Long Island’s Electrical and Electronic History – December 2017

EPA: The U.S. Electricity System

EPA: The U.S. Electricity System

We continue our look at old issues of Pulse starting with September 1986. A Section meeting co-sponsored by PACE featured a talk on “Cogeneration: The Impact of Decentralized Power Generation.” The speaker was Angelo Orazio, a former engineer, and New York State Assemblyman. He was describing smaller power systems set up and shared by several companies. He was apparently advocating more decentralization of power sources. From what I can tell, we have since had more centralization with our massive power grids although the rapid growth of solar power is in the spirit of this talk.

Our microwave (MTT) Society presented a talk on “Optics for Microwave Application” given by Pradeep Wadi of Loral. Advances in lasers and fiber optics were making it possible to have long distance communications links with the of microwave (several GHz) bandwidths. He described optical modulators, fibers optic link delay lines, and power control devices. This was very new technology then that is still finding applications.

This issue described the results of a successful one-day MTT Symposium held earlier in the year. The topic was monolithic microwave IC’s. This was an early precursor of our Section’s Microwave Mini-symposia that were held in 2016 and 2017, and our recent Power Electronics one-day symposium is also based on this concept.

The October Section meeting was co-sponsored by the AI Committee and the Computer Society. The title of the talk was “Plan Recognition for Airborne Tactical Decision Making,” given by Christof Heithecker of the Naval Air Development Center. He showed how AI could be a big help in making tactical decisions when an aircraft is faced with many threats. Here again, this was a relatively new application of AI which is probably fairly common today.

The MTT Society’s speaker was David Fryklund of M/A-COM. His topic was “GaAs MMIC’s- A New Frontier in Microwave Control Technology. He showed examples of switches and phase shifters that could be used in phased arrays. Here again our members were getting information on new microwave IC technology which has since become a mature field.

Our Antennas and Propagation (AP) Society organized “Performance Monitor for a Large Array Antenna” presentation given by Ronald Wolfson of ITT. He described a special device that could detect degradation in the performance of large phased arrays,

The Section and the AI Committee co-sponsored a talk on “An Expert System for Computer Aided Control System Design” by Dr. John Jones, an Associate Professor at West Point. This was a time when very few CAD software packages were commercially available. I would suspect that this is more readily available today.

A one-day course was offered on “Radar Technology of the 80’s and Beyond” given by Eli Brookner of Raytheon. Dr. Brookner was an authority in this area. He is still active as evidenced that he is an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer who gave an invited paper at our Section’s LISAT-2017 conference.

The November issue also had a notice of a Cable-TV presentation on the Learning Channel. It was a two-hour program on “Frontiers of High Technology”. It consisted of talks by experts on Automotive Electronics, Solid State Computers Communication, Power, and Energy. What I found interesting was that many communities in the US did not as yet have cable service. This looks to me like an ancestor of the webcasts that we now take for granted.

In summary, in late 1986, our members were getting exposed to the then emerging technologies and applications in areas such as photonics, phased arrays, microwave IC’s, AI and much more. This, to me, is a big part of what the IEEE is all about.

As always, I thank Jim Colotti, our Second Vice-President, and Rod Lowman, our former historian for making these issues of Pulse available.