President's Message : June 2018

Strategies for Building Momentum 

Alan Mantooth 2017 croppedby Alan Mantooth


As I write, snow is still falling in many parts of the United States and spring is breaking through in others. By the time you read this, spring will be in full swing and summer will be approaching.  It is fascinating to see the unleashing of energy in nature at this transitional time of year. Likewise, the activities in our field and those of the Power Electronics Society (PELS) seem to be gaining momentum. In March 2018, the Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) in San Antonio , Texas, featured key announcements related to gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide companies. Examples included the announcement of Cree’s acquisition of Infineon’s radio-frequency power business and Navitas Semiconductor’s launching of new GaN power ICs. We are seeing broader application of hardware-in-the-loop technologies in power electronics; additional sophistication and growth in controls; emerging areas like modeling, design automation, wireless power, and electronic packaging; and exploration in newer areas such as cybersecurity. So much is happening that it makes you wonder if you need a map to keep it all straight!

This issue of IEEE Power Electronics Magazine (PEM) is devoted to the International Technology Roadmap for Wide-Bandgap Power Semiconductors (ITRW). This is a volunteer-led, PELS-sponsored  effort to provide predictions and needs assessments to areas such as materials, devices, packaging, integration, and applications pertaining to wide-bandgap technologies. PELS Executive Vice President of Standards Peter Wilson and immediate Past President Braham Ferreira are commended for their leadership in launching and continuing to lead this important activity. I encourage you to read this issue and get in contact with one of the working groups to provide feedback. More information about ITRW events and working group chair details can be found on the PELS website at  

In the March issue of PEM, I indicated that the Society would be undergoing a Society-wide review during the IEEE Board Series Meeting. This occurred in February, garnering PELS praise and respect from the IEEE review committee. PELS remains highly regarded within the IEEE, and we received numerous compliments on our publications (including this magazine); conferences; membership growth; global outreach and impact; sound financial strength; strategic and tactical planning efforts; leadership inclusivity and succession approaches; and initiatives. A big thank you goes out to our current PELS officers and to the other key individuals for their composition of the required reports.

·         Frede Blaabjerg, vice president of products and president-elect

·         Yan-Fei Liu, vice president of technical operations

·         Liuchen Chang, vice president of conferences

·         Peter Wilson, executive vice president of standards

·         Jinjun Liu, executive vice president of membership

·         Mario Pacas, executive vice president of global relations

·         Braham Ferreira, immediate past president

·         Don Tan, senior past president and Division II director

·         Pat Wheeler, PELS constitution and bylaws chair

I also want to thank Mike Kelly, PELS executive director, and our administrative office staff for their contributions to the documentation and review planning.

The successful Society review and the APEC remind me that two additional key initiatives are underway and gaining momentum, the first being our PELS mentorship program. We held our second event at the APEC, which was chaired by Grant Pitel and organized by Robert Balog and the mentorship steering committee, which, along with me, included Donna Florek, Katherine Kim, Christina DiMarino, Harish Krishnamoorthy, and Igor Stamenkovic. We had approximately 55-60 event participants. One important quote from our industrial mentors was “Hey Alan, you get to share things with students all the time, but this was a great opportunity for me to share experience and knowledge with up-and-coming professionals! I really enjoyed this!” I can say, for sure, that both the attendees and the mentors get a lot out of this activity. Sincere thanks are given to all the mentors for their help in making this event a success. We are now investigating ways to expand it for the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE) and for next year’s APEC. We would be happy to include others in our planning activities; contact Donna Florek ( or Robert Balog ( to get involved.

The second program that is gaining momentum is the Empower a Billion Lives initiative. This is a combined business-technology competition held in five regions around the world to address scalable solutions to energy access for the more than 3 billion people who live in energy poverty, 1 billion of whom have no access to electricity. Complete details on the competition, which is open to everyone (e.g., companies, universities, combined teams, and so on), can be found at The five regional round winners will compete in a global final. Many of these competitions are being held in conjunction with worldwide PELS-sponsored conferences.

A new workshop, “IEEE Decentralized Energy Access Solutions ,” will be the site for the Americas Regional EBL competition, which will be held in Puerto Rico from 31 January to 1 February 2019. Please be on the lookout for the call for papers (see page 97 in this issue), participate in the workshop, and come see the competitors in the EBL regionals. The EBL competition is not a one-time effort; to ensure a lasting impact, it is expected to be held every two to three years in the next decade. Deepak Divan of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and Braham Ferreira of the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, are leading this initiative.

As part of our 30th anniversary activities at ECCE in Portland, Oregon, PELS will hold its first-ever PELS Member Town Hall Meeting[AM1]  on Sunday, 23 September 2018 from 4:30 to 6:00pm U.S. Pacific daylight time. This meeting will be conducted analogous to a shareholder’s meeting where the Society officers will be introduced and a few short presentations will be given for the first 45 min; the presentations will be followed by a question and answer session. The event will be live-streamed, recorded, and published on our website after the event. Speaking of our anniversary activities, did you see the 30th anniversary commemorative issue of this magazine? If not, it can be found at  

Have a great summer, and my best wishes for keeping the momentum going in your work!