May/June 2020 Newsletter

Madison Section Newsletter

Vol. 23, No. 5           Serving IEEE Members of South Central Wisconsin               May/June 2020
Newsletters are archived online at IEEE-Madison Web Site.


Upcoming Meetings

June 25th (WebEx Remote): Software + Connectivity => Opportunity
Thursday, June 25th at 12:00 noon On-Line
Event Info
June 30th (WebEx Remote): IEEE Region 4: Government Relations Meeting
Tuesday, June 30th at 6:00 PM On-Line
Event Info


We hope you are healthy and safe during this current outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please follow CDC guidelines to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities.


Past Meetings

April 20th Hydrogen Farm



IEEE Madison WebEx Seminar: "Software + Connectivity => Opportunity and a New Generative Reality”

  • Thursday, June 25th, 12:00 noon to 1:30 PM
  • Bob Frankston for IEEE Consumer Electronics Society
  • Location:
    On-Line via WebEx (or alternate TBD)
    (Link will be emailed from you registration information)
  • Please Register at the IEEE-Madison  event page.

Talk:  The age of software and, more to the point, connected software, is upon us. Consumer electronics used to require a new industry for each product and innovation. Today anyone can create products and service by using software and taking advantage of generic connectivity.

If we are to realize this opportunity, we need the appropriate infrastructure – a Public Packet Infrastructure – as a resource. Combined with evolving software tools the PPI can transform society and take us to the future. In this talk Bob will explain what a PPI is and how it creates opportunity for generative innovation.

Bio:  Bob Frankston is best known for implementing VisiCalc (, the first electronic spreadsheet and enabling home networking (while at Microsoft). Throughout his career he has sought to share the power of software with others by creating enabling technologies. He is currently on the Board of Governors of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society and writes a column for their magazine.


IEEE Region 4 Meeting - Government Update

Meeting: So far, 2020 has been a very challenging year. In addition to the pandemic, demonstrations, and economic change, we are also in an election year! Russ is here to talk about the issues important to IEEE and members, and what you can do nationally, and locally, to help. Join us for an informative meeting with Russ Harrison, IEEE's Director of Government Relations, as we talk about IEEE's activities in Washington.

  • DATE: Tuesday, June 30th
  • TIME: 6-7pm
  • LOCATION: Web Based Meeting - note that the link will be sent out the day before the event. COST: Free
  • Registration ends June 29th, 12 Noon

Bio: Russ puts his 25 years of experience working on behalf of professional societies, companies and trade associations in Washington, D.C. to work as the Director of Government Relations for IEEE-USA, the American component of the world’s largest technical professional society, IEEE. With nearly 180,000 individual members across the United States, IEEE-USA is the leading voice for technology professionals in the United States.

Over his 17-year career with IEEE-USA, Russ has represented IEEE members on dozens of policy issues including autonomous vehicles, digital privacy, AI, federal research funding, export control, and immigration. In addition to directly engaging with policy makers, Russ strives to build bridges between engineers and politicians. He has spoken at over 260 local, national and international events about public policy and the need for regular citizens to interact with their elected leaders.

Prior to IEEE-USA, Russ represented recycling facilities and the steel industry on Capitol Hill. He has a Master’s in Public Management from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in political science from Allegheny College. Russ is a Certified Association Executive (ASAE) and Planning Commissioner (Virginia Tech).

If you have any questions, please contact Robert Burke:


Editor's Note: My Covid-19 Journey so Far

This Newsletter is quite late -- I missed the May Newsletter due to the Covid-19 issue that shut down our planned IEEE-Madison Meeting schedule.  With the exception of the April WebEx, we have had no meetings.  It has been difficult finding both speakers and the platforms for on-line presentations.  As of this week, the IEEE-Madison Section has purchased licenses for WebEx and we should be able to quickly support future talks. After a review, the Executive Committee selected WebEx over other technology as the safest, must featured method to date.

My journey started with an accepted offer to purchase a new home (a Condo in the Metropolitan Place Condominiums in downtown Madison) just before the governor's "Safer-at-home" order.  My wife and I had to close, move, prepare our old home for sale, and (hopefully) close on that sale at the end of June, all while complying with the covid-19 social distancing restrictions.  It has been difficult.  I also had to re-side an old garage with peeling lead-based paint prior to the home sale. I learned a lot about getting supplies delivered and how to use curb-side pickup of the needed materials. We did take more risks than we should have, but it would have been impossible to complete the move without some risk.

It is likely that the restrictions will stay in place for quite a while, if not by law or order, by safe practices, especially among the over 60 year old group. My wife and daughter attended a rally to support the Black Lives Matter movement and based o the Mayor's suggestion, she decided to get tested for covid-19 at the Dane County Alliant Energy Center. As an engineer with controls background, I know that you can't control what you can't control what you can't observe (directly or indirectly). Testing is an important part of the effort to control covid-19. We both biked there and were pleased to find that through there was a line of 20 or so cars, we were waved to a separate pedestrian and bike entrance (with no line!).  The process was straightforward: blow your nose and discard the tissue, have a technician use a swap in both nostrils, front and back.  It was not the horrible experience of "having your brain poked with a long swab" of earlier tests.  It took about 5 minutes, including contact information, and in three days we got a call saying the results were negative. Consider getting tested, especially if you might have been exposed! Get more info on testing here.


  • Volunteers:   We need volunteers for:  YP, ECN, LMAG, PES/IAS, Section and EMB.
  • Free On-Line Books: "For Members Only: All IEEE-USA eBooks and Audio Books -- Now Free to All IEEE Members!
    WASHINGTON (1 April 2020) -- IEEE-USA’s eBooks and audio books help IEEE members advance their careers, work on their soft skills, learn about public policy, even provide a fun distraction--and now, for the first time, the whole collection is available to all IEEE members for free in the IEEE-USA Online Shop.

    “This is a difficult time for our members and our country, as the world deals with this unprecedented public health situation,” said Jim Conrad, 2020 IEEE-USA President. “By providing all of our eBooks for free to our members, we hope to make their time at home in isolation a little more productive.  Some of these e-books are also helpful for those members who are facing job security questions, or recent unemployment.”

    All IEEE members can now access for free titles on careers, skill development, professional development, and other topics from industry veterans such as, Caring for Your Project Team, by Harry T. Roman; The In’s and Out’s of Mentoring, by Peggy Hutcheson; and Critical Thinking Skills for Engineers--Book 1: Analytical Skills, by Sridhar Ramanathan. Members can also now get free IEEE-USA’s first comic book, complete with new engineering superheroes, The Slate Twins: Caught in the Currents, Vol. 1, by cartoonist Jeff Knurek.

IEEE-Madison Slack Channel Established and Open to IEEE Members

  • What is Slack?: Slack is a messaging application that works on most modern computing platforms, including cell phones.  Many organizations use slack to quickly connect with people and conduct business. You can share files and create sub-channels for discussion. IEEE-Madison is using the free verison of slack that has limited features.
  • Executive Committee Presence: Members of the IEEE-Madison Executive Committee have joined a Slack Channel and will be available to discuss issues you might bring up.
  • For more:  See this YouTube Video on Slack.
    Also see this site: What is Slack?
  • Get an Invitation to Join the IEEE-Madison Slack Channel: at Slack Channel.
  • Access it here: IEEE Madison Slack Channel
  • Volunteers Needed: Are you interested in volunteering?  If so, IEEE Madison is looking for a few people interested in a few exciting new volunteer positions.First, the Executive Committee is looking to fill a new position of auditor.  This position will work with the Treasurer and the Executive Committee to review all expenditures and ensure that IEEE Madison remains compliant with all IEEE policies and procedures, as well as applicable laws.  The auditor will also serve on the Finance and Audit committee.  If you are interested and wondering how much time this volunteer position will require, it is estimated that it will be at most a couple hours per month.  If you are interested, please contact Nathan Toth, IEEE Madison Section Chair, at

    Secondly, IEEE Madison will be forming an Ethics Committee.  The purpose of the Ethics Committee will be to foster awareness of ethical issues, promote ethical behavior among members of IEEE Madison, and advise the Executive Committee on IEEE Ethics policy and concerns.  The Ethics Committee will consist of 3 or more members of IEEE.  For those interested in volunteering for the ethics committee, please contact Nathan Toth, IEEE Madison Section Chair, at  The time commitment for this committee will be approximately 2 hours per month.
    Volunteering for IEEE Madison helps to grow a community of engineers, scientists, and technologists in the Madison area.

    If you are interested in any of the above positions or are interested in volunteering for any other position or task, please contact Nathan Toth at

  • Renew your IEEE Membership:  It is that time of year to renew your IEEE Membership and help support the Madison Section.  A portion of your dues goes to financially support the Section, allowing us to host events with little or no cost to members.  To renew your membership, click on this RENEW NOW link.

Reviews of Past Meetings

  • April 20th Hydrogen Farm: Jay Schmuecker gave a well-attended WebEx talk on his Solar Hydrogen Farm.  Jay had to overcome a number of problems in the process of developing and implementing the system.  He detailed the steps, staring in 2008 and identified how they hit upon using soalr hydrogen to develop ammonia that was used as both a fuel for the tractor and a source of nutrient fertilizer.  About 20 Madison IEEE members attended the WebEx meeting hosted at Iowa Sate University in Ames Iowa. Jay's presentation slides are available on the IEEE-Madison web site here. The research is supported by donations -- to learn more about the effort, or to donate to the effort click on this link: SolarHydrogenSystem.

IEEE Madison Leadership

  • Section Chair – Nate Toth
  • Section Vice Chair – Hugh Schmidt
  • Section Treasurer – Tom Kaminski
  • Section Secretary – Mike Stemper
  • Webmaster – Nate Toth
  • PES/IAS Chair – Mike Stemper
  • PES/IAS Vice Chair – Dan Ludois
  • PES/IAS Secretary/Treasurer- Don Neumeyer
  • EMB Chapter Chair – Dennis Bahr
  • Life Member Affinity Group Chair – San Rotter
  • Life Member Affinity Group Vice Chair – Charles Cowie
  • ECN Chair – Matt Nowick
  • Young Professionals Chair – Thomas Murphy
  • Members at Large: Clark Johnson, Craig Heilman, Dennis Bahr

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 thinformal 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: IEEE.ORG.