President's Message : March 2017

Alan Mantooth

Minding the Present While Looking to the Future

 It is my honor to take the reins of the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) for the next two years as Society president. I want to begin by offering my thanks to outgoing President Braham Ferreira for his service for the past two years. He has done a great job and leaves the Society moving forward effectively. Any incoming leader to an organization has to be mindful of the road that organization has traveled; while ensuring that the business of the organization is properly handled, new initiatives are pursued, and proper strategic planning for the organization is conducted. In this way, I have often referred to the role of the president as that of a middle-leg relay runner in track and field. The baton is passed on from the previous runner and handed off to the next one. In between, the current runner’s job is to execute effectively (i.e., run as fast as you can) and ensure a successful hand off to the next runner.

I have taken the past few months to give careful consideration to the things that I want to undertake during my tenure as president. Due to publication deadlines for this magazine, I am writing this before I have taken office; however, I would like to take this opportunity to outline some of my preliminary thoughts for the next year. Of course, there may be additional initiatives that emerge through conversations with you, the members of our Society.

Ongoing Activities

As a result of consistently strong leadership, PELS finds itself in very good shape in many important aspects including financial, membership, publications, conferences, standards, global participation, industry participation, and young professional programs. Our efforts in each of these areas continue to lead to growth and improvements. But this is no time to be complacent. Our field is growing in importance to many systems in our world, and our Society must continue to keep pace with these advances while simultaneously offering value to our members.

Our current technical committee (TC) structure reflects changes the Society instituted over the past five years or so. As vice president of technical operations, I oversaw much of that implementation. We now have processes in place to rotate our leadership and involve more volunteers in Society affairs. In general, we feel that this is good for the Society and gives greater opportunity for a wider range of people to participate, grow their network of peers, and cultivate future leaders. Our TCs will continue to play a vital role in strategic planning going forward in addition to running their normal affairs such as workshops, symposia, transactions special issues, and supporting our larger conferences such as the IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition and the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition. We do not expect the TC structure to be rigid. As our field is expanding, our technical activities will also expand.

Our Society publications are at an all-time high. We have several highly regarded transactions that we participate in or own outright. Due to the tireless efforts of our editors and editorial boards, time to publication is good, impact factors are outstanding, and everyone generally feels good about their progress. The same can be said of our conferences and workshops. Attendance is growing and reflects the growing interest in our various application spaces within power electronics.

As outlined by Braham in previous columns, PELS has several new initiatives that have resulted from our strategic planning efforts over the past couple of years. For instance, in 2016, we began new initiatives in humanitarian efforts, technology road mapping, and education that are all outcomes from recent strategic planning activities that the Society has undertaken. Another area being investigated from a power electronic systems perspective is cybersecurity. The Society has an ad hoc committee

on this topic that I have chaired up to this point. In summary, our ongoing activities are moving in positive directions. So where do we go from here?

Future Activities

As I mentioned previously, I have to be mindful of the large array of current activities as we plan for expansion into new initiatives for 2017 and 2018. We must provide the resources and volunteers for our current commitments to succeed. The new initiatives from 2016 are still in their formative stages, so their success is dependent on consistent, steadfast support.

By the time this article is published, the 2017–2018 Society officers will have met to discuss the upcoming agenda of PELS. This will involve an across-the-board evaluation of our activities to see what each area needs in terms of resources and what is required for volunteers to be successful in their ongoing and new efforts. One of the areas where I would like to see further activity is in member development. PELS will begin a Mentorship Program to provide members of all ages with an opportunity to grow through activities in which they engage at the Society level. Some aspects of this Mentorship Program will include:

  • mentor-mentee matching
  • events to facilitate mentoring at PELS conferences
  • soft-skill support such as negotiation skills
  • entrepreneurship activities

Through these activities, members of all walks could receive advice on topics most relevant to their career development, become more connected to other Society members, and perhaps find ways to drive their involvement in the Society. More details of the Mentorship Program will be described in the coming months.

As more power electronics begin to move into the electric power grid and power electronics become more interconnected through the Internet of Things, it becomes more important for professionals in power electronics to have an appreciation of best practices and approaches for “cyberhard by design” methods. As the current chair for the Ad Hoc Committee on Cybersecurity for Power Electronics, I am interested in helping define those activities in which our Society should be engaged. Transportation systems and critical infrastructure that depend on intelligent control and communications are areas where power electronics professionals need to learn how to design in cybersecurity to minimize vulnerabilities.  

Working together with the officers, TC chairs, and other volunteers, there will most certainly be additional initiatives that we plan and execute over the next two years. Please know that I am always listening to your suggestions, and I look forward to serving the Society in the capacity of president for the next two years.