Chair’s Message, June 2020

Nominations are now open! The IEEE Long Island Section is still attempting some form of normalcy by formally starting the procedure to elect the next slate of Executive Committee officers. I have asked Lou D’Onofrio to chair the nominating committee, who will vet the slate of candidates that wish to run. Self-nominations are acceptable and there is no particular experience required for the offices. See the notice from Lou on the committee and its members on page 6.

This month sees us still in the grip of a life-changing set of events. Although New York is showing signs of diminishing infections and the urge to get back to a weekly work schedule is strong, there may be a sea change coming for employees and employers. For engineers, the situation is complex. One hardly imagines building, testing and documenting complex electro-mechanical systems by working remotely. A car or a plane can not be made that way. However, CAD software frees many engineering tasks from the office. Onshape, for example, is useful as a collaborative suite of mechanical design tools that started as an alternative to programs like Solidworks. It is not hard to imagine designing a complex system in solitude, given enough time. There are similar electrical engineering CAD systems that take designs from schematic to printed circuit in a single set of tools. However, the missing element in development among all the tools available is person-to-person collaboration. Even editing a document with other online contributors takes some practice. It is not as easy going to the conference room and editing with others in person.

One can imagine an engineering company of the future with minimal staff and a remote team of engineers. This concept already has a history among integrated circuit manufacturers who run “fabless” companies. The designs are intellectual property that get sent to foundries that may be in Thailand or Switzerland or Hong Kong. The future may see teams of engineers working remote from each other and in no specific location. Let us be prepared for the new wave of engineers who can adapt to this type of work or who will grow up knowing no other. Just have a bit of sympathy for the poor engineer who makes the printed circuit bigger than its enclosure and has to endure the product manager’s (online) wrath.

As a final thought, the IEEE has provided resources to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. It is an admirable effort, and I propose that the Section start to respond with any resources it can bring to bear on dealing with the pandemic. To that end, I would ask for a set of volunteers to come forward with proposals on how engineering talents may ameliorate or eliminate this type of threat. I would like to structure the group to work with health professionals and hospital engineering staff to develop solutions that stand up to the tests of time and medicine. No home-brew ventilators, please! I will be sending out a notice on forming such a group in the next few weeks. As a reminder,
The IEEE LI Section Annual Awards Ceremony will be held September 25, 2020. See announcement on page 5.

Arnold Stillman
IEEE Long Island Section Chair, 2020