September 2017


Madison Section Newsletter

Newsletters are archived online at

Vol. 20, No. 8 Serving IEEE Members of South Central Wisconsin September 2017
  • Upcoming Events

    • 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?:  To arrange for a ride contact Chuck Cowie (, Tom Kaminski ( or Dave Jenson (

          Carpool Pick Up: Three drivers who can take a total of 10 passengers are planning to leave from the south side of the Sears Auto Center at the southeast corner of West Towne Mall. Chuck Cowie can pick up an additional 3 passengers between East Washington at Stoughton Road and West Towne Mall. Those who would like a ride are requested to email one of the above contacts so we will know who to expect. We plan to be ready to pick up passengers at West Towne Mall at 2:15 PM and leave at 2:30 PM.

          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.

      • September Section Meeting: “Overview of USA Railway Electrification”

BSNF Electrification

        • Event:  Lunchtime Section Meeting
        • Date/Time: Monday, September 25th,  from12:00 PM until 1:30 PM
          NOTE the date/time change from typical section meetings!
        • Speaker: Mark Schulze,  VP, BSNF
        • Location: 
              Sequoya Library Branch, Room B
              Carpool from West Towne Mall at 2:00 PM
              Madison,  WI
        • RSVP: Please Register at the IEEE Madison Section event page.


            Most of the world has electrified is main line railroads, but the United States has not. Why is that when we have freight traffic densities higher than many foreign nations. I will discuss the economics of electrification from the viewpoint of the BNSF railroad and the prospects for electrification in the future.


          :  Mark Schulze is vice president, Safety, Training and Operations Support, for BNSF Railway. In this role, he leads the System Safety and Technical Training teams and is responsible for corporate technical research and development. Schulze was named to his current position on June 1, 2005. He had previously served as general manager of BNSF Railway’s Texas Division and was named to that position in May 2004 after serving as vice president and chief sourcing officer since November 2002. Prior to being named to the sourcing post, Schulze had been assistant vice president, Consumer Products Marketing, since early 2001. Schulze joined the railroad in October 1990 as a corporate management trainee. He progressed through the company, holding financial positions in Coal and the Treasury department, and became manager, Finance, in 1995. In 1997, he was promoted to director, Operating Budget and Measurement, in the Finance department. He joined the Marketing department in 1998 as general director, Business Unit Support.

      • Section News

        • Meeting Reviews

          The August ECN-EMB-018 Joint Meeting  featured a talks by Tom Kaminski and Dennis Bahr on the use of Raspberry Pi SoCs for Audio and medical instrumentation. Tom discussed the use of the Raspberry Pi 3 in several projects, including an audio player, a sound level meter, and a Sonic Boom monitoring system.  Dennis showed his low-power, battery operated Raspberry Pi Zero unit aimed at portable medical instrumentation. The biggest difference between the two units was the programming approach. Tom primarily used the Python programming language on the Raspbian flavor of Linux for his projects, while Dennis used a “bare metal” approach.  Dennis dug into the means needed to compile a simple “C” program and load it into the Pi Zero.  His project boots very quickly and runs with little power while Tom’s approach requires the OS to boot first.  Dennis is now working on figuring out how to use the powerful graphics pipeline in the Pi Zero to do Infinite Impulse Response filtration. A copy of Tom’s presentation is available at this link.  You may email Dennis at for more information on the bare metal booting process.

          Editorial Note: I was surprised to find out that three members of the IEEE-Madison Executive Committee (Tom Kaminski, Clark Johnson, and Charles Cowie) were all nearby in Western Wyoming for the past Eclipse event on August 21.  A fourth member, Dennis Bahr, viewed the event from southern Missouri.  Tom used a Raspberry Pi outfitted with a camera to produce a time lapse of the event. You may view the video at this .Google Drive link.  He was in Glendo, WY and a picture of his set up for recording the eclipse (along with his daughters and wife) is documented here.

      • Upcoming Meetings

        The LMAG tour of the Sauk Prarie hydro plant is almost full, so please sign up quickly.  We will need to car pool to the site because of limited parking.  The carpool group will meet near the Sears Automotive site on the South West side of West Town at 2:00 PM to depart by 2:30 PM. After we announced the meeting, Thomas Luck (pronounced “luke”), an IEEE member contacted us and mentioned that his Dad had been employed at the plant for many years and has documented the early history of the plant.  Tom’s father, Ralph Luck, will join us on the tour and has made a 350MByte “zip” file available for the IEEE members to access at this dropbox link. He also presented a link to a local newspaper article on the dam here. Four of the images are shown below.

        September Section Meeting — Mark Shulze of BNSF Railroad will present an informative talk on electrification of the US railroads.  It should be an interesting talk for those interested in rail, and power systems. Note the date change (Monday, September 25th) from our typical meeting time.

      • 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)