One organization has had a hand in pretty much everything electric, dating back pretty close to the invention of the electric lightbulb.
Founded in 1884 as the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers but known today by its acronym, IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association with activities in more than 160 countries and 419,000 members worldwide.
“From Day One, the diversity of our founder’s innovations spanned multiple fields, including light bulbs and record players to power generation and telephones,” said Jim Isaak, chair of the IEEE New Hampshire Section.
One of 342 sections worldwide, IEEE-NH is charged with the mission “to be an essential and recognized technical society for diverse, engaged professionals focusing on innovation, education and professional growth in New Hampshire.”
Today, some of the topics on the IEEE agenda include computing, robotics, AI, engineering in medicine and biology, consumer electronics, microwave, and signal processing.
“We run over 300 conferences each year and publish 130 technical journals — and these are the most cited publications in U.S. patent applications and have been every year for decades,” he added.
Citing personal involvement in standards development with results influencing cell phones to internet servers — POSIX, UNIX, Linux, Android, Apple OS, to name a few — Isaak said IEEE also developed the WiFi standard and more traditional work like electrical safety code standards.
“We accredit university programs in many technology fields, engineering and computing related,” he explained. “IEEE’s virtual library contains over 5 million papers and is expanding to include data sets to facilitate additional research. IEEE is also concerned with how technology is used.”
In New Hampshire, Isaak said one key IEEE initiative is to coordinate and support the efforts of their respective groups in the state, such as Computing, Robotics and Automation, Communications & Signal Processing, and Power & Energy, among others.
“Ideally, each of our groups holds multiple educational and some social events every year,” he explained. “A key objective of these is to keep our New Hampshire professionals aware of technology advances in their fields.”
Isaak said IEEE-NH also reaches out to industry, such as the New Hampshire Tech Alliance, to support common objectives that include workforce development and STEM education.
“At this point, our connection with the Tech Alliance is mostly aspirational, disrupted in part by the pandemic,” he said. “We did participate, though, in one of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute events to expand that connection.”
The opportunity for IEEE-NH, he explained, is to align their expert educational events with needs in New Hampshire.
“STEM education is critical for New Hampshire and globally,” he said. “The rate of technology change is literally overwhelming. Tech innovation is touching most, if not every, job, our commercial and individual interactions.”
Isaak said there are more millionaires in companies like Microsoft and the tech industry than in all professional sports teams combined. One example is Dean Kaman, a New Hampshire engineer, inventor, and businessman who holds more than 1,000 patents.
“Dean has also demonstrated that tech innovation can bring quality of life and medical services to people’s lives in quite different ways than essential workers, such as doctors and nurses,” he added.
He described the need for STEM as three-fold.
“Today’s elementary school students will be living in a world as different from ours today as we are today from the pre-cell phone and pre-World Wide Web world of 1995,” he said. “A STEM educational foundation will be essential for them to function in that world.”
He said many of the best careers in terms of money and/or benefits for humanity will emerge from STEM fields. “Many of these careers are simply unknown today,” said Isaak, who referred to the impact of technology as “massive.”
“An effective and informed citizen will need to have some understanding of the basic concepts,” he said. “We see this already with the highly charged, but also essential, discussions about tech censorship, addiction, disinformation and propaganda.”
As for the future, Isaak expressed optimism that IEEE-NH will become better known in the Granite State.
“Most of our programs are free and open to the public,” he explained. “While some get fairly esoteric, we also deal with topics that touch the general public and policy makers, such as broadband, privacy and artificial intelligence.”
Ideally, he said every tech professional in New Hampshire would take full advantage of IEEE activities locally and globally, and every company with technology workers would support their involvement.
“I also hope every teacher seeking to bring technology awareness into the classroom would see our members as part of the support system they can draw upon,” he said.
To learn more about IEEE-NH, visit ieee-nh.org.