Tag Archives: The_Institute/IEEE_Member_News

Electric Vehicle Manufacturers Need Engineers With AI and Robotics Skills

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/electric-vehicle-manufacturers-need-engineers-with-ai-and-robotics-skills

University of Illinois power electronics instructor Philip Krein explains the training new hires need

THE INSTITUTEJust about every car manufacturer—including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Jaguar, and Toyota—has announced plans to build more electric vehicles and phase out cars with internal combustion engines. As of early 2018, automakers in Germany had invested US $52 billion in EVs, Chinese car companies $21 billion, and those in the United States at least $19 billion, according to Reuters. BloombergNEF’s 2019 Electric Vehicle Outlook predicts that EVs will make up 57 percent of passenger car sales globally by 2040.

Building tomorrow’s complex EVs, many with self-driving features, will require engineers who have sophisticated skills. A report from Boston Consulting Group and the Michigan Mobility Institute estimates the EV and autonomous-car industries could create up to 115,000 U.S. jobs in the coming decade, including 30,000 for graduates with computer-related degrees and 15,000 for those with traditional engineering training.

Finding such people won’t be easy, according to the report. Automakers and their suppliers are already experiencing a significant talent shortage because they are competing with technology companies.

The Institute asked IEEE Fellow Philip T. Krein, research professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, what schools are doing to prepare automotive engineering students. Krein is a power electronics expert who teaches classes about EVs and hybrid vehicles. He’s past chair of the IEEE Transportation Electrification Community.

UNDERSTANDING THE BIG PICTURE

The University of Illinois and other Midwest-region colleges, because of their proximity to Detroit, interact frequently with major car companies and their key suppliers, Krein says. As a result, the schools know about changes in the industry and the companies’ need to hire employees with the right skills.

Krein says one important skill students should be taught is systems-level thinking, so they can understand how artificial intelligence, robotics, software, and other technologies interact with one another. That type of thinking is rare in the auto industry, he says.

 “Despite its size and complexity, the auto industry really hasn’t been linked to systems engineering,” Krein says. “In other industries, like aerospace, a project is typically driven from Day One by a comprehensive view of the entire system. For example: How is it going to come together? What primary energy sources are being used? Who is responsible for managing the budget? But the auto industry tends to be much more focused on components and specific devices or subsystems. Typically, they rely on suppliers and vendors to do the systems thinking for them.”

To encourage interdisciplinary thinking, the university offers electrical engineering students courses in EVs and hybrids, as well as drive trains. Mechanical engineering students get exposed to advanced electronics for system and operation control. Krein encourages students to take classes on cybersecurity and embedded software as well.

“We need engineers with a much broader perspective. They need to understand how software, hardware, mechanical systems, and controls come together,” he says. “They also need to be able to work across many domains and communicate well with different areas.”

SAFETY FIRST

Because all an EV’s systems need to work together safely, Krein says, the school focuses on giving students a fundamental understanding of what a safety system is and how to design for specific operating requirements—taking into account the need for drivers to make split-second decisions.

“We teach students how a complicated electromechanical system interacts with computing and data streams,” Krein says. “They also receive training about reliability and safety, such as how to make sure the systems are really robust and to consider what a system will do under specific situations.”

The school encourages students to take courses in real-time systems, he says, especially because many cars are likely to offer self-driving features.

Real-time systems are important in all industry applications and processes, he says. They react instantly to data from sensors, computer systems, microcontrollers, and other things intended to operate a moment-to-moment process in real time. Today’s vehicles are not really fast dynamic systems, at least compared with devices such as computer disk drives and smartphones, he says. In a motor vehicle, he says, it takes tens to hundreds of milliseconds for the system to respond to any commands or changes. Physical limits on forces and motion limit the vehicle’s response time.

“The systems have a lot of inertia, and they just don’t respond very quickly,” Krein says. “An autonomous car can be made to respond much more quickly than a human driver, and in any situation there is more time than in many real-time systems to analyze data and make decisions. As data come in, the system has to make a quick decision.

“Real-time systems are not a new topic, but this is becoming increasingly important for students to have a background in.”

Humanoid Robots Teach Coping Skills to Children With Autism

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/humanoid-robots-teach-coping-skills-to-children-with-autism

Roboticist Ayanna Howard explains what inspired her to work on assistive technologies for kids

THE INSTITUTEChildren with autism spectrum disorder can have a difficult time expressing their emotions and can be highly sensitive to sound, sight, and touch. That sometimes restricts their participation in everyday activities, leaving them socially isolated. Occupational therapists can help them cope better, but the time they’re able to spend is limited and the sessions tend to be expensive.

Roboticist Ayanna Howard, an IEEE senior member, has been using interactive androids to guide children with autism on ways to socially and emotionally engage with others—as a supplement to therapy. Howard is chair of the School of Interactive Computing and director of the Human-Automation Systems Lab at Georgia Tech. She helped found Zyrobotics, a Georgia Tech VentureLab startup that is working on AI and robotics technologies to engage children with special needs. Last year Forbes named Howard, Zyrobotics’ chief technology officer, one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech.

In a recent study, Howard and other researchers explored how robots might help children navigate sensory experiences. The experiment involved 18 participants between the ages of 4 and 12; five had autism, and the rest were meeting typical developmental milestones. Two humanoid robots were programmed to express boredom, excitement, nervousness, and 17 other emotional states. As children explored stations set up for hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching, the robots modeled what the socially acceptable responses should be.

“If a child’s expression is one of happiness or joy, the robot will have a corresponding response of encouragement,” Howard says. “If there are aspects of frustration or sadness, the robot will provide input to try again.” The study suggested that many children with autism exhibit stronger levels of engagement when the robots interact with them at such sensory stations.

It is one of many robotics projects Howard has tackled. She has designed robots for researching glaciers, and she is working on assistive robots for the home, as well as an exoskeleton that can help children who have motor disabilities.

 Howard spoke about her work during the Ethics in AI: Impacts of (Anti?) Social Robotics panel session held in May at the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit in San Diego. You can watch the session on IEEE.tv.

In this interview with The Institute, Howard talks about how she got involved with assistive technologies, the need for a more diverse workforce, and ways IEEE has benefited her career.

FOCUS ON ACCESSIBILITY

Howard was inspired to work on technology that can improve accessibility in 2008 while teaching high school students at a summer camp devoted to science, technology, engineering, and math.

“A young lady with a visual impairment attended camp. The robot programming tools being used at the camp weren’t accessible to her,” Howard says. “As an engineer, I want to fix problems when I see them, so we ended up designing tools to enable access to programming tools that could be used in STEM education.

“That was my starting motivation, and this theme of accessibility has expanded to become a main focus of my research. One of the things about this world of accessibility is that when you start interacting with kids and parents, you discover another world out there of assistive technologies and how robotics can be used for good in education as well as therapy.”

DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT

The Institute asked Howard why it’s important to have a more diverse STEM workforce and what could be done to increase the number of women and others from underrepresented groups.

“The makeup of the current engineering workforce isn’t necessarily representative of the world, which is composed of different races, cultures, ages, disabilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Howard says. “We’re creating products used by people around the globe, so we have to ensure they’re being designed for a diverse population. As IEEE members, we also need to engage with people who aren’t engineers, and we don’t do that enough.”

Educational institutions are doing a better job of increasing diversity in areas such as gender, she says, adding that more work is needed because the enrollment numbers still aren’t representative of the population and the gains don’t necessarily carry through after graduation.

 “There has been an increase in the number of underrepresented minorities and females going into engineering and computer science,” she says, “but data has shown that their numbers are not sustained in the workforce.”

ROLE MODEL

Because there are more underrepresented groups on today’s college campuses that can form a community, the lack of engineering role models—although a concern on campuses—is more extreme for preuniversity students, Howard says.

 “Depending on where you go to school, you may not know what an engineer does or even consider engineering as an option,” she says, “so there’s still a big disconnect there.”

Howard has been involved for many years in math- and science-mentoring programs for at-risk high school girls. She tells them to find what they’re passionate about and combine it with math and science to create something. She also advises them not to let anyone tell them that they can’t.

Howard’s father is an engineer. She says he never encouraged or discouraged her to become one, but when she broke something, he would show her how to fix it and talk her through the process. Along the way, he taught her a logical way of thinking she says all engineers have.

“When I would try to explain something, he would quiz me and tell me to ‘think more logically,’” she says.

Howard earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown University, in Providence, R.I., then she received both a master’s and doctorate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California. Before joining the faculty of Georgia Tech in 2005, she worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology for more than a decade as a senior robotics researcher and deputy manager in the Office of the Chief Scientist.

ACTIVE VOLUNTEER

Howard’s father was also an IEEE member, but that’s not why she joined the organization. She says she signed up when she was a student because, “that was something that you just did. Plus, my student membership fee was subsidized.”

She kept the membership as a grad student because of the discounted rates members receive on conferences.

Those conferences have had an impact on her career. “They allow you to understand what the state of the art is,” she says. “Back then you received a printed conference proceeding and reading through it was brutal, but by attending it in person, you got a 15-minute snippet about the research.”

Howard is an active volunteer with the IEEE Robotics and Automation and the IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics societies, holding many positions and serving on several committees.

“I value IEEE for its community,” she says. “One of the nice things about IEEE is that it’s international.”

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.”

Combating the Opioid Crisis, One Flush at a Time

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/combating-the-opioid-crisis-one-flush-at-a-time

Startup Biobot Analytics monitors wastewater to identify at-risk neighborhoods

THE INSTITUTEMost people don’t spend time thinking about what’s in the waste they flush down the toilet. But health officials do. The urine in sewer water is a surprisingly rich source of information about the health of communities. Epidemiologists can analyze wastewater to check for viruses, chemicals, and both illegal and prescription drugs.

Armed with that information, public health officials can stock up on vaccines, equip ambulances with life-saving medications, and run awareness campaigns.

But testing wastewater samples can be an expensive, time-consuming job. Biobot Analytics, a startup in Somerville, Mass., that was spun out of MIT in 2017, is working to improve the process with its collection, measurement, and analysis service.

Biobot uses portable devices to collect wastewater samples, which it analyzes in the laboratory. The company uses the resulting data to create spatial maps and charts that can illustrate which neighborhoods have high concentrations of a particular substance.

Biobot’s approach can be used to look at lots of different compounds. But so far the company is focusing on one target: opioid metabolites from prescription pain relievers and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Metabolites are byproducts of the body metabolizing a drug. They are reliable indicators of whether a person has ingested or injected an opioid.

“Right now our focus is just analyzing for opioids, because opioid addiction is a major public health crisis,” says IEEE Member Irene Hu, a hardware electronics engineer at Biobot.

Around 68 percent of the more than 70,200 U.S. drug-overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biobot has partnered with Cary, N.C., to help town officials assess the scope of its opioid epidemic, allocate resources, and then gauge the effectiveness of their efforts over time.

Hu talked about the project at the IoT–Smart Networks and Social Innovations panel, held in May during the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit in San Diego. You can watch the session on IEEE.tv.

PUBLIC HEALTH OBSERVATORY

Biobot last year began a pilot with Cary, North Carolina’s seventh-largest municipality, with about 162,000 citizens. Last year 11 people in Cary died and about 60 others overdosed on opioids—a 70 percent increase from the previous year.

Biobot works with the town to identify which catchment basins and associated manholes they want to survey. At the chosen manholes, a sampling bot is suspended by a rope so it sits just above the water. The bot houses filters, a pump, sensors, and other hardware. Sewage is pumped through a series of filters—which bind the compounds of interest—and then out again during a 24-hour period.

A city worker collects the filters, which are sent back to the company. Back in the Biobot lab, analysts use mass spectrometry and other techniques to scan the filters for 16 different opioid metabolites.

In Cary, samples were extracted from 200,000 gallons of wastewater that flowed through 10 sample areas—gathering information from neighborhoods of about roughly 5,000 homes each. The results helped researchers determine a baseline level of opioid consumption.

The reports that Biobot provides to Cary officials include, for example, comparisons of reported overdoses—which the city already collects from first responders—and the levels of opioids that were found in the sewers. Presented as spatial maps of the city with blocks corresponding to the sampled catchment areas, the comparisons allow the city to visualize and identify “hidden” areas of consumption that are not captured by the officially reported overdoses, Hu says. For example, preliminary results showed that opioids were found all throughout Cary, not just in areas with reported overdoses.

In addition, Biobot found that prescription opioids were driving much of the consumption. The town used the information to tailor outreach programs around prescription opioids, resulting in a threefold increase in people using drop-off points to dispose of their leftover prescribed opioid medication.

Biobot also measures levels of naloxone (Narcan), a medication that can rapidly reverse opioid overdose. Preliminary results showed that Narcan usage correlates with reported overdoses in Cary, but the levels found in the sewers were much higher than expected, implying many unreported overdoses. The city is now digging into potential barriers that might exist to reporting overdoses, Hu reports. And the town is conducting awareness campaigns about opioid use.

Hu says first responders have expressed interest in data about trends on emerging drugs, such as marijuana and cocaine, so Biobot is now measuring for those as well.

FULFILLING CAREER

After graduating from Princeton with a degree in electrical engineering, Hu spent a few years working for a financial consulting company. She decided to pursue a graduate degree in environmental engineering. “I wanted to do something that helped the world,” she says, “and pursue a cause I believed in.”

She earned a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from MIT. Her research thesis involved building sensors to measure naturally occurring chemicals in water.

Hu joined IEEE as a grad student because of the discounted rates members receive on conferences. She remains a member, she says, because she finds that “IEEE isn’t just for electrical engineers; it’s very interdisciplinary. There’s a conference for everyone, and it’s nice to have this professional community.

“Being on the IoT–Smart Networks and Social Innovations panel was one of my first forays into branching out in IEEE and talking about my work to a broader audience,” she says.

A friend who works at Biobot persuaded her to join the startup. The company, which was founded by two MIT graduate students, has almost a dozen employees. “It was a really good fit for me,” Hu says.

Biobot, which plans to expand its client base to more cities, counties, and states, has raised nearly US $2.5 million in seed funding from 22 investors.

You’ve Heard of Bitcoin, But What Do You Really Know About Blockchain?

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/youve-heard-of-bitcoin-but-what-do-you-really-know-about-blockchain

IEEE local groups help demystify the technology

THE INSTITUTE Blockchain technology, best known as the foundation of cryptocurrency transactions, has the potential to replace existing databases, providing more transparency and security. Just about every industry, including energy, finance, and health care, is looking into how it can adopt blockchain’s decentralized ledger.

To help advance the technology, IEEE launched its Blockchain Initiative last year. Something unique to the initiative are its local groups, which teach developers how the technology could help companies in their region—as the basis of a cryptocurrency, in support of smart contracts, or some other way. Twenty-five such groups have formed, in cities including Boston, Kiev, and Toronto. The groups hold forums with blockchain experts from industry and academia and provide networking opportunities for attendees who are working on blockchain projects.

“If you’re interested in getting involved with the technology or working in the industry, attending the local meetings will give you a much better understanding of how to do that,” says IEEE Member Ken Miyachi, who chairs the San Diego group along with members Joshua James and Emilio A. Cazares.

Miyachi recently launched LedgerSafe, a blockchain-based compliance-software platform. It tracks high-risk financial transactions and automates the completion of businesses’ regulatory documents.

He helped form a local group, he says, because “there’s a lot of fragmented information about blockchain on the Internet. The idea is to have industry leaders provide credible information about the technology’s current state and get their perspective. A centralized source of valid information, like IEEE, is currently lacking.”

The San Diego group, established five months ago, now has 60 members. It has held three events. One provided an overview of the IEEE Blockchain Initiative. The second one covered Ethereum, an open-source, blockchain-based distributed computing platform, which was presented by engineers of the Matryx platform.

At that session, Miyachi says, people discussed the development pipeline and how it’s different from standard software development channels. The session also covered business and development hurdles that need to be overcome.

The most recent event, held on 19 June at the University of San Diego, covered the impact of blockchain technology on legal frameworks and policy. The forum, which included a networking session, attracted about 100 people with both legal and technology backgrounds, Miyachi says—considerably more than the group’s first two events. The event culminated in a keynote presentation by James Gatto, the blockchain and digital currency team lead at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton.

“It’s in the best interest of blockchain companies to present at these local sessions, because they’re a great way to get out information about their company and product as well as demystify the technology itself,” Miyachi says. “Most of the people coming to speak are blockchain advocates. They really believe in the technology, so they’re trying to speed up its adoption so that more people will invest in it and use the technology and the platforms being built for it.”

If you’d like to start an IEEE Blockchain Initiative group in your IEEE section, email Ramesh Ramadoss, cochair of the initiative.

OTHER OFFERINGS

IEEE offers other ways to stay up to date on the technology. There’s the IEEE blockchain technical community, which anyone can join to work on the technology’s development and deployment. Participants receive notices about conferences, special events, education, publications, and standards. They also get the quarterly IEEE Blockchain Newsletter.

There’s also a blockchain community on IEEE Collabratec that includes posts from members about their projects.

IEEE offers several e-learning courses that cover blockchain fundamentals as well as the ethics, governance, and human rights issues surrounding the technology.

Several conferences are scheduled this year. The International Conference on Blockchain, to be held 14 to 17 July in Atlanta, is expected to cover game theory and performance analysis. The IEEE Global Communications Conference plans to hold a blockchain in telecommunications workshop. The session is scheduled for 13 December in Waikoloa, Hawaii.

Robert J. McEliece, Interplanetary Communications Pioneer, Dies at 77

Post Syndicated from The Institute’s Editorial Staff original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/robert-j-mceliece-interplanetary-communications-pioneer-dies-at-77

IEEE also mourns the loss of IEEE Nigeria Section’s webmaster and other members

THE INSTITUTEIEEE Life Fellow Robert J. McEliece died on 8 May at the age of 77.

McEliece contributed to the design and analysis of coded interplanetary telecommunication systems such as the Golay-coded nonimaging system for the Voyager spacecraft and the Big Viterbi Decoder used on the Galileo, Mars Pathfinder, Cassini, and Mars Exploration Rover missions. The secure McEliece cryptosystem is named after its inventor. He also contributed to the discovery of the JPL bound, the best-known upper bound made to the basic combinatorial problem of information theory. For his efforts, he received an IEEE Golden Jubilee Paper Award in 1998.

McEliece’s theorem, also named in his honor, identifies the largest power of p that divides all the weights in a p-ary cyclic code. It is one of the deepest mathematical results to come out of coding theory.

McEliece became a professor of mathematics in 1978 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He conducted research at the school’s Coordinated Science Laboratory.

In 1982 he joined the faculty at the Caltech, in Pasadena, as a professor in the electrical engineering department, and served as the department’s executive officer from 1990 to 1999. He won awards for excellence in teaching, and he mentored more than 30 Ph.D. students, four of whom are now IEEE Fellows. He also wrote three textbooks and more than 250 research articles. He retired from the university in 2007.

He received numerous IEEE awards including the 2004 IEEE Claude E. Shannon Award and the 2009 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal.

McEliece earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1964 at Caltech, where he received a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1967.


David Tobechukwu Okereafor

IEEE Nigeria Section webmaster

Member, 29; died 17 April

Okereafor was an active volunteer for the IEEE Nigeria Section.

He served as the section’s webmaster and was secretary for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Nigeria chapter. He was also the webmaster for this year’s IEEE Power & Energy Society Power Africa Conference, to be held in August. He designed and maintained websites for numerous IEEE conferences held in Nigeria.

Okereafor developed embedded systems and worked for several companies on such projects as the Internet of Things, robotics, and unmanned ground vehicles.

He graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering from the Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Imo, Nigeria.

During his time at university, he helped organize several of the section’s student robotics competitions, gave tutorials on programming, and encouraged fellow students to participate in programming competitions.


Robert Harmon Carlstead

Electrical engineer

Life Member, 90; died 28 April

Carlstead worked for several companies in Silicon Valley. He began at Lockheed Martin and left there to join Schlumberger Technologies, formerly Fairchild Semiconductors. He worked there for 27 years in the test-equipment division, producing machines capable of performing self-automated tests. After retiring in 1994, he occasionally consulted for Schlumberger.

Carlstead received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1952 from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He then joined the U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, serving as a first lieutenant in the Navy for four years. His tour of duty included the Caribbean, Guantanamo Bay, the Panama Canal, and South America.

After he was discharged, he attended Oklahoma State University, in Stillwater, graduating in 1957 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. While working, he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Santa Clara University, in California.


Thomas F. Gibbons Jr.

Electrical engineer

Member, 47; died 25 May

Gibbons specialized in high-speed communication technologies. He began his career with Multilink, a telecommunications startup. He left to join the semiconductor company Agere Systems, in Allentown, Pa., which through a series of mergers, became part of semiconductor developer Broadcom.

During his career, Gibbons received several U.S. patents for his inventions, including one for joint transmitter and receiver gain optimization for high-speed serial data systems and a method of transmitter training using receiver equalizer coefficients.

He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1994 from Drexel University, in Philadelphia.

GE Aviation Electrifies Airplane Engines to Meet Carbon Emission Goals

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/ge-aviation-electrifies-airplane-engines-to-meet-carbon-emission-goals

Smaller lighter engines, 3D printed parts, and more electrical engineers are needed for the next era of flight

THE INSTITUTEThe aerospace industry is under intense pressure to reduce its impact on the environment. Between 2021 and 2035, the industry will have to offset a total of 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide under the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, an emissions mitigation approach for the industry.

GE Aviation is one company that is working to meet the mandates by increasing the electrification of the aircraft it builds. The company produces 65 percent of all commercial airplane engines. It also has a large market share of components and integrated systems for commercial, business, and general aviation aircraft. Every two seconds, an aircraft powered by GE technology takes off somewhere in the world, the company says.

Its electrical power technology chief, IEEE Fellow Hao Huang, along with his colleagues, is developing hybrid electric propulsion systems and exploring additive manufacturing of airplane parts.

Huang is an active volunteer with the IEEE Industry Applications Society and the IEEE Transportation Electrification Community.

He is the recipient of this year’s IEEE Transportation Technologies Award for his “quest to develop ‘more electric aircraft,’ with electric systems in place of today’s pneumatic and hydraulic ones for quieter, more fuel-efficient, and environmentally friendly flight.”

In this interview with The Institute, Huang discusses some of GE’s current projects that have been made public and talks about challenges facing the aerospace industry, including a shortage of skilled engineers.

AIRPLANE PRIMER

Conventional jetliners have engines or propellers that rotate to move the aircraft forward or take off. In addition to the engines, there are three other systems. The hydraulic system uses pressurized fluid to move and actuate landing gear, brakes, and flight control surfaces, which are aerodynamic devices allowing a pilot to adjust and control the aircraft’s flight attitude. The pneumatic system bleeds air off the engines to power environmental control and protection from ice. The electrical system provides power to the engines as well as to equipment in the cabin.

The auxiliary power unit (APU), generally located at the rear of the aircraft, produces energy to power systems when the plane is on the ground as well as supplying energy needed to start the engines.

To make today’s planes ‘more electric’ requires changing the systems, Huang says. For example, the engine needs to be more electrical, the aircraft’s body more “actively” aerodynamic, and materials lighter to improve efficiency.

Huang points to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which uses electricity instead of pneumatics to power its environmental control system, to start its engine, and protect the wings from ice. The plane uses six generators to create more electricity. Two are located on each engine, and two are on the APU. The 787 also features a frame constructed primarily of composite materials.

PROJECTS IN THE WORKS

Huang and his team are working on multiple electrification projects that have the potential to save fuel. One of its programs aims to eliminate the pneumatic bleed system and other parts to make planes lighter. Components such as bleedless turbo fans, high-speed generators that operate at around 270 DC volts, and high-speed solid-state DC circuit breakers are expected to reduce a plane’s weight by about 450 kilograms, Huang says.

GE has demonstrated engines that can more efficiently convert fuel to electricity. The company modified an F110 engine to generate 1 megawatt of electric power, for example. A megawatt of power is equivalent to 1,341 horsepower. The high-power-density device was tested at the company’s US $51 million Electrical Power Integrated System Center—or EPISCenter—in Dayton, Ohio, followed by additional evaluation at its test site in Peebles, Ohio, where it was used to drive a 3.4-meter-diameter Dowty propeller from a Saab 340 turboprop aircraft.

Adding electrical components can make planes heavier. Lightening the load requires new technology, materials, and design approaches, Huang says. High-voltage materials, for example, are needed to make electrical cables thinner. Another solution is to reduce the weight of parts. GE is looking into manufacturing them using additive technology such as 3D printing.

The company is working on hybrid electric aircraft concepts. Huang referenced an report published last year in Aviation Week and Space Technology on GE developing gas turbines for emerging hybrid-electric propulsion architectures, which play a big part in so-called flying cars. The electric, self-piloted, vertical-takeoff and -landing passenger aircraft are expected to replace short-range urban transportation such as cars and trains. Flying cars are projected to cost less than helicopters and be quieter to boot.

Huang expects flying cars to be used in congested cities such as San Francisco, where it can take two hours to drive 40 kilometers. “People are busy and don’t want to waste their time sitting in traffic,” he says. “Flying cars can vertically take off and land, so you could arrive in 20 minutes. I predict we’ll see these small aircraft in the next decade, but of course these planes will first need to undergo rigorous safety tests.”

You can view the presentation Huang gave last year about the future of electrification of aircraft for the IEEE Industry Applications Society’s webinar series.

HELP WANTED

The aerospace industry needs more engineers to achieve its goals.

“We are in the beginning of a new aviation era,” Huang says. “The growing industry needs skilled electrical engineers to design, build, and test components. We also need mechanical engineers and thermal engineers. There’s a lot of work to do. Companies need to get aircraft ready for the next decade.”

Huang encourages engineers who want to learn more about the industry to join IEEE, attend its conferences, subscribe to its publications, join its societies, and take advantage of the networking opportunities the organization presents.

“I joined IEEE in 1986, and the organization has helped me tremendously,” he says. “I cannot imagine where I would be today without IEEE. It’s really a wonderful organization to associate with. Its societies have helped me to broaden my knowledge.

“I’m a big fan.”

The Pioneers Behind MEMS Technology, Bose Speakers, and 4G Networks Honored

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/the-pioneers-behind-mems-technology-bose-speakers-and-4g-networks-honored

Synopsys and Zipline innovators also receive top IEEE awards

THE INSTITUTERemember when electronic components tended to be big, slow, and unreliable? The technologies pioneered by several award recipients recognized at this year’s IEEE Honors Ceremony have brought us smaller consumer electronics, more accurate medical devices, and dependable wireless communication systems. They were celebrated on 17 May at the Marriott Marquis Marina hotel in San Diego.

IEEE Life Fellow Kurt Petersen received the organization’s highest award, the IEEE Medal of Honor, for his foundational work on microelectromechanical systems. MEMS technology involves merging miniature mechanical and electromechanical elements such as sensors and actuators onto a silicon substrate along with integrated circuits. The functionality of smartphones and human-machine-interface applications depend on MEMS.

“The MEMS industry has grown incredibly over the years thanks to the hard work of many researchers all over the world,” Petersen noted in his acceptance speech. “When I started working in MEMS in 1975, the market was $30 million. This year it’s going to be $20 billion.

“There are a lot of projects going on in research labs all over the world that haven’t been commercialized yet but will soon be,” he added. “I think the field still has a lot of momentum.”

IEEE Fellow Antun Domic also miniaturized an important technology: electronic design automation tools, which power many of today’s applications. EDA allows the creation of complex systems with computer software that aids in the design, verification, and testing processes and helps detect flaws in chips and circuit boards. As chief technical officer at Synopsys, in Mountain View, Calif., the IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal recipient has developed tools that enabled the design of chips containing billions of gates.

IEEE Senior Member David Flynn and Member David Jaggar developed reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture that can be found in more than 100 billion microprocessor cores. The recipients of the IEEE/RSE James Clerk Maxwell Medal created the foundations that launched the system-on-chip market with microprocessors that power smartphones, portable computing devices, and Internet of Things applications. Based on the RISC process, their designs use less energy.

Bose Corp. has changed the way people listen to music at home and on the go. The company received the IEEE Corporate Innovation Award, which was founded in 1964 by IEEE Life Fellow Amar G. Bose when he was a professor at MIT. Based in Framingham, Mass., Bose pioneered technology that provided more realistic recorded music with a full range of sound—from speakers that were a fraction of the size of conventional ones. He died in 2013.

Accepting the award was the company’s vice president of research, Thomas Froeschle, an IEEE member. He said Bose was frustrated that he wasn’t applying his innovations at MIT to real products that actually reached people. “Reluctantly he reached the decision to form the company and in doing that, he tried to ensure it would continue to innovate over its whole existence,” Froeschle said. “We have strived to do that for 54 years.”

The work by IEEE Fellow David Ngar Ching Tse increased wireless data transmission’s channel capacity and decreased interference. The recipient of the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal developed an opportunistic scheduler, demonstrating that fading can be harnessed to increase network capacity, contrary to the conventional thinking at the time. His theory helped enable today’s wireless data boom. His work was part of Qualcomm’s Evolution–Data Optimized telecommunications standard for high-data-rate wireless systems and was incorporated into all 3G and 4G cellular systems. Tse further developed the technology by using multiple antennas to induce fading.

In his acceptance speech, he thanked Claude Shannon, who in 1948 laid out a grand vision for digital communication. “After 80 years the vision is fully realized,” Tse said, adding that Shannon’s work “set a tradition of research from first principles. In this era of fast-moving research, it’s now left to the next generation to uphold and expand upon that tradition.”

INNOVATIVE COMPANIES

Every day thousands of people living in remote areas of the world die because they can’t get access to medicine or a blood bank. To address the problem, the world’s first drone-delivery service, Zipline International, is distributing medical products—thus far in Ghana and Rwanda. For its efforts, the company received IEEE Spectrum’s Technology in Service of Society Award.

Founded in 2014 in Half Moon Bay, Calif., Zipline designs, builds, and operates small drone aircraft. The fixed-wing drones can fly 100 kilometers per hour and carry 1.8 kilograms of blood and medical supplies.

Zipline, which has two distribution centers in Rwanda, has made more than 10,000 deliveries since it opened its first center in 2016. Each facility services villages within an 80-kilometer range. It takes the aircraft about 30 minutes to deliver its payloads, and the drones can fly in all types of weather, day and night.

“Five years ago, when we started Zipline, we were told countless times that we were crazy,” said Keenan Wydrobek, the company’s cofounder and head of product engineering, who accepted the award. “We were told the governments we wanted to partner with weren’t going to be able to afford it. Our partners in the Rwandan and now Ghanaian government have moved barrier after barrier to make this a success. We now fly the equivalent of once around the equator a week delivering medical supplies, and we are just getting started.”

You can watch the entire ceremony on IEEE.tv.

President Moura on the Importance of Financial Transparency

Post Syndicated from Jose M. F. Moura, IEEE president and CEO original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/president-moura-on-the-importance-of-financial-transparency

Timely, meaningful, and reliable disclosures are critical

THE INSTITUTEIEEE is a distributed management association with many organizational units. Conduct that is transparent and accountable is critical to building trust among members, volunteers,
and professional staff. Wise conduct requires consistent understanding, particularly of financial determinations, at all levels to make decisions that benefit all of IEEE and its members.

IEEE is financially sound. But, as I stated in 2017 in my president-elect platform, my goal was to overcome the then persistent operational deficits. To run IEEE with a balanced budget, healthy reserves, and the ability to invest wisely in our future requires understanding, in sufficient detail, our revenue and cost structures. To do so, we need transparency with preparation and distribution of timely operational financial data at the level of detail needed to consistently manage our distributed organization.

For historical reasons, much of IEEE’s cost of doing business has been bundled together and allocated to its products and services indirectly—sometimes unevenly. We need to modernize this process so we can create more transparency in our financial structure. Better financial transparency is essential to run our businesses efficiently so we can determine exactly what it costs IEEE to deliver each product and service.

Transparent financial reporting should maximize the availability of fiscal information to decision makers at all levels of IEEE. I believe that financial transparency should objectively support the reporting of gross revenues to the units that generate them, and costs should be resolved at a sufficient level of detail to individual products and services and assigned to the unit that incurred them to pay for services the unit requested and agreed to.

Our volunteers and professional staff need the processes and tools that allow effective, efficient, and timely collection, reporting, and assignment of revenue and costs at an appropriate level of resolution. These processes and tools should enable the ability to trace and track revenue and costs in a bottom-up manner from organizational units that then roll up to IEEE corporate financial reporting. Our financial system should be able to record revenues and expenses at the transactional level, coded by projects and/or activities, and assisted by an information retrieval system that supports queries and analytics from different units.

During my tenure as an IEEE volunteer, I and others have helped promote financial transparency and have promoted developing a transparent financial system that explains where each dollar is spent, roots out waste, encourages efficiency, and reduces costs without affecting the quality of the products and services provided to our members.

AD HOC COMMITTEES

As a follow-up to the January IEEE Board retreat, I commissioned several ad hoc committees, chaired by dedicated volunteers and supported by members and professional staff, to address the underlying issues and challenges IEEE faces on its path to becoming a more transparent organization.

The financial transparency ad hoc committee’s charter is to develop a plan for detailed financial reporting at a sufficient level of resolution and to initiate its immediate execution, which includes specific actions, timelines, and funding. The committee will provide a blueprint for operating units to present their budget early in the year, every year, with the costs to be charged for each service provided to another unit. The goal is for costs to be charged directly rather than being indirectly allocated. This will allow operating units to decide which services they need and are willing to purchase. It is vital that Board members, as well as all IEEE sections, regions, societies, councils, and major boards, have access to complete financial information in order to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the organization.

The ad hoc committee on contracting is charged with addressing issues that have been raised with our contracting workflows. Every year IEEE organizes nearly 2,000 conferences, half of which are in partnership with other organizations. Issues related to contracting with conference service providers frustrate volunteers and staff and could degrade the value of the events for attendees.

The committee is to propose practical suggestions that consider risk, timing, and available resources.

The ad hoc committee on conference finance management is developing and implementing policies and systems to provide IEEE with a financial management ecosystem for its conference business. It will provide best-in-class support for conference organizers and their organizational units while minimizing the vulnerabilities related to a distributed, global conference business.

And for a more open organization, the ad hoc committee on transparency in meetings, document classification, and elections is drafting bylaws and policies on executive sessions and election-related governing documents to provide maximum but reasonable transparency while still protecting corporate information.

I will continue to champion transparency at all levels, striving for increased communication and an open and accountable IEEE. Share your thoughts with me at [email protected].

This article appears in the June 2019 print issue as “The Importance Of Transparency.”

IEEE President Moura on the Importance of Financial Transparency

Post Syndicated from Jose M. F. Moura, IEEE president and CEO original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/ieee-president-moura-on-the-importance-of-financial-transparency

Timely, meaningful, and reliable disclosures are critical

THE INSTITUTEIEEE is a distributed management association with many organizational units. Conduct that is transparent and accountable is critical to building trust among members, volunteers,
and professional staff. Wise conduct requires consistent understanding, particularly of financial determinations, at all levels to make decisions that benefit all of IEEE and its members.

IEEE is financially sound. But, as I stated in 2017 in my president-elect platform, my goal was to overcome the then persistent operational deficits. To run IEEE with a balanced budget, healthy reserves, and the ability to invest wisely in our future requires understanding, in sufficient detail, our revenue and cost structures. To do so, we need transparency with preparation and distribution of timely operational financial data at the level of detail needed to consistently manage our distributed organization.

For historical reasons, much of IEEE’s cost of doing business has been bundled together and allocated to its products and services indirectly—sometimes unevenly. We need to modernize this process so we can create more transparency in our financial structure. Better financial transparency is essential to run our businesses efficiently so we can determine exactly what it costs IEEE to deliver each product and service.

Transparent financial reporting should maximize the availability of fiscal information to decision makers at all levels of IEEE. I believe that financial transparency should objectively support the reporting of gross revenues to the units that generate them, and costs should be resolved at a sufficient level of detail to individual products and services and assigned to the unit that incurred them to pay for services the unit requested and agreed to.

Our volunteers and professional staff need the processes and tools that allow effective, efficient, and timely collection, reporting, and assignment of revenue and costs at an appropriate level of resolution. These processes and tools should enable the ability to trace and track revenue and costs in a bottom-up manner from organizational units that then roll up to IEEE corporate financial reporting. Our financial system should be able to record revenues and expenses at the transactional level, coded by projects and/or activities, and assisted by an information retrieval system that supports queries and analytics from different units.

During my tenure as an IEEE volunteer, I and others have helped promote financial transparency and have promoted developing a transparent financial system that explains where each dollar is spent, roots out waste, encourages efficiency, and reduces costs without affecting the quality of the products and services provided to our members.

AD HOC COMMITTEES

As a follow-up to the January IEEE Board retreat, I commissioned several ad hoc committees, chaired by dedicated volunteers and supported by members and professional staff, to address the underlying issues and challenges IEEE faces on its path to becoming a more transparent organization.

The financial transparency ad hoc committee’s charter is to develop a plan for detailed financial reporting at a sufficient level of resolution and to initiate its immediate execution, which includes specific actions, timelines, and funding. The committee will provide a blueprint for operating units to present their budget early in the year, every year, with the costs to be charged for each service provided to another unit. The goal is for costs to be charged directly rather than being indirectly allocated. This will allow operating units to decide which services they need and are willing to purchase. It is vital that Board members, as well as all IEEE sections, regions, societies, councils, and major boards, have access to complete financial information in order to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the organization.

The ad hoc committee on contracting is charged with addressing issues that have been raised with our contracting workflows. Every year IEEE organizes nearly 2,000 conferences, half of which are in partnership with other organizations. Issues related to contracting with conference service providers frustrate volunteers and staff and could degrade the value of the events for attendees.

The committee is to propose practical suggestions that consider risk, timing, and available resources.

The ad hoc committee on conference finance management is developing and implementing policies and systems to provide IEEE with a financial management ecosystem for its conference business. It will provide best-in-class support for conference organizers and their organizational units while minimizing the vulnerabilities related to a distributed, global conference business.

And for a more open organization, the ad hoc committee on transparency in meetings, document classification, and elections is drafting bylaws and policies on executive sessions and election-related governing documents to provide maximum but reasonable transparency while still protecting corporate information.

I will continue to champion transparency at all levels, striving for increased communication and an open and accountable IEEE. Share your thoughts with me at [email protected].

This article appears in the June 2019 print issue as “The Importance Of Transparency.”

Executives on How to Succeed in Engineering

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/news-from-around-ieee/the-institute/ieee-member-news/getting-more-women-engineers-in-the-executive-suite

At the IEEE Women in Engineering conference, executives shared tips on how to set goals and overcome imposter syndrome

THE INSTITUTEThe aim of this year’s IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference (IEEE WIE ILC) was to increase the number of women in middle- to senior-level positions. I attended several sessions that offered career advice to attendees about how they could rise up the ranks. The event was held on 23 and 24 May in Austin, Texas.

“This conference is all about following your passions and making sure women thrive in technology,” said IEEE WIE ILC chair and Senior Member Kathy Herring Hayashi in her opening remarks.

Eighty-five percent of women in electrical engineering quit in the first 15 years of their careers because they feel unsupported or undermined at work, according to Herring Hayashi. She recalled that at one time in her life, she too thought about leaving engineering because she felt isolated. Today, she’s an engineer at Qualcomm in San Diego.

Arm Founder Saxby Turned a TV Repair Hobby Into an Engineering Career

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/news-from-around-ieee/the-institute/ieee-member-news/arm-founder-saxby-turned-a-tv-repair-hobby-into-an-engineering-career

And other observations from a cavalcade of IEEE awards

THE INSTITUTEI attended three back-to-back events held on 16 and 17 May in San Diego that spotlighted some people who laid the groundwork for many of today’s devices and showcased several emerging technologies. Here are highlights of those sessions.

At its San Diego headquarters, Qualcomm hosted the “IEEE Evening of Innovation” panel discussion on 16 May with four of this year’s award recipients. One of the questions they were asked was why they chose engineering as a career. IEEE Founders Medal recipient Sir Robin Keith Saxby said he got into the field to continue pursuing his hobby of repairing televisions, which he had been doing since the age of 14. He felt he was destined for the electronics industry. And he made his mark as the first CEO and chairman of ARM Holdings, one of the most successful semiconductor and software design companies. It was his decision to license ARM (Advanced RISC Machines) intellectual property instead of making the chips themselves.  

He was knighted in 2002. Since he retired, Saxby is an advisor and investor in several startups. His advice to those considering launching a startup is to not be afraid to try new things and make mistakes along the way.

The IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit got underway on 17 May with panel discussions on smart cities, social robotics, and cybersecurity. Kicking off the event was keynote speaker and computer scientist Telle Whitney, who is active in promoting women technologists. Whitney cofounded the National Center for Women and Information Technology and is chief executive officer emeritus of the Anita Borg Institute. At the Honors Ceremony that evening, Whitney was made an IEEE Honorary Member for her support and promotion of women in technology.

Whitney said she was drawn to technology at 13 after she watched the moon landing in 1969. Like many students today, she didn’t know any engineers to serve as role models. That’s why she said she became active in increasing the number of women engineers and those from underrepresented groups. She outlined four actions that organizations can take to increase diversity: Hold leadership accountable, evaluate diversity and inclusion programs, diagnose hiring and promotion practices, and mobilize people to work together.

“One of great changes in recent times is that many companies now report their diversity numbers,” she said. “What you can measure you will change.”

Member Irene Hu, one of the speakers on the IoT–Smart Networks and Social Innovations panel, is working on make cities healthier by examining urine in wastewater from sewer systems, known as wastewater epidemiology. Hu is a hardware electronics engineer at startup, Biobot Analytics. Urine contains a lot of information about citizens’ health that can be analyzed to help cities take preventative measures against bacteria, drug abuse, and viruses, she said. Biobot is working with Cary, N.C., to measure the concentration of opioids in its sewers, and map the data to identify where use of these drugs is highest. In the United States, overdosing on opioids is the leading cause of death of people under the age of 50, according to Hu. Armed with the information, municipalities can better target educational and prevention programs, and equip first responders with knowledge about where overdoses are most likely to occur.

“We can gather information about the health of a city before a situation becomes a catastrophe,” Hu said.

During the Ethics in AI: Impact of (Anti?) Social Robotics session, panelists Ayanna Howard, Kevin McGowan, and Kate Vredenburgh were asked about which field robots have the most impact. All three agreed that healthcare is where the need is greatest, especially caring for the elderly. When questioned about whether robots were going to bring people closer or further apart, McGowan said, “Overall, I think it’s a net-net, they will bring us closer together.” He’s an associate partner for McKinsey and Co. “Over the course of human history, machines have improved our way of our life, but have come with some downsides. The world is moving forward not backwards.”

That evening’s Honor Ceremony recognized those who paved the way for today’s wireless networks, microprocessors, lasers, and other technologies. Many recipients said the event felt like an “Academy Awards for engineers.”

There was a standing ovation for Katherine G. Johnson, who received the IEEE President’s Award for her work on the Apollo 11 spaceflight. Unable to travel to the ceremony, her daughters accepted the award on her behalf. Johnson’s mathematical calculations of orbital mechanics at NASA were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. human spaceflights. She was one of the women featured in the Oscar-nominated 2016 film Hidden Figures.

The new IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award, established to recognize up-and-coming technology leaders and highlight their work, was presented for the first time. Hissey presented the award to Member Mario Milicevic. In his acceptance speech, Milicevic credited past and current award recipients whose lifelong work he said was the foundation of his research into error correction and quantum cryptography.

 “The future of technology is very interdisciplinary,” Milicevic said. “I challenge young engineers to push the boundaries in fields such as healthcare, robotics, sustainable energy, and quantum computing. The list of meaningful problems is endless, but ideas, focus, determination, and hard work truly can change the world.”

Facial Recognition Faces More Proposed Bans Across U.S.

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/news-from-around-ieee/the-institute/ieee-member-news/why-san-francisco-banned-the-use-of-facial-recognition-technology

Critics say the technology is not very accurate, and is often rolled out first in minority communities

THE INSTITUTESeveral companies, including Amazon and Clarifai, are working to create reliable facial recognition technology for use by government agencies and law enforcement to catch criminals and find missing children. 

Amazon’s Rekognition can identify, analyze, and track people in real time. Within seconds, the software can compare information it collects against databases housing millions of images. Law enforcement agencies have used the technology to help find missing people and to identify suspects in terrorist attacks.

While this technology may have benefits, it has recently faced some backlash. Many people are concerned about racial bias and protecting citizen’s privacy.

In Memoriam: May 2019

Post Syndicated from The Institute’s Editorial Staff original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/in-memoriam-may-2019

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

Norman J. Rasmusson

Electrical engineer

Life member, 95; died 3 June

Rasmusson joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and became part of the 1303rd Engineer Regiment, which landed at Normandy, France, two weeks after D-Day. He received five battle stars and became a corporal. After the war, he rejoined Haughton Elevator Co., in Toledo, Ohio, where he had worked before the war.

He was honored in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Rasmusson studied electrical engineering at the University of Toledo, courtesy of the GI Bill.

After he graduated, he worked for several companies in Toledo. In 1953 he joined the engineering staff at the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co., a glass manufacturer, and in 1956 was promoted to chief electrician of the company’s glass plant in East Toledo. He became assistant plant engineer in 1967 and was promoted in 1971 to plant engineer. He later had a brief stint as manager of facilities at Libbey’s executive office facilities.

He left the company in the early 1980s, then worked for a variety of consulting firms in Ohio for a decade. One of his jobs was to ensure electrical transmission facilities were in place for a steel plant planned in Delta, Ohio.

Rasmusson was a former chair of the IEEE Toledo Section.


Robert M. Lauman

Communications engineer

Life member, 92; died 6 June

Through the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program, which offered to pay college tuition for men who enlisted during World War II, Lauman earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1945 from Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, Pa. He did postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and MIT.

His career began in 1946 with Bell of Pennsylvania, now part of Verizon, where he advanced to the position of vice president of engineering. In that role he was responsible for the modernization of the network, as well as the introduction of the No. 1 Electronic Switching System and No. 4 ESS cellular and fiber technologies. In 1960 he founded the Bell System Data Communication School, where nearly 1,500 engineers and sales staff learned about the technology each year.

In 1966 Lauman implemented the first commercial fiber-optic system between Pittsburgh and Greensburg, Pa. In 1981 he oversaw the first digital mobile services office of the Nortel Co.

Lauman left Bell in 1983 to become executive vice president and chief operating officer of D&E Communications, in Ephrata, Pa.—a role he held until 2002. He later was promoted to vice chairman and senior executive vice president. He received the company’s 1990 Ray Blain Outside Plant Achievement Award for sustained leadership and direction.


Charles K. Kao

Nobel laureate,

Life fellow, 84; died 23 September

In the 1960s, Kao was part of the optical communications research team at Standard Telephones and Cables, in Harlow, England.

He discovered in 1966 that optical fibers made from high-purity glass could be used to transmit light signals over long distances. He then identified silica as a crucial material for developing fiber-optic communications—opening the door for inventions including the Internet.

In 1970 he became a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and founded what is now its electronic engineering department. He became vice chancellor in 1987 and retired nine years later.

Kao shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics with Willard Boyle and George Smith for “groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication.” The following year he was knighted and was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College London (UCL).

He graduated in 1957 from Woolwich Polytechnic, now the University of Greenwich, in London, with a bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering. He received a Ph.D. in 1965 in electrical engineering from UCL.


Jun-ichi Nishizawa

Inventor of the PIN diode,

Life fellow, 92; died 21 October

In 1950 Nishizawa invented the PIN diode used in fiber-optic network cards and switches. He also invented the static induction transistor, which can function at high speed with low energy levels and has a wide variety of applications including in high-speed computers.

He was instrumental in developing optical-communications building blocks such as the semiconductor lasers and glass fiber that enabled high-speed, high-capacity data communications. He developed green and red light-emitting diodes used in traffic lights and displays, and he held more than 1,000 patents.

IEEE introduced the Jun-ichi Nishizawa Medal in 2004, elevating him to the realm of great inventors such as Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.

Nishizawa in 1953 joined the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University, in Sendai, Japan, as a professor. From 1990 to 1996, he served as president of the university. He became president of Iwate Prefectural University in Takizawa, Japan in 1998.

He received several awards including the IEEE Edison Medal, which is given to reward meritorious careers in electrical science, electrical engineering, or the electrical arts. He was awarded the Japan Academy Prize in 1974 and was recognized by Japan as a person of cultural merit in 1983. Six years later, he received Japan’s Order of Culture award.


James C. McDade

Electrical engineer

Life member, 85; died 8 December

McDade was the first in his family to attend college, graduating from St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia and obtaining a Ph.D. in physics from the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. He worked as an electrical engineer for a number of defense contractors, and he helped design collision-avoidance systems found in today’s automobiles.

A passionate runner, McDade competed in the Boston Marathon 20 times. He was instrumental in forming the Utica Pacemakers running club, in New York. He started a weekly community race series and established the Utica Boilermaker road race, which attracts thousands of runners each July. He was also an avid cyclist.


Robert W. Merriam

Electrical engineer

Life member, 95; died 1 April

Merriam served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and was stationed in Liege, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge.

Following his military service, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Harvard. He taught at Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania, for several years before moving back to Rhode Island and becoming a professor at Brown University, in Providence.

After retiring from academia, he started Merriam Instruments, in Point Judith, R.I. His company provided technical support to the fishing community and worked with the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services and the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., to develop technology to ensure fishermen’s safety at sea.

Merriam, who was a registered professional engineer and a land surveyor, held U.S. patents for radio electronics. He helped to found the National Marine Electronics Association in 1957 and the New England Wireless and Steam Museum in 1964.

Ten on Tech: Spotlight on Christopher Sanderson

Post Syndicated from Justine Spack original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/ten-on-tech-spotlight-on-christopher-sanderson

An interview with the consultant, IEEE senior member, and active volunteer

THE INSTITUTEIEEE Senior Member Christopher Sanderson has worked and consulted with companies such as Schneider Electric, formerly Square D, General Electric, and Siemens. He is also a U.S. Army veteran. Today, he is an account manager for HV Sales Inc., which provides marketing services to manufacturers of electrical equipment.  

Sanderson is an IEEE Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society member. He is currently serving as the IEEE Region 5 South Area chair and IEEE Houston Section vice chair. Sanderson is the 2019 recipient of the IEEE Region 5 Jim Leonard Outstanding Member Award.

What are you currently reading?

Black Pioneers of Science and Invention by Louis Haber. This is an informative and enjoyable read and a perceptive account of the lives of 14 gifted innovators who have played important roles in scientific and industrial progress. All of the profiled individuals were either unknown or had been put in the halls of obscurity. The achievements of Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver, Granville T. Woods, and others have made tasks easier, saved countless lives, and in many cases, altered the course of history.

It’s important for me to share these and other inventions that have contributed to humanity with my kids and students at community schools, were I talk about science, technology, engineering, and math and IEEE.

What invention has most inspired you?

Otis Boykin’s artificial heart pacemaker control unit. During the 1980s, when I was a kid, there was a lot of news about the artificial heart and how it helped prolong the life of patients whose hearts were failing. I was surprised to learn about the inventor, whose key invention was a control unit for the artificial cardiac pacemaker. He died of heart failure in 1982. As a kid, I thought how he died was another weird fact, but now I see his entire body of work as inspirational. I learned that he had more than 25 patents, and his inventions not only helped prolong life but also contributed to other consumer and military applications.     

What recent movies have you enjoyed the most?

Black Panther. To see one of my favorite comic book characters come to life on the big screen was reflective and inspirational. To see its success at the box office was surprising. I only wish I would have kept some of my old Black Panther comic books.

The technologies developed in Wakanda, the fictional country Black Panther is from, and the dilemma its citizens were facing of whether the technology should be shared with the rest of the world reminded me of IEEE’s motto, Advancing Technology for Humanity. For me, the situation in Black Panther parallels some of the challenges of today where technology can be used for both good and evil, depending on who is using it.

What about current technology worries you?

There are two areas of technology that worry me: the lack of U.S. privacy laws compared to those from the European General Data Protection Regulation, and artificial intelligence (AI). I recently participated in the IEEE-USA 2019 Congressional Visit Day (CVD) centered on science, engineering and technology (SET). The objective of CVD SET is to raise awareness of the long-term importance of science, engineering, and technology to the nation through face-to-face meetings with members of Congress, congressional staff, key administration officials, and other decision-makers.

One of the policy concerns shared by the delegates was centered around protecting the digital privacy rights of American citizens and the importance of sensible AI technology. These are challenging and evolving policy concerns that Congress, companies, and citizens of the United States have to educate ourselves about, not only to understand but to also realize the dangers AI can cause to our fundamental beliefs of democracy.  

What in recent years has surprised you the most about technology?

The pace of technology disruption and the lack or limited laws to manage it. During my 2019 CVD, I was pleased to learn that IEEE is viewed as a trusted and respected organization on Capitol Hill. Many of our IEEE subject matter experts are available to help Congress make informed and sensible policies and laws.  

What was the best advice anyone has given you?

“If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem,” a famous quote by Eldridge Cleaver, a writer and political activist. I’ve tried to live my life being the solution and not part of the problem.

This is the motto and advice I give to our current and future engineering community. You can choose to be part of the problem or the solution to it. I chose to be the latter.

How many unread emails are in your inbox?

1,200 junk mail or job alert notices. It’s unfortunate that you have to join a mailing list just to read or download an interesting article or view a picture. I only wish that the job alerts would lead to that ultimate dream job. I’m not sure how much credence I can give to some of the alerts, but it’s interesting to see what positions are available and the qualifications they are looking for. 

What has been or is your favorite equation or concept in engineering, and why?

My favorite Greek letter would be Αα (Alpha), in English, the noun “alpha” is used as a synonym for “beginning,” or “first (in a series), reflecting its Greek roots.

My favorite equation would be a normal distribution equation used by fellow Six Sigma practitioners and statisticians alike. In probability theory, a normal (or Gaussian or Gauss or Laplace–Gauss) distribution is a common continuous probability distribution. Normal distributions are important in statistics and are often used in the natural and social sciences to represent real-valued random variables whose distributions are not known.

In layman’s terms, does your data represent a normal distribution curve that can be improved or is there too much variability in your data and your process is not stable. Nothing can be improved upon unless it’s stable and you’re able to understand what might be influencing the results.

What has been an important life lesson for you? 

I’ve learned how important mentoring the next generation of engineers is. At this time in my life I want to guide students by sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned along my journey. I reflect back on the beginning of my engineering career and remember those mentors who guided me through some of the best and most challenging moments.

What should IEEE be (more) involved in?  

IEEE needs to be a professional and humanitarian organization at the local community level. This could mean different things depending on the community. Some examples of how IEEE could get involved are:

  • Creating IEEE technology badges for Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA
  • Writing career development certification programs (for example, engineer in training, professional engineer, and the National Electrical Code.) with local subject matter experts facilitating the online program
  • Look into offering dual memberships with other engineering societies such as the National Society of Black Engineers and the  Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Offering formal mentor/mentee online and in-person programs. The program would have some measurable mentor/mentee goals and results that would lead to awarding IEEE reward points and badges.   

Advice for Women, From Women, on Dealing With Difficult Workplace Situations

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/advice-for-women-from-women-on-dealing-with-difficult-workplace-situations

IEEE WIE webinar highlights three ways to improve your conflict-resolution skills

THE INSTITUTEMost people view conflict as negative and something that should be avoided. Women have a more difficult time than men dealing with conflict, because they tend to foster a collaborative work environment, put higher value on fostering relationships with team members, and are more empathetic, says Charmaine Hammond, a conflict-resolution expert.

Hammond, along with corporate trainer Pattie Vargas, gave tips in a recent webinar, “The Resilience Factor Is Your Superpower: Dealing With Conflict and Change Management.” The virtual session was sponsored by IEEE Women in Engineering and moderated by IEEE senior member Kathy Kerring Hayashi.

Through personal anecdotes, the two women offered three ways to deal with difficult but common situations women face in the workplace.

BE PROACTIVE

Address conflict head on, they say. Women tend to value relationships and therefore fear hurting someone’s feelings by confronting them, according to Hammond. But when people avoid conflicts, trust erodes and relationships are damaged. Being proactive can keep the situation from getting worse and can help to build stronger relationships and teams.

Two examples of when conflict is typically avoided are when a coworker or manager is disrespectful to you or blames you for something you didn’t do—in front of others. Although those are difficult situations to handle, it’s important to address them as soon as possible, Hammond says. Be respectful to the individual but meet with the person immediately after the incident and explain how you feel.

“Do not let the conflict linger,” Vargas says. “Many times, the coworker who is being disrespectful does not realize how he is coming off. He can’t fix his behavior if he doesn’t know how it makes you feel.”

If that doesn’t work, Hammond says, go to your company’s human resources department and ask it to mediate the conflict.

BE TRANSPARENT

Women in leadership positions often feel that if they don’t have all the answers, they’ll be perceived as ineffective, Hammond says. But employees generally don’t expect perfection from their supervisor. A manager who lets her staff see a bit of her vulnerability tends to create stronger relationships and actually boosts the workers’ confidence in her because they view her more as an equal.

“It’s important to know that as a leader, you can say, ‘I don’t have an answer, but I’ll find out,’ or ‘I don’t know how to deal with this—what does my amazing team have to say about it?’” Hammond says. By involving the team and asking the workers what they think, the leader is showing trust.

Another time when managers should concede that they don’t have all the answers is during a reorganization. Employees often want to know how secure their job is; more often than not, the supervisor doesn’t know, Vargas says. Instead of acknowledging that, some managers try to reassure their employees that their job is safe, Vargas says, but that can be a dangerous approach because if it turns out not to be the case, all the employees can lose trust in the leader.

BE CONFIDENT

Hammond says that one of the most-asked questions she gets is how to deal with being excluded from a discussion or from a meeting. She tells people to insert themselves into the situation.

Many women tend to ask permission to speak, she says. They might use a phrase such as “Can I say something?” Instead, Hammond recommends you be confident and simply state “I have something to add.” That way, she says, you make sure you are heard.

If you’re excluded from a meeting, it might simply be an oversight, Vargas says. Instead of assuming you were purposely left out, approach the organizer and inquire about the meeting’s purpose. One approach is to say, “I noticed there’s a meeting Thursday, and I haven’t received an invitation yet. Maybe I’m not needed at the meeting, but I just wanted to check to see if I need to slot that on my calendar.” Vargas says that most times, the organizer simply forgot to tell you or will explain why you aren’t required.

You can watch the webinar and other sessions on demand.

You can still register for the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference to be held on 23 and 24 May in Austin, Texas. The goal of this year’s meeting is increasing the retention rates of middle- to senior-level women in technology. It will feature panel discussions, a career fair, and workshops. Keynote sessions are expected to cover empowerment, leadership, and diversity and inclusion.

Simple, Effective Public Speaking Tips for Engineers

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/simple-effective-public-speaking-tips-for-engineers

IEEE-USA e-book offers advice on mastering the art

THE INSTITUTEThere are few skills that can help you climb the career ladder faster than the ability to speak well in public. Senior management is always on the lookout for employees who can clearly and effectively communicate information, ideas, and new concepts throughout the organization. That’s according to Harry T. Roman, author of a new IEEE-USA e-book, Public Speaking for Engineers. The e-book costs US $4.99, but IEEE members can buy it for $2.99.

Roman, who is retired, spent more than 30 years as a project manager for the R&D group of Public Service Electric and Gas Co. in Newark, N.J.

Senior management has little time to interact directly with lower-level employees, he says, so when you are asked to make a presentation to your managers, you need to do a good job.

Roman says he has seen plenty of engineers’ careers get derailed because they didn’t speak well in public.

Being a good public speaker also can raise your visibility. Roman says that because of his communication skills, he was asked to lead corporate project teams, present his work in front of PSE&G’s board of directors, lead VIPs on tours of the company’s facilities, and represent the organization at important forums and meetings.

His book covers how to master the basics of public speaking.

PREPARATION IS KEY

Make sure you do your homework on the topic and understand what you’re going to talk about. If it’s a subject you’re already well versed in, show the audience that you’re an expert. If the topic is not exactly your area of expertise, become better informed by doing research and talking with authorities in the field.

Knowing your audience is important: Are they senior managers, representatives from another organization, or engineering students? Your audience affects your approach and how sophisticated your talk should be.

“Remember, you are there to clearly and concisely communicate important information—not to show off and use big words,” Roman says. “To the extent you can, draw parallels to their interests, professions, or experiences.”

ORGANIZE YOUR THOUGHTS

Start preparing your presentation by determining the conclusions you want the audience to leave with, and then work backward. Summarize the main points concisely to help attendees remember them. Roman offers three simple rules: Tell the audience what you are going to speak about, tell them the things you came to say, and sum up by telling them what you just told them.

Each slide in your presentation should contain a complete thought or concept that meshes with the previous one. Have one or two slides for each minute of your allotted time. Be sure to number the slides to preserve the order, and have an extra copy on hand, just in case you encounter technical problems.

To feel comfortable with your talk, rehearse it several times, Roman says. Speak clearly with a strong voice. Enunciate all your words.

Don’t race through the presentation, and be sure to look at your audience, not only at your slides or notes. Do not read your slides to the audience. The visuals should act as a cue about what you want to say.

At the end of the talk, summarize the main points concisely to help the audience remember them.

Encourage questions after your talk. Try to answer them; if you don’t know the answer, simply say so, but then get the person’s contact information so you can send the answer later.

“No audience wants to see a speaker do poorly, because they will have wasted their time,” Roman says. “Good public speakers are remembered, respected, and often emulated.”

HIT THE LECTURE CIRCUIT

A good way to improve your presentation skills is to give talks to groups such as your religious organization and civic groups. Roman also suggests joining your company’s speakers bureau or Toastmasters International, which operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication and public speaking skills.

Consider presenting a technical paper at a conference, visiting schools to talk about the engineering profession, or giving a presentation at an IEEE-sponsored event or section meeting.

“Whichever method you use to learn how to speak confidently in public is up to you, but do take the time to learn this valuable skill,” Roman says. “It’s a stepping stone to your career and the perfect way to develop your leadership skills.

New Hampshire to Honor Hometown Hero IEEE Fellow Ralph Baer

Post Syndicated from Kathy Pretz original https://spectrum.ieee.org/news-from-around-ieee/the-institute/ieee-member-news/new-hampshire-to-honor-hometown-hero-ieee-fellow-ralph-baer

Manchester’s Baer Commemorative Square will celebrate the Father of Video Games

THE INSTITUTEVideo game history buffs, you might want to pay a visit to Manchester, N.H., on 10 May to watch IEEE Fellow Ralph Baer’s hometown unveil a statue and plaza honoring the “Father of the Video Game.” He came up with the idea for a home console for video games in 1951. It let people play games on almost any television set and spawned the commercialization of interactive video games. Baer died 6 December 2014 at the age of 92.

In a news release, BAE systems (the successor company to his former employer) called the commemorative square a “fitting tribute to the man who helped the company develop a healthy disregard for the impossible.”

Called the Brown Box—which refers to the wood-grain, self-adhesive vinyl that covered the console—the soundless multiplayer system included some of the basic features most home video game units still have today, such as a pair of controllers. And it had some things unique to that era, such as clear plastic overlay sheets that could be taped to the player’s TV screen to add color, playing fields, and other graphics. It ran games off printed-circuit-board cartridges that controlled switches to alter the system’s logic, depending on the game. Users could play table tennis, checkers, and four different sports games, including golf and target shooting.

Over the years, The Institute has written several articles about Baer. We reported when his Brown Box was named an IEEE Milestone in 2015. Administered by the IEEE History Center, the Milestone program recognizes outstanding technical developments from around the world. In that article we wrote about how Baer got his idea for the console while working as an engineer at Loral Corp., a military electronics company in New York City. But the company could see no use for it, and it languished. Then in 1966, while sitting outside of New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, Baer used pencil and paper to sketch the technical details for what he called a “game box.” At the time, he was an engineer at Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems), a defense contractor, in Nashua, N.H. An intrigued manager gave him US $2,500 for materials and assigned two engineers to work with him. The project became an obsession for the three men, who built prototype after prototype in a secret workshop.

In 1968, Sanders licensed the system to TV-set maker Magnavox, which in 1972 began offering a version of the Brown Box as its Odyssey system in the United States for $100. Some 130,000 units were sold the first year. Odyssey included football, a shooting game, and a table tennis game that predated Pong, Atari’s popular version, which was introduced in 1972. Baer’s 1971 patent on a “television gaming and training apparatus,” the first U.S. patent for video game technology, was based on the Brown Box.

Aside from today’s high-tech video game consoles, Baer also invented greeting cards that play a recorded song or message when they are opened as well as the electronic memory game Simon, which became a pop culture icon in the 1980s. The saucer-shaped plastic toy has four colored buttons that light up and emit tones in a sequence that the player then has to reproduce. It is still being sold. Baer also developed interactive video entertainment and educational and training games for consumer and military applications.

In 2008, Baer donated his video game test units, production models, notes, and schematics to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. His papers are kept in the museum’s Archives Center. The Smithsonian collected his New Hampshire workshop in 2014 and it is on display at the American History Museum.

The Institute also reported on his son’s quest to get his father elevated to IEEE Fellow status. I sat next to Mark at the 2014 Honors Ceremony held in Amsterdam, where he shared his journey with me. Mark and his son Alex were there to accept the 2014 IEEE Edison Medal on behalf of his father, who at 92, was unable travel to Amsterdam from his home in the New Hampshire. The medal recognized him “for pioneering and fundamental contributions to the video-game and interactive multimedia-content industries.”

Even though Baer was the recipient of many distinguished awards—including the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2006 and induction into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010—he placed that of IEEE Fellow above all the rest. There is no doubt that Baer qualified to receive the organization’s highest membership grade conferred by its Board of Directors, but only other IEEE Fellows can nominate a candidate. When you are a lone inventor like Baer, busily toiling away in a workshop that’s attached to your house, you don’t get many opportunities to meet these distinguished members. 

Mark connected with IEEE Fellow and 2008 IEEE President, Lewis Terman, who helped him with finding other Fellows and took over the application and successfully completed the process. Baer was elevated in 2013 “for contributions to the creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games.”

In our conversation, Mark told me he has made it one of his most compelling personal projects to ensure his father’s legacy gets acknowledged. Mark is the one who notified me about this commemorative square. I think Ralph would be proud of the job his son is doing.

In my research for this article, I found out that Manchester also holds an annual Ralph Baer Day on 8 March, the inventor’s birthday. According to its website, the local community initiative believes the legacy of the Father of the Video Game “should be celebrated by exploring and encouraging creativity, play, and the inventive spirit.” Isn’t that what being an engineer is all about?

Remembering John W. Senders, Pioneer of Human-Factors Engineering

Post Syndicated from Warren Senders AND Abigail Sellen original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/remembering-john-w-senders-pioneer-of-humanfactors-engineering

His melding of disciplines opened the door for his influential contributions

THE INSTITUTEIEEE Life Senior Member John W. Senders, who died on 12 February, was a pioneer of human-factors engineering and one of the first scientists to apply mathematical models to human behavior in real-world contexts.

Human-factors engineering uses research in psychology to improve and adapt technology and equipment for human use.

John once was called Professor of Everything by colleagues at the University of Toronto, where he taught from 1973 to 1985 in the mechanical and industrial engineering department.

He died two weeks short of his 99th birthday.

AN UNCONVENTIONAL PATH

Born in 1920 to Russian immigrants in Cambridge, Mass., John was the youngest of five children in a family environment full of books, fierce competition, scientific inquiry, and word games. As a child, he demonstrated signs of mathematical genius and antiauthoritarian leanings in equal proportions, excelling in academic tasks—but only if he really felt like it.

Accepted in 1936 as an undergraduate at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, he was sent home a year later for his refusal to take a required first-year math course, saying, “I’ve known this stuff since I was 7, and I’ll be damned if I’ll do it again.” In expelling him, the administration made an exception to its famously lenient policies. His father said to him on that occasion, “They will always make an exception for you.”

John went on to have an exceptional life. His career spanned seven decades and included jobs in academia, engineering, and manufacturing, with service in military research laboratories and private industry. He went back to school in the 1940s and received an undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard. At the age of 62, just before his official retirement, he was awarded an honorary Ph.D. in quantitative psychology from Tilburg University, in the Netherlands.

A MULTIFACETED CAREER

His work contributed to human well-being and advanced theoretical understanding in areas such as mental workload, attention and visual scanning, eye movements, queuing theory, control theory, and human-error modeling.

He was the first to postulate, in 1955—and to demonstrate in 1965—the mathematical relationship between the bandwidth of a signal and the frequency of visual attention to that signal. Some of his seminal early work was published in IEEE journals such as IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems. He showed that the attentional demands of skilled human operators of complex systems could be modeled remarkably accurately using both information theory and queueing theory.

He applied his research to carry out groundbreaking work on driving safety—which led to the occlusion paradigm, now an international technical standard essential to instrument panel design in airplane cockpits, automobiles, and nuclear power plants. The research, which involved driving an automobile while intermittently blindfolded, earned him a 2011 Ig Nobel Prize, a parody of the Nobel award given every year to celebrate 10 unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. He cherished the award as much as the more orthodox forms of recognition he received from the scientific community.

In 1976 he became among the first scientists to conceive the idea of an electronic journal, with the entire editing process taking place online. An online scientific journal, he suggested, would save time, money, and resources for publishing companies.

That work followed research in the 1960s with computer scientist J.C.R. Licklider, vice president of Bolt, Beranek and Newman. For that, the University of Toronto awarded him the 2008 Knowledge Media Design Institute’s Pioneer Award “for an outstanding contribution to the field of electronic publishing.”

John was one of the founders of the academic study of human error. He and his wife, Ann Crichton-Harris, established and funded the field’s first gathering, the Clambake Conference on Human Error in Columbia Falls, Maine, in the 1980s. It brought together key researchers. Two more conferences followed—one in Bellagio, Italy, and the other in Chicago—ensuring a lasting foundation for the modern study of error.

His work on human error led to him becoming a key figure in patient safety. He helped found the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), in Toronto, and received an award in 2001 for excellence in the prevention of medication errors.

In 1994 he introduced the failure mode and effects analysis technique into medication and medical safety, through the ISMP. The FMEA technique is a step-by-step approach for identifying all possible failures in the design, manufacturing, or assembly of medical products and services.

In an ISMP newsletter, Michael Cohen, president of the organization, wrote that John’s work saved many thousands of people from medical errors.

NEVER SITTING STILL

Simply listing John’s accomplishments cannot convey his exuberant intellectual power, creativity, and fearlessness. He was a generous and stubborn man and a huge-hearted individualist.

When he was invited in 1974 to join the University of Toronto’s Department of Industrial Engineering, a meeting was called to discuss whether he should receive tenure. One skeptic noted that not only did John have just a bachelor’s degree, but he was—at 55—too old for a tenured position and asked, “Just how productive is he likely to be?” A colleague who was better acquainted with John’s fire and energy replied, “Your only concern should be that he might run you all ragged.”

Indeed, well into his 90s, John continued to work as a globe-trotting consultant, lecturer, and expert witness in areas as diverse as human-error medical safety and trademark infringement. He was still doing research with undiminished vigor until a few days before his hospitalization with pneumonia in February.

As friends, students, colleagues, and family members can attest, he was a gourmet cook, an expansive host, and a raconteur who regaled his audiences not just with humorous anecdotes and tales from his career and travels but with a ceaseless supply of new insights and ideas.

Warren Senders is John’s son, and Abigail Sellen is his stepdaughter.

Q&A With Jelena Kovačević, Dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Post Syndicated from Joanna Goodrich original https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/qa-with-jelena-kovaevi-dean-of-the-nyu-tandon-school-of-engineering

The IEEE Fellow talks about her career and her efforts to inspire other women to enter the field

THE INSTITUTEEngineers tackle some of the world’s biggest problems, such as bringing electricity to underserved populations and inventing life-saving medical equipment. But for others, like IEEE Fellow Jelena Kovačević, guiding the future generation of engineers is just as important.

“As a leader of a university, I have the opportunity to impact more people,” says Kovačević, dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

She, along with the deans from the City College of New York Grove School of Engineering and Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, recently talked during a panel discussion about how their universities are keeping up with changes in engineering.

Kovačević has been the Tandon School’s dean since August. She is the first woman to hold that position at the school, which was founded in 1854.

She began her career at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J. After that, she became an adjunct professor at Columbia and a professor of biomedical engineering and head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Carnegie Mellon.

In this interview with The Institute, she talks about what led her to accept the position of dean and how IEEE has helped her in her career.

What inspired you to get into engineering?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved math. I was fortunate enough that I had parents who thought that was really cool. When I got a little older, I wanted to go into a field where I could do math for a living. Most of my friends who were good at math went into electrical engineering, then so did I.

I hate to say it, but I did not have some preordained plan. I didn’t really think it through. But people told me you use math in electrical engineering, so that’s where I went. I earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1986 from the University of Belgrade, in Serbia. There I discovered engineering was much more than just numbers. In the end, I found I could have an impact on someone’s life through engineering.

Why did you accept the position at NYU?

I was really blown away by the student body at the Tandon School of Engineering. I was inspired by how many first-generation and underrepresented students there were. All these people, with different experiences and backgrounds, came here to study a subject they are all passionate about.

Whenever I meet students, I think of them as my own kids. It’s important not only to make them responsible citizens and lovely humans, but also to make them feel supported. They had to face many more obstacles than I did during my time in university. I feel a responsibility to do something for others, and that led me to academic leadership positions.

I hold an open house once a month where students can talk to me about issues they are facing. I also meet monthly with student leaders to talk about how we can create a better learning environment and provide more internships and volunteer opportunities.

All 5,400 students motivate me to do the best job I can.

What are some of your goals for the school?

I have spent this past year working with everyone to create a strategic plan; it has crystalized into three pillars: research, students first, and community.

Engineers impact the world through the research we do. We want our research to address problems of societal importance to create healthy, secure, and connected environments around the world. We also want our cutting-edge innovations to be thoughtfully and successfully introduced into society.

It’s important to focus on students from the moment they step foot on campus until they graduate and beyond. We want to be a student-first community by improving affordability and being a nurturing home for all students. We are creating a flexible undergraduate education, focused on doing, critical thinking, and real-world experiences such as internships and research. We are also reimagining our master’s education by expanding its global reach and ensuring its relevance to industry. From student life on campus to the curriculum, there are changes that need to be made, and students are partners in helping us see what they need.

The final focus is to build a sense of community, not only among students and faculty but also with alumni and parents. It’s important for everyone to engage with us to help move our goals forward.

What challenges did you face as a female engineer, and how did you overcome them?

I came to the United States to attend Columbia and graduated with a master’s degree and a doctorate in 1988 and 1991, respectively. When I began my Ph.D., I noticed there were only a handful of women in the engineering program. At first I didn’t question why there were so few. At the University of Belgrade, there were a large number of female students. It was not an unusual thing for young women to choose this field.

When I was pregnant, a male colleague said to me, “Well, you’ll see once you have your baby, you’ll love it so much, you won’t want to come back to work.” I asked him why he came back to work after he had two children of his own, and he was taken aback. Why, I wondered, is my intellectual self any less important than his? Whether you come back to work or stay at home with your children is a personal choice, not a choice based on gender.

As the department head at Carnegie Mellon, students came to me with stories about microaggressions and sexual harassment they had faced, and I needed to address them. It became my mandate to be their advocate as well as to increase the number of both women and underrepresented groups and make the learning environment more inclusive.

I don’t have the blinders I had on when I first came to the United States.

How do you think your appointment will affect the gender gap in engineering and computer science?

I want both young men and women from all backgrounds to see women in positions such as a dean or a scientist. I think my appointment and the increase of women in these roles will help break the stereotype that only a certain type of person can hold these positions.

What would you say to a woman who is thinking about pursuing engineering?

It’s a fantastic field, and there is something for everyone. There is a place for someone who enjoys math, as well as for those who want to be in the lab. But just because things are better now doesn’t mean the environment is perfect just yet. You still may face microaggressions. But if you’re interested in this career, then pursue it. Facing these issues is a lot easier when you come into a classroom and half of the students are women.

How has being an IEEE member benefited your career?

For engineers in research, becoming a member is a no-brainer. It’s a natural part of our professional development. I got involved as a student member. I went to IEEE conferences where we would connect with other graduate students and professors, and we would present papers. This led to collaborations in research and brainstorming sessions about what we could do in the field to make an impact.

Throughout my 30 years in IEEE, I’ve served in a number of positions, including on the board of governors for the IEEE Signal Processing Society. I was the editor in chief of IEEE Transactions on Image Processing and associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing. I currently serve on IEEE Spectrum’s editorial advisory board.