IEEE University of Lahore

IEEE
April 11th, 2019

The annual event is celebrating its 10th anniversary

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THE INSTITUTEIt has been 10 years since IEEE set aside a day to commemorate the anniversary of the meeting in Philadelphia in 1884 when members of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, one of IEEE’s two predecessor societies, gathered for the first time to share technical ideas.

Since then, IEEE Day has grown in popularity. For some sections, one day is not enough, so celebrations now are held throughout the first two weeks of October to accommodate those that prefer to hold weekend events.

A record number of celebrations are expected to be held this year to mark the 10th anniversary, which is just six months away. Last year more than 1,050 events took place, compared with a little less than 1,000 in 2017 and fewer than 600 in 2016.

To give organizers ideas for the types of events they might want to consider, here’s a selection of those held last year.

HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS

Members of the IEEE student branch at NSS College of Engineering, in Palakkad, Kerala, India, distributed books to elementary school students. Meanwhile, nearly 100 people donated their shorn locks in a campaign run by student members at the Universidade de Brasilia to make wigs for people who lost their hair due to cancer treatment.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

More than 500 people attended sessions on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology organized by the student branch at the University of Colombo’s School of Computing, in Sri Lanka.

The student branch at the RMIT University, in Melbourne, Australia, featured several faculty members who spoke about recent trends in power engineering. The event, which included free refreshments, gave attendees an opportunity to network with industry professionals and fellow students.

FUN TIMES TOO

The IEEE Houston Section held an indoor skydiving event at the city’s iFly facility. Attendees entered a vertical wind tunnel that simulates free-fall conditions. The day included an interactive presentation, demonstrations in the wind tunnel, and lab activities for students.

The IEEE Central University of Karnataka student branch, in India, ran a field trip to the Chincholi Wildlife Sanctuary. Covering nearly 135 square kilometers, the forest is home to wolves and hyenas.

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL

IEEE produced several videos last year about its programs that can be shown at IEEE Day events. More than 4,000 people viewed them on IEEE.tv. They include a tour of the IEEE History Center’s most treasured artifacts, an overview of some humanitarian projects members are involved with, and tips on mastering STEM topics.

It’s not too early to start planning. Check the IEEE Day website for updates.

Denise Maestri is the IEEE Day staff coordinator. She’s the member and volunteer-engagement manager for IEEE Member and Geographic Activities.


April 11th, 2019

Microsoft’s president talks about the promise and perils of artificial intelligence

AI can reveal how many cigarettes a person has smoked based on the DNA contained in a single drop of their blood, or scrutinize Islamic State propaganda to discover whether violent videos are radicalizing potential recruits. 

Because AI is such a powerful tool, Microsoft president Brad Smith told the crowd at Columbia University’s recent Data Science Day that tech companies and universities performing AI research must also help ensure the ethical use of such technologies.


April 4th, 2019

Engineers show that near-infrared light can trigger the release of CRISPR-Cas9 to slow tumor growth

Engineers are making their mark on biotech’s hottest commodity. Chinese scientists today reported that they can control the gene editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 with light.

The method replaces the use of viruses traditionally used to deliver CRISPR gene editing machinery, and gives scientists temporal control over the tool, the researchers said. They published their findings in the journal Science Advances.

The technique has the potential to precisely target and kill cancer cells, says Yujun Song, an author of the paper and a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Nanjing University in China. 


April 4th, 2019

Tips for protecting yourself from scams

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THE INSTITUTERecently IEEE has become aware of email scams and phishing attempts whereby IEEE volunteers are requested to send money via wire transfers or checks.

Attackers might send you email that looks like it is coming from a legitimate source, using actual names and email addresses of IEEE leaders such as society presidents, section chairs, and conference organizers.

The attackers often perform a fair amount of research before attempting their scams. They might use information readily available on websites and social media to determine business relationships in order to customize their attacks and make them look real.

An attacker might claim, for example, to be an IEEE volunteer and ask you to transfer money or to reply with banking information including account balances. In such situations, the email address used by the attacker might look as though it is coming from an IEEE address or another that you are familiar with.

The IEEE IT Security and Legal and Compliance departments recommend that you consider the following when reviewing messages related to your IEEE volunteer activities:

  • Is the message requesting an invoice payment or a payment for other purchases?
  • Does the message request sensitive data such as your personal information, bank-account balances, or other financial information?
  • Does the message convey a sense of urgency or threaten legal action or other consequences?
  • Does the message request payment to avoid the release of compromising information?
  • Is the request for payment part of your normal activities or related to a project you are actively working on?
  • Is the request coming from someone you normally work with? Does the wording sound like the way that person typically would speak to you?

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

To avoid such scams, first become familiar with and follow IEEE payment processes.

Validate details with the parties involved but do not validate via email and do not use any email addresses or phone numbers included in the message. Instead, use information that you already have or can obtain from IEEE.

Establish a validation process for the approval of financial transactions.

Be particularly careful of email requests that ask you to act immediately, especially if something sounds too good to be true. Think before taking any action.

Trust your instincts. If a request appears to be coming from someone you know but just doesn’t feel right, contact that person using a different communication method. If, for example, the unusual request comes via email, call the person on the phone. Use the IEEE online roster for contact information.

If you receive a call or an email or text message requesting that you take an action—even if appears to be consistent with the responsibilities of your IEEE leadership role—but you are unsure if it is legitimate, notify your supporting IEEE business unit. Contact and support information can be found here.

Gilberto Santiago is senior director of IEEE’s security and network management, in Piscataway, N.J. Jonathan Wiggins is senior intellectual property attorney and chief privacy officer in the IEEE Legal and Compliance Department.


April 3rd, 2019

The company famous for agile machines like Atlas and Spot wants to unleash robots in the warehouse

If you haven’t seen the latest Boston Dynamics video, released last week, it shows an upgraded version of the company’s Handle robot moving boxes in a warehouse. Handle is a mobile manipulator that integrates both legs and wheels, and the new version features a swinging “tail” that serves as a counterweight and allows the robot to balance and move in a dynamic fashion—just as you’d expect from the company that created such nimble machines as Atlas, Spot, and BigDog.

Boston Dynamics, which SoftBank bought from Google in 2017, is showing off Handle toiling in a warehouse for a reason: The company is officially entering the logistics market, with plans to offer robots for material-handling applications. As part of that strategy, it is announcing today the acquisition of Kinema Systems, a startup based in Menlo Park, Calif., that develops vision sensors and deep-learning software to enable industrial robot arms to locate and move boxes.


April 3rd, 2019

sensors – a new sensor type from IST AG

Download this application note to see real-world examples of using numerical modeling to evaluate the thermal performance of electromagnetic device designs.

April 2nd, 2019

Security researchers from Tencent have demonstrated a way to use physical attacks to spoof Tesla’s autopilot

An integral part of the autopilot system in Tesla’s cars is a deep neural network that identifies lane markings in camera images. Neural networks “see” things much differently than we do, and it’s not always obvious why, even to the people that create and train them. Usually, researchers train neural networks by showing them an enormous number of pictures of something (like a street) with things like lane markings explicitly labeled, often by humans. The network will gradually learn to identify lane markings based on similarities that it detects across the labeled dataset, but exactly what those similarities are can be very abstract.

Because of this disconnect between what lane markings actually are and what a neural network thinks they are, even highly accurate neural networks can be tricked through “adversarial” images, which are carefully constructed to exploit this kind of pattern recognition. Last week, researchers from Tencent’s Keen Security Lab showed [PDF] how to trick the lane detection system in a Tesla Model S to both hide lane markings that would be visible to a human, and create markings that a human would ignore, which (under some specific circumstances) can cause the Tesla’s autopilot to swerve into the wrong lane without warning.


April 2nd, 2019

Conferences, educational materials, and webinars are some of the services it offers

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THE INSTITUTEThere are now hundreds of cities—large and small—that are working to improve their livability by using resilient communication networks, data analytics, sensors, and other technologies. Others want to smarten up but just don’t know how to go about it. IEEE’s Smart Cities Initiative wants to help them.

The multidisciplinary effort, which launched in 2013, provides city leaders and others with credible, unbiased technical information and educational content developed by IEEE global experts. The organization’s Communications, Control Systems, Industry Applications, Power & Energy, and Systems, Man, and Cybernetics societies as well as the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation provide technical expertise.

 “We bring together academics, industry professionals, and other folks who can identify the opportunities and challenges from a technical perspective and then work on developing best practices and technical standards,” says IEEE Member Patrick Graves, who chairs the IEEE Smart Cities committee.

Senior Member Shaghayegh “Shay” Bahramirad, the IEEE Power & Energy Society’s vice president of new initiatives and outreach, who oversees the effort globally, says what differentiates IEEE from other organizations involved in smart-city programs is its “unbiased perspective of technology and policy.” The society is coordinating the initiative’s efforts.

“Partnering with IEEE Smart Cities is a great way for cities and institutions to take advantage of the expertise being made available, and lessons learned from different jurisdictions to help them make better decisions,” Bahramirad says.

Bahramirad, who works for ComEd, an electric utility in Chicago, and Graves, who formerly worked for ComEd and now works for parent company Exelon, are involved with projects to make the Windy City and other municipalities they serve smarter.

Graves, in his previous role as manager of smart grid at ComEd, led the company’s Community of the Future initiative, which aims to use the smart grid, along with other technologies, to improve the lives of residents in neighborhoods such as Bronzeville. A microgrid now under construction will be connected to the Illinois Institute of Technology, located in Bronzeville, to form the first utility-operated microgrid cluster, officials say. It will include 7.7 megawatts of load, which will be locally generated by distributed energy resources including solar photovoltaics and energy storage, they say. The microgrid is expected to provide power to more than 1,300 homes, businesses, and public institutions.

In his current role as co-founder of Exelon’s sustainable-communities initiative, Graves is developing ways to leverage the company’s capabilities and resources to help communities meet their sustainability objectives.

Bahramirad, vice president of engineering and the smart grid, is working on developing a more modern grid. She is overseeing a transition from a traditional grid that measures power consumption to one that also monitors water usage. That would allow customers to track their patterns and better identify leaks and frozen pipes.

DISTINCTIVE NEEDS

Dozens of cities have engaged with the initiative, including Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Coral Gables, Fla., and Kansas City, Mo. Each municipality is unique in terms of the challenges it faces, the assets it has, and its goals, Graves says. There is no “one size fits all” solution.

Some cities want to reduce traffic congestion and lower energy costs, while others seek to optimize waste collection and monitor air quality. That’s why the initiative has organized itself in part around what it calls application domains: energy, health, mobility, water, waste, and food and agriculture.

The technologies being applied can be as complex as advanced data and analytical tools, cloud-based services, and integrated data, voice, and wireless systems. Or they can be as simple as making use of sensors, LEDs, and solar panels. However, Bahramirad says, it’s clear the fundamental technologies that serve functions apply across application domains. For that reason, the initiative also organizes itself around what it calls functional domains: sensors, networks, systems integration, analytics, and management and control platforms.

“The issues are local, but the solutions are the same,” Bahramirad says. “IEEE is global. We have that world view.”

RESOURCES

People who join the initiative’s community get access to newsletters, tutorials, and webinars to keep them up to speed on advances. The group now has more than 8,060 members including IEEE members, city officials, and urban planners.

The IEEE Smart Cities Resource Center includes access to publications like Proceedings of the IEEE, technical reports, tutorials, and webinars. One recent webinar featured IEEE members working to make Casablanca, Morocco, more intelligent. Another spotlighted the risks and opportunities of using blockchain technology.

Upcoming conferences include the International Istanbul Smart Grids and Cities Congress and Fair, being held on 25 and 26 April, and the Smart City Symposium: Prague, scheduled for 23 and 24 May. The initiative’s flagship event, the IEEE International Smart Cities Conference, is set for 14 to 17 October in Casablanca.

 “Becoming a smart city is a journey, not a destination,” Bahramirad says. “In this era of connectivity, with IEEE, no one has to go through the process on their own. We connect global communities.”


March 22nd, 2019

Several issues and challenges still need to be addressed

Illustration: iStockphoto

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, the most influential technology of our time. Its evolution and impact have been phenomenal, and its growth continues unabated. Within a mere 30 years, the Web has irrevocably revolutionized the world and our lives, ushering in the Information Age. It has become indispensable, and it has impacted almost every aspect of our activities and almost all industries. But no one anticipated it.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Tim Berners-Lee, a 33-year-old software engineer at CERN, envisioned a unifying structure for linking information stored on multiple incompatible computers. Inhis “Information Management: A Proposal,” published in 1989 and 1990, he developed a new way of linking and sharing information among a small group of scientists over the Internet. He sought approval for the project from his boss, who wrote on the first page, “vague but exciting,” and gave him the go-ahead. Two years later the first Web page went online.

In 1993 CERN allowed the technology to be freely used by all. That vision of universal connectivity became to be known as the World Wide Web. Since then, the Web has evolved and grown steadily and significantly. It has become a universal platform for communications and interactions. Its open approach fostered widespread creativity and led to the technology’s amazing growth.

The Web has redefined the way we live, communicate, socialize, and transact. It has prompted companies to rethink how they conduct business, interact with customers and suppliers, foster innovation, and collaborate with others. It has changed the face of politics, governance, religion, and spirituality.

Web tools and services enable us to gain and share knowledge and information. And Web-enabled applications continue to transform banking, education, government, health care, and many other sectors.

The Web’s further development is being driven by:

  • Advances such as Web 3.0, the Semantic Web, the 3D Web, and the Real-Time Web.
  • Open standards, open data, and open-source software.
  • The Internet of Things.
  • Edgecomputing.
  • Multimodal access and multilingual presentations.
  • Internet-enabled consumer electronics.
  • Smarter search engines and question-answering systems.
  • Integrated, context-aware, collaborative apps.
  • The demand for an open, neutral, equal-access Internet.

But the Web has a dark side too. Concerns include privacy violations, security breaches, lack of access, censorship, fake or incorrect news, information overload, online harassment, misuse, and illegal activities.

Although the Web has created opportunities for good and has given a voice to marginalized groups, it also has provided a platform to those who spread hate speech and has enabled scammers and fraudsters.

Those problems, which will continue until we address them adequately, have created a love-hate sentiment with the Web, yet we can’t afford to live without it.

Berners-Lee is cautiously optimistic. This month he wrote, “Against the backdrop of news stories about how the Web is misused, it’s understandable that many people feel afraid and unsure if the Web is really a force for good. But given how much the Web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the Web as we know it can’t be changed for the better in the next 30.”

THE WEB WE WANT

There’s much to think about, reflect on, and anticipate about the future of the Web. We need to address several technical, developmental, operational, organizational, political, and societal issues and challenges [See “Roundtable Discussion: The Web We Look Forward To,”IEEEComputer, May 2015, pp. 44–50.]

The Web is for everyone, but not everyone is benefiting. The technology will need to reach out to the billions of people who have not had the opportunity to embrace and benefit from it. The Web must be fully accessible, especially to those with disabilities so they can enjoy it with the aid of assistive technologies.

Other limitations must be addressed as well, including:

  • Interoperability of Web applications. Integration of data, knowledge, and apps to make the Web a more meaningful and collaborative platform.
  • Information overload. Better context awareness, easier navigation, and smarter search engines for all kinds of data and information.
  • Societal and social issues. Addressing the Web’s dark side, such as insufficient privacy and security controls, misuse, and poor information quality.
  • An open Web. Fostering open data, open standards, and an open, neutral Internet.

A lesson that we—researchers, developers, and innovators—can learn from the Web is: Don’t underestimate the potential of your ideas, however humble they may seem. It’s our responsibility to leverage the good while safeguarding against anyharmful effects. Let’s join hands and create a better Web—the Web we want.

What must we do as a community to build a better, safer, more open Web that addresses the needs of various segments of society and reaches all the people around the globe? What advances and features would you like to see in the future? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

IEEE Senior Member
San Murugesan
is a former editor in chief ofIT Professionaland a member ofThe Institute’seditorial advisory board. Heis the director of BRITE Professional Services and an adjunct professor at the School of Computing and Mathematics at Western Sydney University, in Australia.


March 22nd, 2019

The life member had the opportunity to work with astronaut Alan Shepard

Photo: U.S. Air Force/NASA

The IEEE History Center

,
which is leading the Footsteps: IEEE’s Commemoration of Human Space Travel effort,
invited members to post their space-program experiences on the

Engineering and Technology History Wiki

.

IEEE Life Member Rufus Chavez reminisces about his projects and working with astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to travel into space. Chavez also met Werhner von Braun, an aerospace engineer who led the development of Germany’s rocket technology and helped shape space science in the United States.

After graduating in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Lamar University, in Beaumont, Texas, Chavez began working at McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis. The company was NASA’s primary contractor for the manufacture of 20 Project Mercury satellite spacecraft. Mercury was the first human spaceflight program for the United States. McDonnell also produced the launch vehicles for the spacecraft—which carried supplies and were modified from Redstone and Atlas D missiles. Chavez was a member of the engineering design group.

In the mid-1960s, he was transferred to the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, in Florida. There he designed modifications to the Mercury-Atlas spacecraft. Project Mercury also included the Mercury-Redstone, a model that von Braun worked on. The Freedom 7, the first U.S. human spaceflight, was a Mercury-Redstone spacecraft.

PROJECT MERCURY

The Mercury-Atlas 2, or MA-2, test flight took place on 21 February 1961. Chavez was responsible for the craft’s electrical monitor console, which was located in the blockhouse, a concrete building used to observe the proceedings.

“The flight started without a hitch,” Chavez recalled, “but suddenly all the spacecraft consoles began to display erratic readings, so the countdown clock was stopped.” He thought a possible cause could have been a cable that connected the MA-2 to equipment on the launchpad. The NASA flight director ordered a field technician to check the cable. According to Chavez, the technician confirmed that the connection was loose. Within a few minutes, the readings on the console returned to normal. The countdown clock was restarted, and the test flight was a success.

The next test occurred two months later, on 25 April. Seconds after takeoff, the spacecraft went off course, Chavez says, and the range safety officer ordered its self-destruction.

Each spacecraft has an escape system to keep the crew safe. The system can quickly separate the capsule from the rocket in case of an emergency. The system fires explosive bolts on the clamp ring that coupled the spacecraft to the rocket. Each bolt had a hollow shaft filled with explosive material.

According to Chavez, the 25 April blast propelled the capsule to a safe distance away from the rocket as it exploded. As the capsule jettisoned, its parachutes opened and it safely landed in the Atlantic Ocean. A helicopter later recovered it.

Following the explosion, Chavez says, he and his team were speechless and stood motionless. Shepard, who was in the blockhouse during the launch, quickly walked to the periscope and described the rescue operations to Chavez and other engineers who were monitoring the test.

After firefighters made sure the area was safe, the team held a debriefing session. Blockhouse personnel presented what they had observed, and it was suggested that a gyroscope in the rocket might have failed, Chavez says. A gyroscope guides the rocket, which explains why the rocket went off course, says Chavez.

The moderator wrapped up the session, and then Shepard addressed the group. According to Chavez, Shepard said he noticed the team was upset by the failure, but he said he was satisfied with the safety measures in place and was glad the engineers were able to assess the escape system, since it had never been used before. Shepard ended his speech by pounding his fist on the podium and saying, “I’m ready to go on the next flight.”

MEMORABLE MEETINGS

Chavez had the opportunity to interact with Shepard again when they shared an office in the blockhouse. One day, an employee from McDonnell’s publishing department came by to give Shepard the updated version of the capsule flight-operations manual. The astronaut threw away his old copy. Chavez retrieved the discarded manual and asked Shepard if he would sign the first page. Chavez considers it a cherished memento from his time working on Project Mercury.

When von Braun and his team of scientists and engineers working on the Mercury-Redstone asked to see the re-flight checkout trailer, Chavez got the chance to meet him.

The trailer housed instruments that NASA engineers used to assure that the machinery in a particular spacecraft was working properly. Chavez said he was told that no one except the facility’s three engineers, which didn’t include him, could give a tour of the trailer and explain what the instruments were used for. Von Braun and his team arrived an hour early, and Chavez was instructed to go to the trailer to warn those three engineers. As he was leaving, von Braun entered the trailer with his team. Von Braun introduced himself to Chavez, and when Chavez tried to exit the facility, the group blocked him so he stayed.

“It’s an experience I won’t forget,” Chavez says.

You can find Chavez’s complete account at the Engineering and Technology History Wiki, along with those of others who have shared their experiences. If you would like to share your story, you can submit it here.

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

.