President's Message : September 2017

Power Electronics: A Global Connection

by Alan Mantooth
During these past few months, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Asia including South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. I continue to be impressed at the quality and volume of activity in the field of power electronics. This activity was on display at several industry conferences this year. I was able to attend the International Future Energy Electronics Conference, which was colocated with the Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE-Asia) held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This conference was very well-organized by Peter Liang, general chair of the conference, and his organizing committee. ECCE-Asia continues on a positive path, demonstrating the growth of power electronics in this part of the world.

Some of our technical committees in the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) hosted their main conferences this summer, such as the Workshop on Control and Modeling for Power Electronics in Stanford, California, and the IEEE International Transportation Electrification Conference and Expo in Chicago, Illinois. I hope you had a chance to attend one of these conferences to share your recent work or to catch up with colleagues. These more topical symposia are an excellent venue for in-depth discussions of advances and emerging technologies.

FEPPCON Workshop

One of the activities the Society held this past June was its biennial technical strategic planning workshop, the IEEE Future of Electronic Power Processing and Conversion (FEPPCON). Every two years, PELS convenes experts from all over the world for a three-day workshop to discuss current and emerging topics relevant to our field of interest with the purpose of predicting the developments to come and giving thought to how we as a Society should respond. 

At the 2015 FEPPCON we discussed the impact (or lack thereof) of power electronics in the electric power grid. With the advent of wide-bandgap semiconductors, continued improvements in silicon power devices, ever-improving control methods, and the exponential growth of renewable energy sources on the grid, the attendees felt that it was time to revisit grid-connected power electronics. The outcome from these discussions was the creation of an ad hoc committee on electronic transmission and distribution (eT&D) and the formation of a workshop by that same name. IEEE PELS Senior Past President Don Tan has taken the lead to organize the first two workshops on eT&D. The first was held in Hefei, China, in 2016, and the second will be at Aalborg University in Denmark in November of this year.

Another outcome from FEPPCON was the creation of the International Technology Roadmap for Wide-Bandgap Semiconductors (ITRW), which has now taken off under the leadership of IEEE PELS Past-President Braham Ferreira and Executive Vice President for Standards Peter Wilson.
The following topics were discussed at this year’s FEPPCON:
  • Power-system infrastructure and eT&D
  • power electronic systems
  • transportation
  • power devices and integration
  • Internet of Things and cybersecurity
  • other future 2025 applications
These topics served to reinforce the fact that power electronics is truly all around us. In a future issue of IEEE Power Electronics Magazine, articles that summarize the sessions composed by the respective topic chairs will be published. Out of this, we envision new initiatives will be started that are analogous to eT&D or ITRW.
In fact, this issue of the magazine includes an article by Editor-in-Chief Ashok Bindra on securing power against cyberattacks. Since the Ukraine cyberattacks in 2015 and 2016, awareness of these vulnerabilities has grown, and research and development in these areas has intensified. It is indeed a topic that the Society feels is relevant to today’s power electronics engineers – and not just for grid-connected power electronics. In an increasingly connected world, our power electronic systems will be increasingly exposed. I lead an ad hoc committee on cybersecurity within PELS. I welcome anyone interested in this topic to join us as we work to define best practices for cyberhard-by-design techniques.

Successful Review of Our Publications

I attended the June IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB) meeting where the Society successfully completed the TAB review of both this magazine and the IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics. My thanks go to Vice-President for Products Frede Blaabjerg and, in particular our editors-in-chief Brad Lehman for IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, Henry Chung for IEEE Power Electronics Letters, and Ashok Bindra for IEEE Power Electronics Magazine for an outstanding job of presenting these publications for review and helping to ensure their growing success. IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics is the number one journal in the entire IEEE in terms of downloads and its impact factor has raised from 4.9 to 7.1 in 2016. Our magazine is growing in circulation, number of articles published, and advertising and is on a great path in just a few short years.

Upcoming Events

The European Conference on Power Electronics and Applications (EPE’17 ECCE EUROPE) conference will take place 11-14 September in Warsaw, Poland. This will be an outstanding location with so much historical significance. Of special note is that Prof. Marian Kazmierkowski, who is honorary chair of EPE’17 ECCE EUROPE, received the prestigious IEEE Medal in Power Engineering this year for outstanding contributions to the technology associated with the generation, transmission, distribution, application, and utilization of electric power for the betterment of society. The IEEE Medal in Power Engineering is cosponsored by IEEE Industry Applications Society, IEEE Industrial Electronics Society, PELS, and the IEEE Power & Energy Society. Join me in celebrating the achievements of Prof. Kazmierkowski as he receives his award at the conference!

This issue of the magazine is also being published right before one of our flagship conferences, ECCE, in Cincinnati, Ohio. I know that Andy Knight, general chair of the 2017 ECCE conference, and the ECCE organizing committee have worked tirelessly to bring us another high quality conference and exhibition. We will be launching a new PELS mentorship program at ECCE, starting down a longer-term path of providing opportunities for our members to seek advice and learn about best practices in nontechnical areas that are of direct relevance to their careers. I look forward to sharing more details about this initiative to serve our members in future issues of IEEE Power Electronics Magazine. More information on ECCE event will be available on the ECCE and PELS websites as we get closer to the conference, so please watch for it!

I am eager to experience another great venue for sharing power electronics technological advances and networking. My fondest memories to date of Cincinnati are of the Big Red Machine of the 1970s, the Cincinnati Reds baseball team that had some truly great players (Johnny Bench, catcher; Pete Rose, third base; Dave Concepcion, shortstop; Joe Morgan, second base; Tony Perez, first base; Ken Griffey, right field; Cesar Geronimo, center field; and George Foster, left field) and managed by Captain Hook (Sparky Anderson). Guess it would be too much to ask for them to still be playing in October, eh? After what the Chicago Cubs did last year, anything is possible!