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March 20th, 2019

China, the EU, and other regions also are decreasing their fossil-fuel dependence

Image licensed by Ingram Publishing

In many areas of the world, renewable energy is now a cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuels. It is possible that renewable energy soon will be the preferred choice all over the world.

Transition to renewables is no longer a question. The potential exists that renewable energy and its storage technologies will be able to generate 100 percent of the world’s energy in less than 30 years. The switch to renewable energy would reduce the cost of electricity to, on average, from US 80 cents to 60 cents per megawatt-hour globally, according to recent research by Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, in Finland, and the Berlin-based nonprofit Energy Watch Group.

In a study by the International Renewable Energy Agency, the global weighted average levelized cost of electricity of utility-scale solar photovoltaic has fallen 73 percent since 2010, to 10 cents per kWh for projects commissioned in 2017. A report released in January 2018 by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said $333.5 billion was invested globally in clean-energy projects during 2017.

Despite the political debate that surrounds renewable energy and fossil fuels, countries, large companies, and major cities around the world are taking meaningful action on renewable-energy development. For example, more than one third of China’s total installed capacity of power and generated electricity in 2017 came from renewable resources, according to a China Daily article. The European Union is raising its target for the amount of energy it consumes from renewable sources to 32 percent by 2030, The Guardian reported. India announced last year that it had set a goal of renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022, according to Mongabay.

Apple says its global facilities are powered with 100 percent clean energy.

New York state has committed to spending $1.4 billion to advance 26 large-scale renewable energy projects. The initiative is expected to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than 430,000 homes across the state.

OIL-RICH STATE COMMITS TO RENEWABLES

Texas, home to many oil and gas industries, is earning a reputation as a leader in renewable energy as well. The state set its renewable-energy policy in 1999 with its Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation, which restructured the electricity market. Today Texas has more than 10,000 wind turbines with 21,450 megawatts of installed capacity and is the sixth-largest wind-energy producer in the world. That’s thanks in part to exploiting the strong winds of west Texas.

The state is building transmission lines to move the electricity from its remote regions its large cities. Last year it had 21,751 MW of installed wind capacity, the most of any state in the nation. Texas leads the United States in wind-powered generation, with more than one fourth of the nation’s total last year. As a result, retail electricity prices have decreased well below the U.S. average: about 8.4 cents per kWh in 2017, compared with the U.S. average of 10.5 cents.

Texas plans to increase wind-energy capacity by 8,700 megawatts by the end of this year. Renewables are expected to account for more than 25 percent of the total electricity generated this year, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Georgetown, Texas, with a population of 65,000, is one of the first U.S. cities to be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The city gets its renewable energy from two wind farms and a solar facility. The plants cover the city’s 170-MW peak power demand, with enough left over to sell to the state electric grid. Georgetown is an example of what the future of energy might look like.

Energy policymakers in Texas say R&D in technologies related to renewable energy will accelerate a cost-effective transformation. Experts, power engineers, and researchers are engaged in the state’s energy transformation to renewable sources. For example, researchers at the University of Texas
Energy Institute, which has more than 300 experts and a budget of $100 million, are leading groundbreaking studies of technologies that cover the new spectrum of renewable energy.

I attended this year’s UT Energy Week, the annual meeting the university holds in Austin with energy experts from industry, academia, government, and regulatory agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations. We discussed some of the most vital energy issues facing society. Held from 4 to 8 February, the event attracted 600 people. Panels discussed the adequacy of Texas’s electric grid, prospects for large-scale energy storage, electric vehicles, and more.

One of the most important discussions addressed how to globally achieve 100 percent renewable energy sources. That panel also addressed which energy technologies are vital for the transition, as well as challenges such as battery storage.

To learn more about Energy Week, you can view the complete program and a video.

IEEE Senior Member Qusi Alqarqaz is an electrical engineer with more than 28 years of experience in the power industry. He writes about technology, works as a consultant, and mentors younger engineers and students. He is a contributor to
The Institute
as well as the
Analog
, a newsletter for the
IEEE Central Texas Section
. He previously worked in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.


March 18th, 2019

Nominees are being sought for IEEE committee chairs

Photo: iStockphoto

IEEE is governed by volunteer members and depends on them for many things including editing its publications, organizing conferences, coordinating regional and local activities, writing standards, leading educational activities, and identifying individuals for IEEE recognitions and awards.

The Nominations and Appointments (N&A) comm­ittee is responsible for developing recommendations for staffing many volunteerpositions including candidates for president-elect and corporate officers. Its recommendations are sent to the Board of Directors and the IEEE Assembly. Accordingly, the N&A committee is seeking nominees for the following positions:

2020 IEEE committee chairs and members

  • Awards Board
  • Election Oversight
  • Employee Benefits and Compensation
  • Ethics and Member Conduct
  • European Public Policy
  • Fellow
  • Global Public Policy
  • Governance
  • History
  • Humanitarian Activities
  • Industry Engagement
  • New Initiatives
  • Nominations and Appointments
  • Public Visibility
  • Tellers

Deadlines To Nominate

The deadline is 15 June.

Who Can Nominate?

Anyone may submit a nomination. Self-nominations are encouraged. Nominators do not need to be IEEE members, but nominees must meet certain qualifications. An IEEE organizational unit may submit recommendations endorsed by its governing body or the body’s designee.

A person may be nominated for more than one position. Nominators need not contact their nominees before submitting the form. The IEEE N&A committee will contact all eligible nominees for the required documentation and for their interest and willingness to be considered for the position.

How To Nominate

For information about the positions, including qualifications and estimates of the time required by each position during the term of office, visit https://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/nominations/guidelines.html. To nominate a person for a position, visit https://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/nominations/nomination-form.html.

Nominating Tips

Each year many ineligible candidates are nominated. Make sure to check eligibility requirements at the N&A committee website (https://www.ieee.org/about/corporate/nominations) before sub­mitting a nomination.

The positions for which the N&A committee makes recommendations represent IEEE’s uppermost governance levels. Volunteers with relevant prior experience in lower-level IEEE committees and units are recommended by the committee more often than volunteers without such experience. For example, candidates for the Awards Board have a greater likelihood of being recommended if they have already served on an awards committee of a society, section, or region or on another IEEE board.

Individuals recommended for president-elect and corporate officer positions are more likely to be recommended if they possess a strong track record of leadership and relevant accomplishments within and outside IEEE. Recommended candidates often have significant prior experience as members of IEEE boards and standing committees.

More information about the duties associated with the different positions, qualifications, and eligibility requisites (such as prior service in certain positions or IEEE grade) can be found in the online nominations guidelines.


March 15th, 2019

The Author Center has added a section that details all the steps

Illustration: iStockphoto

The IEEE Author Center recently added a conference section for people who want to publish their work at an IEEE conference. The new section provides best practices and guidance as well as tips and tools.

Submitting a paper for a conference differs from submitting one for a journal. To help submitters, the Become an IEEE Conference Author section shares some considerations, including the requirement that authors must present and defend their work at a conference.

It can be difficult for authors to know which of IEEE’s more than 1,800 conferences are well suited for their scholarly articles, so the section provides a link that lets people search for a conference that matches their research topic.

There’s also a description of the various types of conference papers that an author might be asked to submit.

To ensure you get credit for your work, there are instructions for obtaining an open researcher and contributor ID. The unique, persistent ORCID identifier distinguishes you from other researchers and is a requirement for authors who publish with IEEE.

Under the Author Ethics section, there’s a guide to ensure writers properly cite their sources, accurately reporting their data and properly crediting all those who contributed.

For people writing a conference paper for the first time, and those who need a refresher, the Write Your Paper section goes over the basics, such as the organizational structure the paper should follow. There are templates available in Word and LaTeX that format an article, and tips for improving any graphics. A checklist is provided to ensure the paper meets the requirements for publishing it in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library.

The Understand Peer Review section explains what the experts evaluating the article are looking for to ensure it meets standards for acceptance and publication. There’s also an explanation of what their decisions mean.

Once your paper is accepted, the Get Published section walks you through the next steps. That includes how to transfer the copyright to IEEE, ways to increase the impact of your data, and suggestions for improving the visibility of your work.


March 13th, 2019

More than 290 senior members have been elevated

Photo: Randi Klett

The Institute congratulates these 295 senior members named IEEE Fellows for 2019. They join an elite group of people who have contributed to the advancement or application of engineering, science, and technology.

Ali Abdi

Karim Abed-Meraim

Edward H. Adelson

Sonia Aissa

J .Stewart Aitchison

Elad Alon

Max Ammann

Leopoldo Angrisani

Yoshihiro Baba

Michael Backes

Matthias Bauer

Navakanta Bhat

William J. Blackwell

Pierre Blondy

Iustin Radu Bojoi

Silverio Bolognani

Gabriella Bosco

Jill M. Boyce

Lucien J. Breems

Olav Breinbjerg

Michael M. Bronstein

Walter W. Buchanan

Steven F. Butler

Bruce A. Campbell

Richard L. Campbell

Hui Cao

Antonio Capone

Richard E. Carson

Friedhelm Caspers

David A. Castañón

Mujdat Cetin

Meng-Fan Chang

Patrick L. Chapman

Deming Chen

Jie Chen

Jiming Chen

Xing Bi Chen

Zhe Chen

Kangguo Cheng

Kin Ping Cheung

Pei-Yu Chiou

Hyouk Ryeol Choi

Jong D. Choi

Sewan Choi

Paul Chow

Tommy W. Chow

Qing-Xin Chu

Brian K. Classon

Peter N. Clout

Jose A. Cobos

Michael W. Condry

Jose Luis Contreras

Kerstin Dautenhahn

Timothy N. Davidson

Bart De Schutter

Antonio Della Corte

Xiaotie Deng

Tayeb A. Denidni

Santosh Devasia

Thomas J. Dionise

Antun Domic

David G. Dorrell

Robert A. Durham

Nicola Elia

Christian Enz

Meng Hwa Er

Joseph Evans

Jiyuan Fan

Xuejun Fan

Luca Fanucci

Dejan Filipovic

Robert S. Fish

Dimitrios Fotiadis

Mark S. Fox

Emilio Frazzoli

Emilia Fridman

Yun Fu

Claudio R. Fuerte-Esquivel

Christophe O. Fumeaux

Alexander Gaeta

Jianfeng Gao

Kaizhong Gao

Shichang Gao

Julian W. Gardner

Simson L. Garfinkel

Anne E. Gattiker

Guido Gerig

Maysam Ghovanloo

Ali Ghrayeb

Bruce E. Gnade

Reuven Gordon

Timothy C. Green

Robert Greenberg

Warren S. Grundfest

Venkatesan Guruswami

A. L. Gutierrez Aitken

Qing-Long Han

Mor Harchol-Balter

Hossein Hashemi

Ahmed E. Hassan

Xiaodong He

Ahmed Helmy

Pin-Han Ho

Steven Chu-Hong Hoi

Keum-Shik Hong

Zeng-Guang Hou

Gang Hua

Tingwen Huang

Mei-Yuh Hwang

Daniele Ielmini

Syed M. Islam

Hiroshi Ito

Hans-Arno Jacobsen

Nitin Jain

Mona Jarrahi

Lijun Jiang

Tao Jiang

Hai Jin

Mihalo Jovanovic

Chia-Feng Juang

Christoph A. Jungemann

Wen-Chung Kao

Srinivasan Keshav

Ali Khakifirooz

Chris Hyung-Il Kim

Dong In Kim

Lee-Sup Kim

Irwin K. King

Farinaz Koushanfar

Ioannis Krikidis

Randall Lynn Kubena

Daniel M. Kuchta

Shrikrishna V. Kulkarni

Chih-Huang Lai

Roger K. Lake

Mark A. Lantz

Patrick Lecallet

Jaejin Lee

Juho Lee

Seung Jae Lee

Frank B. Leferink

Chih-Peng Li

Hai Li

Hongbin Li

Qi Li

Shutao Li

Yonghui Li

C. Steven Lingafelt

Alex X. Liu

Jinjun Liu

Shaoying Liu

Xiaoping Peter Liu

Xin Liu

Teng Long

Cristina V. Lopes

Marco Lops

Anant Madabhushi

Pui-In Mak

John E. Malinowski

Shiwen Mao

Charles P. Mc Shane

Dale P. McMorrow

Derek A. McNamara

Neelesh B. Mehta

Tao Mei

Erik Meijering

Tim Menzies

Bruno Michel

Miroslav Micovic

Joydeep Mitra

Theodore S. Moise

Sasan Mokhtari

Onur Mutlu

Katsufumi Nakamura

Jason Nieh

Anibal Ollero Baturone

Antonis Papachristodoulou

Evangelos G. Papadopoulos

Milorad Papic

Danilo P. Pau

Jan R. Peters

Daniel A. Pitt

Alessandro Piva

Maurizio Porfiri

Yi Qian

Hong Qiao

Xianming Qing

Arifur Rahman

Siddharth Ramachandran

Srinivasan Ramani

Mary Ellen Randall

Stewart E. Rauch

Gerhard Rigoll

Robert N. Rohling

Joachim Rosenthal

Matthew Roughan

Romit Roy Choudhury

Amit K. Roy-Chowdhury

Dan Rubenstein

Stuart H. Rubin

Roland Ryf

Walid Saad

Rajiv Sabherwal

Samar K. Saha

Tapan K. Saha

Sayeef Salahuddin

Murti V. Salapaka

Venkatesh Saligrama

Igal Sason

Andries Jan Scholten

Venkat Selvamanickam

Kyuseok Shim

Mei-Ling Shyu

Ramesh K. Sitaraman

Mikael Skoglund

Dawn Song

Lingyang Song

Maarten Steinbuch

Christoph Stiller

Fuchun Sun

Jonathan Sun

Yan Sun

Kenji Sunagawa

Bruce W. Suter

Jonathan A. Sykes

Mario Sznaier

Joseph Tabrikian

Munehiro Tada

Seishi Takamura

HarkHoe Tan

Yap-Peng Tan

Chi-Keung Tang

Jian Tang

Meixia Tao

Jan-Ulrich Thiele

Ioannis Tomkos

Carme Torras

David Torrey

Piero Tortoli

Jean-Yves Tourneret

Hon K. Tsang

Panagiotis Tsiotras

Zhuowen Tu

Deepak G. Uttamchandani

Murat Uysal

Benjamin Van Roy

Paul Vanoorschot

Dragica Z. Vasileska

Namrata Vaswani

Jelena S. Vuckovic

Jeffrey Phillip Walker

Liang Wang

Shuo Wang

Xiaofeng Wang

Yuanxun Wang

Simon K. Warfield

ShaoJun Wei

John Turner Whitted

Chee Wei Wong

Robert Wood

Guangning Wu

Min Wu

Naiqi Wu

Zhaohui Wu

Shengli Xie

Eric Xing

Zeshui Xu

Fan Yang

Ming-Hsuan Yang

Xiaokang Yang

Steve Yao

Hiroto Yasuura

Minerva M. Yeung

Eiichi Yoshida

Marwan Younis

Moustafa Youssef

Yizhou Yu

Pericle Zanchetta

Jared Zerbe

Bao-Hui Zhang

Cha Zhang

Daqing Zhang

Liangpei Zhang

Mengjie Zhang

Ping Zhang

Richard Zhang

Yanchao Zhang

Yimin D. Zhang

Weisheng Zhao

Lin Zhong

Donghua Zhou

Jingren Zhou

Lidong Zhou

Qifa Zhou

Michael J. Zyda


March 11th, 2019

She has made several groundbreaking innovations to compact ultrafast lasers

Photo: IEEE

IEEE Fellow Ursula Keller is to receive the annual IEEE Edison Medal “for pioneering and fundamental contributions to and leadership in useable, compact ultrafast laser technology, enabling applications in metrology, sensing, and biophotonics.”

Ultrafast lasers produce short pulses of light, typically less than 1 picosecond. Keller’s innovations have pushed the frontiers of ultrafast laser science and technology.

The lasers, according to Keller, are an important tool to probe the dynamics of physical systems at short timescales, allowing for improved understanding of the performance of many devices and phenomena used in science, technology, and medicine. In addition, she says, ultrashort pulses provide a high peak intensity and a broad optical spectrum—which opens up additional applications including nonlinear optics.

Keller is a physics professor at ETH Zürich and a director of the Swiss National Science Foundation’s Molecular Ultrafast Science and Technology research program.

She developed the semiconductor saturable absorber mirror (SESAM) used for generating ultrashort pulses. It transformed femtosecond lasers from complex devices used only by specialists to reliable instruments now utilized in general-purpose laboratories.

Her SESAM technology, for example, has overcome switching instabilities in solid-state lasers that had prevented mode locking, a technique by which a laser can be made to produce pulses of light of extremely short duration. SESAM also demonstrated how to generate picosecond and femtosecond pulses from diode-pumped lasers in a scalable, stable, and reliable manner.

Keller continues to work on improving the technology.  She has introduced key features such as pulse duration, energy, and average power, according to  her nominator.

Together with Anne Tropper, a professor of physics at the University of Southampton in England, she pioneered the first passively mode-locked vertical external-cavity surface-emitting laser, which provides superior beam and pulse quality even at high power. VECSELs can operate in both continuous-wave and pulsed regimes. The lasers, also referred to as optically pumped semiconductor lasers and semiconductor disk lasers, have gained a strong interest for power scaling.

Keller also developed the mode-locked integrated external-cavity surface-emitting laser (MIXSEL), which further simplifies SESAM-mode-locked VECSELs by vertical integration of the saturable absorber into the semiconductor structure. That enables stable mode-locking in simple straight cavities. Dual-comb mode locking, another invention from Keller’s group, generates two optical frequency combs from the same laser with an adjustable difference in comb spacing—ideal for dual-comb spectroscopy and lidar applications. The MIXSEL principle allows for low-cost wafer-scale production and quasimonolithic designs, and it results in simple, low-cost, high-power mode-locked lasers.

The award is scheduled to be presented during the annual Honors Ceremony, part of the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, to be held on 17 May at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.


March 8th, 2019

Changes are being made to the member publication’s website as well

Photo: IEEE

If you’re wondering what happened to the March issue of The Institute, which traditionally has been bundled and mailed with IEEE’s flagship magazine, just open your print issue of IEEE Spectrum and turn to page 56. The next section is your member publication. Each of The Institute’s quarterly issues—which are published in March, June, September, and December—will now be found inside the pages of Spectrum.

Why the change? For the past few years, I’ve been trying out different methods to raise the visibility of The Institute’s award-winning content. What better way to do that than by joining forces with IEEE’s most popular member benefit? And, of course, there are cost savings and environmental benefits that come from combining the distribution of the two publications.

There also are changes being made to The Institute’s website to give those articles more prominence. They are migrating to Spectrum’s website. In April you can find The Institute under Spectrum’s Topics/Engineering Topics drop-down menu. You can find our News From Around IEEE blog under Spectrum’s Blog listing.

Tell us what you think about the changes by emailing institute@ieee.org.


March 6th, 2019

IEEE Member Eric Becker develops poacher-detection systems for the World Wildlife Fund

Photo: FLIR Systems

The illegal poaching of black rhinoceroses in Africa, like the one above, has helped to decimate their population, from about 65,000 in the 1970s to just 5,400 today. Black rhinos are one of the world’s most endangered species, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The animals are being killed for their horns, which can fetch thousands of U.S. dollars per kilogram on the black market.

The African Wildlife Foundation estimates that the global wildlife poaching trade generates up to $23 billion annually in illicit revenue.

Most of Africa’s remaining rhinos are found in four countries: Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Housed in wildlife preserves and national parks, they are protected by armed rangers. Some of the locations span hundreds of kilometers, and the poachers often outnumber and outgun the rangers.

There were 769 rhino poaching incidents in South Africa last year, the national Department of Environmental Affairs says.

To help combat poaching and improve ranger safety, the WWF and sensor maker FLIR Systems teamed up in January to launch the Kifaru Rising project. In Swahili, the word for rhino is kifaru. FLIR pledged more than $3 million worth of thermal-imaging technology, engineering assistance, and training.

WWF conservation engineer Eric Becker, an IEEE member, is the project’s lead engineer. Kifaru Rising aims to eliminate rhino poaching in Kenya by 2021 with the help of thermal-imaging security cameras.

IMPROVED DETECTION

The project calls for installing FLIR cameras at 10 parks and game reserves in Kenya to secure the park’s perimeters and help rangers identify illegal intrusions.

“We can’t save rhinos if we don’t stop poaching,” Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the WWF, said in a news release about the collaboration. “New technologies help change the game. They give rangers a leg up in deterring criminals and protecting themselves on the front lines of this war.”

Thermal imaging can detect radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum and produce images of that radiation.

Using handheld thermal-imaging cameras and ones mounted on patrol vehicles [shown above], and checking ones on poles located around the parks’ perimeters, rangers can scan an area up to 3 kilometers away and see the heat generated by a human or other animal, Becker says.

“What most people don’t realize is that everything glows around you and the frequency of that glow is the spectrum emission,” he says. “We can deploy a sensor that can look out into the environment and really pick up on the living things that emit heat that the ranger can’t see.

“The reason that thermal imaging is good for monitoring the parks is that it provides that contrast. Those infrared-detector elements create a detailed temperature pattern, called a thermogram, which is displayed on the camera.”

The fixed-mounted thermal cameras that workers plan to place around the 10 parks’ borders are capable of generating real-time video that can be streamed to control rooms so armed rangers can be deployed when an intruder is detected.

FLIR infrared cameras that the WWF installed in other parks are reducing poaching, Becker reports. One is a reserve that borders Nakuru, Kenya. It has a road that provided poachers with quick access to congregating rhinos, making the animals easier targets. After poachers saw that cameras had been installed along the park’s fence and learned of arrests being made, they stopped going there, Becker says.

“Rangers used to dread being deployed to that park, because they were almost always guaranteed to get into shootouts with the poachers,” Becker says. “Now they have peace of mind because they no longer have that stress. It’s psychological but, by installing the cameras, we have taken that area away from poachers.”

WILDLIFE-LOVING ENGINEERS NEEDED

When Becker joined the WWF in 2016, he was the first conservation engineer the organization had ever hired. He previously worked as an engineering contractor for a variety of organizations including the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a U.S. Air Force research lab, and the Army’s Special Forces. His background in military projects gave him a familiarity with security systems.

IEEE got him into the conservation field, he said, after a chance meeting he had in 2014 with a WWF representative who gave a presentation at an IEEE event in Washington, D.C., about how drones and robots could be used to benefit society.

“WWF realized the value of having that type of engineer in-house—someone who had a really deep understanding of the technology, who knew what was out there and what would work, but also could bring that technical background to a team that was knowledgeable about the issues but who were not necessarily technologists,” he says.

The WWF could afford to hire him, he adds, in part thanks to a $5 million grant it received from Google in 2012 to fund high-tech monitoring of endangered species.

Part of Becker’s job is to visit wildlife preserves and work with the experts on the ground—including rangers, other researchers, park managers, and community leaders—to understand their challenges.

“I need to articulate those challenges into engineering requirements,” he says, “because engineers speak requirements. Then I either develop my own solutions or use off-the-shelf technology that will work in these environments. This is a better use of my skill set and a lot more in line with what I love to do.”

He says he’s one of the few engineers working on technologies to protect wildlife. “It’s really a shame there are not more engineers going into this field,” he says. “There should be a million more like me working to save animals.”

To that end, Becker and others have created the Wildlife Conservation Network forum, where conservationists on the ground can post their challenge and engineers can offer solutions.

“There are plenty of areas where engineers who are interested in this type of work can get involved and actually make a meaningful impact,” he says. “We need plenty of creative engineers and computer scientists, because we are just scratching the surface of ways technology can help.”


March 4th, 2019

Enhancing member value

Photo: Carnegie Mellon

As president, I want to reaffirm IEEE as a member-based organization, built and led by volunteers. There are several topics I would like to address, including membership and transparency. Let me focus this column on the first. I will come back to transparency in a later column.

I have made it my priority to work with volunteers and staff from regions, societies, and councils to deliver value to our members and the professionals in our areas of interest. Last year I had the opportunity to meet members at several region and section meetings held throughout the world. Three main points were often the focus.

First, IEEE needs to deliver value to its members and focus on member development rather than membership development. Second, members joined IEEE because it is a professional organization, not a social-service organization. Third, IEEE should focus more on members and not on promoting its various products.

For example, IEEE should better communicate that the bulk of our activities is focused on our profession and on delivering value to our professionals rather than on humanitarian activities. We also need to redirect IEEE communications to address member needs more.

Member value

IEEE needs to understand what members value. Here lies our opportunity. IEEE is a 422,000-member professional organization, of which 50 percent are from Canada, Latin America, or the United States, while 18 percent are from Europe, the Middle East, or Africa, and 31 percent are from Asia or the Pacific region. Viewed in a different way, 71 percent of our members are higher-grade, and 29 percent are student members. Of our higher-grade members, 47 percent work in industry, 29 percent in educational institutions, and 9 percent in public and governmental organizations; 6 percent are retired; and 9 percent are undeclared [see chart].

To deliver value, IEEE needs to better understand the breadth and diversity of the many segments of our professional communities—academics, practicing engineers, different age groups and career stages, and gender, geographic, and industry segments. There is no single answer and no single value.

IEEE’s current suite of products and services reaches a community of professionals far larger than our dues-paying membership. For example, every year nearly 5 million distinct users access the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, a repository of more than 4 million technical papers and 1,300 active standards. How do we inspire the other 90 percent of IEEE Xplore users to be more engaged with the organization?

Nearly 500,000 professionals attend our 1,800 annual conferences. IEEE Future Directions’ technical communities engage more than 100,000 professionals, of which only half are IEEE dues-paying members.

Every year, between 15 and 20 percent of members do not rejoin, even with the tremendous yearly effort undertaken to keep membership at its current level.

THE 4 MILLION-MEMBER CHALLENGE

Does our association provide value for young professionals, industry practitioners, female engineers, or geographically diverse constituents? Is the value we provide the value that today’s varied audiences need and want?

The decision to join and renew membership, or being engaged with IEEE, is deeply linked to value. But addressing this challenge and constantly demonstrating our value proposition to our current and prospective dues-paying members is actually an opportunity to serve and engage the much broader community of well over 4 million professionals who currently touch IEEE products, services, or initiatives.

CHANGING NEEDSAND EXPECTATIONS

The essential model of membership is in flux. Shifting membership models mean that associations must do more than just deliver valuable information. IEEE Xplore, with its millions of articles, can significantly expand its functionality, with content curation and intelligent answers to technical and research queries. Beyond our successful “academic” conferences, we need new types of events that combine technical sessions with networking and fun opportunities, mentoring and career guidance, and exposure to new technologies and trends.

But all that is not enough. People are no longer willing to pay for the privilege of belonging. They need more tangible value. Facebook, for example, could be considered the world’s largest association, with its billion members. Its networking extends locally and internationally. Self-promotion is intrinsic. Anyone can start a group focused on their interests. And it’s free to join.

NEW MODELS OF ENGAGEMENT AND MEMBERSHIP

IEEE needs the infrastructure to keep ties with the 70,000 professionals who drop their membership every year. IEEE cannot ignore the many other millions of professionals it touches in various ways. My goal is to set up infrastructure that will keep those professionals engaged—in the meaningful ways that they themselves choose. This will lead to new forms of engagement, products and services, and possibly to new types and tiers of membership.

This is the discussion I am promoting. Because IEEE is a strong organization, we can dare to imagine the possibilities that we should consider pursuing.

Please join me as I refocus IEEE as a member- and volunteer-led organization and strive for an open institute. Share your thoughts with me at president@ieee.org.


March 1st, 2019

Thanks to scholarships from these groups, students are able to learn about careers in STEM

Photo: IEEE

The IEEE TryEngineering Summer Institute tagline—“Give us two weeks, and we’ll give you a new definition of what it means to be an engineer”— encapsulates the purpose of this IEEE initiative: to entice students to explore academic and career paths in STEM. Realizing the importance of attracting and training future engineers, IEEE societies and councils are supporting the Summer Institute by sponsoring scholarships for attendees.

The Summer Institute introduces students entering grades 8 through 12 to the exciting fields of engineering and technology during a two-week on-campus program. The IEEE-designed curriculum combines team-based, hands-on design projects, guest speakers, academic preparation tips, and field visits.

Scholarships help make attending the program a reality for students with varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Several recipients commented that because of their family’s financial situation, attending this “eye-opening” and “life-changing” program would not have been possible without the scholarship.

When asked about supporting the Summer Institute, 2018 IEEE Broadcast Technology Society President William T. Hayes says, “For me it was the concept of getting kids to see that engineering can be interesting, fun, challenging and rewarding by tapping into the curiosity that they have about how things work. Putting them into a structured environment that is tailored for them, which allows for social exchange and collaboration, helps them solve problems and better understand complex systems by showing them the component parts and how they fit together.”

Hayes also highlighted the importance of training future generations of engineers and technologists. “I also see the Summer Institute as a way to address a concern Carl Sagan expressed in a 1994 article in the United Airlines magazine Hemispheres: ‘We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.’

Hayes says, “Making sure that everyone is engaged and understands the technologies and sciences that we are applying will ensure that we make the best possible decisions for sustaining our existence.”

When asked about why the program was important to her, 2018 scholarship recipient Noemi Moreno says, “Working with microcontrollers, participating in the egg drop challenge, and designing a trebuchet, among other projects, taught me how to get comfortable working in a team and the importance of good communication.”

“The IEEE Power Electronics Society was eager to support this important IEEE program because inclusivity and diversity are at the heart of our core beliefs and the TryEngineering Summer Institute solidly supports this,” says Alan Mantooth, 2018 PELS president. “We look forward to deepening our participation in the program in the coming years with project ideas about power electronics and with local volunteers assisting with the curricular offerings.”

Another 2018 scholarship recipient, Vicki Cohen, says, “One of my favorite activities was our discussion on the ethics of engineering. This is the first engineering program I have been to that considered this aspect. We discussed everything from the inner workings and ethics of an electric chair to the ethics of robots taking human jobs and how religious beliefs influence medical practice.”

In 2018, these five societies sponsored scholarships:

  • IEEE Broadcast Technology Society
  • IEEE Electronics Packaging Society
  • IEEE Industry Applications Society
  • IEEE Power Electronics Society
  • IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society

To date, 12 societies and councils are sponsoring a scholarship for recipients attending the 2019 Summer Institute:

  • IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society
  • IEEE Broadcast Technology Society
  • IEEE Communications Society
  • IEEE Council on Superconductivity
  • IEEE Industry Applications Society
  • IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society
  • IEEE Nanotechnology Council
  • IEEE Photonics Society
  • IEEE Power & Energy Society
  • IEEE Power Electronics Society
  • IEEE Robotics and Automation Society
  • IEEE Signal Processing Society

As the program expands, it hopes to include IEEE societies and councils in developing the curriculum and having their members participate in the activities.

For information on sponsoring a scholarship, contact Burt Dicht, director of student and academic educational programs with IEEE Educational Activities, at b.dicht@ieee.org or +1 732 981 3419.


February 28th, 2019

Kamil Ugurbil helped revolutionize the field

Photo: IEEE

IEEE Member Kamil Ugurbil is set to receive this year’s IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology for “pioneering the development and leading the advancement of ultrahigh-field MRI technology for biomedical and brain research.”

The MRI technologies developed by Ugurbil “expanded the boundaries of biomedical information content, accuracy, and spatiotemporal resolution of imaging and spectroscopy signals,” according to his nominator.

Ugurbil is a professor of radiology, neurosciences, and medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and runs the school’s Center for Magnetic Resonance Research.

He established the CMRR as one of the world’s premier in vivo magnetic resonance research laboratories. He and his team introduced a functional MRI methodology, measuring small changes in a brain’s deoxyhemoglobin content.

ADVANCING THE TECHNOLOGY

In 1995 the CMRR became the first laboratory to develop an MRI machine with a 7-Tesla magnet, large enough to scan a human body. The Tesla is the unit of measurement of a magnetic field’s magnitude. Magnetic-field strength impacts the amount of anatomical and functional detail that can be obtained in the images.

It wasn’t until 1999, however, that a 7T scanner was installed, made operational and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for research on the human body. In 2017 the FDA approved the use of 7T MRI machines for clinical diagnosis of brain and musculoskeletal diseases.

Ugurbil’s efforts in pushing MRI technology to 7T from 3T demonstrated that such a strong magnet provided useful improvements in contrast, sensitivity, and specificity. The researchers’ work led to the commercial availability of 7T MRI scanners.

The team also has developed the world’s first 10.5T whole-body scanner. The first images on the 10.5T machine were produced in 2017. The CMRR is currently conducting safety testing monitored by the FDA.

Further development of UHF MRI machines, Ugurbil says, will enable new methods to diagnose and evaluate cancer, cardiac ailments, and neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.

The award is scheduled to be presented during the annual Honors Ceremony, part of the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit, to be held on 17 May at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.