All posts by Joanna Goodrich

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/founder-of-italys-pavia-museum-of-electrical-technology-works-to-keep-engineering-history-alive

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.

A WALK THROUGH TIME

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.

CREATING A tech WONDERLAND

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.

ENGINEERING AND ART MEET

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/five-ieee-members-were-among-those-who-died-in-ukrainian-plane-crash-in-iran

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/victoria-serrano-helps-panamanian-students-discover-stem-through-lego-robots

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.

DISCOVERING HER PASSION

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.

INSPIRING STUDENTS

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/this-40yearold-transistor-changed-the-communications-industry

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.

ENHANCING ELECTRON MOBILITY

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/paying-tribute-to-former-ieee-president-joseph-bordogna

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.

JOURNEY TO ACADEMIA

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.

ACTIVE IEEE VOLUNTEER

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.

EDUCATION PIONEER

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-products-services/ebooks-help-you-stay-up-to-date-on-5g-renewable-energy-and-other-technologies

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 Wiley.com.

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 Wiley.com. 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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/modern-civilization-relies-on-this-crystalgrowing-method

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 JanCzochralski.com, 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.

GROWING SILICON

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/herz-award-goes-to-jonathan-dahl

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/startup-iotree-a-spritz-in-time-saves-crops-from-flies

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.”

RESEARCH FIRST

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.

SAVING CROPS

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.

NEW FEATURE

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

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/how-the-telemobiloskop-paved-the-way-for-modern-radar-systems

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.”

THE BEGINNING OF RADAR

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 https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/university-of-calvary-students-bring-solar-energy-to-peruvian-village

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.”

GETTING STARTED

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.

THE TECHNOLOGY

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.

HOW IT HELPED

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 https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/susan-k-kathy-land-is-2020-ieee-presidentelect

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.

Volunteers Needed for STEM Educational Projects in Baltimore and Chicago

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/volunteers-needed-for-stem-educational-projects-in-baltimore-and-chicago

THE INSTITUTEThe EPICS in IEEE program is looking for volunteers to work with high school teachers in Baltimore and Chicago to help them improve students’ mathematics and science proficiency. Participating IEEE members can help develop curricula that include hands-on projects.

EPICS in IEEE empowers students to apply technical solutions to aid their communities. The program’s K–12 initiative, which aims to support STEM education at the preuniversity level, is managed by volunteers who are members of the EPICS in IEEE team at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. In 2017 the EPICS Purdue group partnered with Baltimore and Chicago school districts with the goal of not only raising test scores in math and science but also encouraging the students to pursue a STEM career.

The number of students pursuing STEM careers is decreasing around the world. According to IEEE Member Samarth Deo, chair of EPICS in IEEE, several studies have found that across the United States, a majority of high schools fail to meet their state’s threshold for overall student performance in mathematics. In states such as Illinois and Maryland, in 2017 nearly half the high schools did not meet their baselines.

 Many students don’t pursue STEM careers because they lack basic knowledge about the fields,” Deo says. “We want this initiative to show students what engineering is all about.”

Twelve schools are participating in the program—six in Baltimore and six in Chicago.

HELPING STUDENTS AND TEACHERS

The math and science curriculums are designed by each school district, with assistance from EPICS Purdue. The curriculum provides an opportunity for IEEE volunteers to take part in introducing these lessons.

EPICS leaders and representatives from the school districts meet monthly to review how students are progressing and to gather feedback from teachers. According to Deo, teachers say students are more motivated because they see the value in what they are learning. The teachers also say that participating in hands-on projects to solve problems is more appealing to students than reading a book about the subject.

The program is still in the pilot phase. Deo says metrics are being gathered on students’ math scores and their grades on the hands-on projects. The group plans to note the number of students who go on to pursue a STEM degree in college.

EPICS in IEEE hopes to expand the program to other parts of the world, including Asia and Europe, Deo says.

For information on how to contribute to the initiative, contact Ray Alcantara, the EPICS in IEEE program manager: [email protected] or +1 732 981 2867.

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

Pipe-Protecting Technology Invented by Raychem Is the 200th IEEE Milestone

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/pipeprotecting-technology-invented-by-raychem-is-the-200th-ieee-milestone

THE INSTITUTEWhen frozen pipes burst, they can cause extensive flooding damage, leading to costly repairs.

In 1972 Raychem, now part of nVent Thermal, began manufacturing a cable it invented that automatically adjusted the temperature around pipes based on their surface temperature.

The invention maintained a temperature, set by a thermostat, for as long as the cable was turned on. Today electric self-regulating trace heaters handle the vast majority of trace heating.

The device also helps to conserve energy, increases accuracy of the temperature maintained, and allows the temperature to be constantly monitored.

The electric self-regulating polymer trace heater was dedicated as an IEEE Milestone on 28 August at the nVent Thermal factory in Redwood City, Calif., where the cables first were manufactured. It became the 200th IEEE Milestone to be designated. The IEEE Santa Clara Valley (California) Section sponsored the Milestone.

“The Milestone commemorates the invention of a heating system that has a semi-infinite parallel array of resistances that continuously vary with the local ambient temperature,” IEEE Fellow Chet Sandberg told The Institute. “This technology is used in many commercial, consumer, and industrial applications today.”

HOW IT WORKS

The cable is housed in a plastic shell. Inside is a metal braid, plastic insulation, and a conductive core. The outer shell shields the cable against moisture, and the metal braiding removes excess electrical charge in the cable. The heart of the heater consists of parallel bus wires connected by a polymer matrix embedded with a conductive carbon black material such as coal tar. When the polymer warms, it expands, which separates the carbon paths and causes the resistance to increase. When it cools, the matrix contracts, lowering the resistance and allowing more current to flow through the device to create heat.

According to the Engineering and Technology History Wiki entry about the Milestone, the invention’s key electrical achievement was the development of a polymer matrix that returns to its original state when cooled. The process is able to repeat because the polymer is treated with radiation in order to crosslink it, creating a material with a structure that can rebound after expansion.

A plaque honoring the trace heater was mounted in the lobby of the nVent Thermal factory. It reads:

In 1972 Raychem Corp. patented and began producing the first commercially successful electric self-regulating heat-tracing cable. The conductive polymer in this cable revolutionized the temperature maintenance of process piping, which has had major applications in refineries and chemical plants, and made freeze protection of water pipes simple and energy-efficient. By 2008, the firm had manufactured and sold 1 billion feet of this cable.

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.

Standards Working Group Takes on Facial Recognition

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-products-services/standards-working-group-takes-on-facial-recognition

THE INSTITUTEJust as in George Orwell’s 1984, facial recognition is being used today to identify, analyze, and track people in real time. Although the technology has its benefits—such as its ability to help find criminals and missing people—many people have privacy concerns and worry about possible bias in the code.

In the United Kingdom, citizens are urging the government to restrict use of the software for just those reasons.

In May San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban the use of the technology by its police force and city agencies. The ban was prompted by concerns that facial-recognition surveillance unfairly targets and profiles certain members of society, especially people of color. Somerville, Mass., and Oakland, Calif., have since followed suit. The cities’ officials cited a lack of technical standards for the ban.

The IEEE P7013 Inclusion and Application Standards for Automated Facial Analysis Technology working group is addressing those concerns. The team is investigating the scope of facial-recognition algorithms and associated metrics that could be standardized.

“IEEE is moving away from writing standards that are strictly related to a technology, process, or device into those that address societal concerns,” says IEEE Senior Member Marie-Jose Montpetit, chair of the IEEE P7013 working group. “Facial recognition happens to be a technology that has many such concerns, such as privacy, racial and gender bias, and inaccuracy.

“As a member of the public, I am also concerned that facial-recognition software might be used in inappropriate ways by law enforcement and other organizations. My interest is making sure that we develop the standards necessary for the technology to be used ethically and when necessary.

“As a citizen, I agree with the temporary bans, because I realize a lot of the algorithms in the software aren’t accurate enough to be considered nonbiased. Once the algorithms improve, the regular use of this software may become more acceptable.”

Organizations have started to use facial-recognition technology without going through an acceptable approval process and without considering the impact the technology could have on the general population, she says. “For example,” Montpetit says, “there is a restaurant in the United Kingdom using it to make sure patrons are being served in the correct order. This issue makes the role of our working group even more important.”

WHY STANDARDIZATION?

Almost every company now using facial-recognition technology is monitoring its own applications, and there are no regulatory agencies making sure the technology is being used ethically. An investigation of New York City police officers, for example, found they edited suspects’ photos—and uploaded celebrity lookalikes—in efforts to manipulate facial-recognition results.

“Every week there’s a news article about the unethical use of the technology, specifically in relation to privacy concerns,” Montpetit says. “One issue with facial-recognition software is that it’s inaccurate.

“The technology has been continuously accused of being biased against certain groups of people. I think it’s important for us to define mechanisms to make sure that if the technology is going to be used, it’s used in a fair and accurate way.”

She says the working group will define acceptable metrics.

WHY IEEE?

“IEEE recognizes that it’s important to make sure this technology and its algorithms are standardized, have well-defined use cases and metrics, and are well-understood,” she says. “There’s also a lot of diversity within the organization, whether that’s in the area of expertise, gender, or type of organization. IEEE can take every point of view into consideration while developing the standard—which is important.”

The working group is reviewing a variety of situations in which the software was used appropriately and inappropriately to give its members a well-rounded view.

“By reviewing the use cases, we can define a set of compliance measures,” Montpetit says. “We need to define a common set of features for the technology, such as facial analysis, capturing and analyzing movement, and activity detection. Another goal is to create a guide for how to ethically use the software.”

It’s the responsibility of IEEE and other engineering organizations to standardize the technology, Montpetit says: “I think it’s up to us—engineers, academics, and social scientists—to define the boundaries of what the technology can do and how it does the job. Then, when it becomes an issue of using the software for the public, it is the role of the government to oversee its uses.”

Click here to join the IEEE P7013 working group.

General Electric Device That Revolutionized Electrical Machines Is Now an IEEE Milestone

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/general-electric-device-that-revolutionized-electrical-machines-is-now-an-ieee-milestone

The silicon-controlled rectifier, or thyristor, can be found in flash bulbs, motors and manufacturing equipment

THE INSTITUTEMore than 60 years after General Electric introduced the silicon-controlled rectifier, it is still a dominant control device in the power industry because of its efficiency. The SCR, also known as the thyristor, is a three-terminal p-n-p-n device that has an anode, a cathode, and a gate. It was introduced in 1957 and developed at a GE facility in Clyde, N.Y.

The invention of the SCR led to improvements in the control of the rectification, or conversion, of line voltage from AC to DC and became the basis of modern speed control in both AC and DC motors. The device’s application to motor control made possible the displacement of DC motors by the more efficient and reliable AC motors, particularly in trains, according to the Engineering and Technology History Wiki. SCRs also allowed for DC electrical transmission at much higher voltages and power levels than previously obtainable, says IEEE Life Senior Member Sreeram Dhurjaty, chair of the IEEE Power Electronics Society’s Rochester Section chapter.

The SCR was dedicated as an IEEE Milestone on 14 June. Administered by the IEEE History Center and supported by donors, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments around the world. The Rochester Section’s Power Electronics Society chapter was the sponsor.

CHALLENGES OVERCOME

Prior to 1955, triode vacuum tubes, which control the flow of electric current between electrodes, were used for machine control. They were difficult to operate and frequently failed in large machines.

To fix those issues, IEEE Member John Bardeen and Walter H. Brattain of Bell Laboratories in 1947 developed the point-contact transistor, an interconnection between two transistors.

According to IEEE Life Fellow Edward Owen, who wrote the article “SCR Is 50 Years Old” about the technology in the IEEE Industry Applications Magazine, the complexity of the point-contact transistor’s circuits and the fragile nature of the technology spurred GE power engineers Frank Gutzwiller and Gordon Hall to develop a new technology in 1956 that would improve upon Bardeen and Brattain’s device. But, as IEEE Life Fellow Gerard Hurley, history chair of the IEEE Power Electronics Society, explained during the Milestone ceremony, the two engineers encountered several issues.

Hurley said Gutzwiller and Hall did not realize until later in their research that silicon, not germanium, was the appropriate semiconductor material to use for the SCR. Germanium has a smaller band gap—which means less energy is required to pull electrons into conduction. That makes it easier for the material to heat up and degrade.

Gutzwiller and Hall also encountered problems with false triggering. Heat alone could cause the device to turn on. The device also could be triggered by induced current, when the anode to cathode voltages rose too fast. Both instances could cause leakage, which could increase power consumption or result in complete circuit failure.

The first SCRs that Gutzwiller and Hall built could tolerate only low voltages, but refinements to the manufacturing process ultimately produced devices capable of handling voltages exceeding 10 kilovolts. Gutzwiller and Hall also designed a silicon-wafer bonding process capable of better accommodating thermally induced stresses.

Modern SCRs are used for AC power control for lights and motors, AC power switching circuits, and photographic flashes.

The SCR also made an impact on manufacturing, according to IEEE Life Fellow John Kassakian, founding president of the IEEE Power Electronics Society.

“The steel, electrochemical, automotive, and welding industries, among many others, benefited greatly by the improved efficiency, more precise control, and reduced cost made possible by the application of SCR-based equipment to their processes,” Kassakian said at the Milestone ceremony.

A plaque honoring the SCR was mounted at the entrance of the Advanced Atomization Technologies headquarters, in Clyde. AAT is a joint venture between GE Aviation and Parker Aerospace.

The plaque reads:

General Electric introduced the silicon-controlled rectifier (SCR), a three-terminal p-n-p-n device, in 1957. The gas-filled tubes used previously were difficult to operate and unreliable. The symmetrical alternating-current switch (TRIAC), the gate turn-off thyristor (GTO), and the large integrated gate-commutated thyristor (IGCT) evolved from the SCR. Its development revolutionized efficient control of electric energy and electrical machines.

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.

Candidates for 2020 IEEE President-Elect Issue Their Position Statements

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-news/candidates-for-2020-ieee-president-elect-issue-their-position-statements

The two candidates share their plans for increasing diversity, expanding services, and attracting more members from industry

The annual IEEE election process begins in August, so be sure to check your mailbox then for your ballot. To help you choose the 2020 IEEE president-elect, The Institute is publishing the official biographies and position statements of the two candidates, as approved by the IEEE Board of Directors. The candidates are Fellows Susan K. “Kathy” Land and Dejan Milojicic.

Fellow Susan K. “Kathy” Land

Nominated by IEEE Board of Directors

Land is an acknowledged expert and author in the field of software engineering standardization, software process improvement, and engineering project management. As 2018 Vice President of IEEE Technical Activities, Ms. Land expanded the focus on diversity, entrepreneurship, future directions, young professionals, and standards. Ms. Land has demonstrated senior executive leadership experience in a career spanning industry and government systems and software product acquisition and development.

Ms. Land is an IEEE Fellow receiving numerous awards for performance and service, which include the Northrop Grumman/TASC President’s Coin, Huntsville Professional of the Year, Huntsville Association of Technical Societies Moquin Award, IEEE Computer Society (CS) Richard E. Merwin Award and the IEEE Standards Association Standards Medallion. She served as the 2009 president of the IEEE CS, three terms on the IEEE Board of Directors, and two terms as a member of the IEEE-USA Board of Directors.

Website: https://susankathyland.com/

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

One of the great choices that I made over 20 years ago was to become involved in IEEE. This decision defines who I am both personally and technically. I saw how effective each person could be, how you could empower other volunteers and together collectively make positive changes to our profession, and I was hooked.  This is what I want to share with every individual working in technology.  

IEEE is a large and complex organization and individuals are motivated to come to us for our products and services, or to volunteer.  My objectives are to make practical improvements that inspire people to call IEEE their technical home. If elected, I commit to:

  • Improve the IEEE organization by increasing diversity and awareness of global issues, encouraging communication and engagement across all units of IEEE.
  • Promote and empower the next generation of technical experts by supporting STEM engagement, student chapters, and our YP and WIE affinity groups.
  • Expand our current portfolio of products and services for industry and entrepreneurs.
  • Improve the IEEE business process framework and continue my efforts to clarify financial reporting and promote fiscal responsibility.

I thank you for your support of the IEEE and for helping to make IEEE the technical professional’s lifelong network of choice. Let’s work together to make IEEE the first place people go to for the highest quality technical information. 

“Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” Simeon Sinek

Fellow Dejan Milojicic

Nominated by IEEE Board of Directors

Milojicic is a distinguished technologist at Hewlett Packard Labs, Palo Alto, CA (1998-) leading system software teams over 4 continents and projects with budgets of hundreds US$M. He worked at the OSF Research Institute in Cambridge, MA and at the Mihajlo Pupin Institute in Belgrade, Serbia. Milojicic received his PhD from Kaiserslautern University, Germany; and his MSc/BSc from Belgrade University, Serbia. He was a technical director of the Open Cirrus Cloud Computing Testbed, with academic, industrial and government sites in the US, Europe, and Asia. He has published 2 books and 180 papers; he has 37 granted patents. He is an IEEE Fellow (2010) and ACM Distinguished Engineer (2008). Milojicic was on 8 PhD thesis committees and taught Cloud management course at SJSU. As president of the IEEE Computer Society (2014), he started Technology Predictions, the top viewed CS news. As the industry engagement chair, he started IEEE Infrastructure’18 conference.

Website: https://dejan.milojicic.com/

CANDIDATE STATEMENT

IEEE is at inflection points of the changing engineering profession, global society, and membership models. The organization has a great opportunity to influence technology and benefit humanity. My three main goals are to:

  • Increase IEEE’s relevance to existing and new industry members, and connect them better with members from academia and government. Inform members of short and long-term trends affecting their profession. Help members make informed career decisions and increase their professional recognition. Broaden IEEE corporate partnership with startups. Strengthen industry events.
  • Create innovative IEEE products and services. Modernize events to be of higher practical value, for example introduce a meetup model. Offer high-end services to enterprises, governments, and non-government organizations, such as a Cyber Grand Challenge. Create light-weight, right-timed standards, for example interoperable AI.
  • Reinvigorate global membership models, from traditional pay-based (400K), to engagement (~4M authors, readers, attendees) and broader reach (18.2M software developers). Reverse growing dues trend, subsidize $10 membership fee reduction annually. Grow IEEE-USA into IEEE Global Policy and introduce IEEE-Europe and IEEE-Asia. Expand into growing regions, such as Asia, Africa, and South America while revitalizing Americas/Europe membership. Focus on globalization while honoring localization.

As an innovator from industry with strong ties to academia and government and with a global background, I have a proven track record as a catalyst of change and of getting things done in a timely manner. The changes I have introduced were inclusive in execution and embraced by those impacted. I believe that I am well suited to lead these changes as the president of IEEE.

To learn more about the candidates, read “Land and Milojicic Run for President-Elect.”

Seven Tips on Becoming an Effective Leader

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/seven-tips-on-becoming-an-effective-leader

Oracle executive Leslie Robertson shares what she has learned from nearly 30 years in the software industry

THE INSTITUTEThink about great managers you’ve had in the past. What qualities did they have that made them stand out?

Being an effective leader requires more than just conducting meetings and delegating tasks. There are certain traits and skills associated with leadership, and not every manager has them.

Leslie Griffin Robertson, vice president of user and developer experience at Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., talked about the leadership lessons she has learned during her career at the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference, held on 23 and 24 May in Austin, Texas.

Robertson was promoted to a leadership role at Oracle relatively late in her career. She began working at the company in 1989 after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and creative writing from Carnegie Mellon. She eventually left the company and, before working in managerial positions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Nebula, she worked for several startups. Oracle rehired her in 2015 as director of technical content strategy. Today she’s responsible for making sure the company’s cloud infrastructure products and systems are up to date and for helping to drive the engineering culture within the organization.

Here are seven tips she shared on how to be an effective leader.

WRITE YOURSELF A NOTE

Take the time to articulate why you want to be a leader and what you enjoy about your profession; jot it down. When you’re having a tough day and need some encouragement, take out that note to remind yourself of your goals and why you like your job.

 “It will refill your emotional well and strengthen your resolve to push through the tough situations,” Robertson told the conference audience.

BE AUTHENTIC

It’s important to be genuine in your actions, Robertson said. “The best leaders are always authentic,” she said.

Being who you are also means following your passion. When Robertson began her career, she found she was most interested in working for startups, even though she acknowledged that she was sometimes nervous about joining one because of the uncertain future. She ended up spending 10 years working as a freelance technical writer for several fledgling companies. She said she enjoyed building something from nothing.

“It’s also important to remember that your path is your own,” she said. “You don’t have to have the same career path as someone else.”

RAISE YOUR HAND

Volunteer to take on tasks that aren’t in your area of expertise, she suggested. By doing that, your company can see that you are willing to tackle new challenges head on and aren’t afraid to learn.

After she was promoted last year to vice president of user and developer experience, the first item on her agenda was to build a new team. She hired eight people, then found that the company left new employees on their own to learn about the organization. She volunteered to create onboarding sessions for new hires to teach them about the company’s policies and important skills they would need to acquire. She also helped develop a boot camp for new engineers.

Thanks to those programs, she said, “instead of taking several months for new employees to get trained, it took just a few days.”

DO IT ANYWAY

It’s all right to be scared or nervous about making a change, she said, but it’s not okay for your fears to hold you back. “It can be daunting,” she said, “but you must let go of your fears and do it anyway, because it may lead you to your next big project or job opportunity.”

She gave the example of when she first started working at Oracle, where she met her future husband. After they were married, they decided that working for the same company was risky, so she looked for another job. Robertson was hired by a startup. That’s when she discovered she enjoyed working for that type of company. She went on to join Ariba, Intuit, and Sun Microsystems when they were just starting out.

SEEK FEEDBACK

Don’t be afraid of receiving feedback, Robertson advised. Whether it’s negative or positive, feedback can be the golden ticket to success, she said.

It can be hard for some employees to draw up the courage to criticize their supervisor, but to be a strong leader, you need to be open to criticism so you can lead more efficiently.

“I try to create a safe space by reserving a conference room and asking questions about my performance to my employees,” she said. “I then leave the room and give them time to write down their answers. By doing this, I’m able to learn what I need to do better and what is working.”

Be inquisitive

If you need clarification on a point, ask questions—even in a large meeting. Even if you think you’re the only person with a particular question, it might turn out that half your colleagues are wondering the same thing, she noted.

“By asking questions, you are able to create better outcomes,” she said. “When someone is unwilling to entertain your questions, it says far more about them than you.

“Asking questions was my lifeline to understanding the requirements and delivering solid work. Relentless questioning often results in better outcomes.”

BE CANDID

Being upfront about what you expect from an employee is an important part of the hiring process. During the interview, Robertson shares with the candidate what traits she looks for, such as open communication, honesty, and a sense of humor.

By being candid with potential new hires, you set their expectations. It also helps candidates gauge whether you are a good fit for them.

Let things go

When you learn about negative comments made about you, you can’t always take them seriously, Robertson said. She shared an experience she and one of her female colleagues went through when they were subjects of an unflattering, sexist comment on a social media platform that allows people to post anonymously about their workplace. The message stated that the two women did not deserve their leadership positions and got their jobs only because of their gender.

 We live and work in the best and the worst of times, where more women are in high-level positions but still face very real obstacles,” she told the conference audience in Austin. “You just have to laugh off these comments sometimes.”