IEEE News – Feb. 2008

IEEE Life Fellow Becomes IEEE-USA President, Will Work to Enhance U.S.
Innovation and Competitiveness
WASHINGTON (21 January 2008)
— IEEE-USA will continue working to increase federal investment in basic research and bolster U.S. innovation and competitiveness in 2008, according to IEEE Life Fellow Dr. Russell Lefevre, who became IEEE-USA president on New Year’s Day.

“Our overarching goal is to keep the United States the most technologically advanced nation on earth,” Lefevre said. “By increasing our nation’s investment in high-tech research and development (R&D), we can help bring good, high-paying jobs to the United States. That’s why we support and advance programs that foster innovation and unleash the U.S. entrepreneurial spirit.”

Lefevre, who lives in Redondo Beach, Calif., succeeded John Meredith of Colorado Springs, Colo. Meredith will serve as IEEE-USA’s past president in 2008. Dr. Gordon Day of Boulder, Colo., is the organization’s president-elect.

In addition to a greater R&D investment and programs that promote innovation, Lefevre said IEEE-USA in 2008 will focus on supporting K-12 math and science education to encourage technical literacy and train future technologists; provide serious, career-long continuing education to maintain a competitive U.S. workforce and preserve careers; and offer increased member value in products and services.

For more details, see Lefevre’s first president’s column at http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/presidentscolumn/index.html

As chair of the IEEE Technical Activities Board New Technology Directions Committee, Lefevre has been instrumental in promoting emerging technologies. The committee joined IEEE-USA last year in co-sponsoring symposia on homeland security, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, Internet-based medical information and radio frequency identification (RFID). IEEE RFID 2008 will convene in Las Vegas in April, and the 2008 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Homeland Security in May.

IEEE-USA is in year three of its strategic plan to help the United States become more competitive in the face of global competition. Lefevre said the association will lobby Congress to fully fund the America Competes Act it authorized last year. IEEE-USA will also continue to work with industry and labor groups to press Congress to reform high-tech immigration.

The IEEE-USA Innovation Institute, which began last year, will continue to promote innovation through training and mentoring tomorrow’s technology leaders. See http://www.innovation-institute.org/.

Lefevre became attuned to the inner workings of the federal government when he served an IEEE-USA 2001 congressional fellowship as Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) science adviser. Lefevre’s work included leading the Senate effort to establish the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Math and Science Partnership Program, which is designed to make significant improvement in K-12 math and science education. He was personally responsible for inclusion of NSF’s Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which strives to encourage science, technology, engineering and math majors and professionals to become K-12 science and math teachers. Both NSF programs are slated for significant funding increases in the America Competes Act.

Lefevre is a former vice chair of the IEEE-USA Transportation & Aerospace Policy Committee and served as IEEE-USA’s vice president for technology policy from 2004-07. He has helped to select the organization’s government fellows since 2003.

A native of Grafton, N.D., Lefevre first joined the IEEE in 1963. He has served on numerous IEEE committees and boards and was president of the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society in 2002-03. He is also a member of the IEEE Computer Society, Communications Society, Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society and the Lasers and Electro-Optics Society. He received an IEEE Millennium Medal in 2000 for outstanding contributions to the IEEE, and was elevated to Fellow in 2004.

Lefevre has more than 30 years of experience as a radar system engineer. He was the lead engineer for the first Navy airborne multi-mode radar while working for Hughes Aircraft Co. At Technology Service Corp., his activities included identifying advanced technologies, performing R&D on promising new applications, developing business opportunities and strategies, and organizing proposal activities. He was largely responsible for receiving more than 80 Small Business Innovation Research Program awards.

Lefevre holds a B.S. and M.S. in physics from the University of North Dakota. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of North Dakota last May.

Lefevre and his wife, Carole, have three children – Peter, Mary and Kristen – and six grandchildren.

IEEE-USA Commends President for Asking Congress to Double Federal Support for Critical Basic Research
WASHINGTON (29 January 2008)–
IEEE-USA President Russ Lefevre commends President George W. Bush for asking “Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences” in his State of the Union address last night.

“We appreciate the president reminding Congress how paramount funding into basic research is to keeping the United States the world’s technology leader,” IEEE-USA President Russ Lefevre said. “Much of our nation’s economic growth over the past 50 years can be attributed to the fruits of research by scientists and engineers.”

President Bush also referred to the America Competes Act authorization bill that he signed into law last August, but was not fully funded by Congress. The bill supports many of the same initiatives he outlined in his January 2006 American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). See http://www.whitehouse.gov/stateoftheunion/2006/aci/

Here are President Bush’s remarks:

“To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow.

“Last year, Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge.

“So I ask Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.”

Both the ACI and the America Competes Act call for a doubling of federal funding at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs.

The America Competes Act also includes significant funding increases for NSF’s Math and Science Partnership Program and the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. The former is designed to make significant improvement in K-12 math and science education, while the latter strives to encourage science, technology, engineering and math majors and professionals to become K-12 science and math teachers.

While serving a 2001 IEEE-USA congressional fellowship as Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) science adviser, Lefevre led the Senate effort to establish the Math and Science Partnership Program and was personally responsible for inclusion of the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

“The America Competes Act has the potential to play a critical role in our nation’s economic and technological future,” Lefevre said. “We will continue to lobby Congress to provide full funding for this important legislation.”

2008 Public-Awareness Program Launched to Bolster Image of Engineers, Engineering
WASHINGTON (22 January 2008) —
As part of its long-term, ongoing effort to improve the public’s understanding and appreciation of engineering, IEEE-USA has launched its 2008 public-awareness program that reaches out to youngsters, adults and the public-at-large through a variety of media targeted to specific audiences. The IEEE-USA Board has approved $72,000 in support of special public-awareness projects, plus $40,000 in related public-relations expenses for a total of $112,000 dedicated to bolstering the image of engineers and engineering in 2008. The public-awareness program includes six components:

— Adding IEEE technologies to TV engineering news spots developed through the American Institute of Physics (AIP) “Discoveries & Breakthroughs” syndication service of 12 monthly reports in English and Spanish distributed to more than 100 U.S. TV stations (for details, see http://www.aip.org/dbis/IEEE/)

— Helping print and broadcast journalists communicate authoritatively to the public about engineering and science through the placement of two IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows in media outlets as part of the AAAS program (for details, see http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/massmedia.asp)

— Recognizing journalists for furthering the public’s understanding of the engineering profession with two $1,500 honorariums (for details, see http://www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/awards/award8.html)

— Demonstrating engineering support for community activities and reaching Washington opinion leaders through promotional announcements on the U.S. capital’s only classical music station, WETA-FM at http://www.weta.org/

— Launching an online engineering video competition for undergraduates on “How Engineers Make a World of Difference” with $10,000 available in scholarship awards to be announced during Engineers Week from 17-23 February (for details, go to http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/video_competition/)

— Introducing youngsters to basic engineering concepts and communicating engineers’ support for local community activities through the National Engineers Week 2008 Discover Engineering Family Day to be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. on 16 February (for details, see http://eweekdcfamilyday.org/)

Improving the public’s understanding and appreciation of engineering continues to be a top priority for U.S. IEEE members. IEEE-USA has been actively involved in promoting public awareness of engineers and engineering for more than 25 years.

For more information on IEEE-USA’s public-awareness program, a brochure can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/files/PAbrochure.pdf.

IEEE-BACKED ‘DESIGN SQUAD’ TO BE FEATURED ON ‘JEOPARDY!’ TV GAME SHOW
WASHINGTON (22 January 2008) —
On Monday, 18 February, the long running television program “Jeopardy!” will feature a category devoted entirely to “Design Squad,” the reality television show for youngsters funded by the IEEE and other groups , as part of “Jeopardy’s” Teen Tournament Week. Footage from “Design Squad’s” first season will be used to test contestants’ knowledge of basic engineering concepts through a series of questions co-developed by “Design Squad” and “Jeopardy!” producers. Host Alex Trebek will introduce the category and encourage viewers to find the program on PBS. The “Design Squad” logo will also be featured as the category header.

The air date of the “Design Squad” episode is timed to coincide with National Engineers Week which takes place 17-23 February. The Teen Tournament series is one of “Jeopardy’s” top-rated programs each year. NBC’s “Jeopardy!” has an average daily viewership of 12,000,000.

“Design Squad” will begin its second season on PBS this April. The IEEE is continuing its second year of funding support for the program that features two teams of high-school students led by two young professional engineers who compete to solve a new engineering challenge each week. The program also incorporates educational materials distributed in local communities activities and on a Web site.

Market research provided by WGBH, which produces the program, has shown that 10- and 11-year-olds who watch “Design Squad” have increased their understanding of the design process, reconsidered stereotypes about engineering, and know more about engineering and science concepts. To view past and current episodes, go to http://pbskids.org/designsquad/ .