President's Message : December 2017

Powering a Sustainable Future

by Alan Mantooth

The title of my column this issue is the same as the tag line of the Society – “Powering a Sustainable Future.” As hurricanes have devastated parts of the United States, including Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, we are reminded of the importance of reliable electric power products that we research and develop. After thinking about the type of power infrastructure used in these locations, I propose questions to my colleagues and students: Could there have been a better design and, if so, what would that design be?

Many researchers within our Society have been investigating microgrids, renewable energy and energy storage interfaces, and a host of other relevant technologies and products that would offer better solutions for resiliency and even recovery in the face of such disasters. Clearly, however, when a storm hits an island head-on and wipes out the cables and poles that carry the power, simply restarting the system is not an option.

My intention is not to question the relief efforts in places like Puerto Rico, but rather to issue a challenge to you. While the people of Texas, Florida, Louisiana and even Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be without power for extended periods, they will rebuild. Many places, however, have never even had electric power. The IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) announced at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Expo (ECCE) in October that it will be holding a competition this coming year: “Empowering a Billion Lives.”

This regional competition’s goal is to bring electricity to the more than three billion people who live in energy poverty.  This is an open competition for companies, universities, and government laboratories. Since the best solutions across the globe will vary, the organizers felt that regional competitions would make the most impact.  Prof. Deepak Divan and Prof. Braham Ferreira are leading this effort. Please visit for details on what you and your colleagues can do to address this situation.



Once again, the ECCE meeting, held this year in Cincinnati, Ohio, was successful. Appreciation is due to Andy Knight and his ECCE organizing committee for conference’s success. This year, ECCE was collocated for the first time with the IEEE Industry Applications Society annual meeting. This offered attendees the chance to attend two separate technical programs, while also having the ability to attend merged social functions, including  the opening reception and the Wednesday night out event. Because of its success, the collocation of these two events will continue at ECCE 2018 and 2019. The 2018 conference will be in Portland, Oregon, a city that promises a wonderful backdrop to another great event.


Society Updates

I would like to thank Ira Pitel and the inaugural IEEE Power Electronics Magazine advisory board for their leadership, energy and commitment in starting this magazine four years ago. We have, by all measures, had a successful launch, and we recently completed a successful review by the IEEE Periodicals Review and Advisory Committee. Ira has decided to step down as the advisory board chair, but he will aid in transitioning the newly appointed chair who will be selected soon. As with most Society committees, we select members on a staggered basis; in this case, three individuals will be selected for three-year terms that are staggered and three people will be added each year. 

We have initiated the Best Practices and New Programs Committee, which is headed by Prof. Tom Habetler of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. The committee will help the Society efficiently achieve its missions by identifying the best practices shared by other Societies and incorporating those into the PELS procedures. This committee will help PELS implement current strategic ideas and convert them into reality. Of course, our technical committees, vice presidents and president will continue to champion new initiatives. However, as we have begun to institutionalize the Future of Electronic Power Processing and Conversion (FEPPCON) and as we establish other long-range planning efforts, this committee will be vital in quickly and efficiently setting up new programs.


A Final Word

The theme of this issue is energy harvesting and the many solutions that have been proposed in the past ten to 15 years. This remains an important topic in the emerging Internet of Things era. I truly hope you enjoy this issue,  and I would like to wish you all a peaceful and restful holiday season.