Leader’s Corner | IEEE Power & Energy Magazine
IEEE Power & Energy Society

Leader’s Corner

A Look Back & Forward

presidential reminiscences

It's hard to believe that two years have passed. It seems like my term just began. I thought I would use my final column as IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) president to share highlights of these past two years and reflect on some of the challenges facing PES.

A Look Back

When I’m asked what stands out over the last two years, the answer is obvious. It is the PES volunteers I have met and worked with. By the end of my term I will have traveled several hundred thousand miles and visited every continent at least once (except Antarctica!) and most several times. And everywhere I’ve been, the reception has been inspiring, the PES volunteers dedicated, and the results outstanding. Here are just a few examples.

  • Volunteers who help put together our PES meetings, from the large ones like our General Meeting and T&D, to the smallest ones everywhere in the world. Putting together a conference is a lot of hard work and if you’ve attended one of these, I hope you thanked some of the volunteers who made these them possible.

  • The PES Technical Committees. I believe them to be the lifeblood of PES, and I was able to find time to attend some of their meetings. These committees certainly solidified my belief in their contributions. There is so much selfless work that takes places in subcommittees and working groups, without anyone clamoring for recognition. They simply love what they do, and I want to thank each one of them for their contributions. PES is also creating an avenue for these committees to share the fruits of their efforts around the world (see the “Membership Services” section).

  • Volunteers who write standards, guides, and best practices. Too often I believe these volunteers are un–derappreciated for the hard work they do on a task that is so vital to our industry. If you really want to understand power equipment or systems, get involved with some of these folks who are the experts behind the technology that makes the power equipment and systems of today work together to provide electricity around the world.

  • Students. The significant increase in student Chapters and student members in PES is gratifying. But what I find inspiring is seeing engineering students who will someday be the leaders of PES already reaching out to share their expertise to help disadvantaged folks in their communities. I was fortunate to be at the inaugural PES student Chapter meeting at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The students were creating a computer lab for a school in a disadvantaged area of Cape Town and also installing a small wind turbine to provide power to the lab. When they found out that PES was going to help with the project by providing funds to purchase the wind turbine, the 90 or so people present all burst into applause. Closer to home, I was also able to help start a PES student Chapter at Lehigh University, my alma mater, and will continue to work with the students at Lehigh to sustain that Chapter in the coming years. If you have an opportunity to get involved on a similar role with your local student Chapter, don’t hesitate to take advantage. You will not be sorry!

I’d also like to take this opportunity to highlight some PES accomplishments over the last two years. PES has been working hard to provide additional benefits to our membership around the world to help attract new members and retain existing members. Here are just a few accomplishments of many that stand out.

New Publications

Two new transactions, IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid and IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy, were published for the first time in 2010. Interest has been so great that the printed pages for these quarterly publications have increased several fold. The success of these two journals ranks among the best ever at IEEE. In addition, the Smart Grind Compendiums published in 2010 and 2011 have been a big hit. These compendiums were compilations of the best articles on smart grid from 2009 and 2010 IEEE Power & Energy Magazine issues and were very well received at conferences around the world. A 2012 compendium is planned.


These electronic services have become the preferred manner to distribute timely late-breaking news to PES members. The PES e-Newsletter is published monthly and typically includes a “Voice of the Governing Board” article from a member of the Board. The e-Bulletin is regularly posted and contains timely announcements, upcoming conference information, and more. The only disappointment is that many members do not appear to be reading either of these e-publications. Please take the time to look through each one for topics of interest as well as timely communications from volunteer and staff leadership.

New Conferences

The ISGT (Innovative Smart Grid Technologies) Conference, held for the first time in January 2010, in Washington, DC, proved to so popular that a very successful ISGT Europe was held in the fall of 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden after only eight months of planning. Since then the conference series has expanded rapidly, and by the end of 2011, ISGTs will have been held at six locations throughout the world. The series will continue with four or five committed locations for 2012. The APPEEC (Asia-Pacific Power & Energy Engineering Conference), started in 2009, continued with very successful events in 2010 and 2011. And let's not forget the 2011 PES General Meeting that continued the trend of breaking the previous General Meeting attendance records. The attendance at the 2011 meeting was 2,367, and we look forward to breaking that record again next year in San Diego!

PES Careers

This program, initially launched in 2008 as a North American pilot, has been very successful in matching up graduating students with careers in the power industry. However, this service was never intended to be limited to North America, and in August 2011, the Region 8 (North) version of PES Careers Global was launched. PES is dedicated to continuing to expand this service around the world, but we need volunteers with local knowledge in those underserved areas to help launch versions in those regions. If you are interested in helping, please contact Dennis Ray (djray@engr.wisc.edu) who will advise and assist with further expansion.

PES Scholarship Plus

This program, started in 2010 by PES Past-President Wanda Reder, is designed to expand the pipeline for new engineers to enter our industry in Regions 1–6 in response to the impending retirement of up to 50% of the present industry workforce in the coming years. PES provided seed money to begin the effort, and fundraising is starting in earnest as I write this. The first scholarships winners will be selected this fall. As with PES Careers, this is also a pilot program in the United States, with a goal of expanding around the world. Again, volunteers are needed to make this happen. If interested, please contact Wanda (wreder@sandc.com).

Membership Lapel Pins

PES changed its name and logo in 2008 from Power Engineering to Power & Energy. In 2010 we decided to design and produce a new lapel pin that would be available to all members. An initial supply of 10,000 was ordered, and my goal was distribute all 10,000 to members in 2011. I know I’ve given out over 1,000, and thousands more have been handed out at PES membership booths at conferences. Most members of the PES Governing Board have a supply with them at PES functions, so ask for one! In addition, Chapter chairs can order a supply from the PES office to distribute to members of their local Chapters. Just e-mail Shanon Nason (s.nason@ieee.org) and request the quantity you need for your Chapter. Remember, they should only be given to members! I hope you will wear it with pride as I do!

Chapter and Student Branch Chapter Expansion

We have seen a tremendous growth in our number of Chapters and student branch Chapters during 2010–2011. In addition, a number of existing Chapters have been revitalized. This activity has helped increase student membership by 27% from 2008 to 2010. The number of student branch Chapters nearly doubled in to 65.

Membership Services

So much has happened in this area, but among the accomplishments that stand out are the Web site redesigns, getting PES GOLD and WIE Liaisons actively involved in promoting activities for their members, and providing advice and input to the PES Governing Board, and seeing deserving members receive recognition awards for their contributions to PES and our profession. Also, we are very close to rolling out a new Resource Center on the PES Web site that we hope will become your “one-stop shop” for anything you might want as a PES member, from standards and technical materials, to videos and other presentations from recent conferences, to PES logo merchandise. Hopefully you will be enjoying that Resource Center by the time you read this article.

As a final look backwards, a particularly enjoyable activity for me was watching the PES Community Solutions Group (formerly under the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge) conceive, design, and deliver six solar trailer units to Haiti (17 more are currently in production). This dedicated group of volunteers, led by Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore, worked tirelessly on this project for many years. These first six trailers will provide basic electricity services (such as LED light bulbs, cell phone charging, radios) for about 250 families in areas of Haiti hit hardest by the 2010 earthquake. In addition, another Community Solutions Group team, led by Henry Louie, has been working on a similar open-source wind turbine design that will supply basic electricity to areas of the world not attached to the electric grid. In July 2011 Henry traveled to Zambia on a “proof of concept” pilot that was successful in building and operating a small wind turbine using locally acquired materials. I look forward to a ramp-up in their activity now that they’re assured of the viability of their concept.

A Look Forward

Growth in PES has been exciting. The renewed interest in power and energy offers many new challenges and the opportunity to provide even more value to our members and our industry. A very dedicated group of volunteer leaders are poised to help PES address these new challenges.

In addition, PES President-Elect Noel Schulz, in her role as chair of the Long-Range Planning Committee, is leading the creation of a membership survey that will give all of us an opportunity to have our voices heard on what PES needs to concentrate on going forward. But we need you to participate. Please take the time to tell PES leadership what's on your mind. Your response will help to set the strategic direction of PES for the next five years.

I cannot close this section without a plea to our members to get involved! PES is always looking for new volunteers who are willing to serve and give back to our profession. If you can’t get to conferences and meetings to help write standards and network with the best and brightest minds in the power and energy industry, get involved with your local Chapter. If none exists, start one. The process is quite simple (you can find help under the Chapters tab on the PES Web page), and you’ll be doing yourself and your local colleagues an enormous favor. It's also a great place for younger members to develop leadership skills.

Thank You

Finally, I would be remiss to finish my last column without thanking all PES members for making my term as PES president a very enriching experience. I thank all of you for your efforts as volunteers for PES and appreciate the opportunity you have given me to serve and to give back to my profession and to PES in particular. Without you, we accomplish nothing. I only hope that I was able to give as much as I received.

To all of our members around the world who have made my travels rewarding and enriching, thank you for your hospitality and the opportunity to spread the PES message. I had the pleasure of traveling to places I would not have been able to visit on my own and to meet PES members and experience cultures that have truly made these past two years a life-changing experience for me. Words cannot express the memories I will treasure forever.

And I especially want to thank the PES Governing Board and PES Executive Office staff for their support over the last two years. Your unwavering dedication to duty has made my job much easier, and I offer you my sincere thanks for all the support you have provided. I know the type of sacrifices many of you have made and continue to make to be able to fulfill your roles. It has been a sincere pleasure serving with you over the past two years.

I leave with a final request. My term as president of PES is concluding, but PES marches on under new leadership. Now more than ever we need more volunteers to step into leadership positions as our membership continues to grow around the world. Please consider volunteering your time for your profession and PES. I can tell you from personal experience that the possibilities are endless. More than one of you will be a PES president some day in the future.

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