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Oral-History:Arthur Winston

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Revision as of 17:50, 9 May 2014

Contents

About Arthur Winston

Arthur Winston grew up in Canada, and, inspired by his inventor grandfather, became interested in math and science at an early age. He studied engineering physics at the University of Toronto, then went to MIT in 1951 studying physics. After MIT, Winston worked at Schlumberger in Houston before moving back to the Boston area in 1957. Over his career, Winston has worked in both academia and industry, including being a founder of the Gordon Institute and working on heat shield technology for the NASA Apollo program. Winston joined the IEEE (then IRE) in 1955 while at Schlumberger, and when he moved back to Boston he was asked to head NEREM, a predecessor of ELECTRO. Although Winston left IEEE activities for a time, he was pulled back in by Harold Goldberg to help with a financial crisis over ELECTRO. From there, Winston moved up the IEEE ladder, becoming Section secretary and chair, then Regional director in about 1996. He was also representative to – later vice president of - the Educational Activities Board. Winston served as IEEE President in 2004. Since his position as president, Winston has remained active on the governance board, IEEE Foundation and the United Engineering Foundation. Winston has also been involved in education work, including winning the Educational Innovation Award in the mid-1990s, and the National Academy of Engineering educational award, with two colleagues, in 2007.

In this interview, Winston discusses his career but mostly focuses upon his work in the IEEE. He talks about joining the IRE not as a student but while at Schlumberger, and how he became involved in conferences and then later in the larger Institute. He talks about the issues faced by the various committees he was on – like EAB and the Board – such as strategic planning and the question of IEEE as a global or American organization. The subject of globalization is covered at length, including the role of the USAB, later IEEE-USA and the issues and problems that have arisen. Winston also discusses highlights in his industry career, including his work with NASA and on a system for monitoring nuclear testing. Through his work in both academia and industry, Winston talks about the need for more industry representation in the IEEE. Winston also talks about the IEEE staff, and particular colleagues such as Ernst Weber, Jim Mulligan, and Joe Bordogna.

About the Interview

Arthur Winston: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 26 August 2009

Interview #503A for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center Oral History Program, 39 Union Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8538 USA. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:

Arthur Winston, an oral history conducted in 2009 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

Interview: Arthur Winston

Interviewer: Michael Geselowitz

Date: 26 August 2009

Location: Winchester, Massachusetts

Background and Education

Geselowitz:

This is Michael Geselowitz from the IEEE History Center, and I’m here in Winchester, Massachusetts with IEEE past president, Arthur Winston doing an oral history interview. Arthur, I’d like to start at the beginning, so if you can say something about your early life, and then how you got involved in engineering

Winston:

Okay. Well, first of all thank you for coming to Winchester so I have this opportunity to at least be interviewed and copied on film, I guess. I have several different pieces that actually contributed to get me into engineering. One was my grandfather. He was an inventor, and in fact he worked with Marconi in Africa doing wireless telephony experiments for the British government. And so I grew up very much under the influence of my grandfather who was always inventing, making things. And as a kid, I too started to play with things. In fact, I almost lost my thumb when I took a clock apart and found out how much energy is stored in a spring when it took off. And so anyway, I was always interested in science, mathematics and the application thereof, which, of course, was engineering. I could go into the schooling I had, which fitted in with that, if you would like?

Geselowitz:

Yes, that’d be very interesting.

Winston:

Okay. I grew up in Canada, first of all. And so the way schools are divided is a little different than here. There’s no such thing as a middle school, and so on. You went to the so-called public school, which was kindergarten through grade eight, and then you went to a high school, which was grade nine through 13. In going to high school I had my choice of going to what was called a collegiate. That’s the normal progression you make from public school into high school when you’re trying to have an overall education, and at the same time you’re thinking about going into university.

Geselowitz:

I see.

Winston:

I did something different though. I went into a technical high school, which was called the Central Technical School, which was the largest technical school of its kind in the British Empire. And not only did I do all the collegiate work, but I also did work in practical aspects that were part of engineering. So I ended up graduating from high school before going to university with somewhat of a practical engineering background, not the theory, and not the university content, but more of a trade-type content in addition to the regular material needed for matriculation. And then I went to the University of Toronto, and I had again a choice. And my choice was to go into physics or engineering physics, which was part of the faculty of applied science and engineering. So rather than going into the pure sciences, I went into engineering physics. Engineering physics is now called engineering science, but at that time it was called engineering physics. And it also was a double-type program. I was in school for perhaps 30 hours a week, because I was taking all the classes with the engineering students, and I was also taking mathematics and science classes with the arts and sciences people. So I had a double program. And it was a program which was very limited in terms of number of students. You had to have certain qualifications to be able to undertake that, and I did very well with it, and was very excited by it. And so I got trained as an engineer and I got trained as a physicist. And in fact when I graduated there were about 800 students across the engineering disciplines, and I placed first of those 800 students, and the physics department, a very conservative department, actually paid me an honor in that they invited me to do graduate work there. But I didn’t. I had my heart set on MIT, and so, then, that’s what brought me to United States. So I came to MIT.

Geselowitz:

What year was that?

Winston:

That was 1951. And I entered, then, the physics program. So I actually graduated as a physicist from MIT, —but when I took my first so-called real job outside of MIT, that was with an engineering company, and in effect the application of physics is really engineering, and most of what I was doing would fall into the area of electrical engineering or electronics engineering, and hence IEEE.

Schlumberger and Joining IEEE

Geselowitz:

Okay. So how did you first become aware of IEEE or its predecessor, and how did you come to join?

Winston:

Well, I didn’t join as a student, which seems to be the course for many people these days, because it wasn’t very prominent. I don’t recall an IEEE student section at the University of Toronto. I do recall the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and things like that. But when I graduated from MIT I actually had been a member of the American Physical Society, and the Society of Sigma Xi, you know, an honor society. But I didn’t know very much about IEEE until I took my first so-called real world job, which was at Schlumberger down in Houston. And there was a fairly active group within the company. It didn’t seem to be at all connected with any kind of Houston section. I don’t even know if there was a Houston section, but there was a very active internal group at Schlumberger, and in fact I got involved with IEEE in two respects. One, we used to set up study groups where each person would take turns educating the others on certain engineering issues. And the other thing was that part of the work I was doing in development work; I used IEEE material as reference material. So that introduced me to IEEE in a double way, and I joined. So that, I think I joined in 1955.

Geselowitz:

Okay. And how long were you at Schlumberger?

Winston:

I stayed at Schlumberger about three years, and my history has always been that when I can master something and I don’t have the excitement, I start to think about what else I might do. And I had gone very far at Schlumberger. It was run by a group of French people who were very bright and self-educated in many cases, and I got along very, very well with them. I had a lot of responsibility.

National Research Corporation and Boston Section

But I decided that I’d had a taste for Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the MIT environment, and I wanted to get back up to the Northeast. And so in 1957, after being there about three years or so, I went back to the Boston area.

Geselowitz:

And what did you do here when you first arrived?

Winston:

Well, there was a very interesting company called National Research Corporation, NRC. In fact, while in Canada I had also been employed by a National Research, but that was the government research arm in electrical engineering. But anyway, National Research Corporation was really a bright organization that was underfunded. This was my first opportunity to witness a company in which people were very innovative, but without sufficient funds, they couldn’t exist. But products that we turned out were used by other people, and other people made money. For example, Minute Maid orange juice: the process for making Minute Maid orange juice was one of ours. The use of Mylar both coated and otherwise, for decoration or for thermal properties, that was our doing. The creation of tantalum capacitors, that was our doing. And it was a very good company. In fact, the head of it, the president of it, eventually became, I believe, the undersecretary for defense at one time. And it just was, as I said,an extremely bright group of people that were very creative, very inventive, but there wasn’t that much money. You may be familiar with Teradyne?

Geselowitz:

Yes.

Winston:

Well, the past president, Alex d’Arbeloff, came from National Research. He was in a different division than I was. He was in the so-called vacuum division, whereas I was doing the research and development.

Geselowitz:

Now is that company affiliated in any way with any of the universities in the area, that is, was this part of the spin-off sort of phenomenon?

Winston:

Yes, it was right on the MIT campus. So I had a very beautiful setting overlooking the Charles River, yeah. So, it did come from MIT. Yes.

Geselowitz:

And by the time you moved back to Boston, you had gotten involved a little bit in IEEE—I guess this would’ve been the IRE still, before the merger with AIEE produced IEEE.

Winston:

Yes, it was IRE.

Geselowitz:

So when you moved back to Boston, did you get involved with the Boston IRE Section at all?

Winston:

I did, but I can’t say how much of that was my own initiative. F. Karl Willenbrock, from Harvard, who was later president of IEEE, apparently knew of me, and some of the things that I had been involved in, and I was asked to head up a major conference and exposition in the Boston area called NEREM. I think it stood for something like Northeast Region Engineering Meeting. This was one of the predecessors of ELECTRO. You may remember ELECTRO and WESCON, the big East Coast and West Coast conferences. Well, I was asked to head up the East Coast version. I was asked to join the committee and then asked to actually run it, which I did. And that pulled me into IEEE. In fact I was able to use funds that I had generated, and I put them towards the Boston Section, and I was able to make it a paid office, so today it’s one of the few paid offices in the IEEE structure. So the funds for that were initially obtained by me, by running a very successful event, and then controlling where those funds went, and I put them into the Boston section. After that I really sort of withdrew from IEEE activities, because I got very busy professionally then, working and setting up small companies, and in addition, I was very much interested in becoming associated with one of the universities. I always did like a dual life.

Teaching and the Gordon Institute

Geselowitz:

And was that to keep your hand in teaching?

Winston:

Well, I liked to teach, because I have had a career of being able to take something apart, and then make people understand it, and put it all back together, and so I enjoyed teaching. And so Northeastern was one of the major places in the Boston area that I taught at, and I taught at an important level, because, you know, they have a big night school and a big co-op program, and they hire many part-time people from the area. However, I was part of the day school. I was given the title of visiting associate professor. Many of my students became scholarship winners and good performers. And this was one of my interests, and I’ve carried that all through my life, actually, this dual role of working or doing something in industry, and at the same time getting very much involved with academic work. And so that has always been with me throughout my life.

Geselowitz:

Well, I know it’s tangential to your IEEE career, which I do want to get back to, but I know you’ve brought those together because of your involvement with the Gordon Institute.

Winston:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

As a chance to bring those two sides together, you want to talk a little bit about that?

Winston:

Sure, sure. Well, let me also explain that at some point that I did get back into IEEE, obviously.

Geselowitz:

Okay. How did that happen?

Winston:

I’ll answer that question first, okay? People got to know me in the academic area, and they also knew that my background in life, where I was employed and where I made my money, was on the industrial side of things. The industrialist and philanthropist Bernie Gordon had the idea of setting up a university independent of the existing universities, because he was very dissatisfied with the inability to find people who could lead technology projects and run technology programs, and he just felt that schools weren’t doing what he wanted them to do. Maybe leaders like that couldn’t come right out of an undergraduate school, but at least if they did graduate work they should be able to be professional engineers and be able to go off and do these major tasks. So he got the idea of setting up and starting a university, which became the Gordon Institute. I was asked to help them, just to give them some advice, and I was called because, as I said, people knew that my background was industrial. On the other hand, I had this other side of me, which was the educational side, and I had a good record on the educational side, as well. So I did offer to help, and I did actually start to help. However, they wanted more, and more, and more of my involvement, and eventually then I became part of the institute on a full-time basis, and in effect became one of the originators or creators of the Gordon Institute. And then a few years after it was created the president of Tufts University was interested in having a program like ours, and asked if we would be interested in merging with them, so I was the one who actually brought it into Tufts. At that point I had a chance to update it, upgrade it, and it has been, and continues to be very successful.

Early IRE Conference Stories

Geselowitz:

Okay. Great. So now would you go back and say then how you managed to get back into IRE?

Winston:

Well, there are a few more interesting stories, actually, about the time that I was involved with making that early conference that I would like to bring out first, if you don’t mind.

Geselowitz:

Sure.

Winston:

One is that at the time industry really respected IRE, and later the IEEE. Industry participated in IRE activities much more so than you find today. Now it is individuals who participate, but corporations and their high-level people don’t really participate now, but they did then. And when I was asked to be chair and run this conference, my company thought it was an honor, and without my even requesting it, they gave a full-time secretary to work with me and assist me, and you don’t find that kind of corporate cooperation and involvement nowadays. So I’d just like to bring that out.

Also Weber, Ernst Weber, who’s very famous and known in IEEE circles, and was head of Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute at that time, actually helped plan this conference. In fact, his wife and my wife tried to run a little social program for people at that time. And one other person I’d like to mention, and that’s Jim Mulligan. Jim Mulligan is a past president of IEEE, but at that time…I’m talking now about a 1960, 1961 timeframe. Jim Mulligan was a professor at NYU, and he might even have been head of the EE department, I believe. In any event, I met him, introduced myself to him, and asked whether he and another famous name, going back many years in the solid-state circuit group, Louis Winner, would help out in this conference, and they both agreed to help out. So I had quite a group there. As I said, one turned out to become an IEEE president, and the other one was the one who set up the original publications of several of the societies, and in fact he helped create the first publication for the conference that I was chairing.

Returning to IEEE

So now I’ll jump from that to how I got back into IEEE years later. Okay. Harold Goldberg was also a known quantity from back in those days—in fact, he was the first president of USAB, the United States Activities Board, before it became IEEE-USA. And Harold got involved with the Gordon Institute as well. And one day I happened to be near Harold, and he was busy on the phone, and it sounded like he had a lot of problems. All of a sudden, he sticks the receiver out and says, speak to him. And he holds that receiver out, and I picked it up, and without any introductions, I eventually figured out that the person on the other end of the line was the head of the Boston Section. And they were having what they thought was a financial disaster. At that time, ELECTRO had been built up. It contributed, oh, million-plus dollars that were distributed to METSAC (as the New York/New Jersey area was called), IEEE Region 1, and the Boston Section. And this had been an event that was supposed to be held at the Javits Center, whereby they were going to have 1,200 booths sold. What happened was [that] they only sold 400. Things went downhill. Well, we all know the history of both ELECTRO and WESCON, and this was a sort of a forerunner of the change in approach needed by these kinds of expositions. The internet was working in and replacing face-to-face conferences, and so on.

In any event, the Boston section was facing a disaster because they had counted on certain funds which they weren’t going to get. And so the phone in my ear said what can you do to help? So I came to a Boston Section meeting, and they had been doing several things at the section. One of them was to give certain courses, but it was just a minor type effort, and I said, well, I think I most likely could put a bunch of courses together for you. And I ended up putting together about 16 nighttime courses—I didn’t teach them, I got other people to do so. You know, they might last five, six, seven weeks, and I had about 1,000 people go through those courses, and paying—because it certainly was a technical benefit to the individuals who came, but also a financial benefit to the Boston Section. There was so much money made—more than what the contribution to the Boston Section would’ve been from ELECTRO—that the Boston Section was saved and made everybody happy. So I was asked to do a repeat performance the year after that. And then after that I was asked, well, how about becoming Section secretary? Then eventually I became the Section chair. After that, of course, I’m now on this ladder, and it’s sort of like it’s hard to get off at this point. You’re getting all these people pushing you. And so then I said, okay, I would run to be a Region director, and I became a Region director. And then kept on going up the ranks until eventually I became President.

Region Director and Board Issues

Geselowitz:

Okay. Do you remember what year you became the Region director?

Winston:

I think it was about 1996.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Winston:

At that time, the director-elect position was only in for one year. It wasn’t a two-year thing, the way it is now. And in addition the directors-elect did not participate like they do now, and I was invited to only one IEEE board meeting, which was the last board meeting of the year, so that was my first introduction into the actual board on that one meeting, prior to the next year that I was going to become the actual director.

Geselowitz:

Do you remember what the issues were on the board when you arrived?

Winston:

Well, yes, and it’s interesting you put the word issues, because the board has evolved, and I’d like to think I helped the board with some of its evolution. At that time there always seemed to be some difficulties between the regional side of the house and the technical side of the house, and there seemed to be a lot of competition, and a lot of give and take, but not necessarily completely friendly give and take, so a lot of issues were involved. Also bylaw changes seemed to be always in process. Then there was an issue that originally was raised by the Computer Society, and it had to [do] with well, maybe members should have a choice as to what they’re going to pay for as IEEE services. And at that time it was decided, why don’t we take a whole look at reorganizing IEEE, and there were actually several different committees formed. I was on one to look at the membership structure of IEEE to see if it could be changed and what the different models are. We were also instructed to write different and new bylaws, which we did, and a committee I ran actually looked at the cost structures of IEEE, and what members should be entitled to, or what they can pay for, and so on. So it, it was a very busy time, because unlike, as I said, what happens now, you didn’t have a director-elect to help you in anything. So you did all your board activities, and meanwhile you were a representative to something else. So I became the representative to [the] Educational Activities Board. And of course as a U.S. person, I was also a member of the IEEE-USA. So you really were out flat going from one meeting to a next meeting, and you had all these different hats, which people nowadays are somewhat spared.

Educational Activities Board

Geselowitz:

Okay. And then from Region director, what was your next board position?

Winston:

I had been the representative at the Educational Activities Board, and so I thought that I would like to continue on there just about that time, as a matter of fact, I was not part of Educational Activities, but I was given an award by educational activities for looking at different forms of education, engineering education, in effect which led to the Gordon Institute, okay? And I was given the Educational Innovation Award, I think it was for 1995. So my interests gravitated towards the educational activities. On the other hand there were two people who were pretty high up who had other ideas. One, of course, was Chuck Alexander, and the other was Fernando Aldana from Spain, and they were trying themselves to see how they could influence what was going on in IEEE, and they asked me if I wouldn’t mind running to be the vice president of Regional Activities. I said I did not want to be, because I didn’t know what I could contribute there. Whereas I felt I could do something for educational activities. Their view was that the Regional Activities Board was just so much more important, in a way, than the Educational Activities Board, that’s where I should concentrate. But I felt that I didn’t know what I would do to change the regional activity direction or what I could contribute, but I did have ideas for change in educational activities. So I stayed with my original thinking, and I eventually became, then, vice president of educational activities.

Geselowitz:

Okay. Could you to talk about some of those changes at EAB?

Winston:

Sure. Well, it was interesting. And that’s why I believe that individuals can affect and make changes. When I came into [the] Educational Activities Board, the prior vice presidents—as far as I could tell, going all the way back in time—were all from academia. And their interest seemed to be related to the accreditation issue. In fact, as individuals, they also participated as evaluators or other roles as part of ABET and the whole accreditation process. And when I got into EAB, I made an analysis of the money that was spent, and what the budget was, and what could and what couldn’t happen. And I confronted the Managing Director of the Educational Activities Department at that time, Pete Lewis, and I said a few things to him. One of them was prompted by my wife, who had worked for a nonprofit organization, and told me that anytime a volunteer was put into a position, the staff pretty much—I won’t say ignored that individual, but—they outlasted that individual. So they knew that, okay, they’d put up with it, and don’t worry about it, because that individual’s going to be gone in a year or so, and we’ll do what we want to do. So I said that to Pete Lewis, you know, my wife has this background, has mentioned this to me, and I said, so, what do you want? Do you want to hear anything from me, or do you want to just carry on the way things have been carried on? Oh, no, he said, I would like very much to hear what you want to do, and if I can, I’d be glad to work with you. Well, he was honest, and we had a very good working relationship.

All right, so what did that mean? After I did the analysis, I showed him what I had come up with, and almost a total budget of the educational activities department was devoted to one form or other of the accreditation process. And that there’s very little money left over, and that little money that was left over in effect was maybe to allow different committees to have a meeting, but not do anything. And the numbers that were traditionally presented to board of EAB didn’t reflect this because the actual distribution of the numbers had no relationship to what really was going on. But I had done my own analysis, and he agreed with my analysis, and so I tried now to provide some money so these other groups could function.

Well the first year it was very difficult, but I was able to convince Joe Bordogna, who was president, and had a discretionary fund, to give us $50,000 that I could use for other activities. In particular the activity that I thought could be helped was the so-called pre-college activities; now they’re called pre-university activities. And so I’m happy to say that I was the originator of the pre-university for IEEE. We actually had several pre-university conferences we eventually had the first pre-university website, called PET, which eventually became PEERS. I won’t say that the current pre-university site, TryEngineering.org, evolved directly from there, but at least we had developed some momentum. IEEE now had some credibility in this area, and I think that certainly enabled IEEE to work with IBM to create the tremendously good website named TryEngineering.org. I was the first one to create a website for pre-university activities, and the first one to encourage those activities, and so I changed the structure of EAB, and its interests. Not to downplay accreditation, but to find funds to do other things was critical.

And I did one other thing, as well, and that was in the awards area. As you know, EAB gives certain awards out. And they’re done at one of the IEEE board series meetings. And so they draw people from all across IEEE to come to this award presentation. Well, prior to me, those awards were given out at another conference, called Frontiers in Education (FIE). IEEE is a participant in that, but a very minor participant. A lot of other organizations participate in it as well, and it’s really an academically oriented conference. I was given my award at Frontiers in Education, and so I was able to witness and see what took place, and so I reasoned that w[e] should not do it that way. It was not giving good exposure to the people who receive the awards. It was not giving any exposure or credibility to the EAB within IEEE. It was not letting the rest of IEEE know that these things are being done. And so I switched the way the awards would be given to the way it is done now. Making the change was difficult because everybody said you couldn’t do it, and I had to convince the EAB board, which has past presidents on it too, and they said, you know, you’re insulting the FIE and all. I said, no, I think for the, quote, greater good, unquote, of the educational process within IEEE, this is the way to go, and it’s been very, very successful. The individuals are recognized. IEEE sees what education’s all about, and it’s a much better thing. So anyway I felt that I did do the right thing by going into EAB, and I made my mark there. That would’ve been, what, 1998? 1999, maybe?

Geselowitz:

Before I go to the next step in your IEEE career, what was happening in your personal life or your career at that time, to parallel those activities?

Winston:

Okay, by now I’m becoming totally immersed with the Gordon Institute. So I severed any direct industrial relations, except what I need to do to enhance the Gordon Institute. The Gordon Institute really took up all my time. I’m trying to remember back what other IEEE issues there were at that time, because I was certainly still part of the IEEE board, and I’m trying to remember why I was still part of the board.

Running for President

Geselowitz:

Why don’t you explain how you stayed involved and came eventually to run for president.

Winston:

Well, I—let’s see…working backwards, I was president in 2004. So I was president-elect in 2003. And so I was elected, then, in 2002 elections. Yes, and I thought at that time that I wasn’t very happy with the way the Board seemed to be operating. This issue between the regional activities and the technical activities seemed to have gone down, subsided—as I had mentioned before—but there were a lot of other issues of trust. It was more of trust among individuals of the board, and between committees that were set up. For example, the ExCom - the executive committee of the Board—seemed to spend a lot of time approving bylaws and arguing, and this bothered me. I had been impressed by Joe Bordogna as president, and I thought that since I’d been involved now in an engineering leadership management school and teaching it, and practicing it, that I should see what I could do in that role as IEEE president. So that’s why my sights were set on becoming president, yes.

Geselowitz:

And who did you run against?

Winston:

I ran against Luis T. “Luchi” Gandia and Vijay Bhargava. It was very interesting. A little later we may discuss this in more detail, but IEEE has been called either an American institution that’s trying to do global outreach, or a global organization housed in the United States. And the message was never clear as to what was going on, and when I ran to be president, a past Region 8 director from, from Europe, actually sent out a mailing, which he wasn’t supposed to do, but he did. He sent out a mailing to Region 8 people, and he said here’s our chance to get a president who’s not from United States, okay? And what was interesting was Vijay was from India, but now resident in Canada, been living most of his life in Canada. I really was from Canada, and not the United States. And Luchi was from Puerto Rico. The Region 8 fellow didn’t seem to understand that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and that Canada is not. I was very connected to the world—I had a more worldly view than somebody just being brought up, you know, within one country. So anyway he sent that out, and the then current regional director of the Region 8 apologized to me, and said, should we try to counter this? And we both agreed the best thing to do was to let it die. And of course I was elected. In fact I was overwhelmingly elected, because the sum total of my votes equaled the sum of the other two candidates’ votes, so it was very clear then that it was no close race. And in order to let that past region director off the hook he had put himself in, I joked or something, and brought him back in, and it turns out he and I have been very good friends, and actually have worked together on several committees. So it was a question of overdoing, if you will, what he had thought he was going to do, but still not embarrassing anybody or making—or losing potential friendships.

Challenges Post-Election

Geselowitz:

What challenges or opportunities did you find yourself facing after this overwhelming election victory?

Winston:

Oh I had several. And I like to believe that I was effective. For one thing, IEEE had often used the phrase strategic planning, but there hadn’t been much strategic planning actually going on. In fact one year they even forgot to set up a committee or do it, and then they tried to recover, and put together something, but there never really was an effective strategic plan, and part of the reason was, the board meetings never discussed strategy. The board meetings on the part of the directors were always involved with lack of trust questioning the activities that were done by executive committee or somebody or something else. They were about changing bylaws that were not necessary to change, and there really was no time left for discussing any strategy. In fact, the executive director at that time fitted right in to that environment. He would give a report on progress within IEEE, and the way he measured progress was in response to such things as if a member called in with a question or a member called in with a complaint, how long did it take to respond to that question or complaint. And he would report, well, we shaved a minute off, so it went from 11 minutes to 10 minutes, and look at this, you know, we’re making progress. And what I did as I became president is I took him aside, and I said I’d like to change what’s taking place. For example, I don’t want you to ever give reports like that again. I’d like you to give reports on what’s happening with IEEE, what should we be doing, what’s good, what’s bad, you know, and, at the same time, I’m going to get the organizational units involved. We have three formal board meetings a year and we’ll schedule one unit each time to give a report on what they’re doing and how they’re making progress, what their issues are, and how they can start thinking strategically. So I changed the format of the board meetings to always make sure that there was this presentation, there was this discussion. I didn’t call it a strategic plan. I called it getting issues out in front of everybody. It was partly to educate them, and partly to get them to start to think strategically. And so I was effective that way.

Another issue that turned up, in part by accident in and part not accident, was trying to resolve this question of whether IEEE is a global organization or a U.S. organization. And that surfaced during one of our meetings that was taking place in Region 8. In fact it was taking place, I believe, in Krakow, Poland. Just prior to the meeting I had to go to Warsaw to meet with the Polish national society of engineering, and we were signing an agreement, and so I was signing on behalf of IEEE and the head of the national society of Poland was signing on behalf of Poland. And it was set up very formally. I mean, there was a nice table, and there were the documents that had to be signed, and—I don’t remember exactly—maybe some wine in the background, but in addition there was a Polish flag on one part of the table, and an American flag on the other part of the table. Everybody was assembled and all was set, and then I called a halt to the proceedings. I said, you know we have to make some changes. We can’t do this like this. I said first of all, you’ll have to remove the U.S. flag, because you know this implies that I’m signing an agreement from a U.S. organization. I’m not. I’m signing an agreement from a global organization. They did that, but then they quickly removed the Polish flag too. And I said, no, no, no. We are an international organization, a global organization, and we’re now signing an agreement with you, a Polish organization. Put your Polish flag back, but the U.S. flag cannot be there, because you’ll get the wrong picture, the wrong message. Okay? And so that was noted, and in fact that was picked up by a subsequent president who used it in one of his talks, and that was Mike Lightner actually who said that. So anyway, I was trying to establish that IEEE was global, and if you’ll permit me, and maybe you can display this a little later, I followed through in two other respects.

I was a member of the Life Members Committee, and one of the issues that came before us was that there was a whole group of elderly Chinese, engineers who wanted to become life members, but they couldn’t become life members. This was because China’s participation was only relatively recent, and so they could never qualify under the life member formula, which includes years of service as well as age. They could qualify by age, but they could never qualify by years of membership. So we analyzed it as life members, and said well, what can we do? They actually wanted to have a change in the bylaws to include them as life members. We decided that we shouldn’t change the bylaws. The bylaw’s very specific, and it had been changed once, and then changed back, and made a very confusing situation, so we should leave the bylaws alone. However, what we would do would be to take those members who joined as soon as China could allow membership and who were over a certain age at that point, and pay the dues for those people. It didn’t turn out to be that much money, and we, in effect, gave them all the benefits of being life members without actually changing the bylaws, and without making them official life members. So I established a relationship with a lot of the Chinese leadership, and that I used later on to try to open some of the doors to China. As result, I was also instrumental in getting the Macau section set up, when Macau reverted back to being part of China rather than Portugal. And a fourth thing in terms of this global direction was IEEE honors ceremony in my presidential year. The president leads the honors ceremony. The ceremony has some theme each year, and so they give the president an opportunity to establish what that theme is going to be. I said that I wanted a theme that was a global one, so I coined the little phrase “Making a Global Difference,” and that became our theme. If you want to take a picture of that later, you can.

Geselowitz:

I will.

Winston:

So that became our theme. And part of my reasoning for doing it grew out of the fact that I was finding these little global issues, like: hey, do I represent Canada or United States; and this mix-up of Puerto Rico and Canada and getting somebody from outside U.S.; and the situation at the Polish ceremony; and looking at the Chinese life member situation; and starting the Macau Section. I said, you know, what can be done? And then I noticed that if you take a look at the recipients of IEEE awards, you saw that there was somebody from Korea, somebody from Japan, somebody from India, somebody from the United States, somebody from here, somebody from there, and before you knew it you had real global representation. It was representative of what was going on in the world. And so I had, in a sense, a global perspective, and that became the theme then for the honors ceremony. We had flags representing all the countries, and it’s been said that the IEEE does a better job of working with the world than the United Nations. People at least do work together on a global basis, and so that was my theme. And that’s what I also carried through as part of my tenure as president. So just to summarize, I think what I accomplished was: getting people to start thinking strategically and stop all the nonsense about all these bylaw changes—I was only partially successful there; making a start in China; and starting to get people outside the country to recognize that we were a global organization.

Geselowitz:

Picking up on those themes, let me start with this question. Do you have a comment about the length of the board series, given all these things that go on, that you said that are nonstrategic, all the minutia the board deals with. The length of the board series increases the difficulty that makes in recruiting volunteers, especially outside of academia?

Winston:

Well, I’m not sure whether there is really that much difficulty in getting people to run for director position. I’ve heard that said, but I’m not sure. What seems to be more difficult is getting people to head up the different sections, different committees and things like that. But at the board level I personally am not seeing difficulty in getting people to run for director, whether they are academic or industrial. It’s certainly much easier for the academic, and you might extrapolate and say that’s going to discourage people who are from industry, but I really haven’t seen that myself. There are other things that can happen and should happen. I am currently a member of the governance committee, in which we have made some change as to how the board functions, and one of the charters, one of the things given to us by the board was actually to recommend changes to the board, and we’re currently involved with that.

USAB and IEEE-USA

Geselowitz:

Great. Following up on the global question, I’d like to delve a little bit into the, into the issue from a historical perspective. The AIEE started as a national organization. When the IRE started, even though it was started by Americans in the United States, they always had a vision of being a global organization, and when the merger took place, IEEE adopted that idea of being a global organization. However, that left American engineers without a national organization. So over time IEEE’s had to wrestle with that. They eventually formed USAB, which you mentioned earlier.

Winston:

Right.

Geselowitz:

USAB eventually evolved into IEEE-USA. Structurally, IEEE likes to say that having IEEE-USA over here frees up the rest of IEEE to be a global organization, but from an outside perspective, the fact that there is an IEEE-USA on top of the region structure, which the whole world shares, makes it look like the IEEE is favoring the U.S. So I wonder if you would delve a little more into the USAB question.

Winston:

All right. That’s partly a sensitive, and partly a difficult question. As a matter of fact, when IEEE-USA was created the question of having a national professional vice president was discussed. And it was said that there should not be such a position because that position, which was to be a global position, would be treading on the prerogatives of the national societies. So to respect the national societies the idea of setting up a vice president of professional activities as a global position was killed. That IEEE-USA. A mistake was made, at that time, and that was to call the head of IEEE-USA “president.” That has come back to haunt IEEE, and has come back to haunt many presidents. I remember the U.S. H1B visa question the first time it arose, and IEEE-USA acted hastily, and did not come back with the best response. It ended up embarrassing IEEE and it ended up embarrassing Joe Bordogna as president. The second year IEEE-USA was able to refine its position, which was a much more reasonable, well-thought-out position, and could be respected by all of IEEE, but the damage had already been done. And as far as the world was concerned, it was the president of IEEE who had made the initial response, even though it actually was the president of IEEE-USA. So that’s a mistake that was made.

The thing that I experienced as president in making presentations to the rest of the world was that it was very difficult to show an organizational chart in which IEEE- USA had the same relative position as publications, as regional activities, as technical activities, and so on, all these different functioning organizations on a global scale. It is very difficult to equate IEEE-USA at that same level. So I personally found it difficult to do that. And would try to explain it away. My own feeling is that IEEE-USA does some good for the U.S. engineer, and it could be the national society. There’ve been several attempts at national societies. They exist. None of them has really done that well, [in] so far as your electrical, electronic, and the fields of interest of IEEE. But such an organization could theoretically exist within IEEE, right? But I don’t believe it should be at the same level as the other major boards. First of all, its leader should not be called a president. It could be called a vice president, and it should be at a lower level than the existing board of directors right now. And why? Well, there happens to be an IEEE organization called a council which is a group of Sections but smaller than a Region. Where are they represented? The Japanese have had one for several years, and have said why can’t we have an IEEE-Japan? China is coming on board. They potentially have enough eligible members to effectively take over IEEE if we get them into membership. Why don’t we have an IEEE-China? Well, you certainly couldn’t have an IEEE- China unless Japan also had an IEEE-Japan. India, which it turns out has the second largest group of membership of any country, has always [been] in the background, and has always asked, why can’t we do something special? So it’s something that has to be solved, okay? My own feelings are that structurally you can accommodate them all, but you do have to change the relationship of IEEE-USA to the other parts of the board. There is another related issue that has to be reckoned with, and that is that the member—I’m not talking about the volunteer or the upper volunteer—has no idea what the cost of IEEE-USA is to that individual. There has been over the years an attempt to break it apart so that the U.S. engineer has an option as to whether to join it or not. We all know that if you can save money you’ll save money, and chances are if that ever happened that would lead to a great decline in IEEE-USA. So no one’s really pushed that forward. So that’s a potentially delicate issue that’s going to have to be faced at some point. And I think that’s about all that can be said at this point. The easiest thing to make a change right now would at least to get the title removed.

I have seen personally even more recently how that has created difficulty, right here in the Boston area. The public broadcasting system had produced this program on engineering projects, called “Design Squad,” and it has these young people doing projects. It was the first time anything of this sort had been done on a technical nature, engineering nature, on TV. And their director, whom I knew personally, called me up to say that she was going to meet with the IEEE president, and that she was on her way to Colorado. At that time the IEEE president happened to be at Purdue in Indiana, not in Colorado. What she was thinking of was the IEEE-USA president, and she did not know there was any difference. And so this kind of conflict is not good. EE Times, which is one of the more respected trade publications in our fields, also would always make reference to statements or comments of IEEE-USA as if they came from IEEE as a whole. So, despite progress, there is an ongoing issue.

Representation of Industry

Geselowitz:

Okay, I’d like to go back to another issue to which you alluded near the beginning of our conversation. You mentioned that you’re unusual, if not unique, in that you have both an industrial and an academic background.

Winston:

Right.

Geselowitz:

And you mentioned that industry used to be much better represented in IEEE than it is today.

Winston:

[Interposing] Oh yes.

Geselowitz:

I wonder if you would comment on why that is, and what we might do about it.

Winston:

Well I’m not sure I could give you all the reasons, but I think I could give you some. One is the fact [of] the publications. Let me back up and say and I didn’t tell you this, but that once I finished graduate school I first worked at MIT, but once I got out in the so-called real world, I joined many professional organizations. It must’ve been a dozen, because I was interested. My interests really are very broad, so I was a member of the Geophysical Union, the AIAA, the American Institute of Petroleum Engineers, etc., etc., etc. I didn’t stay with any of these. I stayed with IEEE. And I’ve asked myself, well, why did I stay with IEEE and not these others? Because I got involved! The fact that I could be involved kept me there. And so I think that’s very important. Rather than just being a member and keep sending in money and so on, if you’re not involved, if there’s nothing that really ties you to the organization, either you’re learning something from it or you’re contributing something to it, and in some way or other you’re involved with it, you’re going to get further and further apart, and you’re eventually going to break the bond. And that’s happened with industry. If you take a look at our publications and IEEE Xplore, the comment has been made many, many times that—with the practicing engineer perhaps being a little more than 50% of IEEE membership—why aren’t there publications that address industrial issues? The papers that are printed are very good. They’re peer-reviewed, but they’re at a very high academic level, very abstract and sometimes difficult for the practicing engineer to understand. The practicing engineer doesn’t necessarily have that depth of theory. The articles are very difficult for them to apply or use. So that’s one issue that works against our involvement with the industrial side.

The second is that when you’re faced with a problem in industry since really there are also financial things that are driving everything, time is important. You can’t have a long process. So to have a peer-review process that’s short and responsive would be necessary. So you can’t just say, oh, we’ll have an industrial kind of journal, and things like that. Because you need two kinds of journals. You need one of those that can give more review and something of a general nature to people to learn about different technologies. But you need something else which is more current and active. And that has a relatively short turnaround time. We don’t have this. So how is industry being engaged? Well, as I said earlier, at one time higher-ups—vice presidents and presidents of companies—participated, and they’re not now. Partly they’ve lost interest. They are under competitive pressures and they need to devote their time to other matters. Business is much more complex. It’s international, multinational, and maybe they don’t have that energy to put on association participation. They’re worrying about finances, about productivity, about losing people. So, how much are they gaining by spending valuable time going to an IEEE conference? Are they learning enough to benefit their company? What’s the trade-off? And it’s not clear to me anybody has really made that kind of trade-off. And so, little by little, that bond of having this industrial participation has really evaporated. We give all these awards, for example, how many awards have we given to the Intel people? And Texas Instruments? And so on, and even then, you don’t really see them participating that much, you know.

Geselowitz:

Is there any way, you think, to reengage them? Or the society has changed too much?

Winston:

Is it potentially reversible? I think it is. But I think that it might require a more fundamental restructuring of how IEEE is operated. And I don’t know really what I can say or not say at this stage, because these are the kinds of things that we’re actively looking into. You know, as I indicated before, one of the charters the strategic planning committee was given—in addition to all the bylaw type reviews—was to see what would be the most efficient and best thing for an organization like IEEE. Not that anything’s being done in this direction yet, but I’ll just throw out one example: If you wanted to get a Craig Barrett of Intel, or somebody like that, who might be able to spend some time on IEEE issues, might even become the president of IEEE, is he going to want to go through a election process? Is he going to want to run? Is he going to want to campaign? Is he going to want to face the embarrassment of perhaps losing? Is he going to want to spend time with a large board that perhaps is made up of people that don’t really have the experience that he has, and are talking about things that are not really strategic in nature, and are more short-term operational issues? Is he going to want to be engaged in that? So, you know, maybe part of the answer is the structure.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Winston:

I have to add, I guess, one more thing, and that is that IEEE is the kind of organization that an industrial multinational organization could take advantage of. They really could have a lot to gain. I mean, tell me what other organizations have this global reach? If they want to implement something, they want to educate someone, they want to spread the word, they want to do something all around the world, they could do it through IEEE. Just think, if you were a multinational corporation, as most of the major players are, how you could use that. But we’re not tapping into that.

Presidential Travel

Geselowitz:

I see. Another question I had is that, besides your accomplishments as president, another aspect [of the] role of the IEEE president is ceremonial and representational. I was wondering if any of your international trips stood out in your mind, as President Elect, President or Past President.

Winston:

I’m trying to remember…I did mention to you that I inaugurated the Macau section. And I did make some speeches in Beijing to celebrate the anniversary of their engineers becoming IEEE members. I was invited to talk there, and I got to know those leaders.

Geselowitz:

Yes?

Winston:

Oh yes, another interesting time: I was invited to go to Israel. At the same time, there was a student conference being held in a town in Germany. And this was primarily for students from Region 8, which is of course a very, very big region, and in addition there were going to be some people there from Region 9. And I elected to go to the student conference. I figured I’d go to the student conference, because the students, again, are our future, and I was hoping to really keep them involved and keep them encouraged - consistent with other things that I’ve said. And so I said that I would participate in the student conference. I had another potential reason why I thought the president should not be going to Israel at that time. And that is, I felt that if [the] IEEE president showed up in Israel, then by rights the IEEE president should also show up in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and a few other places, and that I did not want to put IEEE in an embarrassing situation that maybe it only went to one of the countries that were involved in the Middle East political dispute. But I never expressed that. I was more focused on the educational aspect. That turned out to be a very highly successful student conference, and a lot have come out of it in terms of follow-ons, in terms of in the activities. We even had a student from the Gordon Institute who came from Nigeria as a result of that. We set up something in Greece, I gave a lecture in Greece that students from all over the country—there were about 450 of them [that] attended, and there was great excitement. But in any event, though, this was a very dramatic kind of thing with these young people, and everybody was excited, and it went extremely well. So that certainly is something I remember.

Geselowitz:

Okay. Great. Anything else?

[End Tape 1, beginning of Tape 2]

Winston:

Okay. You asked me about memorable places where I might’ve gone, ceremonial or otherwise, and so there is one more I’d like to mention, and that was in Russia. I was invited to give a talk at the Popov Society, and Popov, as you know, is their scientific hero, and I guess competes with Marconi in other parts of the world. Anyway, I gave a talk which, to me, seemed somewhat obvious, but I guess it hadn’t been given at that time, and that was the fact that we’re going to be able to communicate with anybody, anywhere, at any time. And of course that’s what we’re doing nowadays, but I brought that as my theme, and I also tried to say how IEEE was shaping up and making that possible. So that was a very memorable event.

Career Highlights

Geselowitz:

Okay. Great. And also in terms of specific anecdotes, are there any other particular career highlights we didn’t touch on that you’d like to mention?

Winston:

Well I guess since I had this dual life of academia and industry, let me just say that on the academic side setting up the Gordon Institute was and is a great success. And in 2007 I was one of those who received the National Academy of Engineering educational award, along with two colleagues of mine who were also involved in the early days. I played a major role in designing the curriculum and developing the school, and I was the one who brought it into Tufts University. So that was a highlight, if you will, in terms of academic recognition. The head of the National Academy of Engineering, at that time, said something which I hadn’t realized. He said there is no Nobel Prize for engineering. I didn’t know that. He said so that this prize that the National Academy gives is the U.S. equivalent of what they can do in lieu of a Nobel Prize. So anyway, it made me feel good, because I’m not usually very emotional about these kinds of things. Okay?

On the industrial side, I do have several accomplishments that are in effect, worthy of being recognized. First of all when I was with Schlumberger I was given the assignment of logging the world’s hottest, deepest well. It had never been done before. And I was told that I don’t have to succeed. In fact, I don’t even have to accept the challenge if I don’t want to. I did. I asked for one particular technician, put a couple of weeks of work into it, determined the approach, designed the process, made the equipment, conducted the field measurements, and it was successful. And so I certainly earned a lot of publicity for the Schlumberger organization as well as, you know, acclaim for myself. And then when I got back up to the Boston area, there were two activities of note. One is that if you recall, the U.S. and Russia were always doing nuclear testing about the time that I came back, and it was always that, hey, we test, and then we call a test ban. Well, the Russians turned out to be the ones who quite frequently broke the test ban, particularly when they needed to get more knowledge and more information, so [the] U.S. was very leery about going into further agreements with them. Well, I started out by being interested in how you might detect such tests, and I came up with some theory. And I proposed it to the government, and I was able to implement it. They asked me to actually put together a design that could be implemented worldwide, and then they wanted to go out for bids to different companies around the country to actually implement it. So I formed a company that could also implement it, and although it was irregular, the Department of Justice made a ruling that it was so important to the country that I should be allowed to be a participant in the bidding, even though I had written all the specs and all the designs and everything else. Well, of course I got the contract. And I put together a worldwide system that got implemented, and gave, if you will, peace of mind to the U.S. government to go forth in their agreements. And it was quite a delicate thing, because you couldn’t have a failure to detect. On the other hand, if you had false alarms, and Washington and everybody else got up in arms, they would throw it away. And so I really had to do a lot of considerable engineering and thought, because this was the days that preceded digital signal processing. So we had to do it all by analog approach.

Geselowitz:

I see.

Space Effort Work

Winston:

Well, the next thing I’d like to mention is that in, oh, the early sixties, it looked like the whole space effort was going to going to be where the action was. I think Sputnik was ’57, and the space race was one of the things that brought me back from Houston into the Boston area. It was exciting to get back in the Boston area. And I actually knew that there was going to be a Russian object put into space, or attempted to be put in space a few days before Sputnik was actually launched, because I was part of that community to learn about these things. So I got very much interested in space activities and formed a group, a company to actually do space projects. And I got the contract to look at the heat shield that was being used for the lunar expeditions. Coming back from the moon had never been done before, and the kinetic energy was going to be greater than anything else that had been done, and they’re worried about the heat shield. So I came up with a system for monitoring the temperature of the heat shield. And of course it was to be used in the design and testing of the heat shield with animals and others, but it was so successful that it became part of all the Apollo launches, so that was an interesting experience.

Geselowitz:

Did you meet any of the astronauts, as part of this work?

Winston:

I did, and in fact I met somebody before he was an astronaut. And that’s Buzz Aldrin. Now, I don’t remember exactly how this started, but his father, Colonel Edwin Aldrin, was an old aeronautics guy, and he was one of the old Billy Mitchell aviators, and he knew all the old barnstormers. So he knew the heads of Lockheed and Grumman, all these people in the aviation industry. Anyway, he was also an aeronautical person from MIT and he took an interest in me, and he actually introduced me to all these aviation people. Well, one day I get a call from Edwin Aldrin and could I join him and his son at lunch at MIT? His son had been a Korean air ace. In fact some of his pictures were in, I think, Life Magazine, shooting down a MIG. And now he was attending school at MIT and going to get some kind of master’s degree. And could I join them for lunch? They’d like to talk about his future. So the three of us had lunch at MIT, and we’re trying to plan out what would be best for Buzz Aldrin. I remember myself saying, well, you know, you’ve got the science background and everything else, and you’re in the Air Force, so you should think about space. I knew some of the requirements for the astronauts, because I was personally interested, but a little too old, and hadn’t applied. So I said, why don’t you become a liaison between the Air Force and NASA? Well, he did more than become a liaison…he actually became an astronaut! So when he was one of those who landed on the moon, I sent his father a congratulatory telegram. I have not had any contact with Buzz Aldrin since, but I did feel that I played some part in encouraging him to become an astronaut. And, by the way, since then I have met Neil Armstrong. In fact, I have a picture here somewhere with Armstrong. I did meet some of the others, and I even met one of the Russian cosmonauts in the sixties!

Geselowitz:

How did that come about?

Winston:

I was sent to a conference in Paris, and the Russians were very heavily represented.

Board and Staff Relationship

Geselowitz:

I see. Since the focus of the interview is IEEE activity, I have one more follow-up question. I wonder if you’d like to say something about the relationship between the board and the staff, because as IEEE grew and became the world’s largest technical association, it couldn’t all be done by volunteers. They had to hire a large professional staff

Winston:

I’ll be glad to comment on that. By and large I think the IEEE staff are good, and they do play very important roles. Because the volunteers are just that…volunteers. They’ve got other things that are keeping them busy, and so the volunteers help, but the staff are really the ones that have to do most of the implementation. And the staff, in addition to doing implementation, are also the ones that really keep the historical continuity and everything moving, and they know what’s been good, what’s been bad, and so on. So staff are vital, and it’s been fortunate that IEEE staff have been good. But it has varied. There’s no question about it. I did have many opportunities to meet and work with staff at high levels. The year when I finished my year as president, and I was going to be past president, that was the year that the executive director had resigned. And so we started a search to find a new executive director. Well, of course we did find one, but he couldn’t come on board until November of 2005. So from [the] tail end of 2004, you know maybe a month or two into 2005 up to November 2005, I became the effective executive director of IEEE. I was the acting director. And this gave me many opportunities to interact with the staff, and I did find that there were variations in the experience level, maturity level. If I had to make a generalization about the average staffer, they knew their particular field, but they didn’t necessarily have business experience that IEEE could’ve benefited from. Some did, however, and by and large they were very good, so I was quite pleased with the overall staff, and I felt that part of IEEE’s success is, of course, from the fact there is a good staff. But more than a good staff, you need a team. And so I’d seen this team work, and in most cases it worked well. There were a few isolated cases, however, when it didn’t work, but by and large there’s been a very good cooperation and work between the staff and the volunteers.

Executive Director’s Position

And speaking about nowadays, which is now, again, close to the end of 2009, we have a new executive director who’s only been on board since April 2009, and as part of the governance committee, we have convinced the board to give more—I’ll call it responsibility, authority—to the new executive director. It’s not that such authority wasn’t there in terms of bylaws, but it was never carried out. The volunteers and the board got too much involved in operations, and really in effect inhibited the executive director from doing things that the executive director should be doing. So we’ve changed that. We’ve given a lot more responsibility and ability to operate to the executive director. You know, in principle the executive director has always been responsible for the staff. Well, now in truth the executive director is responsible for staff. And so I think we have a much better working relationship than we’ve ever had in terms of staff and volunteers.

Geselowitz:

And do you think a lot of this came out of your personal experience, the fact that you served for almost a year as acting executive director?

Winston:

Oh yes. And it gave me a lot of insight into certain operating arms of IEEE because one of the roles of the executive director was to keep IEEE functioning, but also look ahead, and as part of that process the executive director does a very thorough review of each of the functions within IEEE from a technical point of view, and from a financial point of view. So you get some very good insight as to what’s going on, and what should be going on, yeah.

Budgeting Process

Geselowitz:

Anything else that you recall from that year, or any things you had to deal with as executive director that you didn’t anticipate?

Winston:

Well, I don’t recall anything. I mean there was an issue from before that got solved not by me but the solution was implemented by me, and that was to change the way IEEE looks at its budgeting process.

Geselowitz:

In what way?

Winston:

The budgeting process was not a very good one, and it led us into trouble when the market went down, during the time when Bruce Eisenstein was president. We had a double-whammy, which we have since prevented. Not that the market doesn’t go down, like it has recently, but at least its damage to IEEE is limited and controlled.

Geselowitz:

And that’s by not relying on reserves for operation?

Winston:

Yes. Prior to that as part of the budget, anticipated market gains were included. And the argument was always that what was listed in the budget was always just a small part of what was really experienced, so don’t worry about it, it’d be very safe. And on the other hand the other side of the budget is what you’re spending, and so you would commit the funds, you spend the funds, and then when the market really went down, you didn’t have those funds, so it was like a double hit. And nowadays market gains or losses are put below the line, so you budget to a balanced budget, regardless of what the market is doing. Okay? And if the market goes down, well, then your reserves have gone down. If the market goes up, your reserves have gone up. But on the other hand, that hasn’t influenced the budget to the point of you making commitments with money that doesn’t appear.

Geselowitz:

I see.

Winston:

Yes. And I got involved in other things like trying to help TAB analyze how to handle infrastructure costs, treat big societies, small societies. There’s still a lot of problems within IEEE as regards the societies and how they’re organized, and what’s best for them, and how to set up an appropriate algorithm, so there’re still those kinds of issues, of course.

Current Activities

Geselowitz:

Okay. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you would like to speak about?

Winston:

Well you asked me about other activities, and I find IEEE to be the best organization of those organizations that I know about. You mentioned ASME earlier. And I know that several years ago I was asked by consultants for ASME as to what they could do to increase their membership. And then more recently I was consulted by them as to what they could do, because they wanted to become more global. And so I had advised them to get their name changed.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Winston:

ASME, but don’t be American. And so I’m involved in several activities, including the IEEE Foundation, the governance committee, and then I got called in to Region 1 by the new director for Region 1, because he too thought that the region, somewhat like IEEE, had never really had a strategic plan. So I prepared a strategic plan for Region 1, which I presented at the Region 1 meeting in August, and so far as I know, that’s been accepted, and that’s it. But it’s the first time a real strategic plan has been prepared for the Region to my knowledge. And I’m also involved with the United Engineering Foundation, which represents all of the founding engineering organizations, and I’m president of that in 2009, and I’ve been asked to be president of it in 2010 as well.

Geselowitz:

That’s great

Winston:

I think that I’ve included the different things I’m involved with. Oh, and I’m still continuing on in education. I’m co-chair with a representative from IBM of a conference we want to hold in April, in Dublin. And it’s really addressing education from the point of view that it’s too siloed and we need more multidisciplinary education. From IBM’s point of view it’s because IBM is a service business, and who teaches anything about service business? And so that’s where, you know, they’d like to hire people, and that’s a requirement in the U.S. certainly, and it’s also in other parts of the world, so we’re trying to set up a multidisciplinary conference that’ll also include people who represent the legal field, the business field, as well as the technical field. We’re going to appeal to people in academia, industry, and government.

Geselowitz:

And are you still involved in the Gordon Institute?

Winston:

I’m trying to retire from there. I found a replacement for the director’s position, and he’s been in his position now for a year and a half or two years. I’m still mentoring some students. So I put in, oh, maybe 10 percent time, essentially mentoring students.

Awards Box and Globalization

Geselowitz:

Okay. As a close, I’d like to film the awards box to which you referred earlier. Could you hold it up?

Winston:

Here it is. The logo says, “Making a Global Difference.” It’s from 2004, which was, of course, my year as president. And when it was sent to me actually a little note went along that said, “Arthur, a sponsored gift for you. Each president gets a gift from awards. This was last year’s theme, which you had chosen.” So it acknowledged that this was the theme that I had set up. And, as you can gather from other things that I’ve said, I had a sensitivity to it. And just to remind you, the sensitivity was due to the fact that someone had tried to state let’s get a president or somebody from outside United States. I had the experience with the Chinese, who couldn’t become life members, but wanted to. I had the experience with the Polish national society of engineers. I had experience of setting up in Macau their first section, and when they now became part of China again, and I could go on. And in fact I used some of the discretionary funds as president to actually open up the contacts with China that were later followed and pursued, so in effect I was always thinking globally, and I felt that I could because in a way I was a global person myself, having come from outside the United States, living in the United States, and in essence I have been around to most of the major countries of the world, and so I have hopefully a little bigger view. Well, then when it came time to set up a theme for the conference I also noted that the awards that we actually give out really are global. And so why don’t we make that our theme, because it really tied in with all these other things that I’ve been talking about, and we did. We actually set the stage with flags from all the different countries, and we focused, then, on the fact that IEEE is really a global organization and so each time that an award was given, we could highlight a particular country where the person came from and so on. And so it was a good demonstration that in practice IEEE really is a global organization, that innovation, technology is really worldwide, and IEEE is worldwide.

Geselowitz:

Yeah. Great. So with that note, thank you very much.

Winston:

Thank you.