applications of the TD EM reciprocity theorem for solving antenna-theory problems. It focuses on the development of TD numerical schemes and analytical methodologies suitable for analyzing wave fields associated with fundamental antenna topologies.

Real-Time Three-Dimensional Imaging of Dielectric Bodies Using Microwave/Millimeter Wave Holography

By Reza K. Amineh, Natalia K. Nikolova, and Maryam Ravan

An authoritative guide to the field of microwave holography for imaging dielectric bodies. The authors review the early works in the field and explore recent advances.

IEEE members receive a 35 percent discount by using a redemption code when ordering from To obtain your discount code, visit the Wiley-IEEE Press webpage on IEEE Xplore and sign in using your IEEE member credentials.

Modern Civilization Relies on This Crystal-Growing Method

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THE INSTITUTELaptop computers, mobile phones, and a host of other electronic devices wouldn’t exist without semiconductors such as monocrystalline silicon.

Early methods of producing semiconductors were unpredictable and unreliable. There was no way for scientists at the time to prevent the semiconductors from being contaminated by impurities in the air. In 1916, however, Polish chemist Jan Czochralski invented a way to grow single crystals of semiconductors, metals, and synthetic gemstones. The process—known as the Czochralski method—allows scientists to have more control over a semiconductor’s quality and is still used today.

Czochralski discovered the method by accident while working in a laboratory at Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), an electrical-equipment company in Berlin. According to, while investigating the crystallization rates of metal, Czochralski dipped his pen into molten tin instead of an inkwell. That caused a tin filament to form on the pen’s tip. Through further research, he was able to prove that the filament was a single crystal. His discovery prompted him to experiment with the bulk production of single crystals of semiconductors.

The Czochralski process of growing single crystals was dedicated as an IEEE Milestone on 14 November during a ceremony held at the Warsaw University of Technology. The IEEE Poland Section and the IEEE Germany Section sponsored the Milestone. Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world.


Czochraslski used a silica crucible—a container made of quartz—to grow the crystals. He sat it inside a chamber that was free from oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other potential contaminants. The chamber was surrounded by heaters that converted electric energy into heat. He also used radio waves at a high frequency to melt silica inside the crucible. When the temperature inside the crucible reached about 1,700 kelvins, it melted the high-purity semiconductor-grade silica.

Once the silica melted, he placed a small piece of polycrystalline material—a seed crystal—on the end of a 14-centimeter-long, rotating rod. He then slowly lowered the rod into the crucible until the seed crystal dipped just below the surface of the molten silica. He found that a trace of impurity elements—a dopant—such as boron or phosphorus, could be added to the molten silica in precise amounts to change the silica’s carrier concentration. Depending on what dopants he added, the silica turned into p-type or n-type silicon. They have different electronic properties. When they are put together, they create a diode, which allows for current to flow through the silicon.

Czochraslski simultaneously lifted and rotated the rod that held the seed crystal. During this step, the molten silicon crystallized at the interface of the seed. That formed a new crystal.

The shape of the new crystal, particularly the diameter, can be controlled by adjusting the rod’s heating power, pulling rate, and rotation rate, according to the Encyclopedia of Materials: Science and Technology. That “necking procedure” technique is crucial for limiting the crystal’s structural defects.

Other semiconductors, such as gallium arsenide, also can be grown using the Czochralski method.

The Milestone plaque, mounted at the entrance to the Warsaw University of Technology’s main hall, reads:

In 1916, Jan Czochralski invented a method of crystal growth used to obtain single crystals of semiconductors, metals, salts, and synthetic gemstones during his work at AEG in Berlin, Germany. He developed the process further at the Warsaw University of Technology, Poland. The Czochralski process enabled development of electronic semiconductor devices and modern electronics.

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.

IEEE Herz Award Goes to Jonathan Dahl

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THE INSTITUTEJonathan Dahl, former senior director for IEEE global sales, has been selected to receive this year’s IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award “for leadership in and contributions toward the extraordinary growth in the awareness and reach of the IEEE’s electronic libraries.”

Dahl retired from IEEE in 2017 but returned later that year to work as a consultant for IEEE Educational Activities. He left that position in April.

He began his career at IEEE in 1990 as sales and marketing senior director. While he was running the marketing department, it grew to include sales for the print publishing group. Eventually the sales and marketing department became responsible for selling subscriptions to the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

Dahl says one of his key accomplishments was working with volunteers to establish a common pricing methodology for society publications. That gave IEEE the tools to establish a robust sales strategy for IEEE Xplore, he says, and distribute net revenues back to the organizational units.

“The entire IEEE has benefited enormously from being a major player in digital publishing,” one of his nominators wrote. “Thanks to the vision and hard work of many volunteers and members of the staff, IEEE has a successful publishing enterprise. Jon Dahl is the single most crucial actor in making IEEE publishing a lucrative business.”

The IEEE Board of Directors created the Herz Award in 2005 to honor Eric 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 recognizes a present or past full-time IEEE staff member. It consists of a framed certificate, a cash prize, and travel expenses to the award presentation.

The nomination deadline for the 2020 Herz Award is 15 January. For more information, visit the awards website.

Startup IOTree: A Spritz in Time Saves Crops From Flies

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THE INSTITUTEThe Mediterranean fruit fly is a destructive pest. It can wipe out an entire year’s worth of crops. Infestations cause farmers to lose trillions of dollars in sales every year, according to the U.N. Environmental Program.

Crops grown in countries in Europe, the Middle East, and North America have been severely damaged by the pests. The flies lay their eggs in fruit and vegetable plants, and when the larvae hatch, they feed on the produce.

The only way to kill the flies is to use pesticides, but spraying too much of the chemicals can damage crops and kill off insects that are the pests’ natural enemies. Plus, the chemicals reduce the produce’s nutritional value.

Knowing how much pesticide to use, when, and where is tricky.

The startup Internet of Trees (IOTree) is trying to solve the problem with a system that alerts farmers when an infestation has occurred and sends them information via a mobile app about the right amount of pesticide to use. Farmers in Lebanon and the Netherlands are testing the app.

The company was founded last year by IEEE Graduate Student Member Christina Chaccour, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech, and Nisrine El Turky, an engineering professor at Notre Dame University–Louaize, in Zouk Mosbeh, Lebanon.

“To treat the infestations, farmers were spraying an excess amount of pesticides on their crops,” Chaccour says. “Instead of saving their crops, they were making the situation worse by using more chemicals than the law allows.”


El Turky was Chaccour’s professor when she was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Notre Dame–Louaize. After hearing about the struggles that farmers in the Lebanon Mountains were facing during a trip there, El Turky attended workshops and seminars and met with farmers to understand the issue.

After discovering that the growers were spraying too much pesticide, she wanted to use technology to solve what she saw as an agricultural crisis.

El Turky came up with the concept for IOTree and showed it to Chaccour. The two built smart insect traps that use a deep-learning algorithm, machine vision, cameras, and sensors. There are currently two prototypes of the IOTree smart traps—one for greenhouses and another for fields and orchards.

Traps are placed so each one covers about 4,050 square meters (1 acre) to catch the insects. Once caught inside, the pests are photographed—their images transmitted to a server—and counted.

 “The photos are sent to the program’s server on the cloud—which classifies the pest with the help of our repository of images,” Chaccour says. “The smart trap is capable of knowing which pest is targeting the farmer’s plot and how often.”

The information gathered from the images determines whether a fruit fly or another insect is damaging the crop. Then the system calculates how much pesticide the farmer should use based on the type of insect and the count. The sensors in the smart trap also measure the soil’s humidity and temperature.

 The two women also built a mobile app. The information from the smart traps is sent to the farmers via the app, which can be used on a mobile device or computer.

“Once the farmer has installed the smart IOTree devices, the app will remotely provide him with all the agricultural practices he needs to complete, such as when to spray pesticides, where to spray them, and how much to spray,” Chaccour says. “The farmer can watch over his plot from the comfort of his own home.

“Our aim is to provide the farmer with an affordable solution that is less expensive than the price of applying pesticides. This technology also helps motivate farmers not to rely on pesticides, which drastically reduce the quality of the produce and negatively impact the ecosystem.”

IOTree is in the process of filing a patent application as well as registering for a trademark.


The company offers two levels of subscription service: premium and “freemium.” Farmers with a freemium subscription get notified of an infestation. The premium version provides the farmer information about what was detected—which could include not just fruit flies but also eggs and fungi. The price of the premium service is still being worked out. Both subscriptions require farmers to purchase smart traps. The overall price will vary depending on the plot size and how many traps are needed.

The startup is getting assistance from business incubators Agrytech, Flat6Labs, and Touch Lebanon as well as the Lithuania-based Women in Tech by Lebanese startup accelerator, Baltic Sandbox. Women in Tech provides women in STEM fields with career guidance and startup funding. Touch Lebanon is the country’s leading mobile telecommunications and data operator. 

IOTree won this year’s regional Global Social Venture Competition in the Middle East. The startup was also named the best Lebanese solution by the Next Society, comprised of investors from countries such as France, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.

“We want to raise awareness about the struggles farmers are facing all over the globe,” Chaccour says.


Based on the feedback the company has received, it’s enhancing its algorithms to make IOTree more accurate.

El Turky and Chaccour are working on adding Narrowband Internet of Things capability to their app. NB-IoT is a low-power network standard that is expected to enable a wider variety of cellular devices and services to be connected to the IoT. NB-IoT functions with low bandwidth and therefore can improve the smart traps’ battery life and power consumption. The startup can use the technology to send small packets of data to and from the server, and the NB-IoT will provide the traps with constant access to power. Thus, farmers should be able to use the trap system even when inclement weather causes power outages.

Chaccour says the company has partnered with Touch Lebanon to develop the traps’ NB-IoT capabilities. The feature is expected to be introduced next year.

How the Telemobiloskop Paved the Way for Modern Radar Systems

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THE INSTITUTEA device invented more than 100 years ago to prevent ships from running into each other in inclement weather was the forerunner to today’s radar systems.

On the morning of 17 May 1904, electrical engineer Christian Hülsmeyer carried out the first demonstration of radar using radio reflections at the Dom Hotel in Cologne, Germany. Using the Telemobiloskop he invented, Hülsmeyer was able to detect the metal gate that led to the hotel’s courtyard through a curtain he had hung in front of the gate. He did that to prove to spectators that his device could detect a target through a physical barrier. Next, he used the device from the banks of the nearby Rhine River to detect a barge approaching the Hohenzollern Bridge from a distance of several hundred meters.

The invention was dedicated as an IEEE Milestone on 19 October in a ceremony held at the Dom Hotel. The IEEE Germany Section sponsored the Milestone. Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world.

“Radar technology is omnipresent today and has become an important part of many systems in our society,” Milestone coordinator Peter Knott, an IEEE senior member, told The Institute. “We are very pleased that with this Milestone, Christian Hülsmeyer, an important pioneer in this field, has gained recognition.”


When Hülsmeyer was a boy, he witnessed a boating accident on the Rhine as two ships collided on a foggy night. Several passengers were killed. The incident inspired him to search for a way to prevent tragedies that result from poor visibility, according to the Engineering and Technology History Wiki entry about the Milestone.

Hülsmeyer pursued a teaching degree at the Lehrerseminar, a teacher’s college, in Bremen. He experimented with electromagnetic waves in the school’s labs—which inspired him to become an electrical engineer. He joined the electrical engineering company Siemens & Halske, also in Bremen, as a trainee.

In the Telemobiloskop’s patent application, which was granted in 1906, Hülsmeyer described his invention: “Hertzian-wave projecting and receiving apparatus adapted to indicate or give warning of the presence of a metallic body, such as a ship or train, in the line of projecting of such waves.”

The Telemobiloskop was composed of a large wooden box, a spark-gap transmitter, two simple parabolic antennas, and a crude detector. It also had an electric bell to indicate the presence of its target. The antennae sat on a movable platform on top of the box and could rotate 360 degrees.

The transmitter generated radio-frequency electromagnetic waves using an electric spark. Transmitted signals were directed by a single-edge opened metal case—a projector screen, according to a speech IEEE Fellow Joachim Ender made about the Telemobiloskop at the 2002 European Conference on Synthetic Aperture Radar <is there a URL for the conference?>.

The signals the Telemobiloskop received were transferred to the detector, which was housed in the box’s bottom. When a reflected signal reached the receiver, the relay was activated and the bell would ring to indicate that an object had been detected. When it moved out of range, the bell stopped ringing.

To help determine the object’s location, Hülsmeyer also invented an electromagnetically driven toothed-wheel mechanism—which he called Kompass—that had a pointer rotating in a synchronous manner to the antenna. It allowed Hülsmeyer to know the direction of the target by following the pointer.

The Milestone plaque, mounted on the Hohenzollern Bridge over the Rhine, reads:

On 17 May 1904, near this site, Christian Hülsmeyer demonstrated his Telemobiloskop: a spark gap transmitter, simple parabolic antennas, detector, and an indicator. It was designed to ring a bell when a barge passed the system at a range of several hundred meters. He patented this device in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. This was the world’s first operable device to detect radio reflections, a predecessor of radar.

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.

University of Calvary Students Bring Solar Energy to Peruvian Village

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original

THE INSTITUTEImagine trying to read a book by candlelight or risking your health with kerosene lamps so you can hold a town hall meeting. That is the reality in many communities around the globe that lack access to electricity.

To combat such challenges, the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (IEEE SIGHT) partners with local organizations to bring technology to underserved communities. The IEEE volunteer network looks to bring sustainable technological solutions to communities so they can prosper.

IEEE Student Member Joel Wong of the University of Calgary, along with 11 other IEEE SIGHT volunteers from the Southern Alberta Section in Canada, traveled to Peru in May with Light Up the World. The Canadian nonprofit focuses on the principle that access to energy can improve lives. The IEEE volunteers teamed up with Light Up the World volunteers to install a 325-watt solar-panel system in Hanchipacha, an off-grid community of 150 people. The volunteers drove on mountain roads for 75 minutes from Checacupe, where they were staying, to reach the remote village.

“It’s the smaller, remote communities that have the greatest need, because services won’t be brought to them any time soon,” Wong says. “These villages are not prioritized for development. It could’ve taken 10 to 20 years for Hanchipacha to gain access to [electric] energy.”


Wong first heard about IEEE SIGHT through an event at the University of Calgary, where he is a senior working toward a dual bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science. The idea of helping others through engineering inspired him to join the group.

“I feel like those of us living in Canada and other developed nations are very privileged,” Wong says, adding that Canadians have a responsibility to help those without the same level of access to education, electricity, food, and shelter.

To choose which villages could benefit the most from access to electricity, Light Up the World surveys the needs of communities around the globe.

“All of the communities are off-grid, so no power and no cell phone coverage,” Wong says. “Light Up the World surveys things like government plans for services in the community, access to energy, population, and potential uses of the electricity. One of the villages most in need was Hanchipacha.”

The students received training from Light Up the World staff about the fundamentals of solar energy as well as wiring conventions in Peru. They also learned about the importance of safety, maintainability, and sustainability of the solar-panel system, which included batteries for energy storage and nine 5W lights.

Wong says the volunteers and Light Up the World staff worked with Peruvian technicians to install the system. The process took three days to complete.


In the Light Up the World system, DC current generated by the solar panels is used to charge a pair of 150-ampere-hour batteries or fed through an inverter to immediately supply AC electricity to a set of 220-volt outlets. The outlets can power lights and other things the villagers need—which are mainly located in the community center and other shared spaces.

“When the installation was completed, a ceremony was held, and it was a very meaningful experience for everyone,” Wong says. “One leader of the community spoke at the ceremony and said that he was grateful to us for installing the system. The community will use it for years to come.”

The system will be maintained by trained local technicians as well as Light Up the World staff, Wong says.


The installation of the solar-panel system has positive environmental, economic, and social effects, Wong says.

As in many communities, Hanchipacha was relying on one-time-use batteries and kerosene lamps for lighting, he says. Kerosene lamps have both health and environmental risks. According to the University of Calgary’s Energy Education website, the lamps emit carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and sulfur dioxide, which can reduce lung function and increase the risk of cancer. Also, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, kerosene lamps are a more significant source of black carbon than previously thought. Black carbon is a significant contributor to global warming.

Wong says that with the solar panels in place, the community no longer faces the health and environmental risks of kerosene and avoids the financial burden of paying for those lighting sources. The people also have an opportunity to diversify economically because they now can use power tools, for example.

“In terms of social impacts, the solar energy system can help the residents of Hanchipacha hold town hall meetings after dark,” Wong says. “This is quite important for the village because they are an agricultural community and daylight hours are very valuable.”

The system has enabled children to study in the community center at night, he says. Children are expected to do chores to help their farming families, he points out, so “they have limited hours to study, and when they do have time to study, it’s at night.” In the past, he says, students used candles to light the room and had a difficult time reading. Now, he says, they are able to keep up with their schoolwork.

IEEE SIGHT is planning another solar project in Peru in May—which Wong is leading.

Susan K. “Kathy” Land Is 2020 IEEE President-Elect

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original

THE INSTITUTEIEEE Fellow Susan K. “Kathy” Land has been chosen as 2020 IEEE president-elect. She will begin serving as president on 1 January 2021.

Land, who was nominated by the IEEE Board of Directors, received 23,147 votes in the elections. Fellow Dejan Milojicic received 18,392 votes.

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

Land was the 2018 vice president, IEEE Technical Activities. She served two additional terms on the IEEE Board of Directors as Division VIII director/delegate in 2011 and 2012 and as Division V director/delegate in 2014 and 2015.

She was president of the IEEE Computer Society in 2009. In 2013 and 2016, Land was a member of the IEEE-USA Board of Directors.

Land has been an active member of the IEEE Standards Association for more than 20 years and served as the Computer Society vice president for Standards in 2004. She was the recipient of the 2007 IEEE Standards Medallion.

She has been active in Region 3 supporting local Future City competitions. She was also a member of the region’s Executive Committee, serving as its awards chair.

In 2008 and 2010, she was a member of the IEEE Women in Engineering Committee.

Land is the recipient of several awards including the 2011 IEEE Huntsville Section Outstanding Engineer of the Year Award, the IEEE Computer Society 2017 Richard E. Merwin Award, and the Huntsville Association of Technical Societies 2018 Moquin Award.

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