IEEE Fellows Made Their Mark on Industry

Contributions cover RF fields, power engineering, lighting, and gate arrays

3 February 2012

Four IEEE Fellows from the class of 2012 have affected not just the technologies in which they specialize but also their industries.

June9 Photo: Richard Tell Associates

IEEE Life Member Richard Tell has spent 45 years examining how exposure to RF fields affects human health and safety. Elevated to Fellow for his "contributions to assessment and safety standards for human exposure to radio frequency energy," Tell says he considers the distinction the highest professional honor he has received.

He began exploring RF effects while working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supporting the development of a public safety exposure standard for RF fields. As principal for the last two decades of Richard Tell Associates, in Colville, Wash., he has worked with the Federal Communications Commission, the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health, the Federal Aviation Administration, CTIA, the international association of the wireless telecommunications industry, and other organizations charged with analyzing and evaluating electromagnetic fields.

One of Tell’s major contributions was to serve on the committee that led to publication of IEEE Std. C95.7-2005, "Recommended Practice for Radio Frequency Safety Programs." This was “the first IEEE document to provide recommendations on what to do to ensure that individuals are not exposed above recommended limits," he points out. "I believe it represents my proudest achievement in terms of my IEEE membership."

June9 Photo: S&C Electric

With 1200 employees reporting to her in 2001 as vice president of energy delivery, in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., of Exelon, the electric utility, Wanda Reder recognized that half of them would soon face retirement.

“I realized that if we as an industry didn't start taking this graying of our demographic seriously, we'd be in a world of hurt," says Reder, now vice president of power systems services at S&C Electric in Chicago. She researched in 2002 the industry's workforce around the world and when she joined that same year the board of what was then known as the IEEE Power Engineering Society—now the IEEE Power & Energy Society—she began developing programs to bring more people into the field.

Reder was elevated to Fellow this year for her "leadership in power engineering implementation and workforce development."

Today things are looking brighter for the power and energy industry, she says: "We're definitely seeing more university students take energy curricula, and there are more schools offering these programs."

One of the programs she led was the IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative, which last year awarded scholarships to 91 undergraduate students.

The advent of the smart grid has brought a new attitude about the power field, along with new blood. Reder founded the Workforce Collaborative as a way to attract more people to the new technology. "[The smart grid] is pushing the new frontier for an industry that was pretty tried and true," she says.

For more on Reder, read “Wanda Reder: Grid Guru,” The Institute, December 2010.

June9 Photo: Lutron Electronics

Joel Spira founded lighting industry leader Lutron Electronics in Coopersburg, Pa., in 1961, two years after he invented the world's first solid-state dimmer. Lutron has since introduced more than 15 000 other lighting products, and Spira was elevated to IEEE Fellow for his "leadership in developing and commercializing light control technologies."

His company's products save nearly 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, or approximately US $1 billion in utility costs, in the United States alone.

Spira says he was inspired by a 1967 Foreign Affairs article about rising oil prices, which led him to direct his company to develop improved dimmable ballasts. Today, as the lighting industry focuses on compact-fluorescent and LED bulbs, Lutron continues to focus on efficiency. "Incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent are not dead," Spira told Architectural Lighting in 2010. "With controls they can equal and exceed the energy savings of the newer devices—and with lower cost and better color."

Spira and his wife are also philanthropists. In 1983, they established the Ruth and Joel Spira Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes inspiring professors at Cornell University's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

June9 Photo: Xilinx

Stephen Trimberger's job title at Xilinx in San Jose, Calif., is research lab Fellow. Now he can add one more “Fellow” title to his list of accomplishments. He was elevated to IEEE Fellow for his "contributions to circuits, architectures, and software technology for field-programmable gate arrays." FPGAs are integrated circuits meant to be put into their final configuration by the customer or circuit designer after they have been manufactured.

FPGAs "may not be as big and famous as microprocessors," Trimberger says, "but we do good work. I see this recognition as a validation of the entire FPGA industry."

He says one of his proudest accomplishments was serving in 1995 as lead architect for the Xilinx XC4000EX FPGA family. "I led a small team to develop a high-capacity, high-performance device," he says. "The work required deep understanding of the technology, experimentation under very tight time constraints, and a fair amount of high-quality engineering judgment."

More recently, he contributed to the introduction of bitstream security to FPGAs. "This was particularly fun for me,” he says, “because cryptography was a hobby of mine in high school."

Trimberger cites his 35 years of IEEE membership as having been of great importance to his career, particularly the IEEE conferences where he had opportunities to meet with luminaries in his field back when he was a student.

“That experience encouraged me to provide that same accessibility to young engineers, so I got involved in speaking at a few conferences as well," he says. “Hopefully I can be as good a role model for them as my elders were to me.”

Nominations for the 2013 class of Fellows are now open. The deadline is 1 March 2012.

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