President's Message: December 2020

New Directions in PELS

Frede Blaabjerg 2019by Frede Blaabjerg

This is the last message for the year 2020, written just after the IEEE Power Electronics Society’s (PELS) latest Administrative Committee (ADCOM) meeting – which is the member-elected board governing the society. For the second time, it was fully virtual. The PELS meeting series was held for three weeks before ADCOM meeting. As per tradition, it was held during the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress & Expo, which also was held virtually from 11 – 15 October, 2020.

At the ADCOM meetings, a new strategic plan for PELS was approved, presenting our directions for 2021-2025. This strategy plan process was initiated at the last ADCOM meeting in April, which was led by our senior past president Braham Ferreira. Members have participated in four strategic group meetings held in summer. Many constructive inputs were provided by our members, which have helped shape the new strategy plan.

The strategy has five main pillars, which are Membership Growth, Industry Content, Agile Technical Programs, Sustainability, and Virtual Platforms – across all we also intend to focus on diversity and inclusiveness. Each pillar has some goals, and then every year it will be followed up by a tactical plan where the executive officers have the task to propose annually what to do and how to achieve the overall goals. The plan is relatively short and easy to read – please take a look at the Society website – and thanks to all involved.

All our conferences in the autumn – some of them were postponed from spring – are running fully virtual and we may say there is a continuously learning curve on how to run the conferences, how to attend the conferences, how to profile sponsors/companies and in general how to improve the value of the events. There are numerous virtual platforms for implementation, but how to mix the optimum just streamed sessions with on demand sessions and then include discussions based on these sessions is an ongoing challenge. This is a place where we continuously have to share experience and use what is best for the different events. Therefore, within PELS we have formed a conference experience exchange group comprising the past and the upcoming conference chairs in order to create the best future conferences for our members as well as for others who might have interest in these events. The virtual platforms are needed for a long time going forward – either in full virtual or hybrid forms. The value of bringing power electronics engineers together and discussing new ideas are so important for the Society. However, the physical meeting for doing networking does not exist today. Consequently, we have to work to make the virtual platforms better and more interactive to create value. Finally, it is interesting to see that some conferences have a large drop in attendance, while others not. We will find the main reason for the drop in attendance.

A second important approval at the ADCOM meeting was the expansion of our technical committees (TC), which was initiated at the last IEEE FEPPCON meeting.  At this meeting, we could see areas in the power electronics domain that were not covered by the TCs. Until now, we have had seven TCs, but now it has been expanded to 12. As a result, we hope all members of PELS can find a home for activities – we have now technology TCs as well as more application oriented, which are moving very fast. The existing seven have been modified a little in terms of scope while the five new are in the Electronic Grid (eGrid), Energy Access, Design Methodologies in Power Electronics (Models, Tools, Optimization eg. AI), Wireless Power Transfer and finally Aerospace Power. These are all very important areas and I hope you find interest to join and become active in TCs. It has taken some time to implement as it needed some adjustments in our bylaws, but they are now in place.

PELS has in the last 10 years seen a tremendous growth – driven by the importance of the power electronics technology in many applications and the Society is strong on many metrics. Just to mention a few. Our publications are offering very high quality content and are attractive to read, TCs are agile and very active, we collaborate globally with many organizations, and offer a strong awards program. In addition, our conferences are attractive around the world, our virtual activities are increasing with high attendance, we have a variety of membership offers, and we have a strong organization both in terms of volunteers in all stages of their career, as well as in the IEEE PELS staff headed by Mike Kelly. Our standards program with technology roadmaps are moving ahead and it is motivating to be a volunteer in this program. And now a new strategy combined with a healthy economy.

A stronghold in an organization like PELS is that officer terms are both short and long. When I started as President it looked like a long term, but when coming to an end it seems like a very short time – and often the impact of initiatives will be seen years later. The PELS society president is selected for two years and now it is time to give the baton to Prof. Liuchen Chang, who knows the society very well after serving in different positions in PELS. For the last several years, he has been leading the PELS conference series with high care and awareness, so today we have a strong conference series.

To all, I will say thank you so much for the collaboration in PELS. I have enjoyed the time to serve as PELS president in a dynamic time period and I look forward to serving as past president by taking care of future nominations in the Society.

We are in a New Today – please take care all the time and stay safe.

Have a good holiday season!