February 2014

IEEE-MSN Newsletter


Madison Section

Vol. 17, No. 1 Serving
IEEE Members of South Central Wisconsin
February 2014
  • Upcoming Events

    • RFIDs for the


      • Date: 11:45 AM Thursday,

        February 20th, 2014

      • Speaker:  Chris Latimer
      • Location: Promega Bio Pharmaceutical Technology Center

        Room Number: 122

        5445 E Cheryl Pkwy

        Fitchburg,  Wisconsin

      • To sign up for this meeting, click
      Radio-frequency identification technologies in ecological

      Radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies were first
      developed in the mid-to late 1930’s for specific military
      applications. Advances in engineering and manufacturing
      throughout the years have lowered the cost and size of RFID
      transmitters, making them available to an array of applications
      in a variety of industries. Today, RFID is commonly used in
      pharmaceutical, automobile and shopping industries, with
      increasing applications in environmental monitoring and
      ecological studies. Mr. Latimer will present a brief history of
      RFID and how it works, followed by a discussion about RFID use
      in ecological studies. Then he will present a case study of
      ongoing research using RFID to monitor behavior and survival of
      wintering birds in Wisconsin, and finally, provide some insight
      into future directions for RFID applications in ecological

      Chris Latimer is a Ph.D. student in the wildlife ecology program
      and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests
      include: understanding how anthropogenic factors affect the
      behavior, energetics and survival of wildlife, and technological
      applications in tracking and monitoring wildlife populations.
      His dissertation work involves using RFID technologies to
      determine how the interaction between land-cover and weather
      influence the foraging behaviors and survival of wintering birds
      in Wisconsin. 

    • IEEE Signal
      Processing Society Distinguished Lecturer Series


      • Date: 11:45 AM Friday,

        March 14th, 2014

      • Speaker: Dr. V. John Mathews of The University of Utah
      • Location:  (Tentative)

        Promega BioPharmaceutical Technology Center

        Room Number: 122

        5445 E Cheryl Pkwy

        Fitchburg,  Wisconsin

        Note:  Day is FRIDAY.

      Restoration of Motor Skills in Patients with Disorders of the
      Central Nervous System

      Recent technological innovations such as functional neural
      stimulation (FNS) offer considerable benefits to paralyzed
      individuals. FNS can produce movement in paralyzed muscles by the
      application of electrical stimuli to the nerves innervating the
      muscles. The first part of this talk will describe how smooth
      muscle movements can be evoked using Utah slanted electrode arrays
      (USEAs) inserted into the motor nerves of the peripheral nervous
      system. The standard 4 x 4 mm USEAs contain 100 electrodes of
      varying lengths. Implantation of a USEA in a peripheral nerve
      allows highly selective electrical access to individual and small
      groups of axons. We will review approaches for designing
      asynchronously interleaved stimulation signals applied via
      individual electrodes in the arrays to evoke smooth,
      fatigue-resistant force that closely resembles normal motor
      function. The second part of this talk will describe efforts to
      decode cortical surface potentials, recorded with dense grids of
      microelectrodes. Decoding human intent from neural signals is a
      critical component of brain-computer interfaces. This information
      can then be used to control the muscles in tasks involving
      restoration of motor skills or to control a robot that performs
      desired tasks. We will discuss recent work on decoding neural data
      collected from patients implanted with microelectrode arrays. The
      talk will conclude with a discussion of some of the current
      research challenges in this area.

      Biography: Dr. V. John
      Mathews is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at
      the University of Utah. His research interests are in nonlinear
      and adaptive signal processing and application of signal
      processing techniques in audio and communication systems,
      biomedical engineering, and structural health management. He
      chaired the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at
      the University of Utah during 1999-2003. Dr. Mathews is a Fellow
      of IEEE. He served as the Vice President (Finance) of the IEEE
      Signal Processing Society during 2003-2005 and the Vice President
      (Conferences) of the Society during 2009-2011. He is a past
      associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing,
      and the IEEE Signal Processing Letters and the IEEE Journal of
      Selected Topics in Signal Processing and currently serves on the
      editorial board of the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine. He was a
      recipient of the 2008-09 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the
      National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, India, and the
      Utah Engineers Council’s Engineer of the Year Award in 2011. He
      serves now as a Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Signal
      Processing Society for 2013 and 2014.

  • Section News

    Eric Rosenthal Talk Review (Provided
    by Charles Gervasi): 

    This excellent talk informed the
    attendees about the “Magic” of Disney Engineering.  He
    explained how Disney attractions begin with storyboard drawings
    posted around a room. The creative team collaboratively identifies
    which ideas are the best. People whose ideas were abandoned would
    enthusiastically work on the ideas that were
    adopted.    The work on the attractions involved
    creative custom solutions that resulted in a series of funny
    engineering anecdotes which he shared with us.  When he worked
    on the Alien Encounter attraction, his first task was to make the
    attraction less scary because people could not follow the story over
    the audience screaming. They got rid of a large electrical arcing
    display and installed “butt thumpers” and moving whiskers to brush
    against the audiences legs. They configured speakers to give the
    audience the impression the alien was walking nearby. They designed
    a device to emit an “alien smell” when the the alien sounded like it
    was nearby. The device emitted a freshener that eliminated the smell
    as soon as the alien walked away.  He worked on an Indiana
    Jones ride that used 600W subwoofers to give the audience the
    impression of a huge rolling ball. People were reporting vibrations
    in homes miles away. They had to reduce the power by

    In another project, he worked on a ride with a large power
    requirement. The design involved 11kV lines going to a transformer
    on the roof to step it down to 480V.  Noise was coupling from
    the power lines to the communication system, which as a fail-safe
    shuts down the entire attraction if communication is interrupted.
    The shielding on the power lines was ineffective because the
    electrical conduit that appeared as steel on the drawing was
    actually PVC to accommodate Florida’s high water table. Reinstalling
    power through steel conduit solved the problem.  When he was
    working on a 42nd Street New York ABC TV studio, contractors
    installed soundproofing over electrical outlets. He believes they
    did this on purpose, hoping to get paid to remove it, find the
    outlets, and re-install it. To find the outlet locations, he got a
    helium tank from a party store and connected it to the electrical
    conduit, forcing the gas out the electrical boxes. Then he went
    around with an inexpensive helium detector to find the locations of
    the outlets.  The idea we came away with is that show business
    engineering projects are unique in that they have a very large
    budgets, strict schedules, and subjective design requirements that
    are evaluated by executives with a creative non-technical
    mindset.  For a copy of the talk slides, click here
    (Warning: 12MBytes!)

    Alien  ToT

  • Badger Science Olympiad Event: 
    (Reviewed by Tom Kaminski)  On January 17th and 18th, members of
    the IEEE-Madison Chapter helped with several Badger Invitational
    Science Olympiad
    events.   The Invitational provides
    an opportunity for middle and high-school teams to test their Science
    mettle and practice for sanctioned events of the national Science
    Olympiad.  The event was hosted on the UW-Madison campus, mostly
    at Union South and on the College of Engineering campus.  For one
    event, the RadioLab, students attended a lecture on Friday and took an
    exam on Saturday.  Also the students had to build antennas for
    the 2.4GHz radio band.   IEEE-Madison members Charles
    Gervasi, Craig Heilman, Robb Peebles and San Rotter helped organize
    and run the event.  RadioLaB is a Wisconsin-only event, but it is
    proposed to be nationally sanctioned.   This represents an
    excellent opportunity to make the IEEE known nationally.  Another
    event, CircuitLab, was organized at the last minute by IEEE-Madison
    members when the event coordinator had a family emergency.  Tom
    Kaminski and John Lombardo  developed, printed and graded a
    pretty tough test covering basic circuit and electrical theory. 
    They were surprised when one team got a perfect score on the test.

    RLT  RLA

  • Regular Meetings

    • Section Meetings

      The third Thursday of Jan – May and Sep – Dec. is reserved for a
      meeting to provide recent research, developments, trends and/or
      innovations in one of our membership’s technical areas.

      Networking Meetings

      • Purpose: Presentations, Discussions, networking
      • Date: First Thursday of even-numbered months
      • Time: 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM
      • Location: Sector67, 2100 Winnebago Street  (East Side of
      • Parking: Park in lot or on Winnebago Street.
      • Process: Members are encouraged to make introductions,
        describe endeavors, and make request for: contacts in target
        companies, needs, resources.
      • Contact: For assistance, call Tim Chapman 2 0 6 – 2 5 7 0
  • Membership Upgrades

  • Those interested in upgrading their IEEE membership level should send
    their resumes or other information showing five years of significant
    performance in an IEEE-designated field to Charles J Gervasi
    (cj@cgervasi.com). Madison Section Board will attempt to find Senior
    IEEE members knowledgeable in the applicant’s area of practice who may
    be able to provide references. You are invited to attend the informal
    networking portion of the monthly Section meetings (starting at 11:30am)
    to meet the Section Board members and discuss intentions.

  • About IEEE

  • The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE (read
    I-Triple-E) is an international non-profit, professional organization
    dedicated to advancing technology innovation and excellence for the
    betterment of humanity. IEEE and its members inspire a global community
    through IEEE’s highly cited publications, conferences, technology
    standards, and professional and educational activities. It has the most
    members of any technical professional organization in the world, with
    more than 300,000 members in around 150 countries. The IEEE consists of
    38 societies, organized around specialized technical fields, with more
    than 300 local organizations that hold regular meetings. For more
    information, please visit: IEEE.ORG

  • Madison IEEE Section

    The IEEE-Madison Section of the IEEE is a section in Region 4 of the
    IEEE-USA organized to serve IEEE members in the Madison, WI area with
    over 600 members.  the 2013 Officers and Board Members are Tom
    Kaminski – Chair, Charles Gervasi – Treasurer, Kevin Schoeneck –
    Secretary, Timothy Chapman – Webmaster, Tom Kaminski – ECN Chair,
    Members at Large: Mitch Bradt, Clark Johnson, Dennis Bahr, Craig
    Heilman, Sandy Rotter, Steve Schultheis.

  • Job Openings

    Check out WIEES.com for
    electrical engineering jobs in Madison and the surrounding region.
    This site is maintained as a service for electrical engineers. Jobs
    are displayed starting with the most recent postings first. You can
    filter results by location and job type. If you are hiring an
    electrical engineer in our area, for full-time or contract work, you
    can post the job in the Contact Us
    section on the WIEES.com site.

  • Contact Us

    Please direct any questions or comments to Tom Kaminski via email to