Archive for the ‘IEEE volunteers’ Category

The Network Effect: Lee Stogner Talks People, Sensors, & the Internet of Things

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Lee_Stogner“At the core, an IEEE member is just a kid who loves technology.”

So says Lee Stogner, the current Chair of the Transportation Electrification Initiative, and proponent of a more social IEEE. When asked about his push to have IEEE members adopt social media platforms as a means of communication, outreach and professional development, Stogner says, “It’s not really hard for us members to embrace new things or channels when they come along. “

“We’re at the very forefront of computers and networking,” Stogner says. “I like to think it’s a natural that a member who’s in his or her eighties can communicate through social media just as easily as someone who’s 16. It’s a great way to level the world, and make the next big difference in the years ahead.”

Stogner, the President of the Vincula Group in South Carolina, and a former Director of the IEEE Board of Directors, says that change doesn’t always come easy, but it always comes.  “Twenty years ago, it was challenging to get the average IEEE member to embrace email. There were some members who wouldn’t touch a computer at all,” he says. “We persevered and made it easier for them to come to the next workshop or conference and talk about the internet and how it can aid professional development, and build your network.”

That network effect is something Stogner pursues diligently, whether as people connecting to other people online, or sensors collecting data and passing it around the world.  Stogner, who has spent part of his career studying automation and industrial control, says that the “Internet of Things” is a new name for a familiar concept: efficiency. “People like me were doing ‘internet’ of things years ago before it had a catchy name,” he says. “Like a lot of computer networking, it’s gone mainstream. People see the value of interconnecting machine to machine, and especially sensor to network to make us more aware of the world around us. “

Stogner points to the farmer who can monitor crop and soil temperatures, or urban dwellers finding a local deal, or spotting and avoiding traffic delays.  “A lot of data is being collected and shared in a fairly easy and quick way so that people can take advantage of things on a daily basis, or avoid things, like when traffic is backed up,” he says.  “All of this data is being collected by sensors and moved around by real time networks, and being put in the cloud where people can look at it and see a pattern. We have more of the right data.”

How that “right data” can be utilized is especially apparent in the Transportation Electrification Initiative, which is so wide in scope it comprises 19 societies and councils within the IEEE. “The IEEE has been in the background of transportation for decades, producing a relay or motor or other electronics that makes the vehicle more effective,” Stogner says.  “And we believe we can do more for society if we are more visible in helping lead the charge in where the technology can be best used next.”

“Electric vehicle technology is here,” Stogner says. “It’s no longer a vision of the future, and it is the right time for the IEEE to get involved in transportation.”

Stogner would know. His company consults in energy management, transportation solutions, systems integration and project management. In his roles at the IEEE, Stogner is active in the IEEE Smart Grid Initiative, the IEEE Energy Policy Committee, and the IEEE Internet of Things Initiative, among others –  all natural complements to his role as Chair of the IEEE Transportation Electrification Initiative.

To increase visibility of what the IEEE can do, Stogner says the Initiative is conducting a wide-scale outreach program. “We are talking to elected officials at the local, state and national levels to be sure they know of IEEE and our contributions, not only to transportation but other initiatives we’re involved in,” he says.  “We’re talking to companies at very high levels. We didn’t use to do that; before we primarily talked engineer to engineer.”

This outreach, combined with an aggressive social media campaign, has convinced Stogner that the next big breakthrough in social media, sensors, or the Internet of Things will be the people behind them.  “The most exciting “things” end up being people,” he says.  “If you go to a typical IEEE conference, it’s always the same people. While that’s a good thing, that people have a way to come together once or twice a year and network and discuss new ideas, it can also limit you in that you’re not growing.”

The beauty of the Transportation Initiative, Stogner says, is that it allows for the opportunity to grow beyond the traditional network, to create connections that might otherwise be unmade, and to allow for its members to become a little more, well, social. Online, and off.

After all, what good is a kid with new technology without someone to play with?

Members can get involved with the Internet of Things at https://www.ieee.org/membership-catalog/productdetail/showProductDetailPage.html?product=CMYIOT736

Or the Transportation Electrification Initiative at http://electricvehicle.ieee.org

 

 

 

Division Director Moura inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Engineering

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

moura_jose_m_f_2008informal

The email telling Professor José Moura that he had been inducted into the U.S. National Academy of Engineering went into his spam folder.

Only after receiving multiple congratulatory emails from friends and colleagues, one of whom copied the announcement into his email, did Moura realize it wasn’t a joke. When he learned it wasn’t a hoax, Moura says, “I fell off my chair.”

“You can have some hints (that you’ll be selected) but you know it happens when you receive an email,” he says. Or in this case, an email about an email.

Moura, an electrical and computer engineering professor, and the director of the Information and Communications Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, was selected into the National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to the theory and practice of statistical signal processing. The honor is one of the highest in the engineering field.

He says one of the biggest challenges of working in the field is that, while many people may be familiar with the term “signal processing,” few people truly know what it is. “Signal processing is like Intel Inside®,” he says. “In most technologies, you find algorithms that people like me design but people don’t realize are there. The brains of what makes most technology work is signal processing.”

The lack of concrete, widespread comprehension about the inner workings of signal processing is understandable. “We work in things that get buried in technology,” Moura says. One example of his work is an algorithm that allows for reading bits of discs in high definition (HD) recordings with greater accuracy. “In the 1990s and 2000s, devices got smaller and smaller, and we were packing more bits onto smaller drives,” Moura says. “We developed an algorithm in the mid 90s that reads the bits better to reduce errors and recover more data with more clarity.” In the past ten years, 60% of all computers sold have contained this technology.

As if changing the face of technology doesn’t keep him busy enough, Moura is an active IEEE volunteer, which has also granted him the prestigious IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Achievement Award, also for contributions to the industry. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors, and as the IEEE Division IX Director and Delegate.

Previously, Moura served as the President of the IEEE Signal Processing Society, as well as Editor in Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing, and acting Editor in Chief for the IEEE Signal Processing Letters. He’s also served on the Education Activities Board, the Technical Activities Board, the Press Board, the TAB Periodicals, and the TAB Publications Committee, among others. He is an IEEE Fellow.

“The best job I ever had at IEEE was Editor in Chief,” he says.

When asked why he gives so much of his time for volunteer work, Moura says that some people just can’t help it. “We need to help the profession,” he says. “We feel we can contribute.”

Although he has volunteered in a myriad of positions at IEEE, Moura says his passion is volunteering with publications. “IEEE has great journals, and it’s because of its high-caliber volunteers. They preserve the quality. Many of them, because of the anonymous peer review process, are mostly invisible. I feel an obligation to be a part of it.”

Even though most volunteer positions at IEEE last one year, many people continue on in other roles year after year, which Moura finds inspiring. “While people are in a role, they’re fully committed. It’s such a great example. You just hope you can fill the shoes of your predecessor, and do as good or a better job.”

Though Moura is comfortable stepping into established roles, his role building a dual degree program with Carnegie Mellon and a university in Portugal had no precedent.

Raised in Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony, Moura maintains close connections with the Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisbon where he was a professor in the late 1970s to mid-1980s. When he was approached about building a partnership with Carnegie Mellon and universities in Portugal, he led the charge to develop the U.S.’s first dual-degree program, ultimately resulting in seven dual-doctoral degree programs and five dual-master’s degree programs across all programs at Carnegie Mellon. “We were the first university to develop a dual-degree program,” he says. “Other universities have since adopted our model.”

Moura credits the engagement of the faculty for the program’s astonishing successes: Since the first class entered in 2007, 250 masters degrees have been awarded and 85 doctoral degrees.

Although he’s certainly earned a moment or two to rest on his laurels, Moura shows no signs of slowing down. “You think you’ll be in a role for a year and then move on,” he says. “But once you finish, there’s the next thing. You never think, ‘why am I doing this?’ It’s ‘I should be doing this.’ Most people I know, it’s what drives them.”

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