President's Message : December 2018
Victory Lap? No, Pass the Baton!
by Alan Mantooth
This is my last column as President of the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS), and while it is tempting to take a victory lap, that simply is not the nature of our organization. Rather, as my predecessors have done, I will hand off the baton into the capable hands of our next President, Frede Blaabjerg. However, it is an appropriate time to give you a summary of how far we have come in the last two years, thanks in large part to our volunteers and staff.
The Society has grown over the last few years, currently heading toward 9,500 members, and is on track to surpass 10,000 next year! We have consistently sustained a better than 5% growth rate and also enjoy a high member retention rate. Because diversity and inclusion are cornerstone goals of our strategic plan, two of our fastest increasing segments include Young Professionals and Women in Engineering groups, but we still have so much more growth to realize. This takes all of us working together promoting the creation of Chapters, describing the benefits of membership, and getting involved! People often ask if bigger is better for a Society like ours. We do not seek growth for the sake of growth, but rather we want to reflect the number of professionals that work in this field. To this end, we will be conducting a market survey in 2019 to ascertain the total number working in our field of interest around the world, so that we can better target our efforts and achieve a growth path that is informed by these numbers.
Our Technical Committee (TC) structure has evolved to increase our volunteer engagement, improved conference quality and attendance, and supplied our journals with a steady stream of quality and timely special issues. Almost all of our TCs have established Technical Achievement Awards to recognize the contributions of our PELS members. Furthermore, they have established student travel grants to support students to attend conferences, network, and begin to establish their own professional roots as our future members. Finally, Technical Operations is actively expanding to embrace new and emerging technical areas such as cybersecurity, wireless power, and grid-connected power electronics – often in partnership with other organizations and sometimes on our own. Our TC structure has served us well for almost ten years, but to remain nimble and reflective of a changing field, we will also be revisiting this structure to see if new TCs are needed or if some existing ones require updating.
Our flagship publication, IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics (TPELS), is one of the top in the electronics field across the entire IEEE portfolio in terms of impact factor each year. Now more than 12,000 pages strong each year, it serves the Society’s need to publish the world’s most significant advances in the field. The recently started IEEE Journal on Emerging and Selected Topics in Power Electronics (JESTPE) has already established a solid impact factor that is growing. It is rising alongside the tremendous growth of our field. Big thanks go to Brad Lehman, Henry Chung, and Don Tan in the Chief Editor roles as well as to all of the associate editors and reviewers for these publications! I recently appointed, and the Administrative Committee (AdCom) approved, new editors-in-chief (EiCs) for TPELS, IEEE Power Electronics Letters, and JESTPE because the current editors have come to the end of their terms. The new incoming editors are:
TPELS EiC: Yaow-Ming Chen
IEEE Power Electronics Letters EiC: Yunwei (Ryan) Li
TPELS Co-EiCs: Hui (Helen) Li, Paolo Mattavelli, and Chun Taek Rim
TPELS Editor-at-Large: Sudip Mazumder
You will note that we have changed the structure of the chief editorial board to include three co-EiCs to help the EiC with the increasing workload of TPELS. The new EiC of JESTPE will be Ojo Olorunfemi from the IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS) because we share this journal 50-50 with IAS. We will soon name a co-EiC from PELS to step in and assist Ojo. This person is likely to become the next EiC of JESTPE.
Our conferences are truly global in their presence. With the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE) Global Meeting Series, which includes ECCE North America, ECCE Europe, ECCE Asia and more recently the Southern Power Electronics Conference, we have worked hard to create a global footprint to serve our members. Further, the TCs have key workshops or conferences, such as the International Symposium on Power Electronics for Distributed Generation Systems, the Workshop on Control and Modeling for Power Electronics, and the Workshop on Wide Bandgap Power Devices and Applications, that are outstanding forums for disseminating the latest R&D. In fact, I traveled to six continents in 2017 to cover only a fraction of the conferences that we sponsor or cosponsor in power electronics. This field is booming! To the many volunteers who help to make these events so successful, I want to thank you for your service.
Speaking of global presence, we have worked to increase our presence in many regions, but most notably in South America and China, during my term. This will continue region by region around the world in the coming years.
Both our conferences and publications serve as financial cornerstones for the Society. Through these activities, we have been able to turn investments back to the members such as our PELS Mentorship program, which will begin a worldwide roll out in 2019 after two years of piloting in the United States, the International Technology Roadmap for Wide-Bandgap Semiconductors and other standards activities, the Empower a Billion Lives competition, the Cyber-Physical Security Initiative, Design Automation for Power Electronics, and others. These offer you, the membership, opportunities to engage, network, learn, and grow both personally and professionally. All of these either started or took off during the last two years! Plus, we successfully launched our first-ever Members Town Hall meeting at ECCE North America in Portland, Oregon, where we were celebrating the tenth ECCE and PELS’ 30th anniversary as a Society. You can view the recording of the town hall meeting on our website. We intend to continue the Members Town Hall meeting going forward to interact with the membership more regularly. If you have topics or ideas for this interaction, please send them to myself or Frede, and we will try to include them. Speaking of anniversaries, the IEEE International Telecommunications Energy Conference celebrated its 40th this year in Torino, Italy.
Another key development that you will observe in 2019 is the first-ever PELS Day, which the AdCom established as 20 June each year to mark the date that PELS was approved for becoming a Society from an IEEE Council. The Society became effective on 1 January 1988. So, on 20 June 2019 a variety of global events will be held, so watch for them on the PELS website.
To this end, because of our core values of inclusivity and diversity, we established “Lunch with the President” forums to hear from various member segments including young professionals, women in power electronics, industry members, and South American professionals, so far. I can tell you that we are always interested in hearing from others, so feel free to reach out so that further events can be organized.
Finally, I would like to bring awareness to our membership about the role PELS has taken in helping to establish and nurture the IEEE Transportation Electrification Community (TEC). The TEC itself boasts more than 9,500 members and is a growing technical community.
The TEC was created to be the central hub of focus for transportation electrification activities across 11 IEEE Societies and the IEEE Standards Association, acting as the key connection point for external stakeholders. While this initiative began as an IEEE-level activity, PELS was chosen to be the home society for the TEC because of both its global presence and importance technically, but also because PELS has been so well run through the years. Many thanks goes to the hundreds of volunteers that have led the Society to this point.
TEC embodies a global community of engineers, academics, industry partners, and passionate practitioners for the electrification of rail, aerospace, marine, and automotive platforms, autonomous artificial intelligence, manufacturing best-practices, standards development, and research information sharing for coordinated applications.
I have been asked by some students around the world if it really is a good idea to go into power electronics as a profession. The question stems from the commoditization that can occur in electronics. Given the breadth of our field, it might be easy to conclude that some areas would become that way, but I feel that we are in a golden era of power electronics and it is a very exciting time to be entering this field. There is so much on the table for us to realize, and there are more breakthroughs around the corner to keep this trend going! To those students, I say that this is definitely a rich field to pursue for a career.
In conclusion as my last message as president, let me reiterate how humbled and honored I am to have been given the opportunity to lead this great Society. It has been hard work but a true highlight of my career. I feel that I have left it better than I found it, and this has been true of each and every president we have had in our 30 years. I have had some great officers, staff, and Advisory Committee members to work with to see this mission through, and to all of them I owe a great deal of thanks! When I took office, I showed a picture of Usain Bolt running with a baton in a relay race. I’ve run hard and fast, and now I hand the baton off – still running at full speed. I am confident this pace will continue under our future leadership. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as your president.