History of the IEEE Professional Communication Society

The IEEE Professional Communication Society (PCS) society was founded on March 19, 1957 by a group of members from the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) who felt the need to improve engineers’ technical communication skills as engineering communication was becoming increasingly complex. The group was originally called the IRE Professional Group on Engineering Writing & Speech (PGEWS). In 1963, when the IRE and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) merged to form the IEEE, and the group became part of IEEE. The society’s name was officially changed to the IEEE Professional Communication Society in 1978. The society celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2017, and its longstanding commitment to improving technical communication continues.

For more than 60 years, our society has been at the forefront of providing unique opportunities for engineering professionals, technical communicators, and educators. From the beginning, PCS emphasized the increasing importance of written, oral, and visual communication. Our longstanding attention to multimodality and emerging technology has allowed us to play a leadership role in raising the standards of technical communication.

Throughout our history, we have grown as technology has advanced and supported our members through our annual conferences and the Transactions on Professional Communication, one of the leading peer-reviewed journal in technical communication. The society held its first annual conference, then called the First National Symposium on Engineering Writing & Speech, in New York City on October 21-22, 1957. PCS also published the first issue of Transactions in the same year. The conference, now called ProComm, has been held in over 20 U.S. states and four other countries. ProComm presents a valuable opportunity for educators and professionals to connect with each other and learn about the latest technical communication research, pedagogical techniques, and workplace practice.

As the world grows increasingly complex and new technologies emerge at a rapid pace, clear and effective technical communication is imperative to the success of both individuals and institutions. Working with our community’s expertise in technical communication, we are committed to making positive contributions to a wide range of global issues, such as sustainability, policy development, and civic engagement.

References

E. Malone, “Eleanor McElwee and the Formation of IEEE PCS”, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 104-133, 2015.

“Oral-History:Ron Blicq – Engineering and Technology History Wiki”, Ethw.org, 2018. [Online]. Available: http://ethw.org/Oral-History:Ron_Blicq [Accessed: 13- Mar- 2018].

IEEE PCS newsletters

Founders

The following people started the society.

Eleanor McElwee (1924-2008), RCA
Herbert B. Michaelson (1916-2009), IBM
Edward E. Grazda (1915-1995), Electric Design
Chester W. Sall (1913-1980), RCA
Joseph D. Chapline (1920-2011), Philco
Charles A. Meyer (1914-2001), RCA
Patrick J. Lahey (1929-2003), Electric Design
Harold S. Renne (1914-1978), Bell Telephone
William A. Stocklin (1910-2001), Radio & Television News

Notable Members

The following people have greatly contributed to the society, and have awards named after them. Please refer to the awards page for their contributions.

Alfred N. Goldsmith
Emily K. Schlesinger
Rudolph J. Joenk, Jr.
Ronald S. Blicq
James M. Lufkin
George Hayhoe

Past Presidents

2015-2016 Rich House
2012-2014 Julia Williams
2010-2011 Thomas Orr
2008-2009 Mark Haselkorn
2006-2007 Luke Maki
2004-2005 Eduardo Clark
2002-2003 Beth Weise Moeller
2000-2001 George Hayhoe
1998-1999 Roger Grice
1996-1997 Mark Haselkorn
1994-1995 Deborah Flaherty Kizer
1992-1993 Richie Robinson
1990-1991 Rudy Joenk
1988-1989 James Hill
1986-1987 Lois K. Moore
1982-1985 Dan Rosich
1980-1981 Bert Pearlman
1979 Tom Patterson
1978 Ivan Getting
1977 Emily Schlesinger
1975-1976 Jim Lufkin
1973-1974 Thomas E Nunan
1972 John C. Phillps
1970-1971 Lou M. Cole
1967-1969 James M. Lufkin
1966 Ed E. Grazda
1965 C. A. Meyer
1964 Walter B. Denner
1963 Frederick Van Veen
1962 Chester W. Sall
1960-1961 John M. Kinn, Jr.
1959 Tom Patterson
1958 Joseph D. Chapline
1957 C. A. Meyer (Acting Chairman)
1957 Daniel J. McNamara

Acknowledgement

The history of IEEE PCS was researched and written by Nimisha Madhusoodanan and Ann Rucker.