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ieee usa today’s engineer •


Energy Fixes: Considering Smart Grid, Nuclear Plants By George Mcclure

In this issue 03.09 >

B  ackscatter: The Global Engineer


S  potlight: IEEE-USA President Gordon Day


S  tudents’ Voice: Voting Technology


W  orld Bytes: Individualized Benefits

news, products, services IEEE RFID 2009 Goes to Disney World Join Mickey and his friends for IEEE RFID 2009 in Orlando, Fla., 27-28 April. Co-sponsored by IEEE-USA, the third-annual conference will address the technical and policy challenges of RFID technologies, featuring keynote speakers, panel discussions and presentations from RFID thought leaders. IEEE RFID 2009 is co-located with the RFID Journal Live! tradeshow and conference. Go to

IEEE-USA, Region 5 Go Green Cosponsored by IEEE-USA, the first IEEE Green Technology Conference will examine alternative energy sources and energy-

As oil nudged $140 per barrel in 2008, a ground swell of interest in more offshore drilling spouted, but when it comes to ensuring our U.S. energy supply, we should consider improving the reliability of the electric grid to avoid more blackouts, and expanding the use of nuclear power.

130 new nuclear power plants are planned or under

The Smart Grid is one response to the need for

federal, state and local governments to work toward

greater energy distribution reliability. IBM has

improving energy efficiency.

joined the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI)

IEEE-USA also supported passing federal legislation

IntelliGrid® program to help create the enabling

empowering the Federal Energy Regulatory

technology and methodologies for the smart power

Commission to create a self-regulating reliability

grid. The smart grid overlays the electricity network

organization, the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO)

with communications and computer control.

with authority to set and enforce mandatory standards

Well beyond simply assisting operators in taking

for reliability of the North American electric system.

less than one percent of the total. Most emissions occur during uranium mining, enrichment and fuel fabrication []. More than construction worldwide. In its new position statement (January) on National Energy Policy Recommendations, IEEE-USA is urging

preventive or corrective measures, is using Wide

In November 2008, IEEE-USA’s BOD passed a

Area Measurement System (WAMS) data to make

position statement on “Reliability of the Bulk Power

such decisions. Computers with WAMS-based

Electric System,” developed by IEEE-USA’s Energy

software would handle system operation, including

Policy Committee. [].

heroic actions to prevent cascading blackouts. This solution will assimilate thousands of such pieces of data to identify grid problems, responding to them

For the full article, go to

by changing power flows and reducing load, where

necessary [].

George McClure is Technology Policy Editor for IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer and

Continuing research into fuel reprocessing promises

a member of IEEE-USA’s Committee on

to reduce the amount of radioactive waste

Transportation and Aerospace policy

[]. A very small carbon footprint for nuclear power is an advantage over the use of other fossil fuels. Since there is no combustion, operational CO2 emissions account for

reduction technologies, and their potential for helping the world meet its growing demand for clean energy. Slated for 16-17 April in Lubbock, Texas, the event will precede IEEE”s Annual Region 5 meeting. See

IEEE-USA Co-Sponsors IEEE Homeland Security Conference The 2009 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security is scheduled for the 11-13 May in Waltham, Mass.. Sponsored by the IEEE’s Boston Section and co-sponsored by IEEE-USA, keynote speakers will include members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. http:// continued on back page

terrance malkinson’s world bytes

eye on washington

Individualized Benefits The national and global economic challenges we face today are causing many employers to lower initial salary offers and delay or defer annual raises. But all is not lost. You might consider trying to negotiate with your manager about individualized benefit alternatives. Negotiate for a win-win — you are both interested in receiving the maximum benefit from the final agreement. Plan, research, strategize and communicate the possibilities effectively. Alternatives you might consider include:

IEEE-USA Board Approves New Position Statements At its final meeting of 2008, IEEE-USA’s Board of Directors adopted, along with others, these new position statements: Saving the Arecibo Observatory The Arecibo Observatory, located in Puerto Rico, has the world’s largest and most sensitive radio-radar telescope. Scheduled to be phased out over the next few years, IEEE-USA is calling upon Congress and the administration to maintain the Arecibo, supporting the congressionally-mandated NASA NEO mission by providing funding for the continued operation and maintenance of the Arecibo facility at its present activity level; directing the National Science Foundation to initiate and/or extend programs activities to sustain the NASA mission; and encouraging NASA’s continued use of Arecibo to carry out the mission Patient Safety: The Role of Information Technology in Reducing Medical Errors The federal government, working collaboratively with health care providers and other interested parties should take proactive steps to enhance the utilization of information technology in health care delivery. IEEE-USA recommends implementing the National

Health Information Network (NHIN) and online Electronic Health Records (EHRs), improving patient identification through interoperable, secure and private lifetime EHRs; creating an integrated national information database of medical errors; promoting research funding for analysis of errors in outpatient, long-term care, home-health agency, and self-care settings; and electronic prescriptions to offer immediate access to possible drug interactions. Reliability of the Bulk Power Electric System IEEE-USA notes that a decline in the quality and reliability of electric power can seriously impact the nation’s economy. It urges industry leaders, legislators and regulators to fully implement recommendations contained in the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force Final Report on the August 14 Blackout in the United States and Canada; to develop a more in-depth understanding of the statistics and risk of outages, periodically adjust regional operation and planning processes to assure reliability is maintained; and to refine the regulatory framework to support continued reliable development of the electric system and related infrastructure.

•F  lexible Schedules: Compressed scheduling, family-friendly flexible time, working at home. Prove to your employer that productivity will not be compromised. •H  ealth and Wellness: Support with fitness center memberships or rebates on purchase of fitness equipment. On-site access to fitness equipment. Healthy food choices at the worksite. Show your employer how a healthy lifestyle contributes to increased productivity from employees. •E  ducation Enhancement: Time off for professional development, and tuition reimbursement. Illustrate how your employer will benefit from your new learning. •T  ime Off: Additional vacation, unpaid time off, sabbaticals, special days (e.g., birthdays). Develop a plan for how the work will be completed during your absence. •F  amily Benefits: Benefits for marriage partners and children. Support for tuition, help with school supplies, or sponsorship for youth athletics. These are just a few suggestions. For the full article, go to

To see more IEEE-USA position statements,

Terrance Malkinson is a communications specialist,

go to: http://www/

business analyst and futurist, and Editor-in-Chief

— Sharon Richardson, IEEE-USA Communications Assistant

of IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer Digest.

students’ voice

Opinion: On Voting Technology By Sarah Rovito Greetings fellow IEEE members, engineers and policymakers! I’m Sarah Rovito, and I will be taking over the Student’s Voice column. During the summer of 2007, IEEE sponsored me to participate in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program in Washington, D.C. I came to our nation’s capital nerdy, naïve and passionate about electronic voting machines. Surely the problems in my native Cuyahoga County had to be caused by some glitch in computer hardware or software! I spent the summer researching the impact of technology on elections. I learned that Americans in 2006 voted using five different kinds of technologies: paper ballots, lever machines, punchcards, optically-scanned ballots, and direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems. I learned of the security vulnerabilities and reliability concerns present in computerized voting before IEEE•USA TODAY’S ENGINEER DIGEST 03.09

concluding that the only way to make sure that every vote counts in the digital era is to mandate the use of voter-verified paper ballots. Going one step further, I learned that few standards exist to regulate electronic voting. Besides uncovering paper as the only true way to ensure election integrity, the WISE program bestowed upon me invaluable knowledge of Congress and the influence (or lack thereof) of engineers on the policy process. Not only do we need more engineers, as emphasized by Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat, we need more engineers taking an active role in politics and policy. For the full article, go to Sarah Rovito is IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer Students’ Voice Editor and a graduate student at The George Washington University. Comments may be submitted to


read TE online

On Gordon Day, 2009 IEEE-USA President IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer (TE) is available online to IEEE members. Go to, and under ARCHIVES, click on Career Articles or Policy Articles, to see these career and policy related articles:

Mass Media Fellow Finds the Right Words

Katherine and Gordon Day, on Capitol Hill with Illinois Senators Durbin and Obama, July 2005.

Q: Why did you decide to become an engineer? A: I don’t remember deciding. I grew up on a small farm in one of the most rural parts of Illinois. I’m pretty sure that none of the 50 students in my high school class had ever met an engineer when we graduated, but somehow three of us managed to collect seven engineering degrees.

Q: Electrical engineering is a pretty broad field. What’s your specialty? A: When I was in college, lasers were new toys for many electrical engineers. I spent graduate school building various types and trying to understand how they worked. Shortly after arriving at The National Bureau of Standards, I worked on a new measurement of the speed of light obtained by separately determining the frequency and wavelength of a very stable laser. After that, every new opportunity that came along also involved optics and measurements. Then, I managed the NIST Optoelectronics Division for nine years before retiring.

Q: Tell us about your family. A: Katherine and I recently celebrated our 40th anniversary. She’s a science reference librarian, now retired. Her brother is also an electrical engineer. As a young woman, Katherine was determined that she would not marry one, but she eventually wised up. We have two children — a daughter and a son, and three grandsons, ranging in age from five months to six years.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness? A: Spending time with our grandchildren.

Q: What else do you do for fun? A: When we have time, Katherine and I both work on family genealogy. We like to travel. We have stacks of books waiting to be read. And in the past few years I’ve been working on my woodturning skills.

Q: Why do you volunteer for the IEEE? A: Most of my prior IEEE volunteer roles have been in Technical Activities. I worked on publications, then conferences, then Society management, and eventually had the privilege of being a Society President. In each case, the experience made me a better engineer and a more valuable employee.

Q: What is your greatest hope for your year as IEEE-USA President in 2009? A: IEEE-USA is a unique and impressive organization, created and paid for by U.S. members to support their professional interests. I hope that the fresh eyes and ideas I bring to the organization can help it continue to grow in effectiveness. We are in the midst of important national conversations about jobs, energy, the environment, communications, intellectual property, and health care, among others. Our members care deeply about these issues, and we have the expertise to make important contributions.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say to our members? A: Yes. Thank you for giving me the honor and privilege of leading IEEE-USA this year. For the full article, go to

— Georgia C. Stelluto, IEEE-USA Publishing Manager

2009 Fellows The IEEE-USA 2009 Government Fellows paused from their orientation on Veteran’s Day 2008 to visit the “Lone Solider” statue in downtown Washington, D.C. (left-right): Congressional Fellows Thomas Lee and Ken Lutz and State Department Fellow Tom Tierney.

Maddalena Jackson spent last summer as a science reporter for two reasons. The first was to test a hypothesis she had formulated about applying the engineering mentality to non-engineering problems. The second reason was because she found herself at a loss for words at cruising altitude somewhere over Texas on her way home from Los Angeles.

U.S. Companies Pumping Money into Schools to Augment Government Efforts Aimed at Bolstering STEM Education While Congress prepares a renewed focus on government programs to assist science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, several major American corporations are pumping sizeable amounts of money into schools around the country to provide further support for initiatives to strengthen STEM education.

IP Corner: Using the Internet to Promote Progress in Science and Technology President Obama’s successful use of the Internet to connect with the public during his campaign has left the public wanting more from the modern presidency and the government. The Peer to Patent project is one such initiative that is using the Internet to open up and improve a long-closed government process by harnessing the collective knowledge of Internet users, and making it accessible to patent examiners.

Meet the FCC’s New Chief Technologist Over the next few years, the United States will face tough questions regarding the future of telecommunications, including spectrum sharing, broadband Internet, delivering services to rural areas, and the impact of peer-to-peer networks. One man helping to answer these and other questions is IEEE member: Prof. Jon M. Peha, the FCC’s new chief technologist. — ­Georgia C. Stelluto,

Photo: Marvin Jones

IEEE-USA Publishing Manager


donald christiansen’s backscatter

news, products, services continued from front page

Salary Service Provides Value to High-Tech Employers IEEE-USA’s Salary Service offers employers sophisticated tools for accurately benchmarking technical professionals’ compensation. Available in three packages – Economy, Standard and Premium – the database uses salary information gleaned from IEEE-USA’s Salary and Fringe Benefits Survey. Member discounts are now available for the first time on Premium Packages. Go to

The Global Engineer

salary_database/shop, log in with your IEEE Web account and click on “Compensation.”

IEEE-USA Helps Consultants Maximize Their Fees

Here’s how globalization is supposed to work. All jobs that can be done sitting at a keyboard will move to the global location, where those who are competent to do the job at the lowest going wage reside. Then, eventually, wages will equalize and so will the global standard of living. Everyone will benefit. As wages and employment rise in once-poor areas of the world, the previously disadvantaged populace will become customers for goods and services produced both in their own and other countries. With labor costs no longer a prevailing issue, product success will be determined principally by good design, high quality workmanship, and productivity gains.

expansion in 1999, the economy shed 2.5 million jobs but recorded a net job gain of 1.13 million. Restricting offshoring will cut American jobs and economic growth, and will raise operating costs for U.S. businesses struggling to compete in a global marketplace, he concluded.

Wow! If such a utopia is achievable, even in part, the road will be long and tortuous.

When Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick quoted Farrell and McKinsey’s dismissal of the downside of offshoring, he concluded that displaced workers have legitimate gripes. “What they ought to be demanding,” he said, “is not an end to offshoring but better education and retraining to compete in a global marketplace, as well as social programs to cushion the blow of inevitable job losses.”

shop; log in with your IEEE Web account, and

Not long ago, a career counselor writing online at advised that those who wish to safeguard their careers from offshoring should choose one from a list he provided. It included civil engineer, bartender, dentist, security guard, plumber, and roofer. High-risk jobs, have already started to move offshore, including automotive engineer, computer systems analyst, hardware engineer, network engineer, reliability engineer, and software developer. Jobs at extreme risk include industrial engineer quality assurance engineer and reverse-engineering specialist.

individuals and organizations. The Innovation

Those in Favor McKinsey Global Institute suggested that offshoring can be a win-win game. In 2004, Institute Director Diane Farrell cited the positive advantages to U.S. firms: sending X-rays to India for analysis reduces the cost of health care, she noted, and can free money for medical innovation. Among those looking at the bright side of globalization, Jarad Pincin of Freedom Works wrote that the American labor force is one of the most flexible in the world, noting that during the economic

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Launching Your Career

Jagdish Bhagivati, author of In Defense of Globalization, wrote that “…firms that forego cheaper suppliers of services are doomed to lose markets, and hence production. And companies that die out, of course, do not employ people.” The Downside

It seems that offshoring and global engineering are here to stay and inevitably will accelerate, and that, in aggregate, the populations of many countries will benefit. It is also a certainty that the phenomenon will impact many highly trained professionals in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, as their jobs are transferred. While politicians and pundits are giving more attention than ever to the topic of globalization, little is devoted to its effects on individual U.S. engineers, the engineering profession itself, and the role that engineers play in the technological leadership and competitiveness of the nation. Globalization in its many aspects will be in contention for decades. For the full column, go to Donald Christiansen is the former Editor and Publisher of IEEE•USA TODAY’S ENGINEER DIGEST 03.09

IEEE Spectrum and an independent publishing consultant. He can be reached at

If you work as a technical consultant, IEEEUSA’s Consultants Fee Survey, a national survey of IEEE Alliance of IEEE Consultants Networks members, can help by telling you what other consultants working in similar fields charge. The survey provides profiles of typical self-employed consultants, including education, experience, business practices, median earnings and hourly fee. See https:// click on “Consulting.”

Discover Your Innovation Style IEEE-USA offers members Innovation Styles, an online evaluation, feedback and coaching system designed to boost innovation for Styles Profile shows you how to use four approaches to innovation, and will help you optimize your creativity. Go to http://www. for a free Webinar. — ­Chris McManes, IEEE-USA Public Relations Manager

ieee•usa today’s engineer 2001 L Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036 +1 202 785 0017 phone +1 202 785 0835 fax Editor–in–Chief Terrance J. Malkinson Editors, Member Services Abby Vogel George Zobrist Editors, Government Relations George McClure Patrick Meyer Editor, Professional Activities/Students’ Voice Sarah Rovito

IEEE–USA Publishing Office

IEEE–USA Board of Directors

Publishing Manager, Managing Editor Georgia C. Stelluto

Gordon Day Gary Blank Leonard Bond Don Bramlett Peter Eckstein Evelyn Hirt James Howard Jim Jeffries Paul Kostek Russell Lefevre Howard Michel David Pierce William Ratcliff Emily Sopensky John Twitchell William Walsh Peter Winokur Ralph Wyndrum Chris Brantley

Senior Associate Editor Greg Hill Contributing Editor Chris McManes Editorial Assistant Sharon Richardson IEEE–USA Associate Managing Director Scott D. Grayson


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