August 2017


Madison Section Newsletter

Newsletters are archived online at

Vol. 20, No. 7 Serving IEEE Members of South Central Wisconsin July/August 2017
  • Upcoming Events

    • August ECN Meeting: “SOCs for Audio Use”


      • Event:  Lunch and Discussion
      • Talk: “Raspberry Pi SoCs for Audio Use”
      • Date/Time: Thursday, August 10th,  from 11:45 AM until 1:00 PM
      • Speaker: Tom Kaminski.
      • Lunch: Bring Your Own
      • Location:
        2100 Winnebago Street
            Madison,  WI
      • RSVP: Please Register at the IEEE Madison Section event page.
        Non-member guests are always welcome.

        Talk:  Inexpensive System-On-a-Chip devices have radically changed the application of digital signal processing to common problems.  The Raspberry Pi has now become the third most prevalent general purpose computer (after the PC and Apple devices) in the world. It can also be used to implement instruments and serve as a system integration device. Tom will discuss what you need to produce a product or a device for home use.  In particular, he will demonstrate several audio devices, the Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi Zero devices, and a RaspberrryPi controlled robot (Turtlebot 3) running ROS.

        Speaker:  Tom Kaminski is a retired instructor of Automation from Madison College. He has been working on using SoCs to solve system integration problems for years and has several products using SoCs under development, including a Sonic Boom recorder for use by NASA.

    • September LMAG Meeting: “Prairie du Sac Hydro Tour”


      • Event:  Hydro Plant Tour
      • Date/Time: Thursday, September 7th,  from 3:30 PM until 5:00 PM
      • Tour Guide: Amanda Blank, Alliant Energy
      • Location:
        Prairie du Sac
        Carpool from West Towne Mall at 2:00 PM
            Madison,  WI
      • RSVP: Please Register at the IEEE Madison Section event page.
        The tour is limited to 24 people
      • Carpool?:  Please contact Tom Kaminski if you can drive others

        Tour:  The planned September Life Member Affinity Group event is a tour of Alliant energy’s Prairie du Sac Hydroelectric plant on Thursday September 7th from 3:30 to 5:00 PM. The plant is located about one mile north of Prairie du Sac. It operates 8 generators with a total capacity of about 31 megawatts. The Prairie du Sac Dam is about 40 feet high and the total water flow rate is about 10,000 cubic feet per second. The 9500 acre Lake Wisconsin is formed by the dam. The plant was put into service in September 1914.

        The tour is planned to start with a presentation by Amanda Blank, the plant manager. After the presentation we will have a guided tour of the plant including the generator floor, control room and bus room. Additional personnel will provide information and answer questions about those areas. The tour will conclude with the outdoor features of the facility.
        Carpool transportation to and from the dam is being organized. Due to liomited on-site parking, Tom Kaminski, Chuck Cowie and Dave Jensen have volunteered to take about 9 additional people. The tour can accommodate a maximum of 24 people. Three or four additional volunteers may be needed. Contact Tom Kaminski ( if you can drive. The planned departure time is about 2:00 to 2:45 PM from West Towne Mall.

  • Section News

    • Meeting Reviews

      The June ECN Meeting  featured a talk by Dominic DiMarco, formerly of MobleIgniter, an IoT startup. He gave us an annotated tour of his professional career as an Entrepreneur, using specific events in his career to make a point about being an Entrepreneur. Dominic stressed that there are many more aspects of the career than being a technologist. He emphasized the need to sell and make connections, encouraging everyone to join LinkedIn instead of Facebook, especially young professionals. Also, he explained that you must “pay it forward” by agreeing to help others as you have been helped. You never know when the connections you make will be needed. He detailed how he used his experience and connections to arrive at his current position. Dominic also discussed his experience trying to produce a product “PooPuppets” (details here) based on printing a comic drawing on a pet refuse bag. He literally called over a hundred US manufacturers and got no response. He posted requirements on a Chinese site and got many responses in days, selecting one for the manufacturing effort.

      June Section Meeting Talk: Dr. Bandara Gamini gave a talk on collaborative Robots and their use in industry. This new class of robots is now being offered by a number of auomation systems vendors in order to work more cooperatively with humans. There are two very important differences compared to the older generation robots. First, they operate safely without the need for extensive cages or guard space, and second, they are much easier to program. Several examples were given of robot programming where the “programing” consisted of guiding the robots by hand through the operations rather than using a “pendant” for programming.  Also, videos of operating robots showed them slowing down to safe speeds when humans approached, and stopped quickly when humans touched them.

      Dr. Gamini also related his experience in working with companies to use these new robots,  Discussions with the audience revealed that in many cases, companies can afford the capital cost of the robots, but do not have the trained manpower to program and maintain them. The new robots might change that dynamic.

      Gamini Colaborative Robots

  • Upcoming Meetings

    The August ECN meeting was moved to allow the speaker more time to prepare the demonstration. Note the date change for that meeting. Sorry about the late announcement of the event.  The September LMAG Tour has a limited number of participants, so please sign up as soon as possible.  Also, if you can drive others to the Prairie du Sac site, please contact Tom Kaminski (  Scott Olsen is preparing a joint IEEE Section/UW-Madison Student Branch Barbeque pig roast at Lucky’s 1313 Brew Pub on September 15th.  Stay tuned for more information. The September Section Meeting will tentatively be on an overview of railroad electrification, especially its economics. It seems that the BNSF has a repeating five-year cycle to re-evaluate possible electrification.

  • Volunteers Needed

    Micro Volunteers: Do you have some time to spare to help IEEE-Madison Section?  Perhaps you have a meeting topic that you would like to see us host and could find a speaker.   Maybe you have time to call a few members who might have forgotten to renew their membership. Particular Need:  Record Video/Audio of meetings for later use. Contact Tom Kaminski (tjkaminski [at] to volunteer

      • Regular Meetings

        • Section Meetings

          The third Thursday of January through May, and September through December is reserved for a meeting to provide recent research, developments, trends and/or innovations in one of our membership’s technical areas.

        • Life Member Affinity Group

          The first Thursday of January, March, May, September and November is reserved for a meeting on a topic selected from a broad range including such areas as technology, science, history, culture and leisure.

        • IEEE-MSN-ECN 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 Madison)
          • 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.
      • 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 via email at cj(at) 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 Eye-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. Discover what IEEE Member Discounts can offer you. The Member Discounts portfolio consists of insurance products and programs for the home, office and travel, all at excellent group rates and reduced pricing. Visit IEEE Member Discounts to see what’s available in your location and enjoy the savings. For more information, please visit:


    • 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 2016 Officers and Board Members are Tom Kaminski – Chair, Scott Olsen – Vice Chair, Charles Gervasi – Treasurer, Steve Schultheis – Secretary, Nate Toth – Webmaster, Tom Kaminski – ECN Chair, Dennis Bahr – Engineering in Medicine and Biology Chapter Chair,  Chuck Kime – Life Member Affinity Group Chair, Charles Cowie – Life Member Affinity Group Vice Chair, David Jensen – Life Member Affinity Group Secretary, Members at Large: Clark Johnson, Craig Heilman, Dennis Bahr, Sandy Rotter.

    • Job Openings

      Check out 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 site.

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    • Contact Us

      The IEEE-Madison Section has a number of volunteer positions open if you are interested in helping out. Please direct any questions or comments to Tom Kaminski (Newsletter Editor) via email to tjkaminski(at)