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Oral-History:Elya Joffe

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==About Elya Joffe==
 
==About Elya Joffe==
  
Born in Johannesburg and raised in Haifa, Elya Joffe's career in EMC engineering began in defense.  Despite his intentions to major in biology, the science buff was sponsored by the IDF to undergo officer training and a rigorous engineering curriculum.  His natural aptitude for the subject was nurtured by professors and mentors, who recognized his potential in the burgeoning field.  Joffe's technical career remained anchored in defense, affording him opportunities to work and consult for such organizations as Lockheed Martin, Voice of America, and TOMER.  Simultaneously, he became an active participant in IEEE, beginning as a student who hesitantly presented technical papers, to a former president of the EMC Society who has published his own book on EMC--"The Grounds for Grounding."  For his dedicated work in both industry and IEEE, Joffe has received the prestigious IEEE "Larry K. Wilson" Trans-national Award, the "Lawrence G. Cumming Award for Outstanding Service" of the IEEE EMC Society, the "Honorary Life Member Award" of the IEEE EMC Society, as well as the IEEE EMC Society "Technical Achievement Award."  He is also recipient of the "Third Millennium Medal."
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Born in Johannesburg and raised in Haifa, Elya Joffe's career in EMC engineering began in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).  Despite his intentions to major in biology, the science buff was sponsored by the IDF to undergo officer training and a rigorous engineering curriculum.  His natural aptitude for the subject was nurtured by professors and mentors, who recognized his potential in the burgeoning field.  Joffe's technical career remained anchored in defense, affording him opportunities to work and consult for such organizations as Lockheed Martin, Voice of America, and TOMER.  Simultaneously, he became an active participant in IEEE, beginning as a student who hesitantly presented technical papers, to a former president of the EMC Society who has published his own book on EMC--"The Grounds for Grounding."  For his dedicated work in both industry and IEEE, Joffe has received the prestigious IEEE "Larry K. Wilson" Trans-national Award, the "Lawrence G. Cumming Award for Outstanding Service" of the IEEE EMC Society, the "Honorary Life Member Award" of the IEEE EMC Society, as well as the IEEE EMC Society "Technical Achievement Award."  He is also recipient of the "Third Millennium Medal."
  
 
In this interview Joffe describes his upbringing in Israel and early career aspirations; his service in the IDF as a gateway to his career in EMC; the series of mentorships that advanced his technical and theoretical understanding of the field; his defense consulting work in both the U.S. and Israel; and his efforts and accomplishments as the first Israeli president of the EMC Society.
 
In this interview Joffe describes his upbringing in Israel and early career aspirations; his service in the IDF as a gateway to his career in EMC; the series of mentorships that advanced his technical and theoretical understanding of the field; his defense consulting work in both the U.S. and Israel; and his efforts and accomplishments as the first Israeli president of the EMC Society.
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==Interview==  
 
==Interview==  
  
INTERVIEWEE: Elya Joffe
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INTERVIEWEE: Elya Joffe
INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz
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DATE: 9 August 2012   
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INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz
PLACE: Pittsburgh, PA
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ALSO PRESENT: Anat Joffe
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DATE: 9 August 2012   
 +
 
 +
PLACE: Pittsburgh, PA
 +
 
 +
ALSO PRESENT: Anat Joffe
  
 
===Early Life in Israel===
 
===Early Life in Israel===
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We were sitting there for hours, and he was explaining to me the response and failure modes and all that.  This whole thing lasted for about three weeks, and then I got to meet another engineer, Steve Jensen.  He was the one who actually supported the development of a solution.  We actually developed an interim solution to see if we could get the issue resolved.  So by the end of that visit, Jack and I became so much better friends that I was actually hosted by him and his wife at his home, and came for dinner there and occasionally slept up at their place.   
 
We were sitting there for hours, and he was explaining to me the response and failure modes and all that.  This whole thing lasted for about three weeks, and then I got to meet another engineer, Steve Jensen.  He was the one who actually supported the development of a solution.  We actually developed an interim solution to see if we could get the issue resolved.  So by the end of that visit, Jack and I became so much better friends that I was actually hosted by him and his wife at his home, and came for dinner there and occasionally slept up at their place.   
  
At the end of the visit, Jack gave me a book—I still have it today—by Kaiser.  I still remember it, An Introduction to Electromagnetic Compatibility.  And he said, “This is a gift to you.  Next time you come, you have an exam on that.”  Now, I was so terrified, I actually said, “Well, I better read through it.”  So I actually read through the whole book.  Looking at today's books, that book was very average level, but that was what was available then.   
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At the end of the visit, Jack gave me a book—I still have it today—by Kaiser.  I still remember it,'' An Introduction to Electromagnetic Compatibility''.  And he said, “This is a gift to you.  Next time you come, you have an exam on that.”  Now, I was so terrified, I actually said, “Well, I better read through it.”  So I actually read through the whole book.  Looking at today's books, that book was very average level, but that was what was available then.   
  
 
A few months later, I was assigned to go back because by that time, Steve Jensen had built a filter assembly to try and solve the problem. So there I go to follow up the test, and Jack says to me, “Well, did you get to read the book?”  I said, “Of course.”  He says, “So now you know what's happening, right?”  I said, “Kind of.”  So again, I asked questions on more and more things, and he was gracious enough to explain to me.
 
A few months later, I was assigned to go back because by that time, Steve Jensen had built a filter assembly to try and solve the problem. So there I go to follow up the test, and Jack says to me, “Well, did you get to read the book?”  I said, “Of course.”  He says, “So now you know what's happening, right?”  I said, “Kind of.”  So again, I asked questions on more and more things, and he was gracious enough to explain to me.
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I was chapter chair for a few years until 2003.  Under my leadership, we actually got the EMC Society "Most Improved Chapter of the Year" award.  In parallel, I started building my way in the Society.  I ran for the board.  I ran twice and I think I was elected only at the third time.  Someone told me usually you don't get elected the first time.  The name has to come through.  So I started running.  Failed the first year.  Put my name down, second year.  Third year, behold, there I am.  So I'm elected to the board.  I've no idea what's happening there.
 
I was chapter chair for a few years until 2003.  Under my leadership, we actually got the EMC Society "Most Improved Chapter of the Year" award.  In parallel, I started building my way in the Society.  I ran for the board.  I ran twice and I think I was elected only at the third time.  Someone told me usually you don't get elected the first time.  The name has to come through.  So I started running.  Failed the first year.  Put my name down, second year.  Third year, behold, there I am.  So I'm elected to the board.  I've no idea what's happening there.
  
The first meeting, I'm like a fish out of water, sitting, just listening.  And then I started making my way up there.  I was offered to take some positions.  I get to meet a person I only knew from the back of the books--that person named Henry Ott, right?  So I have his book at home, and there, suddenly, he's on the same board that I'm sitting [on] with Henry as the VP of conferences; and he offers me to chair a new committee under him as the global conference coordinator, and I find myself saying yes.  In parallel, Don Hairman, yet another icon of the Society, comes and says, "How would you like to be chair of the Standards Advisory and Coordination Committee, SACOM?”  That committee was inactive for many years.  “How would you like to rejuvenate it?"  I said, “Okay.”  
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The first meeting, I'm like a fish out of water, sitting, just listening.  And then I started making my way up there.  I was offered to take some positions.  I get to meet a person I only knew from the back of the books--that person named Henry Ott, right?  So I have his book at home, and there, suddenly, he's on the same board that I'm sitting [on] with Henry as the VP of conferences; and he offers me to chair a new committee under him as the global conference coordinator, and I find myself saying yes.  In parallel, Don Heirman, yet another icon of the Society, comes and says, "How would you like to be chair of the Standards Advisory and Coordination Committee, SACOM?”  That committee was inactive for many years.  “How would you like to rejuvenate it?"  I said, “Okay.”  
  
 
So I take those two committees.  I'm starting to maneuver between that.  And that leads me pretty much to the year 2000.  So now I'm involved in a lot and I'm running over here and over there.  At the year 2000, two things happen.  A) I'm elected as a distinguished lecturer of the society, which I felt was a great honor, sign of recognition.  The next thing, B) we have the board meeting in, I think Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and we have elections. I proposed myself down as VP for conferences.  I didn't believe it.  I was elected!  So now I become a VP suddenly, an officer of the board, and I'm in a leadership position.   
 
So I take those two committees.  I'm starting to maneuver between that.  And that leads me pretty much to the year 2000.  So now I'm involved in a lot and I'm running over here and over there.  At the year 2000, two things happen.  A) I'm elected as a distinguished lecturer of the society, which I felt was a great honor, sign of recognition.  The next thing, B) we have the board meeting in, I think Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and we have elections. I proposed myself down as VP for conferences.  I didn't believe it.  I was elected!  So now I become a VP suddenly, an officer of the board, and I'm in a leadership position.   
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The chapter coordinator then was the person who's president now, Ghery Pettit, and later on our paths crossed a little more in other elections.  But I said I wanted to challenge him on doing things.  However, I was on one of his committees, but because of my engagement in VP for member services, I just felt I couldn't.  I resigned from that position.  He too resigned from the position of the chapter coordinator, and Francesca Maradei, who later became president, became the chapter coordinator. And together we devised a plan how to build chapters.   
 
The chapter coordinator then was the person who's president now, Ghery Pettit, and later on our paths crossed a little more in other elections.  But I said I wanted to challenge him on doing things.  However, I was on one of his committees, but because of my engagement in VP for member services, I just felt I couldn't.  I resigned from that position.  He too resigned from the position of the chapter coordinator, and Francesca Maradei, who later became president, became the chapter coordinator. And together we devised a plan how to build chapters.   
  
I think—but I'm not sure I'm accurate—that when I became VP for member services, there were about 35 to 40 chapters.  When I ended my term as president, we had 70 or 71 chapters.  We built an approach, a proactive approach, to start building chapters.  I think we pretty much, in the course of about ten years or so, doubled the number of chapters of the Society—ten to 15 years, more or less.  And in that respect, I think the EMC Society has become a role model for other societies, and I truly take a credit for some of that.  Francesca also did a great job there as a chapter coordinator.  So it really went great there.  I loved that position.
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I think—but I'm not sure I'm accurate—that when I became VP for member services, there were about 35 to 40 chapters.  When I ended my term as president, we had 70 or 71 chapters.  We built an approach, a proactive approach, to start building chapters.  I think we pretty much, in the course of about ten years or so, doubled the number of chapters of the Society—ten to 15 years, more or less.  And in that respect, I think the EMC Society has become a role model for other societies, and I truly take a credit for some of that.  Francesca also did a great job there as a chapter coordinator.  So it really went great there.  I loved that position.
  
 
===Term as President of EMC Society===
 
===Term as President of EMC Society===
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Thank you both.
 
Thank you both.
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[[Category:IEEE|Electromagnetic]] [[Category:Technical units|Electromagnetic]] [[Category:Societies|Electromagnetic]]

Revision as of 18:56, 28 August 2013

Contents

About Elya Joffe

Born in Johannesburg and raised in Haifa, Elya Joffe's career in EMC engineering began in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Despite his intentions to major in biology, the science buff was sponsored by the IDF to undergo officer training and a rigorous engineering curriculum. His natural aptitude for the subject was nurtured by professors and mentors, who recognized his potential in the burgeoning field. Joffe's technical career remained anchored in defense, affording him opportunities to work and consult for such organizations as Lockheed Martin, Voice of America, and TOMER. Simultaneously, he became an active participant in IEEE, beginning as a student who hesitantly presented technical papers, to a former president of the EMC Society who has published his own book on EMC--"The Grounds for Grounding." For his dedicated work in both industry and IEEE, Joffe has received the prestigious IEEE "Larry K. Wilson" Trans-national Award, the "Lawrence G. Cumming Award for Outstanding Service" of the IEEE EMC Society, the "Honorary Life Member Award" of the IEEE EMC Society, as well as the IEEE EMC Society "Technical Achievement Award." He is also recipient of the "Third Millennium Medal."

In this interview Joffe describes his upbringing in Israel and early career aspirations; his service in the IDF as a gateway to his career in EMC; the series of mentorships that advanced his technical and theoretical understanding of the field; his defense consulting work in both the U.S. and Israel; and his efforts and accomplishments as the first Israeli president of the EMC Society.

About the Interview

ELYA JOFFE: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz for the IEEE History Center, August 9, 2012.

Interview #623 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:

Elya Joffe, an oral history conducted in 2012 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Elya Joffe

INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz

DATE: 9 August 2012

PLACE: Pittsburgh, PA

ALSO PRESENT: Anat Joffe

Early Life in Israel

Geselowitz:

Okay. This is Michael Geselowitz of the IEEE History Center, and I'm here in Pittsburgh at the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society's International Symposium. I'm interviewing EMC past president Elya Joffe and his wife, Anat Joffe. So Elya, if you could start by telling me about your early life, where you were born and your education.

Joffe:

Sure. I was born in South Africa--Johannesburg, South Africa--in March 1957--on March 22, '57--and actually, only my first five years or so past there, the age of six or actually a week before I turned six, my parents decided to immigrate to Israel. So basically you could say I'm Israeli. All my schooling took place in Israel. We lived there since 1962. We lived in Haifa, the northern port city. There I did my kindergarten, school, high school. In fact, my wife was in the same school I was, but of course I didn't know that yet. At least not for a couple of years.

I graduated from a very high quality school there called the Reali School. I majored in biology. Never thought of engineering. Never thought of sciences, except the life sciences. So I majored with honors from the high school in biology, and I pretty much saw my future as a marine biologist. That's where I was going, and I knew it as a fact. My thesis at the end of school was on biology. Actually, on microbiology. So nothing especially eventful happened through my schooling. And of course you're free to ask more if there's more of interest to you.

IDF Service and Technical Education

Geselowitz:

Then after high school you presumably went into the Israeli military initially.

Joffe:

Of course. That's mandatory, actually, I did the three first years in an operational unit dealing with communication, so that was my first interaction with technology, but as an operator, not like a field guy. Can't speak too much to details on that, obviously. And that was kind of funny. I almost finished the three years, and they said to me, “How would you like to go and learn engineering?” So, “Hmm, I never thought about that, really.” It turned out that the Air Force, which I was serving in, was in a great, urgent need of engineers, and they were looking for people with the proper potential to fill in that gap, and they made a special program, which you go through engineering school in two-and-a-half years.

That's, by the way, when I met Anat, just in the middle. Actually, almost at the very beginning of it. So I went into the program. I said, “If the Air Force gives you a job and pays the salary and pays for the studies, you don't ask twice.” When you get such an offer, you seize the opportunity. Biology can always wait.

So at that point, I actually had my first interaction coming from a totally theoretical background. I suddenly find myself in engineering school in a program, which was terribly rushed up. We started with about 50 and we ended about 20-something people in that program. It lasted for two-and-a-half years. And I graduated with a fairly good mark. I had 0.6 points from graduating with honors. That's what I was missing, out of 100 points.

Geselowitz:

Do they have their own courses, or did they send you to ones at the university?

Joffe:

Oh, no, it was a university.

Geselowitz:

Which?

Joffe:

The Ben-Gurion University in Be'er Sheva. The whole idea was they did not want their own school. They wanted to have a regular, recognized degree; only that they decided what topics we would learn, which were elective topics because obviously the regular, mandatory ones we did the same as the regular students. The only thing was, we didn't learn on campus. Because of the condensed program, we couldn't synchronize ourselves with a regular program, so we studied in a certain Air Force base, and the teachers came to us. And then once a week we would go off to campus.

There was a time that Anat also started studying in the same university, so it was kind of neat. We learned in the same university, but in two locations, about 80 kilometers apart. So for one year we lived in the dorms in the university, and I had to travel away from the university, and then come back at night. Later on, Anat moved to Tel Aviv University, and I moved to the north, and I traveled to school. So that was two-and-a-half years of extremely condensed studies, focused on communication technology, actually.

I was supposed to be a communications engineer, dealing with radio communication systems and design and installation, focused on the interests of the air force. Also, they taught us engineering management. The Air Force wanted people who knew engineering, but could also deal with program management because obviously they thought we were not going to design the circuits. We were going to develop programs.

Actually, I found it very useful later on--in all the work I was doing. At the end, I actually got two certificates. One, the graduation from the university, and that was at pretty much at the end of '81; and we got another certificate from the Air Force as graduates of the Air Force program, and that actually was handed by the commander of the air force then.

Now, all this time, I was not an officer yet, and I actually started it as a sergeant. I finished it as a sergeant major. It's like I climbed through the ranks during the course of the studies, and then I had to go to the Officers Course because in the air force, in the Israeli Defense Forces in general, when you're an academic, you must be an officer. There are very few exceptions to that, so I had to sign that I agreed to go to the Officers Course afterwards.

Mrs. Joffe:

And you forgot to say that you excelled all the way, from being a regular soldier to being sergeant major, and then Officers Course; you also finished with honors.

And I am very objective.

Joffe:

That is correct.

Geselowitz:

Were the military promotions based on other activities that they based promotion in general on, or was that also based on your scholastic performance in that special program?

Joffe:

It's partly based on how much time, but I never got the ranks on time. I always got them earlier. The only rank I got on time was the second lieutenant because you get it at the end of the Officers Course. All the others were, like sergeant, which I got almost a year in advance. It was supposed to be about two years until you get—I got it a year earlier, and so forth. And Anat is correct. I actually have on my wall certificates of, well, I guess, excellence, because it's simply a motto of mine. You do something, you do it well, or you don't take it upon yourself at all.

Mrs. Joffe:

Yes, when we got married, you could do all the equations by heart, without writing them down. We used to go to the movies, and he used to sit like that. His head was not in the movies, apparently, and all of a sudden he said, “Yes, I got it.”

Geselowitz:

Anat, what was your field in university?

Mrs. Joffe:

I studied English literature and linguistics, and I'm an English teacher.

Geselowitz:

Ah, okay. So different, different realm.

Joffe:

Very. Perhaps it's best.

Geselowitz:

I'm the same with my wife, but this is your interview. I'll tell you after.

[General laughter]

Geselowitz:

So when you graduated from officer training school, and you got your second lieutenant bars, what happened next?

Joffe:

Of course, in the officers’ course we have first the physical training. That's three months. You don't get the ranks yet. Then you go to additional Air Force training. That I graduated with honors again. I was the—what's it called?

Mrs. Joffe:

“Honored.”

Joffe:

The “Honored Graduate.” So I got the ranks presented by the head of human resources--the general who led human resources in the Air Force. So that was very touching. My parents didn't know. I knew already in advance it was going to be. I kept it as a surprise for my parents.

Mrs. Joffe:

And your mother said, “It's my son, listen, it's my son.”

Joffe:

Yes, she was so excited about it. And so at that time, once I finished that, I was called back to the unit that I served in, and now I start working in engineering. I was assigned to the Air Force system division, to the group that dealt with airborne COMNAV systems—communication navigation systems. And there I served as an engineer responsible for system integration on aircraft. I obviously can't go into my detail of what I did, but the general thing was to have new systems designed, to integrate them in the existing systems, and make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Mrs. Joffe:

And then your love affair with America began.

Joffe:

Yes, and that's the point that's led me to EMC.

Learning EMC at General Dynamics

Geselowitz:

I was going to say that it's clear if you're doing aircraft systems, EMC is going to be critical.

Joffe:

Yes, but I didn't know how to spell the word EMC at that point. I knew what communication was. I knew that occasionally we had interference, but it's okay; you know, you live with that. The EMC community in Israel then was so small. I mean, there were probably two or three gurus and that's it. And in the Air Force, we had no EMC engineering department, no one knew the word.

And what happened? I was assigned to a certain program and at that point I was asked to be the designer of the system on that aircraft. So literally I designed the wiring, everything on that system. In parallel, and that's where the whole ordeal begins, I was assigned to the Israeli F-16 program, and I got to start traveling to the US to visit what was then called General Dynamics Fort Worth Division, now called Lockheed Martin Fort Worth Division.

So here's the issue. We are going to install some radio on the aircraft, high power radio. And they say, you know, we really shouldn't leave the American guys to do the work alone. We should assign some engineer to follow up the tests. Besides, because I was working on COMNAV, we got to meet the US guys coming to Israel, to what we called GDIO, General Dynamics Israel Office. One day I'm introduced to one of those guys. His name is Jack Moe. Actually John Moe, but everybody called him Jack from—he was the chief EMC engineer of Lockheed Martin--then General Dynamics.

We got to speak a little about integration of the COMNAV system, and then there was that radio system that we had to install. And we are sitting together in conference, and the Israeli Air Force person says to Jack, “We want you to do the integration work.” And he says, well, “Number one, I need a liaison from your air force.” So, they look at me in the corridor, and they say, “You're the guy.” So here I get assigned to the COMNAV program of the F-16 to deal with that particular thing.

Then they say to Jack, “We want you to commit the budget, how much you need to solve the problem, because we anticipated problems with the high power transmitter.” So Jack says, “I will not commit the budget. I'll tell you how much I charge for studying the problem. Then we will see how much it costs to solve it.” Fair enough. So now starts the study. Guess who gets to travel to Fort Worth? Of course, I do.

So I'm assigned now for travel to Fort Worth, to the Fort Worth Division. By that time, Jack and I became good friends. When he was on a visit in Israel, I took him on a tour to Masada, which is, by the way, a whole interesting story because--I won't go into too much detail--but when I took him to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, and he saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, he actually couldn't believe I could read them. And he just was amazed even more when I said, “There's no problem. Let's read them.” It's the same Hebrew we use today. So we became really good friends since--beyond professional colleagues.

And here comes the time I'm traveling to Fort Worth to follow those tests. Anat was not with me then. It was real business travel on behalf of the Air Force. So every day we were sitting there on the line—and he's setting up that crazy set-up. I didn't understand. They installed that radio on a US Air Force aircraft. Obviously our aircraft were all on paper.

And here funny things started happening. They key the radio, and I see the flight control surfaces start fluttering and all displays in the cockpit start going wild and lights are coming on and off in the cockpit, like a Christmas tree, you know? Flickering lights. We actually call it now the “Christmas tree effect.” I look there, leaning on the aircraft, then suddenly I felt the whole aircraft rumbling, and then I looked, and I saw the surfaces moving. I was in state of shock. I mean, why are you starting the aircraft when I'm leaning on it? But actually, the engine was not even working!

So Jack said, “Look, I see you're stunned, especially that when the pilot was speaking or the test pilot was speaking on the radio, the movement of the surfaces was modulated by his speech, so you could fly by speech, right?” I mean, that thing was amazing. I was shocked. I said, “Look, Jack, I have no idea what's happening here. I just know: A, this is dangerous. B, I need to understand this.”

Jack sat me down. He was the Chief EMC engineer but he took the time, and actually started drawing kinds of figures; which, by the way, I still have up to today, and I'm speaking about 1984 and back even earlier. I've kept those for almost 30 years already. He started drawing, and he said, “You see, this is the radio field. By the way, we call this electromagnetic interference.”

“Okay. Interference makes sense. Electromagnetic I understand, I learned antennas and radio, but what's this all about?” He says, “Look, you know the fields couple, cause currents? Current?”

“Current, yes, but how does it make the surfaces move?”

We were sitting there for hours, and he was explaining to me the response and failure modes and all that. This whole thing lasted for about three weeks, and then I got to meet another engineer, Steve Jensen. He was the one who actually supported the development of a solution. We actually developed an interim solution to see if we could get the issue resolved. So by the end of that visit, Jack and I became so much better friends that I was actually hosted by him and his wife at his home, and came for dinner there and occasionally slept up at their place.

At the end of the visit, Jack gave me a book—I still have it today—by Kaiser. I still remember it, An Introduction to Electromagnetic Compatibility. And he said, “This is a gift to you. Next time you come, you have an exam on that.” Now, I was so terrified, I actually said, “Well, I better read through it.” So I actually read through the whole book. Looking at today's books, that book was very average level, but that was what was available then.

A few months later, I was assigned to go back because by that time, Steve Jensen had built a filter assembly to try and solve the problem. So there I go to follow up the test, and Jack says to me, “Well, did you get to read the book?” I said, “Of course.” He says, “So now you know what's happening, right?” I said, “Kind of.” So again, I asked questions on more and more things, and he was gracious enough to explain to me.

Mrs. Joffe:

Well, ever since we have been traveling to the States every year, attending the EMC convention; and when my daughter was born in 1988, we came with her, and she grew up with the convention, from the age of six months till she was 16.

Joffe:

Yes, but by that time, I didn't even know that there was the EMC Society yet. This was, like, really a beginning. And that goes again to Jack. I said to him, “Do you know, we have a question about static electricity on aircraft, and could you explain to me something about those discharges at the end of the wings?” And, again, he did that, and he said, “Do you know, I think that you need to put together a paper on it.” We were developing that for another aircraft, which in parallel I was working on. And he says, “I'll help you to do it, but I think you should present it.” I was asked to present it at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, I believe, in Utah. He said, “I'll help you to prepare the presentation.” I had no idea how to prepare a presentation. So at that time—I think that was about 1983 or so—he said, “Just put something down.”

So I put a presentation down, and afterwards he sent it back to me, and he actually put it in a form of a paper. And he showed me all the drafts that I sent him and how he went through it until he got to the end. So he kind of mentored me as to how to put a paper together. And then he said, “Do you know, there is that conference by the EMC Society?” EMC Society? I didn't know about it, but that was, he said, in San Diego. He said, “You ought to think about presenting your paper there.”

MELECON and Student Membership

Joffe:

And now a flashback because I forgot--I actually skipped the part where I first started getting active in IEEE. So I'll go back now, I guess, if it's okay. Now this, this goes back to my studies. Of course I had to do the thesis at the end of my studies, and there was that Russian—ex-Russian—professor, and he said, “I'm looking for a student to do a thesis on the topic”--I still remember—“rapid measurement of oscillation's decrement assisted by structural properties.”

I put that paper, that thesis together, and then he says, “Do you know, we ought to present it in a conference.” I said, “What conference?” He said, “The IEEE conference called MELECON ‘81,” the Mediterranean Electrotechnical Conference, and that was the first one.

Now, the time, by the way, was just after Israel signed the peace treaty with Egypt.

So I said, “Well, a paper. Okay.” So I put down what I thought was a paper, which was basically a summary of a thesis and a couple of pages, and of course I had a partner there, and the professor. He made us put our names first and his name last. And there I come, presenting that paper in that conference. Now, Anat came with me. We were not rich to say the least. I just finished my university courses and was not even an officer yet. Just about to be. We're getting ready to go to the Officers Course. So we had very little. A young couple, just married.

Mrs. Joffe:

Oh, yes, we didn't even have a car!

Joffe:

We didn't have a car.

Geselowitz:

Where was the conference held?

Joffe:

In Tel Aviv.

Geselowitz:

In Tel Aviv?

Joffe:

Yes. I remember we went there to the conference. I was dressed in a suit and a tie. Then we had to change. It was casual clothes to take the bus back home. Kind of funny. Like, you know, Cinderella became plain again. We became like the character from Cinderella. Just, you know, just the dirty old guys again taking the bus back while everybody else was staying in the Hilton Hotel there.

Anyhow, I presented that paper there, and the professor was looking around. He was so proud about the presentation. Then I got to meet the Egyptian delegate there because that was after the peace treaty, and I thought that was great, that the IEEE allows those who were in the past enemies to actually get together and speak. And she was so nice, and [said] "We hope you come to Egypt sometime"…That was pretty neat.

So, after that, I joined IEEE as a student member. And I figured I didn't know what benefit I would have there, really. I mean, okay, I got the discount to go to the conference. That seemed good enough, but what do I do with it? I had no idea. I just joined the IEEE, no society at that time. I had no awareness of societies whatsoever. I had no awareness of sections. I just knew there was that big thing there called IEEE.

So I figured, well, okay, I see they have conferences. It seems like a good cause, so let's do it. I actually was a member for a few years, and then with the Officers Course, I dropped my membership because I figured that I couldn't do anything, and it was expensive for me. Again, we were just at the beginning of our professional life, and it dropped for a few years. Not for too many.

When did I renew again? That goes back to the story with my friend, Jack Moe. So there he says to me, “I'll help you make that paper become a conference paper.” The one on the static electricity…Where can I present it--is that conference in San Diego, 1984 or '86 was it?

Mrs. Joffe:

'86.

Joffe:

'86, right. So it's 1986. I still remember the Town and Country Hotel. We had that conference there, and I thought the event was huge. Of course we met the people there. I think the President of the EMC Society then was Lenny Carlson-- I'm not sure. And that was the first time I got to know there was actually that society that ran this conference.

By that time, I was already a member of a couple of IEEE societies on and off. I was trying my way around, so I joined the Communications Society because I dealt with communications, only to realize that it was highly scientific. I didn't understand anything.

Geselowitz:

So that was mainly to get the publications that you joined societies?

Joffe:

Actually, I didn't know why. I just figured at that time that perhaps I ought to join a society to see a little more because, okay, I got IEEE Spectrum and all that, but I was really just trying my way around. So I was joining that, and then I dropped. Then I joined the Antennas and Propagation Society, and, no, I was working with antennas, but I wasn't designing. I dropped that. Then there were others, I just couldn't find my home in IEEE. Really, I couldn't. And then I got to that conference on EMC. Hmm, I'm working on this, and do you know, I think this is going to be a good home.

Mrs. Joffe:

Location.

Finding the EMC Society

Joffe:

So I joined the EMC Society at that point, and I barely knew anybody. Jack was not a member of the EMC Society, but he came to the conference, so at least I knew him. I barely knew anybody else, and I was looking there. I was really lost. Totally lost. So I went to sessions. I figured that the biggest thing is to be in the sessions, listen to papers--barely understanding anything because many of them are highly scientific, and I'm just a novice in the field, right? All I knew is that you transmit and you get surfaces going and lights flickering. I mean, that's all I knew truly about EMC, and I knew that there was that issue about static electricity. So it's kind of really bizarre to me.

And Maxwell's equations, I heard something about that at the university. I actually completed that course with a 95 out of 100, almost a straight A, but did I understand it? No way. Okay, I could recite them. I had no real understanding of them. By the way, I saw no relationship between EMC to Maxwell's equations. I just thought that's bizarre and there’s engineering or science, and there's no connection between the two.

So I survived that conference. I remember we had a few socials, and again, we barely knew anyone. I passed by the president, and I said to him, “Hi.” And he didn't even look at me. Like, "Who are you?"--you know? And I think it was Lenny Carlson. I'm not sure. And who are you? So it's sort of embarrassing, you know? I felt, like, out of my way; but anyhow, nevertheless, I felt I must keep on going. So then a couple of years later, well in1987, we attended…

Mrs. Joffe:

Oh, I didn't come then. It was in Seattle.

Joffe:

That's right. And then I went there, and I, I started going regularly. Actually since then I missed only one. That was the 1991 in Cherry Hill.

Mrs. Joffe:

That's right.

Joffe:

Because of the Gulf War in Israel. So the Gulf War was just before, but all businesses were closed for weeks because of the rockets and all that. That was the one I didn't attend because I had to make up work. But otherwise I attended every one.

I was trying to get papers through, and so regularly I would see the same people and obviously get acquainted. I thought the whole essence of the EMC Society was you get the transactions, put them on the shelf because [you] don't understand them really. Get the newsletter, which has a little information. Okay. So you get to see the faces and relate to them, but it didn't mean you knew everyone.

The leaders of the Society seemed to me to be almost gods, and you can't get close to them. Right, I mean they are up there, and I'm this small one down here. Okay, I’m a captain—captain in the Israeli Air Force—but well, okay. Anyhow, I said…

EMC Engineering for the IDF

Geselowitz:

Let me just interrupt and ask you one question.

Joffe:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

There must have been, because of the nature of EMC, also officers from other countries, from their air forces and navies?

Joffe:

I don't know. Yes, I'm sure there were, but I was very careful not to disclose that I'm an officer in the Israeli Air Force. I know I met officers from the air force, the US Air Force, so probably from other countries as well, but I don’t remember it.

Mrs. Joffe:

And the US Navy.

Joffe:

Yes, but we never introduced ourselves as such.

And then I was assigned in Israel as an Air Force officer to a new program, which was coming up. That was at about 1986. Oh, before that, I was assigned to the Israeli Lavi project, L-A-V-I. The Lavi was an Israeli designed aircraft, which was supposed to be the substitute for the F-4s. And it looked fairly much like an F-16, and it was supposed to be 100% Israeli. So I was assigned to the program office—guess what—as the EMC engineer.

By that time, A) they already realized that if there's someone who understands one or two things about EMC, and not much more than that, it was me. And, B) I was showing interest. So they assigned me to be the Air Force liaison to the program office on EMC. I was trying to put on an act like I really understand, but I was trying to learn from everybody, really. I started going to courses at that time.

There were short courses taught by a few of the icons. One of them was Oren Hartal, still a good friend of mine and the oldest practicing EMC engineer in Israel right now, and interestingly enough, a good friend of Jack Moe also. So rings were closing. I took a course from him in Israel, a five day course that the Air Force ordered, actually. So then I started getting a deeper understanding of what EMC is. And whenever there was a short course or tutorial in the conference, I'd go there.

So anyhow, I was following the Lavi project until they decided to close the project down. They decided eventually for various reasons to close the program down. So then they assigned me to a new project. The US was planning to construct and operate a new radio relay station in Israel for the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Liberty. It was supposed to be the largest broadcast station in the world, and the reason was of course to overcome the Iron Curtain, to be able to transmit and overcome the jamming by the Soviet Union then; but it was also supposed to transmit to North Africa and Southeast Asia to overcome all the bad guys, so to speak.

I was assigned to that because there was a major concern. The station was supposed to be ten or 20 miles away from the main training area of the Air Force where fly-by-wire aircraft train, and that station had 16 transmitters, each of them half a megawatt in power, and antennas with gains of 24, 26 dB, transmitting in 360 degrees. So they figured it would be upsetting for the Air Force, and I was assigned to do the first investigations of whether the Air Force can live with that station.

So I started doing some calculations and putting some assessments there, and then I became assigned to the meetings with the Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, Voice of America office to go and start saying how we address it. Of course, now I'm from the concerned side so I put down those very conservative assessments. In parallel, we were doing some measurements, and in between there I finished my term in the Air Force. I decided not to continue for different reasons.

I finished the Air Force as a captain. I was nominated as major. Actually, I served in the seat of a major for a year, but never got the rank, which was okay with me.

EMC Work at TOMER

Joffe:

So there I go, and I was offered a job in the UK in an antenna and static electricity company. At that time, I felt I wanted to try something overseas, so I said, “I'll take it.” So I just said, “Yes,” and they said, “We need to run the paperwork to get your approval for work permits in the UK.” So I said, “I need to live on something,” so I took some interim job in a company that develops power supplies in Israel and, of course, I kind of started understanding EMI in power supplies then. That was not the job I was assigned to do there, but I did some work on EMC there because I wanted to.

So that lasted for, like, a half a year, and in between my paperwork for the UK got stuck. So, for a half a year or so, they actually paid me some money to wait for them. I actually wrote a paper for a conference, and they said, we'll pay you if you put our name on that as your company. So I submitted that paper, and it was accepted. I got to present it.

And by that time, the whole thing crashed. So I was out of a job, starting to look for one, and then the guys from the Voice of America project said--actually it was an Israeli version of VoA called TOMER, T-O-M-E-R--Transmission of Middle East Relay—“How would you like to come and work for us?” Now, they knew me because I worked against them in the Air Force, right? So they said, “You know, if you're open for an offer, how would you like to join us as the EMC engineer of our program?” I took the offer—I had no hesitations.

Look, I needed the job. I knew a little because I wrote the reports against the project, which I had to deal with now because I said, “Okay, here are the concerns.” Guess who signed off on them, right? Moi.

So I had to start dealing with those. Also, now I had to start learning new things because now we're speaking about the whole system and starting to deal with it. How do aircraft respond to such interference? So here came out a paper for the 1989 EMS symposium, which was in Denver. Next year the symposium is also in Denver. That was my first symposium there. I still remember the title, “Out of Band Response of VHF/UHF Airborne Antennae.”

We did some tests and published it, and then I have a recollection of a guy named Bob Heft. He's still in the Society. He's fairly old now. I haven't seen him here. And there I present the paper. I'm terrified as ever, and that guy always asks all the speakers difficult questions, and be assured, I finish my paper, and he gets up. My heart sinks because I showed some results that I could explain, and some results, I said, I cannot explain. And he says, “I have the explanation for you.” Rather than asking me an open question, he actually asked me, “Do you think it could be that and that?” So he actually filled that gap for me. Since then, we became good friends. So then by that time, I started, started feeling comfortable in the conference.

Joining EMC Israel Chapter

Joffe:

Actually, a few months before, I attended another conference in Japan. Our daughter was then very young. She was born in 1988, October 1988. And just a few months later was that conference in Japan, and I submitted a paper there. That one I think was on chattering relays or something like that. I didn't think it was a very smart paper, but Jack Moe helped me to put it into shape again; I was kind of still relying on his help.

And there I met Lenny Carlson again, who was the president, and he says to me—I don't know if it was then or before, I can't remember exactly—he says, "Wow, I see you're actually serious. You come to all these symposia." So suddenly he says, "Do you know, if you are so serious, I'll tell you what you must do. You must start getting active in your chapter." “Chapter?” I asked. "You must have a chapter in Israel. Start working your way up. Become secretary, treasurer or something like that, and I promise you, you will become Society President sometime." Run for the board--me? With all those guys? No, you got to be joking, right? But at least now he was speaking to me! So, so then, I thought it was amazing because he was really ignoring me for years. Like, who are you, you know? And then I said, “Okay.”

So I go back to Israel, and I contact Oren Hartal, who was the IEEE EMC Israel Chapter chair, and I said, “Do you know, I would like to come to the meeting.” So we have that meeting. I still remember where it was. It was in the House of the Industry, as it was called, in Tel Aviv, in the offices of a company called Ortra, which dealt with conferences. And they were handling IEEE in Israel. So we held a meeting there.

There were about 14, 15 people, and now we have elections for officers. Guess what? I'm volunteering to be secretary. Okay. Didn't have much secretariat work to do, but you have to start from somewhere because that company Ortra were actually doing all the secretariat work. But I said, “I have to show I held some position, right?” So there I am, in that position, and things go on for a few years. I go to a few more conferences. 1990 I think was in Washington, D.C. for the first time, and then 1991, which we did not attend. That was the Gulf War. So anyhow, we go on, and nothing really major happens. I try to get a paper into each of those symposia, and even the ones in Japan, the Japanese one was, like, every five years, so '89 was the first I attended, and the next one was '94 and so forth. Anat joined me to most of those. Our daughter, when she was…

Mrs. Joffe:

Excuse me?

Joffe:

Not Japan.

Mrs. Joffe:

No.

Joffe:

The United States, after our daughter became a half year old or so. That was the first symposium our daughter actually attended.

Mrs. Joffe:

Yes.

Joffe:

So we still remember flying through Heathrow, and there she jumps out of the stroller. We took her to every symposium except the one in the Gulf War year.

Mrs. Joffe:

That's why she's now exempt from English at the university.

Joffe:

Yes, and everybody knew her here. So they saw her, and she was growing with the symposium. Actually, the photographer of the Society made sure to take a photograph of her year after year, and then I have a collage of her actually, through all the years of the symposium.

Geselowitz:

Is she pursuing a technical career?

Joffe:

Oh, absolutely not.

Mrs. Joffe:

No, no.

Geselowitz:

Okay.

Joffe:

I actually asked her, “Would you like to be an engineer?” She said, “No way.” [Laughter] “Not at all.”

Mrs. Joffe:

She's going to study psychology.

Joffe:

Yes. So, anyhow, she was coming, and Anat was joining me at the symposium thereafter with Tami, our daughter. Tami-Lee, I should say. And what we would do is come for a week to the symposium and then travel for a few more weeks. It was kind of a good opportunity.

Mrs. Joffe:

Now it's my turn to say, he was always busy. I was not to interrupt him. I never knew where he was. And I had to find ways to entertain myself and her. And that's how it went, until today.

Joffe:

Until today.

Geselowitz:

Did you get friendly with other spouses who were also regular attendees?

Mrs. Joffe:

Yes, yes, of course. And then when she grew up a little bit, we started going on the tours, and yes, I got to know many people here. Well, the women spouses, but also some men, and it's very interesting. And you know what? It even helps me professionally because every time I come here, I learn new words, new vocabulary, new expressions. I write them in my little notebook, and I have a lot to present, coming back home.

Geselowitz:

Did your daughter ever participate? EMC has--I think it's unique; it's certainly unusual--a youth technical program for children. Did she ever participate in that?

Mrs. Joffe:

Yes.

Joffe:

Always.

Geselowitz:

Did she enjoy it, even though she did not become an engineer?

Mrs. Joffe:

Yes.

Joffe:

Yes, she liked it.

Geselowitz:

I think that's a brilliant idea.

Mrs. Joffe:

Oh, yes.

Joffe:

Absolutely.

Mrs. Joffe:

With the great Amy Pinchuk.

Geselowitz:

Yes.

Joffe:

It actually started in Montreal in 2001. That was the first that she organized, and our daughter loved it because she liked going with the children, and then they would take them through a tour of the exhibit area. And they would make those gadgets and things. In fact, some time later, I said to her, “How about writing a short article for the newsletter?” Now, by that time, already, she could write English, and I spoke to her only in English, so she became fluent in English, and I helped her to put that little newsletter article together. "The Symposium from a Child's Perspective." And she actually wrote it. There's kind of a column like that about how she saw it, and her dad is of course, at the "bored" of directors, B-O-R-E-D, of directors meeting.

Geselowitz:

[Laughter]

Joffe:

So she wrote it intentionally, so in parentheses, she wrote B-O-A-R-D, so they knew she actually could spell it correctly. She actually loved it because she liked going through the exhibit area, collecting the goodies, and all the exhibitors got to know her also, because every year she would come. And she always used to hang along with the kids of Joe Butler; his daughter and she became good friends. So they'd meet regularly. So the spouses would meet, and the kids would meet and always like that.

Mrs. Joffe:

Yes, we even had a babysitter when we needed to go to a society function for the evening, when they have no kids there.

Geselowitz:

So there were older children along who could babysit?

Joffe:

Some.

Mrs. Joffe:

Even people from the convention who weren't going to the function stayed with them.

Joffe:

Yes. Flo Haislmaier was willing to stay, and she liked taking care of them.

So anyhow, that's kind of forward, but, you know, things are inter-wound in a way. Actually, at that time when I was working for Voice of America, I actually worked for the company I work for today, which is a consulting company. So I worked in Voice of America as a contractor.

EMC Research and Environmental Politics

Joffe:

Now, I might be a--what is it called?--"project closer," because after I was on the Lavi project and it closed down, the Voice of America project closed down; and I learned about that when I was walking in town and a friend of mine says, "Do you know the Voice of America program closed down?" That's how I learned about it. We were doing a lot of EMC work there, unique work, because there are villages around, and people were concerned about the radiation hazard. We were developing systems of measurement, and monitoring around the clock; and all of that, of course, was lost.

So, I had to look for another job. Fortunately, in parallel, I was doing some other consulting on EMC, and then I got two other offers from two companies. They both offered me a job. One of them was a stable job as an employee. Another one said, “Well, you can come as a contractor.” I took the position as a contractor.

This all happened in 1992. In parallel to this, I started getting involved at higher levels of the EMC Society.

Geselowitz:

So just so I can clarify, then presumably the Voice of America project was canceled because the Cold War ended.

Joffe:

That was one of the reasons. That was not the main one, but that's a correct point. What happened was when the Cold War ended and the Iron Curtain dropped, what happened was that they said, “Oh, we don't need any more transmission toward Russia.” But the world was not getting safer. So they decided to rearrange the antennas that were not built yet.

Now, when I say antennas, I'm speaking about curtain arrays, 100 yards by 100 yards. Huge arrays, 37 antennas. So they decided to rearrange them to transmit towards the former Soviet Republics and Iraq, which was becoming an issue then. They said, “Yes, the role of the station is changing, but the need is still there.” There were issues in other countries. There was still a need there, but then the "Greens" got involved and started battling the station, and you know what I mean by the "Greens," right?

They said, “You have to do a survey,” because the station was on an area, the major migration path of birds from Europe to Africa, and that perhaps the curtain arrays or the radiation would kill the birds. So we hired a Swiss company to bring radars to Israel to track the migration of birds. We brought them for one season. You can imagine how much all of that costs. I mean, we're talking millions of dollars. But we did the whole survey, and actually the results were good. They found that the birds in daytime could see the curtains. There was no issue. Because they were going to be painted in flashing colors. At nighttime, they couldn't see them, but it turned out that the migration--and that was a world discovery; it was published in Nature later on--was found to be very different in the pattern. They were flying spread out across the whole country. So the assessment was that about 50 birds would be killed at night. Negligible, really.

But then the "Greens" said, “No, wait; that was in one season. What about the next season when they migrate back?” So now we had to expand the contract, but this was also leading to delays in the program. Each day of delay was costing about $30,000! So we contracted that Swiss company for yet another season. They come back with the radars. By the way, the radars were fixed there. Now they go to the Supreme Court. You're building a facility you have no license for. So trying to battle it that way. So we fixed wheels onto those shelters saying now it's mobile. Mobile is legal.

So now we go through another season of surveys. Now it's good, right? A whole year. "No, you don't have enough statistics. You need another season to back up the statistics." So we bring [the Swiss company] in for a third season. By that time, the battle was getting so strong against the station that our Prime Minister, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, had the project close down; but it was not directly the reason of the Iron Curtain. Actually it was the "Greens," and the station would've given about 150 new positions to an area which had a high unemployment rate for 50 years. But it was closed down, and that was a time that I had to start seeking other employment.

Leadership in EMC Chapter

Geselowitz:

What happened next?

Joffe:

On the one hand, I had gotten to that place, the new government thing. On the other hand, I had been going to the IEEE; I'm starting to find my way up the ladder in the IEEE EMC Israel Chapter. So I become the vice chair, and then there is that meeting a year later, and someone nominates me as chair.

So I accepted the nomination, and then I said, “Well, we need to do things differently because we held about two meetings a year,” which was the minimum, “and the same 14 people show up”--only 14, 15 people showed up. And I said, “I think we need to do something different. How about if we held full day meetings instead of two hour meetings?” I built a cadre of a couple of officers to help me, and we started holding two meetings a year, full day meetings. So now we started getting 100 people, 150 people coming. Mostly not IEEE members, but those are the ones you recruit from, right?

I was chapter chair for a few years until 2003. Under my leadership, we actually got the EMC Society "Most Improved Chapter of the Year" award. In parallel, I started building my way in the Society. I ran for the board. I ran twice and I think I was elected only at the third time. Someone told me usually you don't get elected the first time. The name has to come through. So I started running. Failed the first year. Put my name down, second year. Third year, behold, there I am. So I'm elected to the board. I've no idea what's happening there.

The first meeting, I'm like a fish out of water, sitting, just listening. And then I started making my way up there. I was offered to take some positions. I get to meet a person I only knew from the back of the books--that person named Henry Ott, right? So I have his book at home, and there, suddenly, he's on the same board that I'm sitting [on] with Henry as the VP of conferences; and he offers me to chair a new committee under him as the global conference coordinator, and I find myself saying yes. In parallel, Don Heirman, yet another icon of the Society, comes and says, "How would you like to be chair of the Standards Advisory and Coordination Committee, SACOM?” That committee was inactive for many years. “How would you like to rejuvenate it?" I said, “Okay.”

So I take those two committees. I'm starting to maneuver between that. And that leads me pretty much to the year 2000. So now I'm involved in a lot and I'm running over here and over there. At the year 2000, two things happen. A) I'm elected as a distinguished lecturer of the society, which I felt was a great honor, sign of recognition. The next thing, B) we have the board meeting in, I think Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and we have elections. I proposed myself down as VP for conferences. I didn't believe it. I was elected! So now I become a VP suddenly, an officer of the board, and I'm in a leadership position.

I was so excited about that.

Geselowitz:

Let me ask one thing. So before, the meetings had all been in the US, except for every five years in Japan.

Joffe:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

But now you're meeting in Brazil, so was there a conscious effort around this time you joined the board to, to globalize EMC?

Joffe:

Yes, yes. Actually, most of the board meetings are always in the US, and most of the conferences are. The only exception until that time was in 1984 in Japan. That was an IEEE International Symposium on EMC. In '89, it was cosponsored, but it was not the IEEE alone. But there was the thought about globalizing, and I was not the first foreign member on the board. Before me, there was a guy from France, Ferdy Mayer, who was elected, I think, a year before me. I was the first Israeli to be on the board.

But actually, I have to step back again because things are inter-wound. In 1990, I was already active. In the early '90s, I was active on the board--I think it was then already. If not on the board, at least as a Society member; and I proposed to hold an international symposium in Israel—an IEEE international symposium on EMC. I felt we could do it. I attended a few already. By that time, I would've attended about six, seven of them, and I saw the Japanese could, so why can't we? The response was, and that was about the year 1990, have a small conference in Israel, and then let's see what happens. Okay. We're under test.

So we initiated the 1992 Regional Symposium on EMC, and I was the technical chair. I still remember Rafi Rubinstein from Israel who was then the chapter chair, and I was the vice chapter chair then. He chaired the symposium. The EMC Society was a technical cosponsor, and we had more than 250 attendees. It was a three- or four-day symposium. The EMC Society I think was in shock. In shock. The guy who attended then on behalf of the Society said that he thought it was a fantastic symposium.

I got help from several chapters in Region 8--from Sweden, from Switzerland, from France. That Ferdy Meyer said he would help. But the biggest help was from a person named Michel Ianoz from Switzerland, and he helped us put that symposium together. After that symposium, the Society said, “Well, yeah, okay, you can probably be a candidate for another symposium.”

So a couple of years later, I proposed to hold the international symposium in Israel. The response was quite negative. They said Tel Aviv is unsafe. I still remember--Dan Hoolihan actually said, “It's unsafe.” I said, “Let me tell you, I think it's safer in Tel Aviv than in New York City.” I was fairly angry then because people live there just like they live here, but the reaction was not very positive. But we still submitted a petition.

At that time, Henry Ott was still the vice president for conferences. So we submitted the petition to him, and he said, “I'll bring the proposal to the board. Eventually, after lots of work--and we actually worked for three years before we filed the petition to come with the best petition we could--they said, “You can handle it, you can get the 2003.” We actually wanted to host the 2002. We had a good reason. We wanted that particular year because of the slogan we wanted to put together. But 2001 was in Canada. 2002 they said no, it was already taken by Minneapolis.

Geselowitz:

What happened next?

Joffe:

Okay. So that was the point that we said that the board decided to approve the 2003 international symposium in Tel Aviv, and you can guess who got to be the chair of that, right? So obviously it was me. I built a core group, and now we are starting to work really. We said we have to do well because we knew we were under scrutiny. So we worked. It was extremely intensive. We said, “We're going to put together the best show ever,” or the best symposium we could, and we came up with a huge, international team. Whole new ideas.

We contracted with an Israeli PCO--professional conference organizer--and everything was happening well. It was proceeding, and then we had already the call for papers out, and we actually had 700 submissions. We had Arab submissions--Arabs submitting papers, knowing that the conference is going to be in Tel Aviv--from Saudi Arabia, from Bahrain. No peace with them, right, but we were accommodating the procedures to allow them to come to Israel. So everything was going well. We had the submissions. We had the papers, everything.

Now, remember, the symposium is supposed to be 2003. 9/11 is 2001. A year later, the uprising breaks out in the Middle--in Israel, in Palestine--the Palestinians break out with violent protests.

Geselowitz:

The Intifada.

Joffe:

The Intifada. At this point, we realized that people will not be coming. That was the time that busses were exploding in the streets, and we suddenly saw that we knew we will not get the 700 papers. We had to take some difficult decisions.

The PCO who had all the money--the EMC Society was only 10% financially involved in that--they said, “We will be a financial sponsor,” but it wasn't a full sponsorship, not like it will be in Dresden. Also, in parallel, the EMC Society hurt us. Hurt us in the sense that they set another so-called national symposium in Boston. So all the exhibitors did not sign up with us--most of them, I should say, because the large ones--ETS-Lindgren, Amplifier Research--did, and others, but they decided not to come to our symposium because they had another one in the US in the same year. So that was a very bad experience. We were furious about that, but the Society said what could be correct. They were counting on the funding, which is correct. The Society runs on the income, and they were scared that we could not do a good job by getting enough exhibitors, which we could have, had we not had that. But that was a fact.

So anyhow, we had to make a move. The PCO proposed to move to Turkey. It was near enough. It also had high technology. It was close for Israelis. So we traveled to Turkey, and we found a location there. So now this is a symposium being prepared for seven years. A year before the symposium, a year and a half, we had to shift to Turkey. So a new call for papers goes out. Everything had to start from scratch again. So we made that move.

Many Israelis decided in a matter of principle, "national pride," not to come, not considering the fact that if we didn't move, there would be no symposium. So that was the first hit we got. Then the Gulf War broke out in 2003. So that was just a few weeks before the symposium. The symposium was supposed to be in May, and in March 15, I believe, the Gulf War broke out. The travel advisory in the US was: don't travel to Turkey. It's near. It's bordering with Iraq. We were 2,000 kilometers away from Iraq, but most Americans canceled. So now we have about 300 papers withdrawn. Then the SARS broke out in Southeast Asia, so all the Southeast Asians, almost all of them, withdrew. We had a couple of hundreds of submissions from China. They did not allow them to travel, so that SARS doesn't spread. So that was the third blow we got.

At the end, we had three hundred and something papers presented, six parallel sessions in six days of symposium. We did things that no other symposium has done before, like having no sessions in the middle, and having everybody go on a city tour. You didn’t have to choose. So nobody had any other thing to do. The Lord Mayor of Istanbul--that's the name he's called--the Lord Mayor came to the opening session. He's only a mayor of a city of 14 million citizens. He came in a Cadillac like a president would come, with the body guard and on motorcycles, and he actually addressed us--it was amazing, the whole thing. Very different.

Anyhow, the symposium was a fantastic success. Money we didn't make out of it. Financially, it was a loss, which was covered by the PCO. That was the agreement. If we make money, they earn a commission--we get a share, they get a share. If we lose, they take the whole loss. Either way, the symposium was a technical success; and that ended 2003.

By that time, I became already the VP for conferences. That was kind of in the middle. Then I started building my way up in the society, and a couple years later, I was elected as the VP for member services. I actually wanted to run, I think, again for conferences, but I suppose I upset a few people with some proposed policies that now are being practiced, in fact. For example, I was the one who came up with the proposal no longer to print paper proceedings because I showed it's costing us $40,000 a year, and most people leave them because who can carry those big proceedings.

Mrs. Joffe:

And I pushed on that matter.

Joffe:

That is correct.

Mrs. Joffe:

I said we have too much paper at home, and we carry too much. Let us have it on CD.

Joffe:

So actually, I came to the board, and I upset some by, by that proposal. “How can it be that we don't have papers?” From 2004, '05, I'm not sure, the one that was in Portland, they decided unilaterally to do it.

Mrs. Joffe:

2006.

Joffe:

2006. Right, Henry was the chair.

Geselowitz:

Henry?

Joffe:

Henry Benitez. He said, “We're going without paper, but whoever wants to buy paper can preorder it;” and my first vision came to be.

Mrs. Joffe:

Go green.

Joffe:

And that was really a vision, I think, because I saw others were doing it already; but in the Society, those with the gray hair like I have today didn't want to hear.

Then there was another thing that I upset some with, another notion. There was a European symposium, that doesn't exist any longer. They were always in Europe, but then they decided to start traveling. They always said, “You remain in United States. Let us do the symposium in Europe.” They were very angry with us holding that symposium in Istanbul because the IEEE is a global entity, and that's why we held our symposium [which] was the second global symposium outside the US. So anyhow, suddenly they decided they're going to hold their symposium in Singapore. I proposed that the EMC Society not cosponsor that. I think I touched some nerves and stepped over a few toes. Either way, I was not reelected as VP for conferences. I'm a person of principle, and I decided not to go with the wind, and if they didn't like it, so be it. It actually hit me several times later that I go on principles.

So I lost that position, and I pretty much felt I'm going to be knocked out of the board, but then I was nominated for the position of VP for member services. It's actually interesting because it's a very interesting field at the society level. I said, “I will accept the nomination,” and I was elected then. In fact, I remember one person—I think it was the president of the Society—then came to me and said, “Don't worry. That's the path to presidency because most of the VP for member services folks later on became presidents.” So I said, “Okay, I'll take it,” and started working on that.

By the way, the conference in Turkey had another repercussion to it, which carried on later. And that was that we decided to appoint a co-chair from Turkey, an honorary co-chair, since they’re hosting it. He was the chair of the IEEE Turkey Chapter. At a certain point, we were developing sponsorship issues and getting patrons, and I insisted that all funds coming into the symposium go through the books, and then we agreed that the Turks would get a share of any funding which we get. They insisted that they first get their share, before it goes to the books, which is contrary to IEEE rules. Well, I still have from him in writing the email where he said to me that if I don't do it, they will complain that I have been fiddling around with the numbers, and would go to the Ethics Committee. They actually filed a complaint against me with a copy to the President of IEEE, the President of the EMC Society and the Ethics Committee claiming that I fiddled around with the paperwork and that I stole money from the conference, and I refused that money would go through the book and all that.

I knew it when the president of the Society then, Todd Hubing, came to me and said, “I got this complaint. What can you say about it?” I told him the whole story, that I refused, and that I was threatened, and as far as I'm concerned, they can go and take it to the Ethics Committee. So he took a deposition, a statement from me, and the whole issue was cleared. And at that time we decided—that was actually before the conference was carried out—to punish him, the Turkish guy, for that and we removed him from the names of the committee. So that happened before the conference even started, but that was the first time I actually encountered an ethical situation where I decided to stand on my principles and go by the rules, no matter what. I was hit a few times later on the same grounds.

So anyhow—sorry for going back—I was elected as VP for member services, and I really loved that position. I served a term, and my predecessor was Andy Drozd, and as it happens, I followed a lot in his line there. He really started many good things, and I tried to follow on, and one of the things that I said is I wanted to build up chapters of the Society. I believe—I still have the firm belief—that the membership can go through the chapters.

The chapter coordinator then was the person who's president now, Ghery Pettit, and later on our paths crossed a little more in other elections. But I said I wanted to challenge him on doing things. However, I was on one of his committees, but because of my engagement in VP for member services, I just felt I couldn't. I resigned from that position. He too resigned from the position of the chapter coordinator, and Francesca Maradei, who later became president, became the chapter coordinator. And together we devised a plan how to build chapters.

I think—but I'm not sure I'm accurate—that when I became VP for member services, there were about 35 to 40 chapters. When I ended my term as president, we had 70 or 71 chapters. We built an approach, a proactive approach, to start building chapters. I think we pretty much, in the course of about ten years or so, doubled the number of chapters of the Society—ten to 15 years, more or less. And in that respect, I think the EMC Society has become a role model for other societies, and I truly take a credit for some of that. Francesca also did a great job there as a chapter coordinator. So it really went great there. I loved that position.

Term as President of EMC Society

Geselowitz:

And then?

Joffe:

Then they had the election for president, and I think the election was 2006 for 2007 president-elect, because I was president in 2008/'09. So at the end of 2006, I put my name down for president-elect. Now, it was a contended election with four contestants or contenders. I remember it was Mark Montrose and Barry Wallen and Ghery Pettit and me. One round of election, only two remained. It was Barry and me. We decided no matter what, let the “best one” win, and the other remains on the committee. He was on a committee of mine before, and we got along. Anyhow, I was elected. I believe it was a difference of one vote. I also know from internal information that some very rough things were spoken against me then, about the fact that I was going against that EMC Zurich. So people thought that I ruined connections with some other organizations. Anyhow, by one vote I was elected.

And there I'm president-elect for 2007. Nothing special happened then. I was trying to take the time to learn from Andy especially, who was president. And also learning from his predecessor, Kimball Williams, who I think, by the way, was the best president and a role model of mine as to how to run a society. I still admire him.

Anyhow, in January 2008, of course, I assume office as president. Now, I believe in a proactive approach. People actually came to me later, who ran for office, and they actually said I was making them chew on more than they thought they would have to. The first thing I did as president is I put a list of challenges together, and I sent to each of the VPs what I thought I challenged them to do within the term of the next two years. I came with an agenda, immediately.

Being the first president who's non-American, I felt that I had the charter to start doing things differently. I think that many didn't like it. Many didn't like my proactive approach. Some said later on that I was the worst president ever. I actually have that in writing. Someone wrote to me and said that. Because I came with an agenda. They thought the president has to be silent and say, “Now you speak, now you speak.” I did not refrain from expressing my opinion. If I had to vote, I always took a position and voted. It's rare that I had to as president, but if I was the one vote that would change to break a tie, I did vote, and I always put a vote for or against, but either way, I did.

I had my opinion when necessary and sometimes when it was unnecessary, and I was trying to push things through. I was pushing policies through, and since a president cannot make motions, I worked a lot with the immediate past president to pass those motions because he could. So I actually often wrote them for him and said, “Would you please move those motions on the board?” Of course, only those he agreed with. In that manner, we created the GOLD position, which is now a great success. I actually was the one who proposed to create the GOLD position. I proposed to consider again the conversion of the newsletter to the magazine, which Francesca then was very successful in completing. It was a difficult process. But that was really my initiative. Whether it's written on my name or it's not written, but it's there. The proposal was made by me.

I started looking at the long-range planning, which was the role of the president-elect to do. Initially I was doing it like all my predecessors were doing it. Looking at what everyone wants. When I became president, I said, “No, we're doing it wrong.” How we're looking is bottom up. What are we doing? We find what each VP thinks we need to do, and then we say, “Let's do it.” I looked at it, and I said, “No, I think it's totally wrong.” I saw what was happening on TAB, and I said, “I think we need to look top down. We need to start strategic planning. Not just the long range planning: strategic planning.” And I put down an outline of a strategic process.

Would you believe until my term, there was no mission statement for the EMC Society? The EMC Society had no vision statement. It had a field of interest statement, but there was no mission statement. So as the first step, I said we need to put down those two. So in the next strategic planning meeting we worked on that.

By the way, what I did was instead of having one meeting a year or so in a teleconference—being in Israel it was very difficult to run telecons, and by that time, the board was getting more and more foreign members—I figured we needed to have more meetings a year. I tried to hold two or three strategic planning meetings a year in conjunction with the board meeting. So in the first meeting, we approved the mission and vision, and each of those I brought formally to the board to approve.

So always a motion was made by the immediate past president or the president-elect. So we had those approved. Then I said, “Let's start working on strategic goals.” And those meetings were quite lengthy. If they were normally going for one hour or two, now we're talking about a half a day, and starting to work out the "show stoppers," the obstacles, the real SWOT analysis. It was never done before in the EMC Society, putting together a strategic plan along the outlines of the TAB plan. We actually mapped back to the technical activities strategic plan.

Geselowitz:

Which was in turn mapped to IEEE's overall strategic plan?

Joffe:

Obviously, exactly.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Joffe:

I thought that was the way to go, because this society is part of TA. Only they had four strategic goals. We added another one, which we thought was unique to us. But everything, all the mega issues, and all of those metrics, we actually started from there, and then we worked in groups. I think I got some resentment there. People thought I'm making them work too much, I think. That was the feedback I got, but I thought it was necessary. I actually did not complete it in my term. Cooperation was not always good. But in the early meetings of Francesca as president—she was my successor—she got it completed; though not before she sent me an email that it was my fault it was not completed and it should've been completed in my term. I helped her all the way through to complete it, of course. Obviously those things are long-term. You know, you don't really always start and complete everything in the same term. But it was completed, and it was my initiative, and I deserve a lot of credit for that.

So now the EMC Society has a strategic plan, and then I said we need to convert now or write an action plan.” That never happened. Actually, that had pretty much dropped. No action plan was written following that. Then I said we have to look at the structure. So as I said, I was trying to think out of the box because up to now we were doing things just because they were done before. I said, “I think we have too many officers.”

Now, that's standing on—stepping on—toes, right? We were a board of 20-something members and we were not that large a society, and I thought that we are not the most efficient board because of that. So I proposed to eliminate one of the officer's positions. Now, there was a position, VP for standards that had been relatively recently created. It was created very justifiably because we were involved in standards a lot, but it was before under technical services, and I proposed to reincorporate that position into the VP of technical services, eliminating on officer position. Obviously it failed. Then I said I thought we actually needed to create, on the other hand, an officer for chapters. But when I decided to propose to cancel the one, it wasn't appropriate to propose a new one. So we canceled that proposal, but I did recommend increasing the chapter coordination committee, which happened.

Another issue came up during my term. One of the members came up with the question, how could it be that officers, who never ran for board election, vote? Now, that related especially to the secretary of a society. She does—I'm speaking about Janet O’Neil—outstanding work as secretary. But one of the board members—a very prominent board member—then asked, “How can it be that officers vote on behalf of the members when they never really got the mandate from the members by ever running for the board?”

Geselowitz:

So the secretary's a permanent position?

Joffe:

There is no term limit. There was always an election, but no one ran against her. And we did have a term limit. So it seemed stupid that we always have to vote to waive the term limits. I said, “You know what? What the heck. Let us cancel the waiver, cancel the term limit for secretary and treasurer because it's stupid that we're waiving it term after term.” And, in fact, I think that those are "trust positions," that you really need someone that you can trust. And the president should have the right to reappoint. So it wasn't an appointed position, but it became a position with waived term limit.

We have a good secretary and treasurer, no doubt. But I agreed with that officer that it's wrong to have, for instance, the secretary and treasurer voting if they're not elected members to the board. Obviously that was fought. In parentheses, I'll say that there are—it's no secret—certain cliques on the board. It's normal in each entity. And the thing was battled, and it got fairly personal, and it was dropped. I met yesterday that person who raised it, and he's still upset about it. There were other issues, but these were some real major things I tried to change as president.

Also, as president, I proposed to create a whole restructure of the TAC, the technical advisory committee that oversaw all the technical committees. By that time, the Product Safety Engineering Society, which stemmed out of TC-8, became a society. It seemed like it was not necessary to keep a TC, and we proposed to cancel it. But then I saw that low frequency phenomena were attracting attention, and I figured we needed to create a new TC on low frequency phenomena. I also saw that certain TCs were redundant.

I remember sitting in Argentina—I had traveled to Argentina on behalf of the board—sitting there in the lounge in the lobby at the computer there, and putting down the whole outline of what I thought the TAC should look like in the future. And I sent it to the VP of Technical Services, who happened to be working at the computer near me. That was John Norgard. It actually came up to TAC. I brought it to the TAC chair as a proposal, and they said, “It seems like something worthy of consideration.” Actually, that vision came to be in several ways, though not exactly the same way I envisioned. The TAC took that proposal, and today we have a TC-7 on power quality. TC-8 doesn't exist. TC-5 and what used to be TC-7 merged into one. So basically I think I left an impact there also.

I tried really to make an impact wherever I could. During that term, I think those are really a few of the highlights. I mean, I could go on, but those are a few of the major things that I accomplished.

Geselowitz:

So, there were a lot of organizational issues. Then tied to that, you're saying that there you needed a real strategic planning process so that you could make the correct organizational changes.

Joffe:

Exactly.

Presidential Troubleshooting

Geselowitz:

But overall, was there some overarching thing you've seen in your agenda as President in terms of what was happening in the world of EMC?

Joffe:

Oh, yes.

Geselowitz:

Can you, in a minute or two, summarize what the main issues were?

Joffe:

Yes, very shortly. Obviously, EMC was becoming bigger and bigger and more important, and more and more conferences were happening. And one of the visions I had, I saw there are too many of them. On the one hand, we want to cosponsor. On the other hand, there are too many. And I was trying, and my predecessors were trying that also, to try and get them to merge. In Europe, it was EMC Europe, EMC Wroclaw and EMC Zurich, and they didn't want to merge at the time. By the way, they did eventually, and now there's one.

In EMC in Southeast Asia, there were too many, and I remember after a conference in Taipei, I got hold of the leaders of the other conferences, and I said, “Let's speak. Let's try to create an Asia-Pacific EMC symposium, which will be one coordinated symposium.” Lo and behold, that symposium exists. They liked the idea. They formed a steering committee. A couple of years later, that's when EMC Zurich held a second symposium and that was already the first Asia-Pacific symposium on EMC. And that's happening now.

So obviously the issue of globalization was a major issue of my agenda. Also trying to get more and more members to the board, and also holding more and more symposia outside. I didn't really succeed a lot in that.

Mrs. Joffe:

And building the Ethics Committee.

Joffe:

That is much later; I mean, not much. Pretty much close to the end of my career in the EMC Society leadership, but that did relate to the end of my term as president. Actually, the end of my term is immediate past because obviously after the two years, I ended my term as president. I actually made it kind of dramatic. I played the “My Way” of, I guess, Elvis and also Sinatra. I played it in the background while I was reading.

Mrs. Joffe:

With a saxophone.

Joffe:

Well, the saxophone came about later when I…that was another initiative of mine. It didn't happen this year, regretfully. That [was] in 2009, when I was president. You're right. One of the last ideas I had, we were holding the conference in Austin, and Austin is the live music capital of the world, right? So I came with an idea, why don’t I play the saxophone--but I'm still learning. I came to the conference chair, and I said, “Why not have live music by members of the society in the conference during the breaks?” They liked the idea and assigned someone to do it. They rented the instruments, and we actually held a concert.

We held the first Society organized concert during the breaks. Each day at the exhibition hall, we played music, a few of us, and that repeated itself in 2010 in Fort Lauderdale. I believe that also in Long Beach in 2011, but I did not attend Long Beach. And this year, they decided they didn't want it because the exhibitors were complaining there was too much noise. So we didn't do it. I was kind of sorry, but it might happen again in following years. So that was yet another initiative. It became almost a tradition in the Society, and they really liked it. It was fun.

So then another initiative came up and started also at the same time. I said, “How are we training our leadership? I think we need a leadership track.” And at that time, I was starting to get involved in ethics, and I really should defer this by a few minutes, but I'll say it before I forget because you'll see why I got involved in ethics in the Society. I said, “We need to develop a leadership track to teach our members what it means being a leader, how to plan meetings, how to organize, how to make presentations, ethics etc.” And we started the initiative—I think it was three years ago—of holding on the Friday a leadership track.

Ninety people turned out on the first time we ran it on Friday. That's the reason that tomorrow I can't come to the history session, because this is the third or fourth year in a row, and this time it's a full day track on leadership, where each of us speak. I'm giving two talks on leadership and on ethics, and others are speaking on other topics. A full day. So that's yet another initiative that I started that was taken by TC-1, which deals with engineering management, and it's become a regular tradition already to run these sessions. I think it's another success or accomplishment of mine here, but there are more. I just can't remember them all, because I tried to touch on everything in the conferences and the membership, chapters, standards, whatever.

Term as Past president

Joffe:

Then I became immediate past president. Immediate past has two responsibilities; three really. First, Finance Committee chair. My wife knows. She's the finance committee at our home; so Anat does that, and I wish I could assign it to her. I really didn't find much interest in that, honestly. There were a few items we tackled, but we had an excellent treasurer, so he really did most of the work there.

Second, Nominations and Appointments Committee chair; and, third, Constitution and Bylaws Committee chair. So I started looking at the constitution and bylaws, and I saw that there were things wrong, simply wrong. We were not doing them, or they were contrary to the IEEE rules. One of them was related to the Executive Committee. It was an old boys club. It was a closed meeting. I said, “It's wrong. We're not speaking secrets there. We must open the Executive Committee meetings.” So actually even before that, when I was president-elect, we already put together a motion of openness of ExCom and that passed eventually. I then started seeing the whole structure was listed wrong, so I started correcting the structure.

Then came a disaster. At the end of 2010, we had the election of officers for the next year. Yes, it was 2010. I ran the elections, as the Nominations and Appointments Committee chair, and a certain person—I'm not going to mention names; I don't think it's important here—was running for a certain office, and the slate was closed. The motion passed. Let the slate be closed. And then he said, “I withdraw.” Somebody moved to open the slate. That was after each of the candidates made a presentation, so obviously all other candidates were taken out. Then someone moved to reopen the slate. This led to a constitutional situation. There's no answer to that.

We were debating--the president, past presidents--what to do. I said, “Well, it seems like we have to do it.” So we opened the slate again. Then someone else was nominated, but he had heard the presentations of the others. So that became a real difficulty. The others who were on the ballot were not elected. They complained against me to the TABs Ethics and Conflict Resolution Committee. That was my second encounter with an ethical issue. After some debate, they found I did--I acted properly, and that there was no solution for that in Robert's Rules of Order. That's when I started doing those things I thought we need to explain more about ethics.

So I continued there. Then I came up with a motion that we need to develop a whole new process for election. I pretty much copied the process in TAB, put it here, and said, let's do it. So now we have a process. We have a policy in place of how we do it. We do it like in TAB. You cannot nominate from the floor. You have to present to the board prior to the election, have candidate statements. So that's all now in practice. I think it's true for the board elections and for the officer elections, or selections, really.

I think I have a big achievement there, although the board didn't like it at the time. Some tried to battle it, but it passed, and those following actually kept it, maintained it. So the next thing is that pretty much I tried to pass many more. Normally it was a situation where I put in my report with its recommendations. Most did not read it, but then they complained against it. It repeated itself several times.

I must admit that in my past-presidency term I became very disappointed of many people on the board. I'm saying this knowing it will appear on record. I learned a few things about private agendas. Many positive issues, but also things that I thought were wrong. I saw things happening behind the scenes I did not like that I thought should not happen.

Geselowitz:

Now that became more evident to you as past president than as president?

Joffe:

Yes, yes.

Geselowitz:

Actually, why is it more apparent to you as a past president than when you were president?

Joffe:

Very easy to explain. Because as president, you can't bring motions, so there's no controversy. As past president, I brought motions that people didn't always like. People resist change, and some of these changes, by the way, afterwards, IEEE forced us to implement--funny enough. When I brought them with my initiative, they failed, and then IEEE in its bylaws review said, “That's wrong, you have to pass it.”

Then I was making the motions. I was being attacked for bringing those motions, and by those who never responded to my reports. When I would bring a motion, I always submitted my reports weeks before. At the ExCom meeting where we discussed the agenda, no comments. What we did was we would always present the motions, no comments! And then the same people who attended ExCom in the board meeting killed the motion. Very influential people.

I say, basically, like in every organization, people divide into three. Those who will be very enthusiastic for, those who will always be against, and those who will be in the middle--the majority who will go with the wave. So what happened was those who were on ExCom did not speak in ExCom, but in the board they spoke, and it almost seemed like it was the intention to kill the motion at the board in an act of surprise, and that upset me very much because I put so much time in that. And it almost looked like there was a conspiracy not to speak in ExCom but to speak in the board. I learned then that I should come to the board with high heeled shoes...

Balancing Career with IEEE

Geselowitz:

Okay. So real quick, two points. First of all, before you move on to the last year--

Joffe:

Yes?

Geselowitz:

While you were doing all this activity as the vice president, president-elect, and president, what were you doing in your professional life and how were you able to maintain a career while you were doing all this IEEE activity and traveling around the world?

Joffe:

It was difficult, especially as president. I traveled in each of the two years for 200 days a year, mostly for the Society. I did 250,000 miles each of those years, mostly on behalf of the Society. It hurt my work.

Mrs. Joffe:

And I was his wife only on paper.

Geselowitz:

[Laughter]

Joffe:

Yes, it hurt my work. Fortunately, they were tolerant enough. I was trying to fill in, but my income fell because I work as a contractor. I get paid by the hour. My income fell by 60% in those two years. I have a record of how many hours of work I put in along the last ten years, so I know directly how much. So it hurt, but I thought it was the right thing to do; and again, it's my character. If I do something, I do it all the way. And I felt that it's my responsibility to be what I thought would be the best president of the Society, to prove that foreigners can do the job no less than any American president. Personally, I admit, I think I was one of the best. I know I upset many people.

Anyhow, at work, yes, it did hurt at first. Definitely hurt the family life, I mean, not being there so much. I tried, though, not to affect some certain things, like when my daughter was performing. She was in a band. I always tried to be at the performances or big ceremonies. I tried to be at the main things.

Mrs. Joffe:

And when she finished Officers Course you were there.

Joffe:

I was there. I wouldn't miss it. I mean, those things, I said no matter what. So I had my red line. I said there are things that come before anything, and I said that no matter what, I will be there.

Geselowitz:

And besides your personality is just that: once you agree to do it, you want to do 110%.

Do you feel that the IEEE in general, but particularly the IEEE EMC, really serves the field, and through the field the world?

Joffe:

Oh, yes. I really think so. I mean, I'm involved in six societies right now. I think this Society really is a model for how IEEE societies should serve the community and the IEEE. Of course there's always room for improvement, but I think that really in everything, if it's through transfer of knowledge, through working with the community, through working with students, through working in standards, I think the Society is making an impact in many ways. And I also think it has a very good name, and rightfully so. So I definitely think that, yes, it's definitely meeting its roles, its strategic goals that now we have defined. Definitely. I think it's fulfilling its mission, and I think we have a good basis to build upon to do even more. So yes, absolutely.

Geselowitz:

Okay. And so--I don't want to go too much into the other societies that you work with because the EMC's paying for me to come here.

Joffe:

Of course.

President of Product Engineering Society

Geselowitz:

But I think it's very interesting from the history of IEEE point of view, if you could just say a few words about how the Product Safety Engineering Society—which I think is one of the ones that you're now very involved in—came to be.

Joffe:

Right, I'm the president.

Geselowitz:

You're currently the president. How did that emerge from EMC, and why do you need a separate society? Just say a little bit about the history of that society and how you became president.

Joffe:

Right. So the PSE-S started actually from the EMC Society. TC-8 was the Product Safety Technical Committee, and that TC was abnormal. I mean, most TCs had 15, 20 members. This one had 80, 90, 100. Then they actually started chapters. They started building the Product Safety Technical Committee, PSTC, built a virtual committee, which had 700, 800 people. So now you have a technical committee of a society, which is larger than all the other TCs together and the size of a quarter of the society. Not all of them were members of the society, but they started forming chapters, having newsletters.

At that point, it became apparent that that TC is abnormal. It's bringing an imbalance, and the thought came up that possibly it should break out as a new society. So about seven or eight years ago, a little before the petition was submitted to IEEE, that effort was led by a few guys—Mark Montrose, Rich Pescatore, and a couple more members. Rich is the PSE-S historian. He was at the very beginning, and that's why he's our History Committee chair. And they put down the charter, the business plan and everything. And in an unbelievable process, we were allowed immediately to break out and form a society. Today you have to start as a council. That was an abnormal process.

So, the PSE Society really stemmed out of the EMC-S, and now we're trying to re-form links together. The first symposia were actually co-located. Now we broke out to a different time of the year. But we, many of us, are still members of both. The constitution [and] bylaws were basically transcribed from the EMC Society, but now we're building our own nature, our own, really, environment. Everything is so different now. It's really become a totally different type of society, but closely linked.

Geselowitz:

Is it more—is there sort of an industry versus academia bias between the two?

Joffe:

Definitely.

Geselowitz:

Which is more academic and which is more industrial?

Joffe:

EMC Society by far is much more academic. In the PSE-S, one of the challenges is that we have very few academics. I'm now in the process of forming the Education Committee of the PSE-S. By the way, this year in November, we have our society review.

After that, we should be allowed to be a full society—until now, we're so-called a “provisional society.” Then we should become, finally, a regular society. So it really broke out because it was becoming too large, and so there are papers on safety here, but it's mostly now in the PSE-S, and now we have an EMC track in the PSE-S symposium. It's kind of feeding back. That's the main thing, but I've also grown up in IEEE in other ways. Now I'm on the EAB. I'm chairing a committee on the EAB.

Geselowitz:

Which committee?

Joffe:

The Continued Professional Education Committee, which is now restructuring under the guidance of Mike Lightner--who's by the way, a fantastic leader. So I'm holding that position. And I was on the Ethics and Member Conduct Committee. I'm kind of trying to work my way up.

Geselowitz:

Well, Mike Lightner's unusual because it's unusual for a past president to go back and become a VP.

Joffe:

Well, yes, but so was Leah Jamieson. She was the VP before the Education Activities Board. But you are correct, it's kind of odd, but it's great there. I was on the GOLD committee as the TAB rep. I'm trying to be involved at the higher levels. Who knows? Perhaps sometime I'll be at the top of the pyramid. I don't know.

Geselowitz:

Go to the “Big Board,” as they call it.

Joffe:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

I'm sure your wife will love that.

Mrs. Joffe:

Pardon?

Geselowitz:

I'm sure you'll love it if he goes to the big IEEE board.

Joffe:

I actually ran for division director, Division 4 director.

Mrs. Joffe:

As you can see, I have no say.

Geselowitz:

[Laughter]

Joffe:

You know, I realize I will never get a Nobel Prize because I'm in industry, I'm not an academic, but I figured that that's a way to build the legacy and do something for the benefit of humanity; and I really mean it in the true sense of it. I think that's what we are doing in the IEEE.

Book Projects

Geselowitz:

Well, that is a fascinating story. Is there, before we close, anything we didn't cover that I didn't ask that you wanted to get into the record?

Joffe:

Is there?

Geselowitz:

And that your wife can then edit out of the record subsequently.

Joffe:

Do you know, it's so difficult to say because I don't think the small details are always that important. I mean, the fact that now a book of mine is published at IEEE Press, for the EMC Society.

Mrs. Joffe:

That's not a small detail.

Joffe:

That's yet another thing I did, and I'm very proud of it, especially because it's dedicated to my late mother and also to my wife and daughter. But that's a book I wrote over four years, Grounds for Grounding: A Handbook from Circuit to System, and the biggest compliment I got was three, four years ago. I met Henry Ott, and Henry said to me, “I recommend your book whenever I teach courses.” Now, hearing that from Henry Ott is a statement.

Geselowitz:

When was that published?

Joffe:

2009. December 2009 it went, and now we are supposed to write a new one, which is supposed to be a textbook. It's really something that's another achievement, and I think that if I hadn't been so active in the EMC Society, that wouldn't have happened.

By the way, thank you for asking me because that closes the circle. Remember how my way started in the EMC Society? Jack Moe drawing me in, Oren Hartal teaching me the first course? When I finished this book, I approached them, too, and I said, “Would you please write the introduction to the book?” And they did. Jack Moe actually referred in his half page introduction to our meeting in the Lockheed Martin office. Jack Moe taught me the ABC of EMC. Oren taught me the DEF and on.

So, if I were to end in some way, I would say that that's the closing of the circle, that book. It goes to my beginnings, and then climbing up to the IEEE. I'm also active now in other societies. In the Education Committee, I founded and chair a committee on ethics education. I'm chairing the effort to form a conference, IEEE conference on ethics in science, technology and engineering. So I mean, all of this is happening, but I would say that if I would have to end, it would have to be by saying that that book closed the circle for me with Jack and Oren; and I actually wrote, in the dedication to Anat, saying that she saw probably my back more than anything for the four years I wrote the book because I was there the whole time. Most of it was written overseas. But that was probably one of my personal highlights during this term. It's good you mentioned, actually, and this is a good place to end.

Geselowitz:

Thank you very much. Anything else you'd like to add, Anat?

Mrs. Joffe:

No, I think he said it all.

Geselowitz:

Okay. Good. Well, thank you very much. I'm going to end now.

Mrs. Joffe:

Thank you.

Geselowitz:

Thank you both.