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New Website for IEEE’s Conference Organizers Provides A Whole Suite of Services

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

IEEE’s eXpress Conference Publishing group provides peer review, plagiarism screening, collection of final papers and other offerings

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THE INSTITUTEIEEE’s eXpress Conference Publishing (IEEE eCP) service recently launched a website to better serve IEEE conference organizers. The in-house publishing group provides assistance with publishing needs for conferences from start to finish. That includes peer review, plagiarism screening, collection of final papers, and final paper submission to the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. The service uses a single platform that integrates all the various tasks into a seamless workflow by simplifying many of the organizational functions handled by the publication’s chair.

From the new mobile-friendly website, organizers can request a quote for publishing a proceedings for any size conference. Included in the publishing guidelines section of the site is a helpful list of the required documentation, such as the mandatory conference application, IEEE’s electronic copyright form, and a brochure about how to protect against cybersecurity threats.

Conferences that work with IEEE eCP can provide their authors with credentials that give them access to paper-submission instructions as well as the ability to submit a paper from the Author Resources section. In addition, this section of the site links to the IEEE Author Center, a resource that provides best practices, guidance, and tools for authors publishing with IEEE. The IEEE Author Center recently added a section dedicated to conference authors.

ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE

IEEE’s eCP editors work with both the authors and the organizers to meet all deadlines for paper submission and IEEE Xplore publication. The editors also provide the conference organizer with updates regarding papers that have been received—which helps the organizer with overall coordination and development of the conference proceeding.

Another benefit is all papers go through IEEE eCP’s electronic copyright process. As a result they are automatically compliant with IEEE Xplore requirements. Therefore, organizers don’t have to worry whether their proceedings will be rejected for noncompliance. What’s more, eCP can ensure that the final proceedings are submitted to the digital library within 30 days of the conference’s end date, thereby reducing delays in getting the conference papers published.

IEEE eCP also can produce online proceedings, eBooks, and USB drives containing all the papers presented at the conference—which can be distributed to attendees.

NASA Launching Astrobee Robots to Space Station Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

A pair of autonomous, free-flying robots will be on their way to the ISS

It’s been a little over two years since we were first introduced to Astrobee, an autonomous robotic cube designed to fly around the International Space Station. Tomorrow, a pair of Astrobee robots (named Honey and Bumble) will launch to the ISS aboard a Cygnus cargo flight. There’s already a nice comfy dock waiting for them in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and the plan is to put them to work as soon as possible. After a bit of astronaut-assisted setup, the robots will buzz around autonomously, doing experiments and taking video, even operating without direct human supervision on occasion.

NASA has big plans for these little robots, and before they head off to space, we checked in with folks from the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., to learn about what we have to look forward to.

Allison Marsh

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

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Allison Marsh combines her interests in engineering, history, and museum objects to write the Past Forward column, which tells the story of technology through historical artifacts. Marsh likes to think of history as “a Trojan horse to learning about tech,” and she has long been curious about how the general public comes to understand complex engineering ideas, especially outside the classroom—through museums, documentaries, TV shows, and so on.

Marsh loves to travel, as evidenced by her Ph.D. dissertation, which explored the history of industrial tourism. Some of that research made its way into her 2018 book, The Factory: A Social History of Work and Technology. Marsh has worked at several Smithsonian museums and is a consultant for the popular YouTube series “Crash Course: History of Science.”

In her day job, Marsh is a professor at the University of South Carolina and codirector of the university’s Ann Johnson Institute for Science, Technology & Society. Her most memorable experience as a teacher was taking her graduate students to Guantanamo Bay Naval Station to conduct oral histories of base residents. The trip resulted in a consulting gig on an Oliver Stone drama, but she suspects her “facts” might get in the way of the story line.

Marcel Keschner to Receive the IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

The IEEE senior member’s projects have helped provide technical education to underserved

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THE INSTITUTEIEEE Senior Member Marcel Keschner was chosen to receive the 2019 IEEE Richard M. Emberson Award “for promoting technical activities and technical education for underserved populations while advancing cooperation between the volunteers of IEEE across continents and cultures.”

Keschner is president of Markel Ingenieros, an engineering and consulting company in Montevideo, Uruguay, and CEO of Kcode, a technical consulting firm in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In 1989 he helped start the IEEE Uruguay Section, where he initiated projects to increase the reach and impact of IEEE.

One such project was the E-Scientia museum exhibit in Montevideo, installed in 2010 with the aid of EPICS in IEEE to help preuniversity students understand science and engineering basics. The exhibit is a 3-meter-high, 6-meter-long replica of the Apollo 11 Eagle lunar module. Inside are five interactive stations that deal with electrotechnology: communications, energy, propulsion, defense, and biomedicine. In addition to museum staff, volunteers from IEEE student branches are on hand to help explain the technical concepts. E-Scientia exhibits have since been installed in museums in China, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Keschner and EPICS in IEEE also launched the Elementary Energy project. In 2010 he worked with IEEE student branches at the University of the Republic, Universidad ORT, and the Catholic University of Uruguay to design and build a prototype power grid to provide electricity for rural elementary schools in Uruguay. According to Keschner’s nominator, the project prompted the country’s government to permanently connect the schools to the country’s electrical grid.

Keschner was instrumental in developing the Online Technical English Instruction for Multiple Audiences project in 2010 to help non-English-speaking technology and engineering professionals throughout the world better understand and speak English. In the program, people who teach English as a second language introduce engineers to technical English and assist them in reading English-language manuals, standards, and other technical literature.

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

Intel's View of the Chiplet Revolution

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

Ramune Nagisetty is helping Intel establish its place in a new industry ecosystem centered on chiplets

Chiplets are a way to make systems that perform a lot like they are all one chip, despite actually being composed of several smaller chips. They’re widely seen as one part of the computing industry’s plan to keep systems performing better and better despite the fact that traditional Moore’s Law scaling is nearing its end. Proponents say the benefits will include more easily-specialized systems and higher yield, among other things. But more importantly, they might lead to a big shift in the fabless semiconductor industry, where the targeted end-product might become a small, specialized chiplet meant to be combined in the same package with both a general purpose processor and many others specialty chiplets. Ramune Nagisetty, a principal engineer and director of process and product integration at Intel’s technology development group in Oregon, has been working to help develop an industry-wide chiplet ecosystem. She told IEEE Spectrum about that and the Intel technologies involved on 21 March 2019. 

A Routing Scheme to Make Underwater Networks More Reliable

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

A new protocol salvages valuable data if one autonomous underwater vehicle fails in a fleet

Journal Watch report logo, link to report landing page

The ocean’s depths have long remained mysterious—a dark abyss where few humans go. But we still have a stake in this alien environment; scientists want to know where pockets of pollution are worst, and where earthquakes occur along the sea floor. Passive sensors can collect such data, but transmitting it in this murky environment is a challenge.

Guangjie Han at Hohai University and his colleagues have proposed a new approach for how autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) patrolling those depths can better collect data from these sensors. Their design was published 27 March in IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing.

Each sensor, referred to as a node, sits stationary while it collects data. Meanwhile, a fleet of AUVs is dispatched across the network on a predetermined trajectory to collect data from each node.

Radio waves are absorbed by water, so underwater sensors and vehicles typically transmit and receive information by using acoustic signals. But sound waves cannot travel as fast or as far in water as radio waves can in the air.

And with more AUVs comes more challenges. “Particularly, it is difficult to communicate directly and synchronize the information among AUVs, due to the poor quality of underwater acoustic communication and short communication range,” Han says.

Merveilleux! New AZERTY Keyboard Makes It Easier to Type in French

Friday, April 12th, 2019

Keyboards with algorithm-powered AZERTY standard rolling out this summer

Billions of people use keyboards daily, all across the globe. But the keys traditionally used were designed for English; special characters in other languages, like letters with accent marks, are difficult to access or missing altogether.

Now researchers have harnessed the power of the algorithm to create a new keyboard standard for French typists—and they say it’s easily adaptable to design new keyboards for all kinds of European languages.

The new AZERTY standard developed for France’s Ministry of Culture by AFNOR, the benchmark French body for voluntary standards, used a predictive algorithm to design a keyboard that is more intuitive and ergonomic for French speakers than the current AZERTY keyboard. It includes common French characters like œ and É, as well as 60 other new characters not included on the existing keyboard. Symbols such as @ and #, which have come into greater use in the age of Twitter and Facebook, have been moved to more accessible locations.

The project began in 2015, when the French government decided it wanted a new keyboard standard. A team at Finland’s Aalto University read about it in the news and, after consulting with a postdoc on their team from France, they seized the opportunity to apply their work in computational methods to the design.

“We saw it as a big chance to bring our research to life and make use of it in a public project,” says Anna Maria Feit, the lead researcher. “It was a perfect job for an algorithm.”

The challenge sparked work from an international collaboration led by Feit’s team and included linguists, economists, keyboard manufacturers and more stakeholders. 

The problem, France explained to Feit and her team when they began in 2016, is inherent in the way young French people type. It’s easier to write an E or an A rather than a multi-key command to create É or Á.

“Especially younger people don’t type French in the proper way, to the point where many of them think the accents are no longer needed,” Feit says. “They wanted to counteract that trend.”

Easy enough, Feit and her team thought. The French government had given them four key parameters: The letter characters had to be kept as they were on the current AZERTY keyboard, to avoid too big a change for users. That’s also why the researchers built a “cost function” to quantify how far away new placement of characters would be compared with the standard keyboard. Performance was key, so they wanted similar symbols grouped together, and finally, the keyboard needed to be ergonomic and easy to use.

Feit and her team already had years of research on using algorithms for optimization, and it was relatively simple to collect datasets of billions of characters taken from not only French newspapers and legal texts, but also social media posts and Wikipedia entries. They also put together a large crowdsourcing study in which they asked 900 people to type letter combinations to show them how people physically type.

“We created this optimization model process, essentially listened to what the algorithm said was the best design, and said ‘Ta-da! Here is the keyboard!” Feit says. “[The French government] said, ‘Oh, well, that looks nice! But we were thinking this should go here and what is that over there and what about this character…’”

And so the algorithm’s recommendations were combined with human input, which also included the French government publishing the proposed layout for public comment. The project received more than 3,000 comments, which was a record for government projects posted for comment.

After submitting about 30 to 40 iterations, by Feit’s estimate, the team had created a tool for the French committee that can design ideal keyboard layouts based on parameters they enter. The design they adopted was formally introduced on 2 April, and keyboard maker CHERRY is slated to release the first keyboards this summer. In the meantime, an interactive AZERTY keyboard is available to get typists used to the new setup.

Feit says the tool can also be adapted to design keyboards ideal for different languages in the future.

“We are now in the process of making our algorithms openly available, and we purposefully made them general for adaptability,” Feit says. “With new data from other languages it would be very easy to design for the next one, which is really exciting to us.

Wing Officially Launches Australian Drone Delivery Service

Friday, April 12th, 2019

After years of testing, Wing is now offering consumer drone delivery to select Australian suburbs

Alphabet’s subsidiary Wing announced this week that it has officially launched a commercial drone delivery service “to a limited set of eligible homes in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin,” which are just north of Canberra, in Australia. Wing’s drones are able to drop a variety of small products, including coffee, food, and pharmacy items, shuttling them from local stores to customers’ backyards within minutes.

We’ve been skeptical about whether this kind of drone delivery makes sense for a long, long time, and while this is certainly a major milestone for Wing, I’m still not totally convinced that the use-cases that Wing is pushing here are going to be sustainable long term.

Microsoft’s Brad Smith on How to Responsibly Deploy AI

Thursday, 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.

IEEE Day is 1 October

Thursday, 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.