A Successful Conference
2015 PES General Meeting Recap
I had just arrived at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, the venue of 2014 IEEE Power & Energy (PES) General Meeting. It was late Friday afternoon when I heard my mobile phone ring. My wife was calling. She was supposed to join me that evening at the conference but was still at the Atlanta airport. Someone mistakenly took her computer at the TSA checkpoint and left his own. TSA promptly took his computer and insured that it was secure. They then assured my wife that someone would take the computer to “Lost and Found” and would instruct them to expect to receive her computer from the person who took it. She reluctantly accepted and went to the boarding gate—not a pleasant beginning for her trip.
Thoughts about a nice weekend before the beginning of the conference with some work done at the computer were being overshadowed by her concern. I assured her that the computer was going to be quickly found. She boarded her flight, and I had a few hours to explore the venue of the conference prior to her arrival.
The recently built Gaylord Hotel, part of the Marriott chain, is situated close to the Potomac River with beautiful views of Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia, and surrounding areas. The facility is in the vicinity of a number of good restaurants, and it is very well equipped to handle a large conference such as the PES General Meeting. Many of you reading this know that — you were there.
According to the information that we received, the conference hosted over 3,100 attendees. That is the equivalent of 10% of the worldwide PES membership! The general meeting is the largest PES conference without an exhibition (the largest one is, of course, the T&D Conference and Exhibition, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last April in Chicago, drawing over 14,000 attendees!). Our general meetings always begin with a large reception for attendees and companions on Sunday evening, followed by a members meeting and plenary session on Monday morning. After that formal introduction, the conference evolves into a myriad Super Sessions, panel sessions, paper presentation sessions, poster sessions, technical committee meetings, social events, informal gatherings, hospitality suite social events, and many other happenings. It has evolved that way over the years and developed somewhat of a critical mass to attract such a large audience of researchers, practitioners, and students to its diverse portfolio of technical and social offerings.
This year, I opened a members meeting with the presentation on vital statistics and some of the programs PES is offering to its members. I informed the audience that our membership has grown to 32,373, the largest number we have ever had, and also represents the largest annual gain in PES membership! Regions 8, 9, and 10 have been growing steadily, with 4,766 members (6.9% gain), 1,866 members (4.5% gain), and 4,372 members (8.0% gain), respectively.
The Boston Chapter received the Outstanding Large Chapter Award. Susan Soergel, the chair and a lead engineer for Transmission, Northeast Utilities, accepted the award on behalf of the Chapter. The Outstanding Small Chapter Award was accepted by Panama Chapter Chair Ivan Castillo of the Universidad Tecnologica de Panama. With 223 Chapters as well as an additional 117 Student Branch Chapters worldwide, PES is rapidly growing. Henry Louie, VP Membership and Image, and Frank Lambert, VP Chapters, have worked hard to maintain the momentum of membership and Chapter growth, initiated over the last five years by our former VP Chapters, Meliha Selak.
This year, we continued to provide an extensive and rich student program to the several hundred students attending the conference. This tradition has been one of the most valuable features of the conference. The only deficiency, the number of undergraduates attending the program, is still relatively small compared to the number of participating graduate students. Securing funding for such a large number of students is also a problem, but we have been able to provide for the program every year. Our growing Scholarship Plus Initiative is also beginning to expand globally and is already well established in the United States. This year, 549 scholarships were distributed to 390 students from 136 universities across the nation. PES benefits extend, of course, beyond student members.
Our Resource Center, accessible on the Web at www.pes-shop.org, offers free access to over 1,300 PES technical reports, PDF tutorials, slides, and videos. All members are entitled to the material free of charge upon login. Over 3,850 downloads have been recorded since 1 January, but the Resource Center still remains one of the secrets that PES would not like to keep! Please visit! The assortment is growing rapidly, and it is skillfully managed by our new Governing Board member, Nando Ochoa of the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.
PES presence in social media has been reinforced by the Smart Grid Initiative, smartgrid.ieee.org, whose management and financial support have become the responsibility of PES under the inspired leadership of Massoud Amin of the University of Minnesota. Its various communities are rapidly growing, and total membership now exceeds the number of PES members worldwide (over 5,500 technical community members, 11,000+ newsletter subscribers, 23,500+ LinkedIn Group members, and over 8,000 followers on Twitter). The PES Facebook page has had 11,243 members as of June 2014! PES volunteer Juan Carlos Montero has greatly contributed to its success, and he continues to frequently refresh its content with late-breaking news and other information of relevance.
At the members meeting, we also reviewed the report created by the IEEE Joint Task Force for Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) in response to the request from U.S. Department of Energy, which is tasked with evaluating QER accomplishments. The report is now available on the PES Web site. Several PES and IEEE-USA members have contributed to the report, coordinated under the leadership of PES President-Elect Damir Novosel. With information on so many activities in cyberspace, organization of conferences, publications, and educational activities, our time at the Members Meeting was quickly consumed. It was my intent to provide the attendees with information about the benefits of which at least some of them may not have been aware and get them excited to try them. I hope that at least a few attendees checked some of the services they did not use before.
The members meeting transitioned into the plenary session, where a number of distinguished speakers discussed the topic of the future of power and energy systems and answered many questions from attendees. Among the speakers were Mike Howard (president and CEO, EPRI), Terry Boston (president and CEO, PJM), Joe Rigby (chairman of the board, president, and CEO, PEPCO Holdings), Christopher Curtis (senior advisor, Schneider Electric), Dan Yates (CEO, Opower), and Ms. Cheng Mengrong (VP, International Division, China State Grid). Super Sessions were organized around the themes of late-breaking news, energy policy, cyber and physical security of power systems, natural disaster preparedness planning and response, grid operations, practices and challenges, as well as implementation of smart grid projects.
Overall, the conference provided much useful information for everyone. With so many activities going on, some events were overlapping and attendees were not able to attend multiple parallel events. Because of that, the members meeting, the opening plenary session, and super sessions have been recorded on video and are available on our Web site.
The week passed quickly—the conference program was intense and of excellent quality. I saw many informal gatherings of friends and acquaintances or colleagues who were discussing collaborative research or each other’s results and accomplishments. A good time was had by all!
Thinking about the conference on my way back to Atlanta, I felt as if time was compressed during the week—there were so many events, meetings, and happenings to attend, every day from sunrise until late evening. I’m very pleased that most of the people with whom I spoke were quite complimentary about the conference. If you or someone you know has a comment or suggestion on how to improve the conference, please e-mail me at email@example.com. All of us in the PES Governing Board are looking forward to the next IEEE PES General Meeting in Denver, Colorado, in July 2015.
And no, my wife’s computer has not been returned after 11 days following the mishap at the TSA checkpoint. But I am sure that these words will not be read by the person responsible for that—engineers are good and honest people!