Chair’s Message, March 2020

As spring approaches we all look forward to one of the main events of the year for the Long Island Section Awards Banquet. This year’s ceremony and dinner will be at the Crest Hollow Country Club, as it was last year. The date is March 25, so please put it on your calendar. The keynote address will be by Michiko Minty of Brookhaven National Laboratory. She has titled her speech “America’s Next Collider” and will be of interest to all Long Islanders who are pleased that BNL was awarded the contract to build the Electron-Ion Collider, as reported in Newsday, January 12. The Velio Marsocci award for this year’s outstanding student branch will go to the Farmingdale State College Student Branch for “… dedicated commitment to providing opportunities to IEEE Student Branch members to develop professionally and technically in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology and continuous support of the LISAT Conference.”

Also this year, we note with sadness the passing of a stalwart of the section, Jesse Taub. Long a member of the Executive Committee and chairman of the Awards Committee. Jesse was integral to the operations of the Section and a valuable and respected voice among the membership. In his honor, the Section and the Executive Committee has created the Jesse Taub Lifetime achievement award. The first recipient of the award, and well-deserved I might add, is Victor Zourides for “… outstanding contributions and dedication to the IEEE, Region 1 and the Long Island Section and its members.”

Although the Awards Banquet is the big event in March, the calendar includes several significant dates:
• March 23: Radio Frequency Sensing in Healthcare: Detection of Falls, Gait Abnormality and Vital Signs
• April 16: 2020 LI RF/Microwave Symposium
• May 1: Long Island Systems, Applications, And Technology (LISAT) Conference
• October (date TBA): Commemoration of the RCA Radio Central site in Rocky Point, (link to a map of the site at the time)
• November 5: IEEE Long Island Power Electronics Symposium

Also planned for later in the year is a Social Security planning meeting presented by Robert Leitner for the membership. May is the most likely month and as details become available I will post the time and place.

Finally, to digress into a short historical reflection, there were two notable obituaries this year, Katherine Johnson, the NASA ”computer” of lunar mission trajectories and also of Hidden Figures fame, and Tony Brooker, who was the developer of Autocode, the first computer program that was not in binary. They are notable because they form a clear demarcation from the age of manual computation to that of machine computation. In Katherine Johnson’s case, her hand calculations of flight trajectories were validated by John Glenn, just as the movie recreated. From the NY Times obituary, “If she says the numbers are good,” Glenn declared, “I’m ready to go.” Although not an IEEE member, Johnson received the IEEE President’s Award at the 2019 IEEE Vision | Innovation Challenges Summit. Anthony Brooker was associated with the British IET or the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Were he famous for Autocode alone, his legacy would be assured. However, once he started to assemble a team of coders for the new programs, he hired two women among them. He married one of them, Vera Hewison, a math graduate turned programmer. Then the story becomes remarkable, for another of the women was Mary Lee Woods. Mary Lee Woods is, in her own words, “the grandmother of the web.” Her son is Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Is there an engineering gene?

Finally, please make an effort to seek out and attend IEEE conferences, meetings and seminars. Not only do they contribute to professional advancement, but they benefit the Section as well. Since we are all volunteers in the IEEE,
attendance is a good thing.


Arnold Stillman
IEEE Long Island Section 2020 Chair