IEEE
You are not logged in, please sign in to edit > Log in / create account  

Oral-History:Wally Read

From GHN

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Text replace - "[[Category:Power, energy & industry application|" to "[[Category:Power, energy & industry applications|")
(12 intermediate revisions by 4 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
 
== About Wally Read  ==
 
== About Wally Read  ==
  
Wallace Stanley (“Wally”) Read served the members of IEEE locally, nationally and internationally for over 30 years. He was Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Section of IEEE, Director of IEEE Region 7 (Canada), Vice-President of IEEE Standards Association, Secretary, Treasurer and then President of IEEE in 1996. He was the second of only three elected Presidents of IEEE outside the United States. He was also President of the Canadian Electrical Association for many years before becoming its President in 1985. He promoted the role of electricity to the Canadian Government, and was a strong promoter of the necessity to develop appropriate standards for applications of electricity, not only within Canada, but internationally. Wally Read’s accomplishments have been recognized through numerous awards and honors including the CCPE Gold Medal, EIC’s Julian C. Smith Award, the Charles Proteus Steinmetz Award from IEEE, and Member of the Order of Canada.  
+
[[Image:3245 - read.jpg|thumb|left]]
  
During the interview, he discusses his decades of involvement with IEEE, from securing for Newfoundland two out of the first three Milestone plaques to running successfully for the IEEE Presidency. He emphasizes the dual goals he pursued throughout his tenure at various levels of IEEE: increasing international membership and achieving greater recognition of the industry (as opposed to academic) membership. He also points to engineering as a truly creative profession – in line with the great arts – whose accomplishments can be either well used or horribly misused by others in society.  
+
<p>[[Wallace Read|Wallace Stanley (“Wally”) Read]] served the members of IEEE locally, nationally and internationally for over 30 years. He was Chair of the [[IEEE Newfoundland & Labrador Section History|Newfoundland and Labrador Section of IEEE]], Director of [[Region 7 (Canada) History|IEEE Region 7 (Canada)]], Vice-President of IEEE Standards Association, Secretary, Treasurer and then [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|President of IEEE]] in 1996. He was the second of only three elected Presidents of IEEE outside the United States. He was also President of the Canadian Electrical Association for many years before becoming its President in 1985. He promoted the role of electricity to the Canadian Government, and was a strong promoter of the necessity to develop appropriate standards for applications of electricity, not only within Canada, but internationally. Wally Read’s accomplishments have been recognized through numerous awards and honors including the CCPE Gold Medal, EIC’s Julian C. Smith Award, the [[Charles Proteus Steinmetz|Charles Proteus Steinmetz]] Award from IEEE, and Member of the Order of Canada. </p>
  
 +
<p>During the interview, he discusses his decades of involvement with IEEE, from securing for Newfoundland two out of the first three Milestone plaques to running successfully for the IEEE Presidency. He emphasizes the dual goals he pursued throughout his tenure at various levels of IEEE: increasing international membership and achieving greater recognition of the industry (as opposed to academic) membership. He also points to engineering as a truly creative profession – in line with the great arts – whose accomplishments can be either well used or horribly misused by others in society. </p>
  
 +
== About the Interview  ==
  
[[Wallace_Read|See also Wallace Read biography]].
+
<p>WALLY READ: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 5 May 2009 </p>
  
<br>
+
<p>Interview #499 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc. </p>
  
== About the Interview ==
+
== Copyright Statement  ==
  
WALLY READ: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 5 May 2009
+
<p>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. </p>
  
Interview #499 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc.  
+
<p>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. </p>
  
<br>
+
<p>It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: </p>
  
== Copyright Statement ==
+
<p>Wally Read, an oral history conducted in 2009 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA. </p>
  
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.
+
== Interview  ==
  
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.
+
<p>INTERVIEWEE: Wally Read </p>
  
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:  
+
<p>INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz </p>
  
Wally Read, an oral history conducted in 2009 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.
+
<p>DATE: May 5, 2009 </p>
  
<br>
+
<p>PLACE: St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada </p>
  
== Interview ==
+
=== Education and Early Career  ===
  
INTERVIEWEE: Wally Read<br>INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz<br>DATE: May 5, 2009<br>PLACE: St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Education and Early Career ===
+
<p>This is Mike Geselowitz of the IEEE History Center, and I'm here in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada with Dr. Wallace Read on 5 May 2009, on the occasion of the Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE) conducting a history interview on behalf of the Center. So Wally, as I told you, we'd like to focus on your time as an active volunteer in IEEE, but before that just give me a very brief background of how you came to become an engineer. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
This is Mike Geselowitz of the IEEE History Center, and I'm here in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada with Dr. Wallace Read on 5 May 2009, on the occasion of the Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE) conducting a history interview on behalf of the Center. So Wally, as I told you, we'd like to focus on your time as an active volunteer in IEEE, but before that just give me a very brief background of how you came to become an engineer.  
+
<p>Okay, I started at a very young age. I didn't really want to do engineering when I finished my grade 11, which was the highest high-school grade here in Newfoundland at the time. I was ready to go to University and I didn't have too much money. We just came out of the Depression and WWII, but I really wanted to be a Doctor, not a Doctor of Engineering but a Doctor of Medicine. I was in the last year of my high-school, I was only fifteen years of age, and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to go to University unless I had some sort of scholarship. Scholarships were offered in my town, Corner Brook, from a paper company — the paper industry that was active in that community. Because I had done fairly well in grade 11, the School Principal said "You really should apply for one of these scholarships," and I did and the one I won was to be an engineer; I had to take engineering whether I liked it or not. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
<p>So I ended up going to University on the mainland, Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, three years pre-engineering, and then the Technical University of Nova Scotia, which is now part of Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, for the additional two years before graduation. So I was in and out of there — University — got my engineering degree, graduated in 1951, and the time went so fast that I didn't realize, all of a sudden, as we say in Newfoundland — "I are an engineer." And my brother had passed away — my older brother — and instead of going to General Electric in Peterborough, which I was accepted for, I came back home, and I went to work in the paper mill. And that's where my career started in engineering. </p>
  
Okay, I started at a very young age. I didn't really want to do engineering when I finished my grade 11, which was the highest high-school grade here in Newfoundland at the time. I was ready to go to University and I didn't have too much money. We just came out of the Depression and WWII, but I really wanted to be a Doctor, not a Doctor of Engineering but a Doctor of Medicine. I was in the last year of my high-school, I was only fifteen years of age, and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to go to University unless I had some sort of scholarship. Scholarships were offered in my town, Corner Brook, from a paper company — the paper industry that was active in that community. Because I had done fairly well in grade 11, the School Principal said "You really should apply for one of these scholarships," and I did and the one I won was to be an engineer; I had to take engineering whether I liked it or not.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
So I ended up going to University on the mainland, Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, three years pre-engineering, and then the Technical University of Nova Scotia, which is now part of Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, for the additional two years before graduation. So I was in and out of there — University — got my engineering degree, graduated in 1951, and the time went so fast that I didn't realize, all of a sudden, as we say in Newfoundland — "I are an engineer." And my brother had passed away — my older brother — and instead of going to General Electric in Peterborough, which I was accepted for, I came back home, and I went to work in the paper mill. And that's where my career started in engineering.
+
<p>Okay. And so what year was that you were…what years did you work in the paper mill? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Okay. And so what year was that you were…what years did you work in the paper mill?
+
<p>I worked at the paper mill itself in Corner Brook for five years, from 1951 to 1955, and then I was reassigned to Deer Lake, which is the site of the hydroelectric power development that supplied power to Corner Brook and the mill. I still worked for the same paper company but in the hydroelectric division. I stayed there for ten years. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Early Involvement in AIEE  ===
  
I worked at the paper mill itself in Corner Brook for five years, from 1951 to 1955, and then I was reassigned to Deer Lake, which is the site of the hydroelectric power development that supplied power to Corner Brook and the mill. I still worked for the same paper company but in the hydroelectric division. I stayed there for ten years.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Early Involvement in AIEE ===
+
<p>And when in that period did you become aware of the [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]] or the [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]], the predecessor organizations of [[IEEE History|IEEE]]? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And when in that period did you become aware of the AIEE or the IRE, the predecessor organizations of IEEE?
+
<p>Good question. I didn't know IEEE in University because nobody in the schools I went to had a student branch, so my first awareness was on the job. What happened was, in my first year at the paper mill my boss was an IEEE member. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Good question. I didn't know IEEE in University because nobody in the schools I went to had a student branch, so my first awareness was on the job. What happened was, in my first year at the paper mill my boss was an IEEE member.
+
<p>And that would have been [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]] in those days? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And that would have been AIEE in those days?  
+
<p>Yes, it would have been [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]]. And it was a funny thing. I was always trying to plan ahead for my career, and having been thrown out of the idea of being a Doctor, I got to ask my boss about being an engineer. There were only three [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]] members in Cornerbrook, as I found out later, so I asked my boss, "What can I do to stay up-to-date with my career and make progress?" And I was expecting a big lecture on, you know, how I should guide myself, and so on. All I got was a two-word answer: "Join [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]]." So that's the way it happened. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes, it would have been AIEE. And it was a funny thing. I was always trying to plan ahead for my career, and having been thrown out of the idea of being a Doctor, I got to ask my boss about being an engineer. There were only three AIEE members in Cornerbrook, as I found out later, so I asked my boss, "What can I do to stay up-to-date with my career and make progress?" And I was expecting a big lecture on, you know, how I should guide myself, and so on. All I got was a two-word answer: "Join AIEE." So that's the way it happened.
+
<p>If there were only three local individuals, what was the closest active section at that time? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
If there were only three local individuals, what was the closest active section at that time?
+
<p>It would have been Halifax, but there was a movement going ahead in Newfoundland to have a separate section. It was not in place because we didn't have enough members on the island and in Labrador, so it really started being a sub-section of the Atlantic section, which was based in Halifax. I joined in 1952 and along with some who were already in [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]], we then got busy trying to build up the membership so that we could become a full Section. That's where I really started to get involved with [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]]. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
It would have been Halifax, but there was a movement going ahead in Newfoundland to have a separate section. It was not in place because we didn't have enough members on the island and in Labrador, so it really started being a sub-section of the Atlantic section, which was based in Halifax. I joined in 1952 and along with some who were already in AIEE, we then got busy trying to build up the membership so that we could become a full Section. That's where I really started to get involved with AIEE.
+
<p>Now, which industries in Newfoundland employed significant numbers of electrical engineers in those days? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Now, which industries in Newfoundland employed significant numbers of electrical engineers in those days?
+
<p>In Newfoundland the principal employers of electrical engineers were in the electric utilities, the pulp and paper industry, and mining companies. Most of our engineers were members of the Engineering Institute of Canada, which covered civil engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, whatever, and most of us belonged to that body as their first professional Association. Through the early 1970s our members set a goal to increase membership in [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]] so that we could eventually become a full fledged Section. We started as a sub-section of the Atlantic Section, and by 1978 we achieved full Section status. I was in my 26th year as a member. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
In Newfoundland the principal employers of electrical engineers were in the electric utilities, the pulp and paper industry, and mining companies. Most of our engineers were members of the Engineering Institute of Canada, which covered civil engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, whatever, and most of us belonged to that body as their first professional Association. Through the early 1970s our members set a goal to increase membership in AIEE so that we could eventually become a full fledged Section. We started as a sub-section of the Atlantic Section, and by 1978 we achieved full Section status. I was in my 26th year as a member.
+
<p>Okay. And since you were active in helping to organize the Section, did you become an officer right away? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Okay. And since you were active in helping to organize the Section, did you become an officer right away?
+
<p>Yup, it was non-stop from there on. I became an officer of the local Section and then of [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]], the Canada Region. While I was a Regional officer, in 1984, IEEE was celebrating our hundredth anniversary. Dick Gowen was president and I got interested in the new Milestones program. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yup, it was non-stop from there on. I became an officer of the local Section and then of Region 7, the Canada Region. While I was a Regional officer, in 1984, IEEE was celebrating our hundredth anniversary. Dick Gowen was president and I got interested in the new Milestones program.
+
<p>Interesting. Let's step back for one second. In 1963, [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]] had merged with [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]] to form IEEE. Until the Centennial came and made you aware of the milestones and broader activity, did you get involved at all with the higher level of IEEE or were your activities really focused on the Section? When did you get involved at the Regional level? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Interesting. Let's step back for one second. In 1963, AIEE had merged with IRE to form IEEE. Until the Centennial came and made you aware of the milestones and broader activity, did you get involved at all with the higher level of IEEE or were your activities really focused on the Section? When did you get involved at the Regional level?
+
<p>Well, as you know, the Canada Region was split into three areas: The Eastern area which covered the Atlantic and Montreal and Ottawa; then the Central area which was in Ontario and covered the central section of the country; and then the Western area. I became chair of the Eastern area, which covered six, I believe, Sections, and I served there for a time. Then I really was very involved moving forward on all the programs that IEEE was involved with, and I became aware of the Milestone Program when it was announced in 1983. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Milestones in Newfoundland  ===
  
Well, as you know, the Canada Region was split into three areas: The Eastern area which covered the Atlantic and Montreal and Ottawa; then the Central area which was in Ontario and covered the central section of the country; and then the Western area. I became chair of the Eastern area, which covered six, I believe, Sections, and I served there for a time. Then I really was very involved moving forward on all the programs that IEEE was involved with, and I became aware of the Milestone Program when it was announced in 1983.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Milestones in Newfoundland ===
+
<p>Right. And I believe that…. So what was your position in the Region at the time that you became aware of the milestones and the centennial? You were vice chair by that point. Okay, so you got involved with Milestones and, of course, two of the first three milestones approved were in Newfoundland. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Right. And I believe that…. So what was your position in the Region at the time that you became aware of the milestones and the centennial? You were vice chair by that point. Okay, so you got involved with Milestones and, of course, two of the first three milestones approved were in Newfoundland.  
+
<p>Well, that was the funny thing about it. As you know, the milestones program was blessed at the hundredth year of IEEE, dating from the founding of [[AIEE History 1884-1963|AIEE]]. [[Richard Gowen|Dick Gowen]] was president and he started that new initiative, and so he called for nominations for potential Milestones. It required a little bit of work. We were still only a sub-section at the time. Anyway, I said, I'm going to organize to submit two, one of which is close by us here — Signal Hill, and honoring Marconi and the first transatlantic message — and the second was in Heart’s Content, which is just in the next bay around here, which was in memory of the 1866 undersea cable from Ireland to Newfoundland. And it was a funny thing, I don't think anybody else got any applications in on time in order to get them approved, and I ended up with both of mine being approved. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>And that created a financial problem for me. As you know, we have to pay $600 per Milestone plaque. Both of these locations that I talked about — Heart’s Content and Signal Hill — are in Canadian national parks, therefore, I had to have two plaques: one in English; one in French. I'm now stuck with a bill for four engineering milestone plaques, because nobody else had time enough to put in their application. I wrote Dick and I said, Dick, you know, you're going to break this Section that we're trying to organize. Can you find some centennial funds for them? And so Dick Gowen and IEEE very kindly paid for those first four plaques. </p>
  
Well, that was the funny thing about it. As you know, the milestones program was blessed at the hundredth year of IEEE, dating from the founding of AIEE. Dick Gowen was president and he started that new initiative, and so he called for nominations for potential Milestones. It required a little bit of work. We were still only a sub-section at the time. Anyway, I said, I'm going to organize to submit two, one of which is close by us here — Signal Hill, and honoring Marconi and the first transatlantic message — and the second was in Heart’s Content, which is just in the next bay around here, which was in memory of the 1866 undersea cable from Ireland to Newfoundland. And it was a funny thing, I don't think anybody else got any applications in on time in order to get them approved, and I ended up with both of mine being approved.
+
=== Leadership Positions in IEEE ===
  
And that created a financial problem for me. As you know, we have to pay $600 per Milestone plaque. Both of these locations that I talked about — Heart’s Content and Signal Hill — are in Canadian national parks, therefore, I had to have two plaques: one in English; one in French. I'm now stuck with a bill for four engineering milestone plaques, because nobody else had time enough to put in their application. I wrote Dick and I said, Dick, you know, you're going to break this Section that we're trying to organize. Can you find some centennial funds for them? And so Dick Gowen and IEEE very kindly paid for those first four plaques.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Leadership Positions in IEEE ===
+
<p>That is really an interesting story because usually historical activity comes later in an IEEE volunteer's career, but that you started with history, and that brought you to the attention of the IEEE leadership down in the U.S. — I guess it was still in New York at that time, though it may have already moved to Piscataway. Anyway, that brought you into contact with the Board approving the milestones and with negotiating with the President to pay for the plaques, and so forth. So then what was your next step in IEEE volunteer leadership, now that you were aware of what was going on? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
That is really an interesting story because usually historical activity comes later in an IEEE volunteer's career, but that you started with history, and that brought you to the attention of the IEEE leadership down in the U.S. — I guess it was still in New York at that time, though it may have already moved to Piscataway. Anyway, that brought you into contact with the Board approving the milestones and with negotiating with the President to pay for the plaques, and so forth. So then what was your next step in IEEE volunteer leadership, now that you were aware of what was going on?
+
<p>Yeah, as Eastern area chair, I had responsibility for all the Sections in Eastern Canada and the Section chairs underneath. Just prior to that, Newfoundland and Labrador got the blessing to become its own Section. We had enough members, and that was done, so I served as the chair of the new Section and then from there, as I said, I became Eastern area chair. I was also on the [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] Board. From there I got very interested and involved in what was then called [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|Regional Activities Board (RAB)]]; today it is called Member and Geographic Activities, although I never did become Vice President of Regional Activities. I also got very involved with Standards Activities in IEEE, and that really became a main focus of my activity as well. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yeah, as Eastern area chair, I had responsibility for all the Sections in Eastern Canada and the Section chairs underneath. Just prior to that, Newfoundland and Labrador got the blessing to become its own Section. We had enough members, and that was done, so I served as the chair of the new Section and then from there, as I said, I became Eastern area chair. I was also on the region 7 Board. From there I got very interested and involved in what was then called Regional Activities Board (RAB); today it is called Member and Geographic Activities, although I never did become Vice President of Regional Activities. I also got very involved with Standards Activities in IEEE, and that really became a main focus of my activity as well.
+
<p>So your two routes of activities were on the one hand interested in these activities because of your local connections — you really came up through the Sub-section, Section, Area, Region side. But when you became aware of the national organization, you were educated about their Standards activity, and you got involved in that. Now, why were Standards activities important for an engineer in Canada, in your opinion? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So your two routes of activities were on the one hand interested in these activities because of your local connections — you really came up through the Sub-section, Section, Area, Region side. But when you became aware of the national organization, you were educated about their Standards activity, and you got involved in that. Now, why were Standards activities important for an engineer in Canada, in your opinion?
+
<p>Well, I got interested in more than just Standards. I started to get interested in history, as I mentioned, and I also started to get involved in the management of IEEE — big IEEE. It just seemed that one thing led to another, and when I left the Eastern Canada area chair, I got involved in [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] activities. And that was back in the days when [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] and [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|Technical Activities (TAB)]] were real "enemies" …. Not enemies; I shouldn't say it that way, but they viewed each other as rivals rather than parts of the same team. [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] would have their meetings and [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]] would have their meetings — the technical activities, Societies, and so on — and they would send spies over between each other. If [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]] decided that they were going to have a committee on minorities in engineering, the spy would run back to [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] and say, [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]] is going to do this; we should do it too. You have these bodies operating independently, not talking to each other at the higher level. Thank God that's over with now. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, I got interested in more than just Standards. I started to get interested in history, as I mentioned, and I also started to get involved in the management of IEEE — big IEEE. It just seemed that one thing led to another, and when I left the Eastern Canada area chair, I got involved in RAB activities. And that was back in the days when RAB and Technical Activities (TAB) were real "enemies" …. Not enemies; I shouldn't say it that way, but they viewed each other as rivals rather than parts of the same team. RAB would have their meetings and TAB would have their meetings — the technical activities, Societies, and so on — and they would send spies over between each other. If TAB decided that they were going to have a committee on minorities in engineering, the spy would run back to RAB and say, TAB is going to do this; we should do it too. You have these bodies operating independently, not talking to each other at the higher level. Thank God that's over with now.  
+
<p>We'll get to your role in helping with that problem when we get to your higher-level Board activity. However, the structure doesn't seem very logical from an engineering point of view, with two organizations that competed, instead of working together. But that was your experience. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
We'll get to your role in helping with that problem when we get to your higher-level Board activity. However, the structure doesn't seem very logical from an engineering point of view, with two organizations that competed, instead of working together. But that was your experience.  
+
<p>Yes, there was a rivalry. It was pleasant. We didn't have any fights, as such — physical fights. But there was this independence of operation until everybody realized, look, we're both trying to do great things; let's get together and plan those things. So they brought [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] and [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]] together in a single committee of IEEE, which brought the effort together. That took a few years to take place. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes, there was a rivalry. It was pleasant. We didn't have any fights, as such — physical fights. But there was this independence of operation until everybody realized, look, we're both trying to do great things; let's get together and plan those things. So they brought RAB and TAB together in a single committee of IEEE, which brought the effort together. That took a few years to take place.
+
<p>Had you personally been involved with the TAB side, with any societies? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Had you personally been involved with the TAB side, with any societies?
+
<p>Well, yes, I was right from the start an active member of the Power and Engineering Society (now called the Power and Energy Society). </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, yes, I was right from the start an active member of the Power and Engineering Society (now called the Power and Energy Society).
+
<p>And did you maintain that activity through your career? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And did you maintain that activity through your career?
+
<p>All the way through, yes. It was a good experience for me. But in some ways it was a bad experience economically for IEEE because, as I said, they had these two groups working independently until they got right at the top — the big Board. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Agenda as Board Member  ===
  
All the way through, yes. It was a good experience for me. But in some ways it was a bad experience economically for IEEE because, as I said, they had these two groups working independently until they got right at the top — the big Board.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Agenda as Board Member ===
+
<p>So how do you first get elevated to the big Board? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So how do you first get elevated to the big Board?
+
<p>Well, I ran for an election. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, I ran for an election.
+
<p>For Region Director? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
For Region Director?
+
<p>For the [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] Director position. I ran three times and lost, but by 1984 I had taken on that role. In 1983 I was elected by [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] to be the chair of [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] for 1984 and 1985. And the [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] Director served on the main IEEE Board. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
For the Region 7 Director position. I ran three times and lost, but by 1984 I had taken on that role. In 1983 I was elected by Region 7 to be the chair of Region 7 for 1984 and 1985. And the Region 7 Director served on the main IEEE Board.
+
<p>Of course, during 1984 there was a lot of focus on the celebration of the centennial, and you already mentioned your role in the milestones and the first two milestones dedicated here in Newfoundland in 1985. But when the dust settled and the Board went back to business, do you remember what were the issues facing IEEE in 1985 that stick in your mind? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Of course, during 1984 there was a lot of focus on the celebration of the centennial, and you already mentioned your role in the milestones and the first two milestones dedicated here in Newfoundland in 1985. But when the dust settled and the Board went back to business, do you remember what were the issues facing IEEE in 1985 that stick in your mind?
+
<p>Well, I guess there are two things about IEEE which I felt, personally, that I didn't think IEEE was paying enough attention to. One was the issue of the globalization of IEEE. And so I got very interested in trying to get more members outside of the U.S. at the membership level, and that was one of the main efforts that I started to promote as a Director on the Board: get more international members. And we did move from 30% membership to half and half membership, where we are now. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, I guess there are two things about IEEE which I felt, personally, that I didn't think IEEE was paying enough attention to. One was the issue of the globalization of IEEE. And so I got very interested in trying to get more members outside of the U.S. at the membership level, and that was one of the main efforts that I started to promote as a Director on the Board: get more international members. And we did move from 30% membership to half and half membership, where we are now.  
+
<p>Do you recall, other than the Region directors from 7 through 10, who by definition had to be outside of the Unites Stated, how many other Board members — presidents, secretaries, treasurers, technical division directors — how many other Board members were from outside the United States when you joined the Board. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Do you recall, other than the Region directors from 7 through 10, who by definition had to be outside of the Unites Stated, how many other Board members — presidents, secretaries, treasurers, technical division directors — how many other Board members were from outside the United States when you joined the Board.  
+
<p>I don't know if I can put the number on it. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I don't know if I can put the number on it.
+
<p>Not a number, but was it a lot or you felt they were under-represented? </p>
  
Geselowitz
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Not a number, but was it a lot or you felt they were under-represented?
+
<p>Oh, under-represented, definitely. And that was one aspect that I felt was a personal goal. Before I departed from the scene I wanted to see a greater percentage of members, and we achieved that, I mean 50/50 is pretty good. The other thing that I wanted to promote because there was not enough opportunity for industry-trained engineers to be involved with IEEE. The industry category was almost ignored; it was almost all academics in leadership positions. And so that was the other thing that I wanted to promote, and that's why I got into Standards activities, saying, Look, here's Standards down here trying to do their job, but they don't have much leverage or much voting power to turn all the University professors and research and development areas into recognizing that whatever work they're doing, it has to be applied in the field. And so that's the other. Those are the two issues that I wanted to see some improvement. And over the years, until I got elected President of the IEEE in 1996, those were two of the goals that I wanted to see achieved. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Oh, under-represented, definitely. And that was one aspect that I felt was a personal goal. Before I departed from the scene I wanted to see a greater percentage of members, and we achieved that, I mean 50/50 is pretty good. The other thing that I wanted to promote because there was not enough opportunity for industry-trained engineers to be involved with IEEE. The industry category was almost ignored; it was almost all academics in leadership positions. And so that was the other thing that I wanted to promote, and that's why I got into Standards activities, saying, Look, here's Standards down here trying to do their job, but they don't have much leverage or much voting power to turn all the University professors and research and development areas into recognizing that whatever work they're doing, it has to be applied in the field. And so that's the other. Those are the two issues that I wanted to see some improvement. And over the years, until I got elected President of the IEEE in 1996, those were two of the goals that I wanted to see achieved.
+
<p>Okay, before we get to your ascension to the presidency, what were your Board activities between 1985 when you were [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] Director and 1995 when you became President Elect? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Okay, before we get to your ascension to the presidency, what were your Board activities between 1985 when you were Region 7 Director and 1995 when you became President Elect?
+
<p>My Board activities were mostly in the regional activities area, although as I said I didn't ever become chair of [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]]. I also started to follow through on the Standards scene. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Vice Presidency of Standards  ===
  
My Board activities were mostly in the regional activities area, although as I said I didn't ever become chair of RAB. I also started to follow through on the Standards scene.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Vice Presidency of Standards ===
+
<p>So, did you ever become Vice President of Standards activities? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So, did you ever become Vice President of Standards activities?
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes.
+
<p>And what year was that? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And what year was that?
+
<p>It would have been 1993 and 1994. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
It would have been 1993 and 1994.
+
<p>And in your two years as Standards vice-president, what did you feel you most accomplished; what were the issues before the Standards board, or what did you most accomplish? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And in your two years as Standards vice-president, what did you feel you most accomplished; what were the issues before the Standards board, or what did you most accomplish?
+
<p>Well, I wanted to see a better recognition of what Standards was all about, and why doesn't the Board give them more recognition? Because in the Standards group we were international in scope. We joined the other Standards-writing community in the rest of the world. We're kind of a step ahead on globalization in the Standards activity, but it wasn't translated up to the big Board level. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, I wanted to see a better recognition of what Standards was all about, and why doesn't the Board give them more recognition? Because in the Standards group we were international in scope. We joined the other Standards-writing community in the rest of the world. We're kind of a step ahead on globalization in the Standards activity, but it wasn't translated up to the big Board level.  
+
<p>Also, you weren't alone being concerned getting Industry involved, and Standards was, again, ahead of the rest of IEEE in terms of involving Industry. So you were the vice-president of Standards and active in Standards activities and trying to promote standards to the Board, and you were still active in [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]]. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Also, you weren't alone being concerned getting Industry involved, and Standards was, again, ahead of the rest of IEEE in terms of involving Industry. So you were the vice-president of Standards and active in Standards activities and trying to promote standards to the Board, and you were still active in RAB.
+
<p>And the Power Engineering Society </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Running for President  ===
  
And the Power Engineering Society
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Running for President ===
+
<p>And the Power Engineering Society. What made you decide to stand for [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|President of the IEEE]]? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And the Power Engineering Society. What made you decide to stand for President of the IEEE?
+
<p>I felt that if I got in there, I thought I could further my two goals of making IEEE more international in membership and getting industry more connected at the Board level. Those are the two things I wanted to see move forward, and I felt that if I couldn't do it as just a Board member. I looked to see if there's a higher post that I could get a little more aggressive in those two areas. So that's why I put my name forward. There were a lot of good people from academe, and I ran against them for the election, and I lost three times. I eventually got to the point where I said, "They have sent me a message; perhaps I shouldn't run again." So I decided to tell them that, you know, I wasn't going to be a candidate next time around. That was in 1995, and one of the leaders at the Board level came to me and said, "Look, you should really run again." So I said, "I'll try." </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I felt that if I got in there, I thought I could further my two goals of making IEEE more international in membership and getting industry more connected at the Board level. Those are the two things I wanted to see move forward, and I felt that if I couldn't do it as just a Board member. I looked to see if there's a higher post that I could get a little more aggressive in those two areas. So that's why I put my name forward. There were a lot of good people from academe, and I ran against them for the election, and I lost three times. I eventually got to the point where I said, "They have sent me a message; perhaps I shouldn't run again." So I decided to tell them that, you know, I wasn't going to be a candidate next time around. That was in 1995, and one of the leaders at the Board level came to me and said, "Look, you should really run again." So I said, "I'll try."
+
<p>Do you remember who that was? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Do you remember who that was?
+
<p>Yes, it was Past President [[Merrill Buckley Jr.|Merrill Buckley]]. This time I would be in competition with two professors, [[Donald Bolle]] of New York University and Chuck Alexander, who had held positions at several prestigious universities. On the campaign trail we went down to a PACE (Professional Activities Committee for Engineers) meeting in Arizona, where they had the three candidates for lunch to answer questions on what they were going to do when they became [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|IEEE President]]. There were twenty questions and the Chairperson alternated the order of responses. We had to stay within one minute for each answer. So I made a point of watching the audience while this was going on and it being lunch hour I noted some boredom creeping in and some were dozing off. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
<p>Near the end came the question "Why do you want to be IEEE President?" Chuck was first to answer, and if you have met him you will know him as a very charismatic person and an excellent speaker. He was very clear in his answers and within the time limit. Don was next and did an excellent job too, but he ran overtime so Madam Chair had to cut him off. These two tall handsome gentlemen were seated on either side of me, and it was now my turn to respond. I purposely didn’t answer for 15 seconds, and then I watched the audience and people were waking up. I heard "What’s going on? Did the old guy die?" I gestured to either side of me and said, "I have only one reason to want to be IEEE President, and that is to teach some humility to my rivals here before they take office." [Laughter] </p>
  
Yes, it was Past President Merrill Buckley. This time I would be in competition with two professors, Donald Bolle of New York University and Chuck Alexander, who had held positions at several prestigious universities. On the campaign trail we went down to a PACE (Professional Activities Committee for Engineers) meeting in Arizona, where they had the three candidates for lunch to answer questions on what they were going to do when they became IEEE President. There were twenty questions and the Chairperson alternated the order of responses. We had to stay within one minute for each answer. So I made a point of watching the audience while this was going on and it being lunch hour I noted some boredom creeping in and some were dozing off.  
+
<p>Now, you cannot win the IEEE election without capturing [[Region 6 (Western U.S.) History|Region 6 (West Coast U.S.)]] or [[Region 1 (Northeastern U.S.) History|Region 1 (Northeast U.S.)]] on your side. And it was a time when the employment was seeing a bit of a recession in California. I was pushing to make sure that we were going to help correct this by getting IEEE involved from an industry point of view. That is how I ran, and I won the election. I won [[Region 6 (Western U.S.) History|Region 6]] along with all the Regions outside the United States. </p>
  
Near the end came the question "Why do you want to be IEEE President?" Chuck was first to answer, and if you have met him you will know him as a very charismatic person and an excellent speaker. He was very clear in his answers and within the time limit. Don was next and did an excellent job too, but he ran overtime so Madam Chair had to cut him off. These two tall handsome gentlemen were seated on either side of me, and it was now my turn to respond. I purposely didn’t answer for 15 seconds, and then I watched the audience and people were waking up. I heard "What’s going on? Did the old guy die?" I gestured to either side of me and said, "I have only one reason to want to be IEEE President, and that is to teach some humility to my rivals here before they take office." [Laughter]
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Now, you cannot win the IEEE election without capturing Region 6 (West Coast U.S.) or Region 1 (Northeast U.S.) on your side. And it was a time when the employment was seeing a bit of a recession in California. I was pushing to make sure that we were going to help correct this by getting IEEE involved from an industry point of view. That is how I ran, and I won the election. I won Region 6 along with all the Regions outside the United States.
+
<p>Now, that made you the first president of IEEE from outside Region 1 through 6, didn't it? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Now, that made you the first president of IEEE from outside Region 1 through 6, didn't it?
+
<p>The second. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
The second.
+
<p>The second? Who was the first? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
The second? Who was the first?
+
<p>[[Robert H. Tanner|Bob Tanner]] in 1972. [[Robert H. Tanner|Bob Tanner]] was an Englishman, but he worked with the National Research Council in Canada, and it was at a time when the chair of the Board of IEEE — [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|the President of IEEE]] — was elected by the Directors and not by universal ballot of the members. So [[Robert H. Tanner|Bob Tanner]] was the first. He wrote the ''Tanner Report'' and it really was a magnificent readjustment of how we need to operate as an international group. And so he was the first, and I was the second, and the first to be elected by the membership. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Presidency  ===
  
Bob Tanner in 1972. Bob Tanner was an Englishman, but he worked with the National Research Council in Canada, and it was at a time when the chair of the Board of IEEE — the President of IEEE — was elected by the Directors and not by universal ballot of the members. So Bob Tanner was the first. He wrote the ''Tanner Report'' and it really was a magnificent readjustment of how we need to operate as an international group. And so he was the first, and I was the second, and the first to be elected by the membership.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Presidency ===
+
<p>Great. I'd like to hear you talk a little bit about the accomplishments of your year as President, and also if any unexpected things came up in your year as President. But I'm also curious as to whether being from outside the United States impacted being President of the IEEE? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Great. I'd like to hear you talk a little bit about the accomplishments of your year as President, and also if any unexpected things came up in your year as President. But I'm also curious as to whether being from outside the United States impacted being President of the IEEE?
+
<p>Well, I had circulated in so many areas of IEEE activities, not just Standards but many committees and [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] and so on in my past history, that I was fairly well known amongst the rank and file, and fairly well known at the Board level as a Director. Somebody said, "Well, maybe it's time to give the old fellow a chance at it. He's bragging about it for so long." And the labor situation in California at the time impacted the election, and we never get a big turnout of votes anyway for the presidency — about 20% of our membership or something. And that's the way it happened. Once I got there and became President, I pushed those two issues — increase our presence in industry and grow our international group. People were crying out for it in Europe, Asia — they wanted to build their memberships, and we have. And then I worked real hard trying to raise the profile of Industry, and particularly Industry CEOs who may not be engineers, but to get them to understand that they should support their employees in becoming members of IEEE. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, I had circulated in so many areas of IEEE activities, not just Standards but many committees and RAB and so on in my past history, that I was fairly well known amongst the rank and file, and fairly well known at the Board level as a Director. Somebody said, "Well, maybe it's time to give the old fellow a chance at it. He's bragging about it for so long." And the labor situation in California at the time impacted the election, and we never get a big turnout of votes anyway for the presidency — about 20% of our membership or something. And that's the way it happened. Once I got there and became President, I pushed those two issues — increase our presence in industry and grow our international group. People were crying out for it in Europe, Asia — they wanted to build their memberships, and we have. And then I worked real hard trying to raise the profile of Industry, and particularly Industry CEOs who may not be engineers, but to get them to understand that they should support their employees in becoming members of IEEE.
+
<p>Did you do a lot of traveling in your year as President? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Did you do a lot of traveling in your year as President?
+
<p>Yeah, I was married and I had a family, and I decided that I had to make up my mind between being a full-time family father of four boys, or make more room for expanded IEEE duties. I elected the latter and cautioned the family that I was going to have to be away a lot. I was only home in Newfoundland one month in my year as President! </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yeah, I was married and I had a family, and I decided that I had to make up my mind between being a full-time family father of four boys, or make more room for expanded IEEE duties. I elected the latter and cautioned the family that I was going to have to be away a lot. I was only home in Newfoundland one month in my year as President!  
+
<p>Wow! </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Wow!
+
<p>I traveled — in those days every Section in the world wanted to see the IEEE President — and it was a very wonderful experience for me, of course, and I went around the world four times, visiting in my role as President. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I traveled — in those days every Section in the world wanted to see the IEEE President — and it was a very wonderful experience for me, of course, and I went around the world four times, visiting in my role as President.
+
<p>Are there any one or two particular trips that stand out in your mind as being particularly outstanding? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Are there any one or two particular trips that stand out in your mind as being particularly outstanding?  
+
<p>The United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Australia and Slovenia stand out for me. However, like everybody else that travels internationally — and I had done some of it before I was President — from a personal point of view you are wondering, What's the rest of the world looking like, and why do I want to live in Newfoundland, you know? Is there any place better than Newfoundland? And I quickly came to the conclusion, after visiting around the world four times, including Russia — the only place I didn't get to was South Africa because I had a conflict in schedule — that there isn't any place better than Newfoundland, so I just had to reunite myself with Canada and my Province, but that came after I served my term and did my job. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
The United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Australia and Slovenia stand out for me. However, like everybody else that travels internationally — and I had done some of it before I was President — from a personal point of view you are wondering, What's the rest of the world looking like, and why do I want to live in Newfoundland, you know? Is there any place better than Newfoundland? And I quickly came to the conclusion, after visiting around the world four times, including Russia — the only place I didn't get to was South Africa because I had a conflict in schedule — that there isn't any place better than Newfoundland, so I just had to reunite myself with Canada and my Province, but that came after I served my term and did my job.
+
<p>Do you think that it affected your reception in Sections outside of North America that you were Canadian and not from the U.S.? Could they tell the difference? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Do you think that it affected your reception in Sections outside of North America that you were Canadian and not from the U.S.? Could they tell the difference?
+
<p>Well, in some places — even some places in the United States — you have a problem in some Sections of recognizing that Canada is a country somewhere north of them. And truly, you'd be surprised, when you're trying to make an address, how that affects your delivery of your message. In Australia I spoke to the graduating class in Sydney, and the Chancellor introduced me. They know there was a Canada because it was in the Commonwealth of Nations with Australia, but they weren't sure how big Canada is or how influential it could be or not be. If they recognized Canada as a separate country, they pretty well said, "Well, whatever the United States says, Canada is going to agree with it because they're so close." Anyway, it was a great opportunity to visit our Sections and to understand the conflicts that our members had in that area of trying to get recognition for some of the programs they wanted to initiate </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Later Engineering Career &amp; CEA  ===
  
Well, in some places — even some places in the United States — you have a problem in some Sections of recognizing that Canada is a country somewhere north of them. And truly, you'd be surprised, when you're trying to make an address, how that affects your delivery of your message. In Australia I spoke to the graduating class in Sydney, and the Chancellor introduced me. They know there was a Canada because it was in the Commonwealth of Nations with Australia, but they weren't sure how big Canada is or how influential it could be or not be. If they recognized Canada as a separate country, they pretty well said, "Well, whatever the United States says, Canada is going to agree with it because they're so close." Anyway, it was a great opportunity to visit our Sections and to understand the conflicts that our members had in that area of trying to get recognition for some of the programs they wanted to initiate
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Later Engineering Career &amp; CEA ===
+
<p>Now, you mentioned the strain on your family of all of the traveling. Where were you in your career at this point, and how did being president of IEEE also place strain on your career? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Now, you mentioned the strain on your family of all of the traveling. Where were you in your career at this point, and how did being president of IEEE also place strain on your career?
+
<p>I had been through my working career. The year before I became president, I retired from work. Retired is not a very descriptive word because once you get tied up in IEEE, you're still going flat out. But as far as working is concerned, the few commitments I had to industry that remained were as a consultant. I formed my own company called REMAS, (Read Management Advisory Services), and I had contracted my services — to utilities mainly. That was separate from IEEE. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I had been through my working career. The year before I became president, I retired from work. Retired is not a very descriptive word because once you get tied up in IEEE, you're still going flat out. But as far as working is concerned, the few commitments I had to industry that remained were as a consultant. I formed my own company called REMAS, (Read Management Advisory Services), and I had contracted my services — to utilities mainly. That was separate from IEEE.
+
<p>So as a consultant, it was easier to integrate your IEEE activities with your professional activities? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So as a consultant, it was easier to integrate your IEEE activities with your professional activities?
+
<p>Oh, yes. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Oh, yes.
+
<p>What were you doing right before you retired? Who had you been working for at that point? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
What were you doing right before you retired? Who had you been working for at that point?
+
<p>To go back, I mentioned to you that I went up through the offices of [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]]. While I was doing that, I was very active in working to get the Churchill River hydroelectric system developed. When we started, Newfoundland was half 50-hertz and half-60 hertz frequency. We integrated the power network into becoming a single 60-hertz frequency operation and we built transmission lines here and in Labrador. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
To go back, I mentioned to you that I went up through the offices of Region 7. While I was doing that, I was very active in working to get the Churchill River hydroelectric system developed. When we started, Newfoundland was half 50-hertz and half-60 hertz frequency. We integrated the power network into becoming a single 60-hertz frequency operation and we built transmission lines here and in Labrador.
+
<p>Were you working for the Province or for the private utility? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Were you working for the Province or for the private utility?
+
<p>I was working for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a Provincial Crown Corporation. There is a private company called Newfoundland Power who buys energy produced by Hydro and they distribute it on the Island. That is an investor-owned company that is part of the Fortis Group. My final position with Hydro was as President. For the 10 years between Hydro and retirement I was president of the Canadian Electricity Association, which was a body that had been set up to coordinate the public image of all utilities in Canada. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I was working for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a Provincial Crown Corporation. There is a private company called Newfoundland Power who buys energy produced by Hydro and they distribute it on the Island. That is an investor-owned company that is part of the Fortis Group. My final position with Hydro was as President. For the 10 years between Hydro and retirement I was president of the Canadian Electricity Association, which was a body that had been set up to coordinate the public image of all utilities in Canada.
+
<p>So that was an industry association for all of Canada, all power generation? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So that was an industry association for all of Canada, all power generation?
+
<p>That's correct. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
That's correct.
+
<p>Were you doing that and serving as President of Hydro at the same time? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Were you doing that and serving as President of Hydro at the same time?
+
<p>Initially as a Board member I participated. Then I became President of CEA full-time when they went for a full-time president, and I was elected. I then retired from Hydro and took on the role, for ten years, as President of the Canadian Electricity Association. That was a utility-organized group but also had manufacturing members for all of Canada. So I was going to Tokyo, and I was going around the world representing the Canadian utility industry as a spokesman. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Initially as a Board member I participated. Then I became President of CEA full-time when they went for a full-time president, and I was elected. I then retired from Hydro and took on the role, for ten years, as President of the Canadian Electricity Association. That was a utility-organized group but also had manufacturing members for all of Canada. So I was going to Tokyo, and I was going around the world representing the Canadian utility industry as a spokesman.
+
<p>Okay. And that's the position from which you retired to become a consultant on the one hand and IEEE full-time volunteer on the other hand? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Okay. And that's the position from which you retired to become a consultant on the one hand and IEEE full-time volunteer on the other hand?
+
<p>Well, it all happened around my age 65. I went right from president of CEA to the campaign for presidency, which I described to you. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, it all happened around my age 65. I went right from president of CEA to the campaign for presidency, which I described to you.  
+
<p>So, you had been on the Board of a couple of years and Standards VP. Then you were President-elect, President and Past President. Did any other interesting issues come before the Board during that period that you haven't mentioned yet? So far, we have talked about globalization, we have talked about industry, and we have talked about Standards. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So, you had been on the Board of a couple of years and Standards VP. Then you were President-elect, President and Past President. Did any other interesting issues come before the Board during that period that you haven't mentioned yet? So far, we have talked about globalization, we have talked about industry, and we have talked about Standards.  
+
<p>Yeah, those things were still important to me but when you become President your lips are somewhat sealed because you're talking to ten [[IEEE Regional Activities Board|RAB]] entities, by Region around the world. And you're talking to ten TAB entities across the technological spectrum. And you have Standards Activities and Educational Activities and the other officers — Past President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer — that make up your Board, and you have to be a sort of referee. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== Post-Board Involvement with IEEE  ===
  
Yeah, those things were still important to me but when you become President your lips are somewhat sealed because you're talking to ten RAB entities, by Region around the world. And you're talking to ten TAB entities across the technological spectrum. And you have Standards Activities and Educational Activities and the other officers — Past President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer — that make up your Board, and you have to be a sort of referee.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== Post-Board Involvement with IEEE ===
+
<p>So, then you must have rotated off the Board in 1998? So how did IEEE keep you busy now that you weren't the immediate past-president anymore? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So, then you must have rotated off the Board in 1998? So how did IEEE keep you busy now that you weren't the immediate past-president anymore?
+
<p>Well, I still continued to serve. Once I got off the Board and got out of the Standards activity and having served in the presidency, I then retreated back, as far as my IEEE activities are concerned, to [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]]. I was elected Director Emeritus, along with Ray Findlay. I confined my IEEE activities to [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]], but I always maintained an interest in making sure if they had made any progress on those other two goals, that nobody undercut them later on, and brought us back to where we were. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Well, I still continued to serve. Once I got off the Board and got out of the Standards activity and having served in the presidency, I then retreated back, as far as my IEEE activities are concerned, to Region 7. I was elected Director Emeritus, along with Ray Findlay. I confined my IEEE activities to Region 7, but I always maintained an interest in making sure if they had made any progress on those other two goals, that nobody undercut them later on, and brought us back to where we were.  
+
<p>Now, I know that one of the interesting things about [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] is that Canada, like some of the other places where IEEE operates, had an indigenous electrical engineering society, the CSECE, Canadian Society for Electrical and Computer Engineering. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Now, I know that one of the interesting things about Region 7 is that Canada, like some of the other places where IEEE operates, had an indigenous electrical engineering society, the CSECE, Canadian Society for Electrical and Computer Engineering.  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes.  
+
<p>And I know that that we were able to effect a merger. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
And I know that that we were able to effect a merger.  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes.
+
<p>So, were you involved in that process? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
So, were you involved in that process?
+
<p>I was involved from the point of view of being interested in how [[Region 7 (Canada) History|Region 7]] was reorganizing. Ray Findlay, who followed me as President a couple years later, was also from Canada and really pushed for the establishment of what we now call IEEE Canada. We are the only region in the world that has only one country as being a Region. In the United States you have six regions to make up the IEEE membership. In Europe, you have many, many countries that make up [[Region 8 (Europe, Middle East, & Africa) History|Region 8]], all the way from Russia down to South Africa, and everything in between. [[Region 9 (Latin America) History|Region 9]] is all of South America — many countries, and many sections. And [[Region 10 (Asia & Pacific) History|Region 10]], of course, is also multi-country. We are the only region that represents only one country, and it makes it a lot easier for us to get things done, hopefully without breaking any of the rules at the IEEE level because we command the twenty sections in Canada, split into the three areas that I talked about. We get our things done, and particularly in the area of the IEEE Canada Foundation. I spent a lot of time with that and also with the IEEE Foundation itself. I spent years at that after I served out my presidency. </p>
  
'''Read:'''
+
=== IEEE Canada Foundation  ===
  
I was involved from the point of view of being interested in how Region 7 was reorganizing. Ray Findlay, who followed me as President a couple years later, was also from Canada and really pushed for the establishment of what we now call IEEE Canada. We are the only region in the world that has only one country as being a Region. In the United States you have six regions to make up the IEEE membership. In Europe, you have many, many countries that make up Region 8, all the way from Russia down to South Africa, and everything in between. Region 9 is all of South America — many countries, and many sections. And Region 10, of course, is also multi-country. We are the only region that represents only one country, and it makes it a lot easier for us to get things done, hopefully without breaking any of the rules at the IEEE level because we command the twenty sections in Canada, split into the three areas that I talked about. We get our things done, and particularly in the area of the IEEE Canada Foundation. I spent a lot of time with that and also with the IEEE Foundation itself. I spent years at that after I served out my presidency.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
=== IEEE Canada Foundation ===
+
<p>Canada is also unique in having is own IEEE Canada Foundation. How were you involved in that? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Canada is also unique in having is own IEEE Canada Foundation. How were you involved in that?
+
<p>I was involved from square one. Again, it was easy to do because we were one country. We could establish laws that fit in Canada but which didn't break the bylaws of the big IEEE. We were able to create the Foundation, which [[Robert T.H. Alden|Bob Alden]] played a big part in organizing. So as you know some of the restrictions are government restrictions. Different countries deal with charitable foundations different ways under the laws of the country. And we had a very good cooperative effort with our own government of Canada on how we qualified for being a charitable foundation, separately for Canada. If I made my charitable donation to the United States-based IEEE Foundation, I couldn't claim it as a deduction for personal income tax relief, but if I made it to the Canada Foundation, we are a fully recognized charitable organization in the eyes of government, and therefore we're entitled to deductions for any donations we made to that. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I was involved from square one. Again, it was easy to do because we were one country. We could establish laws that fit in Canada but which didn't break the bylaws of the big IEEE. We were able to create the Foundation, which Bob Alden played a big part in organizing. So as you know some of the restrictions are government restrictions. Different countries deal with charitable foundations different ways under the laws of the country. And we had a very good cooperative effort with our own government of Canada on how we qualified for being a charitable foundation, separately for Canada. If I made my charitable donation to the United States-based IEEE Foundation, I couldn't claim it as a deduction for personal income tax relief, but if I made it to the Canada Foundation, we are a fully recognized charitable organization in the eyes of government, and therefore we're entitled to deductions for any donations we made to that.  
+
<p>Well, I think this is one of the challenges facing IEEE. We talked earlier about your push for globalization in a number of areas, and obviously philanthropic giving is one of them. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Well, I think this is one of the challenges facing IEEE. We talked earlier about your push for globalization in a number of areas, and obviously philanthropic giving is one of them.  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes.  
+
<p>IEEE likes to operate or think of itself as almost an international NGO, non-government organization, but it is headquartered and chartered in the United States, and that puts certain limitations on it. I don't know if any of those limitations came up during your presidency. Certainly, when I had an interview with Ray Findlay, it was a big issue in his presidency after 9/11, and the U.S. added even more regulations about international commerce that IEEE had to abide by because it was an American non-profit corporation. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
IEEE likes to operate or think of itself as almost an international NGO, non-government organization, but it is headquartered and chartered in the United States, and that puts certain limitations on it. I don't know if any of those limitations came up during your presidency. Certainly, when I had an interview with Ray Findlay, it was a big issue in his presidency after 9/11, and the U.S. added even more regulations about international commerce that IEEE had to abide by because it was an American non-profit corporation.
+
<p>If I happen to make a donation to the History Fund — a charitable donation — it would not be recognized by the government of Canada when I filed my income tax, because it was not a body that was located in Canada, even though it covered a lot of our Canadian members. So that was one of the reasons to have a separate IEEE Canada Foundation. </p>
 
+
'''Read:'''
+
 
+
If I happen to make a donation to the History Fund — a charitable donation — it would not be recognized by the government of Canada when I filed my income tax, because it was not a body that was located in Canada, even though it covered a lot of our Canadian members. So that was one of the reasons to have a separate IEEE Canada Foundation.  
+
  
 
=== Ethics Committee  ===
 
=== Ethics Committee  ===
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Okay. Now, another one of your activities after serving out your term as president was the Ethics Committee. Do you want to say a little bit about that activity?  
+
<p>Okay. Now, another one of your activities after serving out your term as president was the Ethics Committee. Do you want to say a little bit about that activity? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yeah. I don't know if I was selected as the leader in that activity because I was a super ethical person, and I rather doubt that that was the reason, but, no, I chaired the Ethics Committee for three years, I believe, during the career leading up to my presidency. That was one of the committees I was very interested in. I tried to impress upon our members, when I was present and addressed them, that we have to be very, very careful to maintain the ethical image of IEEE, that we weren't straying off the path of a professional engineer. I have a little story I could tell you.  
+
<p>Yeah. I don't know if I was selected as the leader in that activity because I was a super ethical person, and I rather doubt that that was the reason, but, no, I chaired the Ethics Committee for three years, I believe, during the career leading up to my presidency. That was one of the committees I was very interested in. I tried to impress upon our members, when I was present and addressed them, that we have to be very, very careful to maintain the ethical image of IEEE, that we weren't straying off the path of a professional engineer. I have a little story I could tell you. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Go ahead, I would like to hear it.  
+
<p>Go ahead, I would like to hear it. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
It was during that time actually that I really wanted to impress upon our members, particularly people newly coming into the profession and young graduates, of the ethical character we expect from an IEEE member, when and if they ever become a full member by IEEE. And it was a difficult message to get across, because it's sort of off topic for them. Most were up-and-coming engineers concentrating on their technical competence and how they can improve their careers, and that sort of thing. So ethics was something off in the wings, but, you know, an organization can be damaged if we don't have ethical practices, and don't recognize the importance of being in the world's eye. As the prominence of IEEE technologies rose as we reached this century, the importance grew of being seen as an ethical group of people with very, very strong ethical principles. And that was a message that wasn't being hammered home to our members, at least prior to my coming on deck as chair of the Ethics Committee.  
+
<p>It was during that time actually that I really wanted to impress upon our members, particularly people newly coming into the profession and young graduates, of the ethical character we expect from an IEEE member, when and if they ever become a full member by IEEE. And it was a difficult message to get across, because it's sort of off topic for them. Most were up-and-coming engineers concentrating on their technical competence and how they can improve their careers, and that sort of thing. So ethics was something off in the wings, but, you know, an organization can be damaged if we don't have ethical practices, and don't recognize the importance of being in the world's eye. As the prominence of IEEE technologies rose as we reached this century, the importance grew of being seen as an ethical group of people with very, very strong ethical principles. And that was a message that wasn't being hammered home to our members, at least prior to my coming on deck as chair of the Ethics Committee. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Now, did you get resistance from people — say, not people who wanted to be unethical, but just people saying, "You know what; that's not what we are about, you know, every country has its own professional engineering code; let them worry about it. We're just about technical excellence." Did you get any of that kind of pushback?  
+
<p>Now, did you get resistance from people — say, not people who wanted to be unethical, but just people saying, "You know what; that's not what we are about, you know, every country has its own professional engineering code; let them worry about it. We're just about technical excellence." Did you get any of that kind of pushback? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yes, there was some of that, but that was the point of trying to make us more international. I felt we have to recognize that different countries have different ethical rules for their professions, whether it's the medical profession or the engineering or other interests, and it was out there; there was no question of that. So we just wanted to raise the image that we are an ethical group, and sometimes our own engineers would rather hide in the corner and do their little bit of research and go on and talk about it. But since then it's come a long way under the current chair of Ethics Committee.  
+
<p>Yes, there was some of that, but that was the point of trying to make us more international. I felt we have to recognize that different countries have different ethical rules for their professions, whether it's the medical profession or the engineering or other interests, and it was out there; there was no question of that. So we just wanted to raise the image that we are an ethical group, and sometimes our own engineers would rather hide in the corner and do their little bit of research and go on and talk about it. But since then it's come a long way under the current chair of Ethics Committee. </p>
  
 
=== History Committee  ===
 
=== History Committee  ===
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
And then, of course, as I'm personally aware, in 2001 you became involved with the History Committee again. I had come on board in 1997. As we've already discussed, you were involved in History operations very early on, so what made you decide to get involved again?  
+
<p>And then, of course, as I'm personally aware, in 2001 you became involved with the History Committee again. I had come on board in 1997. As we've already discussed, you were involved in History operations very early on, so what made you decide to get involved again? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Well, I heard you were coming on! [Laughter] Actually, I had participated in some historical activity since 1952, when I became a member. I felt there was an importance to history and that we shouldn’t just record it and stick it away in a library somewhere without saying how important history is. History is important in trying to move forward, and in taking a guess at where we want to be. So I guess I got more involved because I was older, and had these experiences and felt we were weak in some areas in history, especially in making it available to the public. We need to raise engineering in the public's eyes, to raise that up high, and use the history documentation to say, "Gosh, if we had only thought about that twenty-five years ago…so let's get at it now and correct it."  
+
<p>Well, I heard you were coming on! [Laughter] Actually, I had participated in some historical activity since 1952, when I became a member. I felt there was an importance to history and that we shouldn’t just record it and stick it away in a library somewhere without saying how important history is. History is important in trying to move forward, and in taking a guess at where we want to be. So I guess I got more involved because I was older, and had these experiences and felt we were weak in some areas in history, especially in making it available to the public. We need to raise engineering in the public's eyes, to raise that up high, and use the history documentation to say, "Gosh, if we had only thought about that twenty-five years ago…so let's get at it now and correct it." </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Right. Because I know you've also been involved with IEEE's public visibility aspect and you're one of the people — and I appreciate it — championing the role of history in public visibility. Some of the public individuals take a more narrow view of it saying, we’ve got to let the public know that we're doing cutting-edge this and cutting-edge that, and not looking at the big historical picture: We wouldn't have any of these things if it weren't for what engineers did twenty-five and fifty years ago.  
+
<p>Right. Because I know you've also been involved with IEEE's public visibility aspect and you're one of the people — and I appreciate it — championing the role of history in public visibility. Some of the public individuals take a more narrow view of it saying, we’ve got to let the public know that we're doing cutting-edge this and cutting-edge that, and not looking at the big historical picture: We wouldn't have any of these things if it weren't for what engineers did twenty-five and fifty years ago. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yes, absolutely.  
+
<p>Yes, absolutely. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Canada has been very active in history, and actually Canada also has its own History Committee, and I am very appreciative of that. Have you been involved in that aspect as well?  
+
<p>Canada has been very active in history, and actually Canada also has its own History Committee, and I am very appreciative of that. Have you been involved in that aspect as well? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yes, of course, I'm now chairing a committee to document the last twenty-five years of IEEE Canada history — documenting it so that by the end of the year it will all be up on the web, on what IEEE has been doing in Canada this last twenty-five years since we documented our history during the IEEE centennial. There are also a lot of articles on history that are now coming in from Individual Sections, and they're being posted on the web. We found it very difficult to publish a hardcover library book to go into our University libraries. Very costly. We did it for the first hundred years, but it had limited distribution, so we're now working on publishing by the end of the year history documentation for the last twenty-five years to fill the gap, and getting it printed as part of our IEEE Canada Review magazine, which comes out three or four times a year, rather than as a book. Plus there will be the web site.  
+
<p>Yes, of course, I'm now chairing a committee to document the last twenty-five years of IEEE Canada history — documenting it so that by the end of the year it will all be up on the web, on what IEEE has been doing in Canada this last twenty-five years since we documented our history during the IEEE centennial. There are also a lot of articles on history that are now coming in from Individual Sections, and they're being posted on the web. We found it very difficult to publish a hardcover library book to go into our University libraries. Very costly. We did it for the first hundred years, but it had limited distribution, so we're now working on publishing by the end of the year history documentation for the last twenty-five years to fill the gap, and getting it printed as part of our IEEE Canada Review magazine, which comes out three or four times a year, rather than as a book. Plus there will be the web site. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Yes, the publishing model had changed. Other units are also looking at using magazines rather than books.  
+
<p>Yes, the publishing model had changed. Other units are also looking at using magazines rather than books. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yes, very expensive, but that's all up on the web, and the web sites will all be posted at the universities. Each Section chair will take that information and offer it to university libraries, or whatever.  
+
<p>Yes, very expensive, but that's all up on the web, and the web sites will all be posted at the universities. Each Section chair will take that information and offer it to university libraries, or whatever. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Right. And I know and the History Committee is very interested in making sure that we have links to all that material on our Global History Network (GHN) site.  
+
<p>Right. And I know and the History Committee is very interested in making sure that we have links to all that material on our Global History Network (GHN) site. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
I’ve already agreed with IEEE History Committee Chair Dick Gowen that it will be available on the GHN.  
+
<p>I’ve already agreed with IEEE History Committee Chair [[Richard Gowen|Dick Gowen]] that it will be available on the GHN. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
And you've also come full circle because, under your leadership in rejoining the History Committee, the Milestones Program has really picked up again. When I became Director there was only two or three dedications a year, and now this year we're looking at, I think, eight dedications. And next year we're going to hit the hundredth milestone, and so we'll have to make sure that you're there, whichever one — wherever it falls out, whether it's in Japan or South America. Wherever it falls out, we'll have to make sure that you are there, since you were at the first one we'll have to make sure that you are at the hundredth.  
+
<p>And you've also come full circle because, under your leadership in rejoining the History Committee, the Milestones Program has really picked up again. When I became Director there was only two or three dedications a year, and now this year we're looking at, I think, eight dedications. And next year we're going to hit the hundredth milestone, and so we'll have to make sure that you're there, whichever one — wherever it falls out, whether it's in Japan or South America. Wherever it falls out, we'll have to make sure that you are there, since you were at the first one we'll have to make sure that you are at the hundredth. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
That's very interesting when you move through all these. When they asked me to co-chair this CCECE conference, I said, "I'm not sure whether the Chappy upstairs is going to keep me around until 2009." So at least they said, "Well, we'll put you up as co-chair." And so I made it to here. But, you know, you don't go on forever.  
+
<p>That's very interesting when you move through all these. When they asked me to co-chair this CCECE conference, I said, "I'm not sure whether the Chappy upstairs is going to keep me around until 2009." So at least they said, "Well, we'll put you up as co-chair." And so I made it to here. But, you know, you don't go on forever. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
No.  
+
<p>No. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
I have a chat with the upstairs Guy every morning. I say, "Why do you keep me down here? I've way overstayed my welcome down here."  
+
<p>I have a chat with the upstairs Guy every morning. I say, "Why do you keep me down here? I've way overstayed my welcome down here." </p>
  
 
=== Fellow and Award Activities  ===
 
=== Fellow and Award Activities  ===
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
And I know that the other activity — I suppose one could say it's an issue related to history — that you've been very involved in since you ran your other cycle on the Board, is various recognition programs — Fellow and award activities. Do you want to say a little bit about that, about your activity in that area? In fact, the main Canadian service award is named in your honor.  
+
<p>And I know that the other activity — I suppose one could say it's an issue related to history — that you've been very involved in since you ran your other cycle on the Board, is various recognition programs — [[IEEE Fellow Grade History|Fellow]] and award activities. Do you want to say a little bit about that, about your activity in that area? In fact, the main Canadian service award is named in your honor. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yes.  
+
<p>Yes. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
So would you like to say something about where you feel the Awards program fits into?  
+
<p>So would you like to say something about where you feel the [[IEEE Awards|Awards]] program fits into? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Well, I think Bob Alden has been the champion of this over the years, and if you attended the meeting we had here last night, which was the awarding of all of our medals for this year, we have an area medal for East, and one for West, and one for Central, and they're all named after very important people in IEEE Canada, all of whom have passed away. And then we have other service metals. And I was the only one that the service medals are named after that's alive today, and that's why I appeared on the stage and made the presentation to Dave Kemp. But the Awards program is in good hands. It's been excellent. We have Bob Hannah, the past chair of IEEE Canada, as a Director, and all these contributors to the nominating committee and the selection, it's an excellent operation and it's been nourished by Bob Alden.  
+
<p>Well, I think [[Robert T.H. Alden|Bob Alden]] has been the champion of this over the years, and if you attended the meeting we had here last night, which was the awarding of all of our medals for this year, we have an area medal for East, and one for West, and one for Central, and they're all named after very important people in IEEE Canada, all of whom have passed away. And then we have other service metals. And I was the only one that the service medals are named after that's alive today, and that's why I appeared on the stage and made the presentation to Dave Kemp. But the Awards program is in good hands. It's been excellent. We have Bob Hannah, the past chair of IEEE Canada, as a Director, and all these contributors to the nominating committee and the selection, it's an excellent operation and it's been nourished by [[Robert T.H. Alden|Bob Alden]]. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
And I know you've been involved at the IEEE level as well, on IEEE medal committees and the Fellows Committee, and so forth. So I wonder if you ought to say some thoughts about the general importance of a recognition program, either in Canada or globally in IEEE. Why you feel it's important to be involved?  
+
<p>And I know you've been involved at the IEEE level as well, on IEEE medal committees and the Fellows Committee, and so forth. So I wonder if you ought to say some thoughts about the general importance of a recognition program, either in Canada or globally in IEEE. Why you feel it's important to be involved? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Well, I think recognition is important as a symbol of what can be — what younger students coming along now can aspire to. Did you hear any of the talks last night?  
+
<p>Well, I think recognition is important as a symbol of what can be — what younger students coming along now can aspire to. Did you hear any of the talks last night? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
I did, yes.  
+
<p>I did, yes. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
They attributed the winning of that medal not to themselves but rather to all the people that supported them. It's a very independent and highly recognized program in Canada and around the world as well. Region 8 has its own awards program, and it's just raises the profile of the big IEEE, and I think it's recognition of that nature that is so fabulous, and very important to know that even if you haven't won the medal, that you've been a part of that person winning that medal. We need to do that for all of our membership.  
+
<p>They attributed the winning of that medal not to themselves but rather to all the people that supported them. It's a very independent and highly recognized program in Canada and around the world as well. [[Region 8 (Europe, Middle East, & Africa) History|Region 8]] has its own awards program, and it's just raises the profile of the big IEEE, and I think it's recognition of that nature that is so fabulous, and very important to know that even if you haven't won the medal, that you've been a part of that person winning that medal. We need to do that for all of our membership. </p>
  
 
=== Historical Changes in IEEE  ===
 
=== Historical Changes in IEEE  ===
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
So, Wally, we've covered your very long career in IEEE, so to start to wrap up I'd like to ask you, looking back over your long career, what do you see as the big trend in how IEEE has changed and where it is and how it got here?  
+
<p>So, Wally, we've covered your very long career in IEEE, so to start to wrap up I'd like to ask you, looking back over your long career, what do you see as the big trend in how IEEE has changed and where it is and how it got here? </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Well, I'm very comfortable with what I thought, back when I ran for President — the directions that IEEE could move in and improve our image for the rest of the world, not necessarily just as engineers but the impact on your lifestyle through the technical accomplishments of IEEE. Let me lead up to where we are now, and is it any different than when I went into the presidency? I mentioned those two goals, international membership and industry involvement. I'm not trying to claim credit for this, but we did open the doors to each of these activities in both areas. In terms of globalization, it probably was for reasons of Standards, that we became more international and associated with other bodies in the world that create standards. Very important — standards for our industry and the application of our technologies.  
+
<p>Well, I'm very comfortable with what I thought, back when I ran for President — the directions that IEEE could move in and improve our image for the rest of the world, not necessarily just as engineers but the impact on your lifestyle through the technical accomplishments of IEEE. Let me lead up to where we are now, and is it any different than when I went into the presidency? I mentioned those two goals, international membership and industry involvement. I'm not trying to claim credit for this, but we did open the doors to each of these activities in both areas. In terms of globalization, it probably was for reasons of Standards, that we became more international and associated with other bodies in the world that create standards. Very important — standards for our industry and the application of our technologies. </p>
  
In the other area, back before my presidency our membership outside of the United States was 30% of our total membership. When I left, or shortly after I left the past-president role, it grew. Our target was 50/50; it grew from that time up to 50/50. We're 50/50 now — 50% of our members reside outside of the United States. So it's not just an American association; it's global, and I think we've got the right balance now. So I feel that was an achievement, not my achievement alone but a lot of hard work by all the leadership.  
+
<p>In the other area, back before my presidency our membership outside of the United States was 30% of our total membership. When I left, or shortly after I left the past-president role, it grew. Our target was 50/50; it grew from that time up to 50/50. We're 50/50 now — 50% of our members reside outside of the United States. So it's not just an American association; it's global, and I think we've got the right balance now. So I feel that was an achievement, not my achievement alone but a lot of hard work by all the leadership. </p>
  
The second goal of becoming more industry-connected rather than just academic — researchers locking themselves in a room — is also related to the problem of public visibility. Not telling anybody that they were doing excellent work, not talking about that accomplishment, again, to the public, is no longer acceptable. We made a good deal of progress in that area, and we need to make more. So I felt very gratified, along with the team that we had over the years, to have made that progress.  
+
<p>The second goal of becoming more industry-connected rather than just academic — researchers locking themselves in a room — is also related to the problem of public visibility. Not telling anybody that they were doing excellent work, not talking about that accomplishment, again, to the public, is no longer acceptable. We made a good deal of progress in that area, and we need to make more. So I felt very gratified, along with the team that we had over the years, to have made that progress. </p>
  
 
=== The Creative Importance of Engineers  ===
 
=== The Creative Importance of Engineers  ===
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
As far as going forward is concerned, and I didn't mention that earlier, but we need to reach down even at the grade-school level, to show the importance of our profession, and the importance of it, not just from the point of view of how we make certain gadgets and they work and that's it. But we're penetrating that audience now, now because of a change in of activities worldwide. You know, we engineers are, along with the arts people, the most important contributors to the benefit of mankind. And we don't tell people enough about that yet. We started it, but we need to make sure that the public is aware of the importance of the profession of engineers in establishing our role as citizens of the earth. Jokingly, when I speak to groups outside IEEE, I tend to talk to them on the basis of, there are only two professions in the world. These other people that call themselves professional — doctors, lawyers, accountants — they're not creators. And I'm kind of insulting some members of the audience as I go through this little preamble. It's the artist and the engineer that create new things to meet the challenge of the workplace and impact on the environment — the impact on the environment is what we're getting into now. But we never did like to talk about it; we just want to produce a technical paper and publish it and then go on from there. We’ve got to keep telling more to the rest of the world that we are creators of technology and how we're so like the artists.  
+
<p>As far as going forward is concerned, and I didn't mention that earlier, but we need to reach down even at the grade-school level, to show the importance of our profession, and the importance of it, not just from the point of view of how we make certain gadgets and they work and that's it. But we're penetrating that audience now, now because of a change in of activities worldwide. You know, we engineers are, along with the arts people, the most important contributors to the benefit of mankind. And we don't tell people enough about that yet. We started it, but we need to make sure that the public is aware of the importance of the profession of engineers in establishing our role as citizens of the earth. Jokingly, when I speak to groups outside IEEE, I tend to talk to them on the basis of, there are only two professions in the world. These other people that call themselves professional — doctors, lawyers, accountants — they're not creators. And I'm kind of insulting some members of the audience as I go through this little preamble. It's the artist and the engineer that create new things to meet the challenge of the workplace and impact on the environment — the impact on the environment is what we're getting into now. But we never did like to talk about it; we just want to produce a technical paper and publish it and then go on from there. We’ve got to keep telling more to the rest of the world that we are creators of technology and how we're so like the artists. </p>
  
And when you talk about the two professional creativity groups — arts, including music — you can take somebody from Russia, you can take somebody from South America, you can take people from Africa, and they have all contributed and can all appreciate it. That's why history is important, to show what great contributors they've been. And they don't care what governments are doing, or what wars people want to fight politically. They're a welding force for the whole world, and we — engineers — are one of those big contributors. The arts world: you can take arts here in Canada, bring it back to Europe, do tours, and people come together whether they were at one times fighting or not fighting, and you know, the difference between war and peace. We engineers are the same way: we’re creative. Our problem in engineering, in my opinion, is that we tend to create things and unfortunately, humankind keeps trying to misuse it.  
+
<p>And when you talk about the two professional creativity groups — arts, including music — you can take somebody from Russia, you can take somebody from South America, you can take people from Africa, and they have all contributed and can all appreciate it. That's why history is important, to show what great contributors they've been. And they don't care what governments are doing, or what wars people want to fight politically. They're a welding force for the whole world, and we — engineers — are one of those big contributors. The arts world: you can take arts here in Canada, bring it back to Europe, do tours, and people come together whether they were at one times fighting or not fighting, and you know, the difference between war and peace. We engineers are the same way: we’re creative. Our problem in engineering, in my opinion, is that we tend to create things and unfortunately, humankind keeps trying to misuse it. </p>
  
Unfortunately, those who are not steeped in what you've presented to the world as a new invention — for example, being able to communicate through satellites and so on, all that is great stuff — tend to misuse it. But if it's misused by the world, by politicians, or whatever group you want to talk about, if it's misused, then it's not to the benefit of mankind. So that's why it's very important as in the arts, that the people recognize its true value. I always refer to the Nobel prize. Nobel, as you know, invented dynamite, and we misused it in some cases, and having done that, Nobel, of course, created the Nobel prizes for people who benefit humankind. So I think that's the message that we need keep hammering on, and we need to talk publicly about the importance of the creativity of the engineering profession. And that's what I've been working on since my presidency, at the local level in Canada.  
+
<p>Unfortunately, those who are not steeped in what you've presented to the world as a new invention — for example, being able to communicate through satellites and so on, all that is great stuff — tend to misuse it. But if it's misused by the world, by politicians, or whatever group you want to talk about, if it's misused, then it's not to the benefit of mankind. So that's why it's very important as in the arts, that the people recognize its true value. I always refer to the Nobel prize. Nobel, as you know, invented dynamite, and we misused it in some cases, and having done that, Nobel, of course, created the Nobel prizes for people who benefit humankind. So I think that's the message that we need keep hammering on, and we need to talk publicly about the importance of the creativity of the engineering profession. And that's what I've been working on since my presidency, at the local level in Canada. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
And it ties into history. It ties into ethics, showing that we have responsibility. And it ties into the recognition, so it ties into public visibility, and into all of your IEEE activities.  
+
<p>And it ties into history. It ties into ethics, showing that we have responsibility. And it ties into the recognition, so it ties into public visibility, and into all of your IEEE activities. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Yeah, and people know sometimes I'm joking, but sometimes I'm serious, and they have trouble figuring it out. So whenever I give this speech about there are only two professions in the world; the rest are all maintenance. Doctors are glorified plumbers, you know. I go on with that. Then when I come to the end of that I say, "Now, I don't want you to get me wrong. If I'm on the operating table, I don't want an engineer operating on me." Because that's what we're getting with robots. So I can see the audience's concern when I say there are only two professions. Anyway, that's the way I present it. And that message needs to be carried, not just by IEEE Canada; it's a worldwide message that has to get out there. Because we're still misbehaving with some of our technologies, and we don't want that. We want to technologies to serve the public.  
+
<p>Yeah, and people know sometimes I'm joking, but sometimes I'm serious, and they have trouble figuring it out. So whenever I give this speech about there are only two professions in the world; the rest are all maintenance. Doctors are glorified plumbers, you know. I go on with that. Then when I come to the end of that I say, "Now, I don't want you to get me wrong. If I'm on the operating table, I don't want an engineer operating on me." Because that's what we're getting with robots. So I can see the audience's concern when I say there are only two professions. Anyway, that's the way I present it. And that message needs to be carried, not just by IEEE Canada; it's a worldwide message that has to get out there. Because we're still misbehaving with some of our technologies, and we don't want that. We want to technologies to serve the public. </p>
  
 
=== The Future of IEEE  ===
 
=== The Future of IEEE  ===
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>Now, looking into the future, are you an optimist in terms of where IEEE is going? Does the organization actually seem to be recognizing this and moving in this direction to make this a primary function? </p>
 +
 
 +
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Now, looking into the future, are you an optimist in terms of where IEEE is going? Does the organization actually seem to be recognizing this and moving in this direction to make this a primary function?
+
<p>I'm an optimist from the point of view that I see the need out there in the world today. I'm not an optimist in that I don’t think anything will improve unless we work at it. I don't think we're working hard enough at how important the environment is out there, and what a contribution we, as technical people, can make towards analyzing what's forthcoming in the next fifty years with respect to the environment. So we don't speak out enough on it. Each one of the IEEE engineers that I've ever worked with has been so knowledgeable, but they're shy. They don't mind talking to a technical group. I mean, this conference is all technical debaters. It's not enough for us in the future. We've got to talk to the public of the world, and we've got to keep stressing the message with the importance, particularly in our case, of electrical technologies to make sure that the message is public: here's what we've done, great technology, needs to be used by the whole world, but don't misuse it. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>Don't misuse it as some dictators in the world in the past, in WWI and WWII and so on. Don't misuse the knowledge that we put out there to make us a great, a great image for the public, and to respect the engineer profession. We don't talk about it enough, and we need to move in that direction because technologies are changing. I mean, who would be talking about the environment and this global warming, and all the other aspects that are now coming to fore, that we have made great contributions but never have never let anybody know about. So I see that as a future, and I think it can be achieved, but I want the IEEE presidents of the future to zero in on these marvelous contributions we've had that are making this world better, and not worse by misuse of the technology. That's where I see us going. </p>
  
I'm an optimist from the point of view that I see the need out there in the world today. I'm not an optimist in that I don’t think anything will improve unless we work at it. I don't think we're working hard enough at how important the environment is out there, and what a contribution we, as technical people, can make towards analyzing what's forthcoming in the next fifty years with respect to the environment. So we don't speak out enough on it. Each one of the IEEE engineers that I've ever worked with has been so knowledgeable, but they're shy. They don't mind talking to a technical group. I mean, this conference is all technical debaters. It's not enough for us in the future. We've got to talk to the public of the world, and we've got to keep stressing the message with the importance, particularly in our case, of electrical technologies to make sure that the message is public: here's what we've done, great technology, needs to be used by the whole world, but don't misuse it.
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
Don't misuse it as some dictators in the world in the past, in WWI and WWII and so on. Don't misuse the knowledge that we put out there to make us a great, a great image for the public, and to respect the engineer profession. We don't talk about it enough, and we need to move in that direction because technologies are changing. I mean, who would be talking about the environment and this global warming, and all the other aspects that are now coming to fore, that we have made great contributions but never have never let anybody know about. So I see that as a future, and I think it can be achieved, but I want the IEEE presidents of the future to zero in on these marvelous contributions we've had that are making this world better, and not worse by misuse of the technology. That's where I see us going.
+
<p>Well, that's great. Well, it's been a fascinating interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add that you didn't cover or I didn't ask, before we sign off? </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''  
+
<p>'''Read:''' </p>
  
Well, that's great. Well, it's been a fascinating interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add that you didn't cover or I didn't ask, before we sign off?
+
<p>No, I think you have covered the ground with your questions. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to participate. </p>
  
'''Read:'''  
+
<p>'''Geselowitz:''' </p>
  
No, I think you have covered the ground with your questions. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to participate.  
+
<p>We're happy to have you, Wally. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. </p>
  
'''Geselowitz:'''
+
== Further Reading ==
  
We're happy to have you, Wally. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.
+
[[Media:Wally_Read_tribute_ICR67_drop_shadow_flaw_fixed.pdf‎|Tribute to Wally Read]]
  
[[Category:People_and_organizations]] [[Category:Engineers]] [[Category:Business,_management_&_industry|Category:Business,_management_&amp;_industry]] [[Category:International_collaboration]] [[Category:Power_industry]] [[Category:Paper_technology]] [[Category:Culture_and_society]] [[Category:International_affairs_&_development|Category:International_affairs_&amp;_development]] [[Category:Globalization]] [[Category:IEEE]] [[Category:Awards_&_fellow_activities|Category:Awards_&amp;_fellow_activities]] [[Category:Conference_activities]] [[Category:Educational_activities]] [[Category:Geographical_units]] [[Category:Subsections]] [[Category:Governance]] [[Category:Boards]] [[Category:Committees]] [[Category:Mission_and_vision]] [[Category:Nominations,_elections_&_appointments|Category:Nominations,_elections_&amp;_appointments]] [[Category:Historical_activities]] [[Category:History_&_heritage|Category:History_&amp;_heritage]] [[Category:IEEE_foundation]] [[Category:Technical_units]] [[Category:Power,_energy_&_industry_application|Category:Power,_energy_&amp;_industry_application]]
+
[[Category:People and organizations|Read]] [[Category:Engineers|Read]] [[Category:Business, management & industry|Read]] [[Category:International collaboration|Read]] [[Category:Power industry|Read]] [[Category:Paper technology|Read]] [[Category:Culture and society|Read]] [[Category:International affairs & development|Read]] [[Category:Globalization|Read]] [[Category:IEEE|Read]] [[Category:Awards & fellow activities|Read]] [[Category:Conference activities|Read]] [[Category:Educational activities|Read]] [[Category:Geographical units|Read]] [[Category:Subsections|Read]] [[Category:Governance|Read]] [[Category:Boards|Read]] [[Category:Committees|Read]] [[Category:Mission and vision|Read]] [[Category:Nominations, elections & appointments|Read]] [[Category:Historical activities|Read]] [[Category:History & heritage|Read]] [[Category:IEEE foundation|Read]] [[Category:Technical units|Read]] [[Category:Power, energy & industry applications|Read]]

Revision as of 13:52, 13 November 2013

Contents

About Wally Read

Wallace Stanley (“Wally”) Read served the members of IEEE locally, nationally and internationally for over 30 years. He was Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Section of IEEE, Director of IEEE Region 7 (Canada), Vice-President of IEEE Standards Association, Secretary, Treasurer and then President of IEEE in 1996. He was the second of only three elected Presidents of IEEE outside the United States. He was also President of the Canadian Electrical Association for many years before becoming its President in 1985. He promoted the role of electricity to the Canadian Government, and was a strong promoter of the necessity to develop appropriate standards for applications of electricity, not only within Canada, but internationally. Wally Read’s accomplishments have been recognized through numerous awards and honors including the CCPE Gold Medal, EIC’s Julian C. Smith Award, the Charles Proteus Steinmetz Award from IEEE, and Member of the Order of Canada.

During the interview, he discusses his decades of involvement with IEEE, from securing for Newfoundland two out of the first three Milestone plaques to running successfully for the IEEE Presidency. He emphasizes the dual goals he pursued throughout his tenure at various levels of IEEE: increasing international membership and achieving greater recognition of the industry (as opposed to academic) membership. He also points to engineering as a truly creative profession – in line with the great arts – whose accomplishments can be either well used or horribly misused by others in society.

About the Interview

WALLY READ: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 5 May 2009

Interview #499 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:

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

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Wally Read

INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz

DATE: May 5, 2009

PLACE: St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Education and Early Career

Geselowitz:

This is Mike Geselowitz of the IEEE History Center, and I'm here in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada with Dr. Wallace Read on 5 May 2009, on the occasion of the Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering (CCECE) conducting a history interview on behalf of the Center. So Wally, as I told you, we'd like to focus on your time as an active volunteer in IEEE, but before that just give me a very brief background of how you came to become an engineer.

Read:

Okay, I started at a very young age. I didn't really want to do engineering when I finished my grade 11, which was the highest high-school grade here in Newfoundland at the time. I was ready to go to University and I didn't have too much money. We just came out of the Depression and WWII, but I really wanted to be a Doctor, not a Doctor of Engineering but a Doctor of Medicine. I was in the last year of my high-school, I was only fifteen years of age, and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to go to University unless I had some sort of scholarship. Scholarships were offered in my town, Corner Brook, from a paper company — the paper industry that was active in that community. Because I had done fairly well in grade 11, the School Principal said "You really should apply for one of these scholarships," and I did and the one I won was to be an engineer; I had to take engineering whether I liked it or not.

So I ended up going to University on the mainland, Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, three years pre-engineering, and then the Technical University of Nova Scotia, which is now part of Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, for the additional two years before graduation. So I was in and out of there — University — got my engineering degree, graduated in 1951, and the time went so fast that I didn't realize, all of a sudden, as we say in Newfoundland — "I are an engineer." And my brother had passed away — my older brother — and instead of going to General Electric in Peterborough, which I was accepted for, I came back home, and I went to work in the paper mill. And that's where my career started in engineering.

Geselowitz:

Okay. And so what year was that you were…what years did you work in the paper mill?

Read:

I worked at the paper mill itself in Corner Brook for five years, from 1951 to 1955, and then I was reassigned to Deer Lake, which is the site of the hydroelectric power development that supplied power to Corner Brook and the mill. I still worked for the same paper company but in the hydroelectric division. I stayed there for ten years.

Early Involvement in AIEE

Geselowitz:

And when in that period did you become aware of the AIEE or the IRE, the predecessor organizations of IEEE?

Read:

Good question. I didn't know IEEE in University because nobody in the schools I went to had a student branch, so my first awareness was on the job. What happened was, in my first year at the paper mill my boss was an IEEE member.

Geselowitz:

And that would have been AIEE in those days?

Read:

Yes, it would have been AIEE. And it was a funny thing. I was always trying to plan ahead for my career, and having been thrown out of the idea of being a Doctor, I got to ask my boss about being an engineer. There were only three AIEE members in Cornerbrook, as I found out later, so I asked my boss, "What can I do to stay up-to-date with my career and make progress?" And I was expecting a big lecture on, you know, how I should guide myself, and so on. All I got was a two-word answer: "Join AIEE." So that's the way it happened.

Geselowitz:

If there were only three local individuals, what was the closest active section at that time?

Read:

It would have been Halifax, but there was a movement going ahead in Newfoundland to have a separate section. It was not in place because we didn't have enough members on the island and in Labrador, so it really started being a sub-section of the Atlantic section, which was based in Halifax. I joined in 1952 and along with some who were already in AIEE, we then got busy trying to build up the membership so that we could become a full Section. That's where I really started to get involved with AIEE.

Geselowitz:

Now, which industries in Newfoundland employed significant numbers of electrical engineers in those days?

Read:

In Newfoundland the principal employers of electrical engineers were in the electric utilities, the pulp and paper industry, and mining companies. Most of our engineers were members of the Engineering Institute of Canada, which covered civil engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, whatever, and most of us belonged to that body as their first professional Association. Through the early 1970s our members set a goal to increase membership in AIEE so that we could eventually become a full fledged Section. We started as a sub-section of the Atlantic Section, and by 1978 we achieved full Section status. I was in my 26th year as a member.

Geselowitz:

Okay. And since you were active in helping to organize the Section, did you become an officer right away?

Read:

Yup, it was non-stop from there on. I became an officer of the local Section and then of Region 7, the Canada Region. While I was a Regional officer, in 1984, IEEE was celebrating our hundredth anniversary. Dick Gowen was president and I got interested in the new Milestones program.

Geselowitz:

Interesting. Let's step back for one second. In 1963, AIEE had merged with IRE to form IEEE. Until the Centennial came and made you aware of the milestones and broader activity, did you get involved at all with the higher level of IEEE or were your activities really focused on the Section? When did you get involved at the Regional level?

Read:

Well, as you know, the Canada Region was split into three areas: The Eastern area which covered the Atlantic and Montreal and Ottawa; then the Central area which was in Ontario and covered the central section of the country; and then the Western area. I became chair of the Eastern area, which covered six, I believe, Sections, and I served there for a time. Then I really was very involved moving forward on all the programs that IEEE was involved with, and I became aware of the Milestone Program when it was announced in 1983.

Milestones in Newfoundland

Geselowitz:

Right. And I believe that…. So what was your position in the Region at the time that you became aware of the milestones and the centennial? You were vice chair by that point. Okay, so you got involved with Milestones and, of course, two of the first three milestones approved were in Newfoundland.

Read:

Well, that was the funny thing about it. As you know, the milestones program was blessed at the hundredth year of IEEE, dating from the founding of AIEE. Dick Gowen was president and he started that new initiative, and so he called for nominations for potential Milestones. It required a little bit of work. We were still only a sub-section at the time. Anyway, I said, I'm going to organize to submit two, one of which is close by us here — Signal Hill, and honoring Marconi and the first transatlantic message — and the second was in Heart’s Content, which is just in the next bay around here, which was in memory of the 1866 undersea cable from Ireland to Newfoundland. And it was a funny thing, I don't think anybody else got any applications in on time in order to get them approved, and I ended up with both of mine being approved.

And that created a financial problem for me. As you know, we have to pay $600 per Milestone plaque. Both of these locations that I talked about — Heart’s Content and Signal Hill — are in Canadian national parks, therefore, I had to have two plaques: one in English; one in French. I'm now stuck with a bill for four engineering milestone plaques, because nobody else had time enough to put in their application. I wrote Dick and I said, Dick, you know, you're going to break this Section that we're trying to organize. Can you find some centennial funds for them? And so Dick Gowen and IEEE very kindly paid for those first four plaques.

Leadership Positions in IEEE

Geselowitz:

That is really an interesting story because usually historical activity comes later in an IEEE volunteer's career, but that you started with history, and that brought you to the attention of the IEEE leadership down in the U.S. — I guess it was still in New York at that time, though it may have already moved to Piscataway. Anyway, that brought you into contact with the Board approving the milestones and with negotiating with the President to pay for the plaques, and so forth. So then what was your next step in IEEE volunteer leadership, now that you were aware of what was going on?

Read:

Yeah, as Eastern area chair, I had responsibility for all the Sections in Eastern Canada and the Section chairs underneath. Just prior to that, Newfoundland and Labrador got the blessing to become its own Section. We had enough members, and that was done, so I served as the chair of the new Section and then from there, as I said, I became Eastern area chair. I was also on the Region 7 Board. From there I got very interested and involved in what was then called Regional Activities Board (RAB); today it is called Member and Geographic Activities, although I never did become Vice President of Regional Activities. I also got very involved with Standards Activities in IEEE, and that really became a main focus of my activity as well.

Geselowitz:

So your two routes of activities were on the one hand interested in these activities because of your local connections — you really came up through the Sub-section, Section, Area, Region side. But when you became aware of the national organization, you were educated about their Standards activity, and you got involved in that. Now, why were Standards activities important for an engineer in Canada, in your opinion?

Read:

Well, I got interested in more than just Standards. I started to get interested in history, as I mentioned, and I also started to get involved in the management of IEEE — big IEEE. It just seemed that one thing led to another, and when I left the Eastern Canada area chair, I got involved in RAB activities. And that was back in the days when RAB and Technical Activities (TAB) were real "enemies" …. Not enemies; I shouldn't say it that way, but they viewed each other as rivals rather than parts of the same team. RAB would have their meetings and TAB would have their meetings — the technical activities, Societies, and so on — and they would send spies over between each other. If TAB decided that they were going to have a committee on minorities in engineering, the spy would run back to RAB and say, TAB is going to do this; we should do it too. You have these bodies operating independently, not talking to each other at the higher level. Thank God that's over with now.

Geselowitz:

We'll get to your role in helping with that problem when we get to your higher-level Board activity. However, the structure doesn't seem very logical from an engineering point of view, with two organizations that competed, instead of working together. But that was your experience.

Read:

Yes, there was a rivalry. It was pleasant. We didn't have any fights, as such — physical fights. But there was this independence of operation until everybody realized, look, we're both trying to do great things; let's get together and plan those things. So they brought RAB and TAB together in a single committee of IEEE, which brought the effort together. That took a few years to take place.

Geselowitz:

Had you personally been involved with the TAB side, with any societies?

Read:

Well, yes, I was right from the start an active member of the Power and Engineering Society (now called the Power and Energy Society).

Geselowitz:

And did you maintain that activity through your career?

Read:

All the way through, yes. It was a good experience for me. But in some ways it was a bad experience economically for IEEE because, as I said, they had these two groups working independently until they got right at the top — the big Board.

Agenda as Board Member

Geselowitz:

So how do you first get elevated to the big Board?

Read:

Well, I ran for an election.

Geselowitz:

For Region Director?

Read:

For the Region 7 Director position. I ran three times and lost, but by 1984 I had taken on that role. In 1983 I was elected by Region 7 to be the chair of Region 7 for 1984 and 1985. And the Region 7 Director served on the main IEEE Board.

Geselowitz:

Of course, during 1984 there was a lot of focus on the celebration of the centennial, and you already mentioned your role in the milestones and the first two milestones dedicated here in Newfoundland in 1985. But when the dust settled and the Board went back to business, do you remember what were the issues facing IEEE in 1985 that stick in your mind?

Read:

Well, I guess there are two things about IEEE which I felt, personally, that I didn't think IEEE was paying enough attention to. One was the issue of the globalization of IEEE. And so I got very interested in trying to get more members outside of the U.S. at the membership level, and that was one of the main efforts that I started to promote as a Director on the Board: get more international members. And we did move from 30% membership to half and half membership, where we are now.

Geselowitz:

Do you recall, other than the Region directors from 7 through 10, who by definition had to be outside of the Unites Stated, how many other Board members — presidents, secretaries, treasurers, technical division directors — how many other Board members were from outside the United States when you joined the Board.

Read:

I don't know if I can put the number on it.

Geselowitz:

Not a number, but was it a lot or you felt they were under-represented?

Read:

Oh, under-represented, definitely. And that was one aspect that I felt was a personal goal. Before I departed from the scene I wanted to see a greater percentage of members, and we achieved that, I mean 50/50 is pretty good. The other thing that I wanted to promote because there was not enough opportunity for industry-trained engineers to be involved with IEEE. The industry category was almost ignored; it was almost all academics in leadership positions. And so that was the other thing that I wanted to promote, and that's why I got into Standards activities, saying, Look, here's Standards down here trying to do their job, but they don't have much leverage or much voting power to turn all the University professors and research and development areas into recognizing that whatever work they're doing, it has to be applied in the field. And so that's the other. Those are the two issues that I wanted to see some improvement. And over the years, until I got elected President of the IEEE in 1996, those were two of the goals that I wanted to see achieved.

Geselowitz:

Okay, before we get to your ascension to the presidency, what were your Board activities between 1985 when you were Region 7 Director and 1995 when you became President Elect?

Read:

My Board activities were mostly in the regional activities area, although as I said I didn't ever become chair of RAB. I also started to follow through on the Standards scene.

Vice Presidency of Standards

Geselowitz:

So, did you ever become Vice President of Standards activities?

Read:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

And what year was that?

Read:

It would have been 1993 and 1994.

Geselowitz:

And in your two years as Standards vice-president, what did you feel you most accomplished; what were the issues before the Standards board, or what did you most accomplish?

Read:

Well, I wanted to see a better recognition of what Standards was all about, and why doesn't the Board give them more recognition? Because in the Standards group we were international in scope. We joined the other Standards-writing community in the rest of the world. We're kind of a step ahead on globalization in the Standards activity, but it wasn't translated up to the big Board level.

Geselowitz:

Also, you weren't alone being concerned getting Industry involved, and Standards was, again, ahead of the rest of IEEE in terms of involving Industry. So you were the vice-president of Standards and active in Standards activities and trying to promote standards to the Board, and you were still active in RAB.

Read:

And the Power Engineering Society

Running for President

Geselowitz:

And the Power Engineering Society. What made you decide to stand for President of the IEEE?

Read:

I felt that if I got in there, I thought I could further my two goals of making IEEE more international in membership and getting industry more connected at the Board level. Those are the two things I wanted to see move forward, and I felt that if I couldn't do it as just a Board member. I looked to see if there's a higher post that I could get a little more aggressive in those two areas. So that's why I put my name forward. There were a lot of good people from academe, and I ran against them for the election, and I lost three times. I eventually got to the point where I said, "They have sent me a message; perhaps I shouldn't run again." So I decided to tell them that, you know, I wasn't going to be a candidate next time around. That was in 1995, and one of the leaders at the Board level came to me and said, "Look, you should really run again." So I said, "I'll try."

Geselowitz:

Do you remember who that was?

Read:

Yes, it was Past President Merrill Buckley. This time I would be in competition with two professors, Donald Bolle of New York University and Chuck Alexander, who had held positions at several prestigious universities. On the campaign trail we went down to a PACE (Professional Activities Committee for Engineers) meeting in Arizona, where they had the three candidates for lunch to answer questions on what they were going to do when they became IEEE President. There were twenty questions and the Chairperson alternated the order of responses. We had to stay within one minute for each answer. So I made a point of watching the audience while this was going on and it being lunch hour I noted some boredom creeping in and some were dozing off.

Near the end came the question "Why do you want to be IEEE President?" Chuck was first to answer, and if you have met him you will know him as a very charismatic person and an excellent speaker. He was very clear in his answers and within the time limit. Don was next and did an excellent job too, but he ran overtime so Madam Chair had to cut him off. These two tall handsome gentlemen were seated on either side of me, and it was now my turn to respond. I purposely didn’t answer for 15 seconds, and then I watched the audience and people were waking up. I heard "What’s going on? Did the old guy die?" I gestured to either side of me and said, "I have only one reason to want to be IEEE President, and that is to teach some humility to my rivals here before they take office." [Laughter]

Now, you cannot win the IEEE election without capturing Region 6 (West Coast U.S.) or Region 1 (Northeast U.S.) on your side. And it was a time when the employment was seeing a bit of a recession in California. I was pushing to make sure that we were going to help correct this by getting IEEE involved from an industry point of view. That is how I ran, and I won the election. I won Region 6 along with all the Regions outside the United States.

Geselowitz:

Now, that made you the first president of IEEE from outside Region 1 through 6, didn't it?

Read:

The second.

Geselowitz:

The second? Who was the first?

Read:

Bob Tanner in 1972. Bob Tanner was an Englishman, but he worked with the National Research Council in Canada, and it was at a time when the chair of the Board of IEEE — the President of IEEE — was elected by the Directors and not by universal ballot of the members. So Bob Tanner was the first. He wrote the Tanner Report and it really was a magnificent readjustment of how we need to operate as an international group. And so he was the first, and I was the second, and the first to be elected by the membership.

Presidency

Geselowitz:

Great. I'd like to hear you talk a little bit about the accomplishments of your year as President, and also if any unexpected things came up in your year as President. But I'm also curious as to whether being from outside the United States impacted being President of the IEEE?

Read:

Well, I had circulated in so many areas of IEEE activities, not just Standards but many committees and RAB and so on in my past history, that I was fairly well known amongst the rank and file, and fairly well known at the Board level as a Director. Somebody said, "Well, maybe it's time to give the old fellow a chance at it. He's bragging about it for so long." And the labor situation in California at the time impacted the election, and we never get a big turnout of votes anyway for the presidency — about 20% of our membership or something. And that's the way it happened. Once I got there and became President, I pushed those two issues — increase our presence in industry and grow our international group. People were crying out for it in Europe, Asia — they wanted to build their memberships, and we have. And then I worked real hard trying to raise the profile of Industry, and particularly Industry CEOs who may not be engineers, but to get them to understand that they should support their employees in becoming members of IEEE.

Geselowitz:

Did you do a lot of traveling in your year as President?

Read:

Yeah, I was married and I had a family, and I decided that I had to make up my mind between being a full-time family father of four boys, or make more room for expanded IEEE duties. I elected the latter and cautioned the family that I was going to have to be away a lot. I was only home in Newfoundland one month in my year as President!

Geselowitz:

Wow!

Read:

I traveled — in those days every Section in the world wanted to see the IEEE President — and it was a very wonderful experience for me, of course, and I went around the world four times, visiting in my role as President.

Geselowitz:

Are there any one or two particular trips that stand out in your mind as being particularly outstanding?

Read:

The United Kingdom, Poland, Japan, Australia and Slovenia stand out for me. However, like everybody else that travels internationally — and I had done some of it before I was President — from a personal point of view you are wondering, What's the rest of the world looking like, and why do I want to live in Newfoundland, you know? Is there any place better than Newfoundland? And I quickly came to the conclusion, after visiting around the world four times, including Russia — the only place I didn't get to was South Africa because I had a conflict in schedule — that there isn't any place better than Newfoundland, so I just had to reunite myself with Canada and my Province, but that came after I served my term and did my job.

Geselowitz:

Do you think that it affected your reception in Sections outside of North America that you were Canadian and not from the U.S.? Could they tell the difference?

Read:

Well, in some places — even some places in the United States — you have a problem in some Sections of recognizing that Canada is a country somewhere north of them. And truly, you'd be surprised, when you're trying to make an address, how that affects your delivery of your message. In Australia I spoke to the graduating class in Sydney, and the Chancellor introduced me. They know there was a Canada because it was in the Commonwealth of Nations with Australia, but they weren't sure how big Canada is or how influential it could be or not be. If they recognized Canada as a separate country, they pretty well said, "Well, whatever the United States says, Canada is going to agree with it because they're so close." Anyway, it was a great opportunity to visit our Sections and to understand the conflicts that our members had in that area of trying to get recognition for some of the programs they wanted to initiate

Later Engineering Career & CEA

Geselowitz:

Now, you mentioned the strain on your family of all of the traveling. Where were you in your career at this point, and how did being president of IEEE also place strain on your career?

Read:

I had been through my working career. The year before I became president, I retired from work. Retired is not a very descriptive word because once you get tied up in IEEE, you're still going flat out. But as far as working is concerned, the few commitments I had to industry that remained were as a consultant. I formed my own company called REMAS, (Read Management Advisory Services), and I had contracted my services — to utilities mainly. That was separate from IEEE.

Geselowitz:

So as a consultant, it was easier to integrate your IEEE activities with your professional activities?

Read:

Oh, yes.

Geselowitz:

What were you doing right before you retired? Who had you been working for at that point?

Read:

To go back, I mentioned to you that I went up through the offices of Region 7. While I was doing that, I was very active in working to get the Churchill River hydroelectric system developed. When we started, Newfoundland was half 50-hertz and half-60 hertz frequency. We integrated the power network into becoming a single 60-hertz frequency operation and we built transmission lines here and in Labrador.

Geselowitz:

Were you working for the Province or for the private utility?

Read:

I was working for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a Provincial Crown Corporation. There is a private company called Newfoundland Power who buys energy produced by Hydro and they distribute it on the Island. That is an investor-owned company that is part of the Fortis Group. My final position with Hydro was as President. For the 10 years between Hydro and retirement I was president of the Canadian Electricity Association, which was a body that had been set up to coordinate the public image of all utilities in Canada.

Geselowitz:

So that was an industry association for all of Canada, all power generation?

Read:

That's correct.

Geselowitz:

Were you doing that and serving as President of Hydro at the same time?

Read:

Initially as a Board member I participated. Then I became President of CEA full-time when they went for a full-time president, and I was elected. I then retired from Hydro and took on the role, for ten years, as President of the Canadian Electricity Association. That was a utility-organized group but also had manufacturing members for all of Canada. So I was going to Tokyo, and I was going around the world representing the Canadian utility industry as a spokesman.

Geselowitz:

Okay. And that's the position from which you retired to become a consultant on the one hand and IEEE full-time volunteer on the other hand?

Read:

Well, it all happened around my age 65. I went right from president of CEA to the campaign for presidency, which I described to you.

Geselowitz:

So, you had been on the Board of a couple of years and Standards VP. Then you were President-elect, President and Past President. Did any other interesting issues come before the Board during that period that you haven't mentioned yet? So far, we have talked about globalization, we have talked about industry, and we have talked about Standards.

Read:

Yeah, those things were still important to me but when you become President your lips are somewhat sealed because you're talking to ten RAB entities, by Region around the world. And you're talking to ten TAB entities across the technological spectrum. And you have Standards Activities and Educational Activities and the other officers — Past President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer — that make up your Board, and you have to be a sort of referee.

Post-Board Involvement with IEEE

Geselowitz:

So, then you must have rotated off the Board in 1998? So how did IEEE keep you busy now that you weren't the immediate past-president anymore?

Read:

Well, I still continued to serve. Once I got off the Board and got out of the Standards activity and having served in the presidency, I then retreated back, as far as my IEEE activities are concerned, to Region 7. I was elected Director Emeritus, along with Ray Findlay. I confined my IEEE activities to Region 7, but I always maintained an interest in making sure if they had made any progress on those other two goals, that nobody undercut them later on, and brought us back to where we were.

Geselowitz:

Now, I know that one of the interesting things about Region 7 is that Canada, like some of the other places where IEEE operates, had an indigenous electrical engineering society, the CSECE, Canadian Society for Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Read:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

And I know that that we were able to effect a merger.

Read:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

So, were you involved in that process?

Read:

I was involved from the point of view of being interested in how Region 7 was reorganizing. Ray Findlay, who followed me as President a couple years later, was also from Canada and really pushed for the establishment of what we now call IEEE Canada. We are the only region in the world that has only one country as being a Region. In the United States you have six regions to make up the IEEE membership. In Europe, you have many, many countries that make up Region 8, all the way from Russia down to South Africa, and everything in between. Region 9 is all of South America — many countries, and many sections. And Region 10, of course, is also multi-country. We are the only region that represents only one country, and it makes it a lot easier for us to get things done, hopefully without breaking any of the rules at the IEEE level because we command the twenty sections in Canada, split into the three areas that I talked about. We get our things done, and particularly in the area of the IEEE Canada Foundation. I spent a lot of time with that and also with the IEEE Foundation itself. I spent years at that after I served out my presidency.

IEEE Canada Foundation

Geselowitz:

Canada is also unique in having is own IEEE Canada Foundation. How were you involved in that?

Read:

I was involved from square one. Again, it was easy to do because we were one country. We could establish laws that fit in Canada but which didn't break the bylaws of the big IEEE. We were able to create the Foundation, which Bob Alden played a big part in organizing. So as you know some of the restrictions are government restrictions. Different countries deal with charitable foundations different ways under the laws of the country. And we had a very good cooperative effort with our own government of Canada on how we qualified for being a charitable foundation, separately for Canada. If I made my charitable donation to the United States-based IEEE Foundation, I couldn't claim it as a deduction for personal income tax relief, but if I made it to the Canada Foundation, we are a fully recognized charitable organization in the eyes of government, and therefore we're entitled to deductions for any donations we made to that.

Geselowitz:

Well, I think this is one of the challenges facing IEEE. We talked earlier about your push for globalization in a number of areas, and obviously philanthropic giving is one of them.

Read:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

IEEE likes to operate or think of itself as almost an international NGO, non-government organization, but it is headquartered and chartered in the United States, and that puts certain limitations on it. I don't know if any of those limitations came up during your presidency. Certainly, when I had an interview with Ray Findlay, it was a big issue in his presidency after 9/11, and the U.S. added even more regulations about international commerce that IEEE had to abide by because it was an American non-profit corporation.

Read:

If I happen to make a donation to the History Fund — a charitable donation — it would not be recognized by the government of Canada when I filed my income tax, because it was not a body that was located in Canada, even though it covered a lot of our Canadian members. So that was one of the reasons to have a separate IEEE Canada Foundation.

Ethics Committee

Geselowitz:

Okay. Now, another one of your activities after serving out your term as president was the Ethics Committee. Do you want to say a little bit about that activity?

Read:

Yeah. I don't know if I was selected as the leader in that activity because I was a super ethical person, and I rather doubt that that was the reason, but, no, I chaired the Ethics Committee for three years, I believe, during the career leading up to my presidency. That was one of the committees I was very interested in. I tried to impress upon our members, when I was present and addressed them, that we have to be very, very careful to maintain the ethical image of IEEE, that we weren't straying off the path of a professional engineer. I have a little story I could tell you.

Geselowitz:

Go ahead, I would like to hear it.

Read:

It was during that time actually that I really wanted to impress upon our members, particularly people newly coming into the profession and young graduates, of the ethical character we expect from an IEEE member, when and if they ever become a full member by IEEE. And it was a difficult message to get across, because it's sort of off topic for them. Most were up-and-coming engineers concentrating on their technical competence and how they can improve their careers, and that sort of thing. So ethics was something off in the wings, but, you know, an organization can be damaged if we don't have ethical practices, and don't recognize the importance of being in the world's eye. As the prominence of IEEE technologies rose as we reached this century, the importance grew of being seen as an ethical group of people with very, very strong ethical principles. And that was a message that wasn't being hammered home to our members, at least prior to my coming on deck as chair of the Ethics Committee.

Geselowitz:

Now, did you get resistance from people — say, not people who wanted to be unethical, but just people saying, "You know what; that's not what we are about, you know, every country has its own professional engineering code; let them worry about it. We're just about technical excellence." Did you get any of that kind of pushback?

Read:

Yes, there was some of that, but that was the point of trying to make us more international. I felt we have to recognize that different countries have different ethical rules for their professions, whether it's the medical profession or the engineering or other interests, and it was out there; there was no question of that. So we just wanted to raise the image that we are an ethical group, and sometimes our own engineers would rather hide in the corner and do their little bit of research and go on and talk about it. But since then it's come a long way under the current chair of Ethics Committee.

History Committee

Geselowitz:

And then, of course, as I'm personally aware, in 2001 you became involved with the History Committee again. I had come on board in 1997. As we've already discussed, you were involved in History operations very early on, so what made you decide to get involved again?

Read:

Well, I heard you were coming on! [Laughter] Actually, I had participated in some historical activity since 1952, when I became a member. I felt there was an importance to history and that we shouldn’t just record it and stick it away in a library somewhere without saying how important history is. History is important in trying to move forward, and in taking a guess at where we want to be. So I guess I got more involved because I was older, and had these experiences and felt we were weak in some areas in history, especially in making it available to the public. We need to raise engineering in the public's eyes, to raise that up high, and use the history documentation to say, "Gosh, if we had only thought about that twenty-five years ago…so let's get at it now and correct it."

Geselowitz:

Right. Because I know you've also been involved with IEEE's public visibility aspect and you're one of the people — and I appreciate it — championing the role of history in public visibility. Some of the public individuals take a more narrow view of it saying, we’ve got to let the public know that we're doing cutting-edge this and cutting-edge that, and not looking at the big historical picture: We wouldn't have any of these things if it weren't for what engineers did twenty-five and fifty years ago.

Read:

Yes, absolutely.

Geselowitz:

Canada has been very active in history, and actually Canada also has its own History Committee, and I am very appreciative of that. Have you been involved in that aspect as well?

Read:

Yes, of course, I'm now chairing a committee to document the last twenty-five years of IEEE Canada history — documenting it so that by the end of the year it will all be up on the web, on what IEEE has been doing in Canada this last twenty-five years since we documented our history during the IEEE centennial. There are also a lot of articles on history that are now coming in from Individual Sections, and they're being posted on the web. We found it very difficult to publish a hardcover library book to go into our University libraries. Very costly. We did it for the first hundred years, but it had limited distribution, so we're now working on publishing by the end of the year history documentation for the last twenty-five years to fill the gap, and getting it printed as part of our IEEE Canada Review magazine, which comes out three or four times a year, rather than as a book. Plus there will be the web site.

Geselowitz:

Yes, the publishing model had changed. Other units are also looking at using magazines rather than books.

Read:

Yes, very expensive, but that's all up on the web, and the web sites will all be posted at the universities. Each Section chair will take that information and offer it to university libraries, or whatever.

Geselowitz:

Right. And I know and the History Committee is very interested in making sure that we have links to all that material on our Global History Network (GHN) site.

Read:

I’ve already agreed with IEEE History Committee Chair Dick Gowen that it will be available on the GHN.

Geselowitz:

And you've also come full circle because, under your leadership in rejoining the History Committee, the Milestones Program has really picked up again. When I became Director there was only two or three dedications a year, and now this year we're looking at, I think, eight dedications. And next year we're going to hit the hundredth milestone, and so we'll have to make sure that you're there, whichever one — wherever it falls out, whether it's in Japan or South America. Wherever it falls out, we'll have to make sure that you are there, since you were at the first one we'll have to make sure that you are at the hundredth.

Read:

That's very interesting when you move through all these. When they asked me to co-chair this CCECE conference, I said, "I'm not sure whether the Chappy upstairs is going to keep me around until 2009." So at least they said, "Well, we'll put you up as co-chair." And so I made it to here. But, you know, you don't go on forever.

Geselowitz:

No.

Read:

I have a chat with the upstairs Guy every morning. I say, "Why do you keep me down here? I've way overstayed my welcome down here."

Fellow and Award Activities

Geselowitz:

And I know that the other activity — I suppose one could say it's an issue related to history — that you've been very involved in since you ran your other cycle on the Board, is various recognition programs — Fellow and award activities. Do you want to say a little bit about that, about your activity in that area? In fact, the main Canadian service award is named in your honor.

Read:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

So would you like to say something about where you feel the Awards program fits into?

Read:

Well, I think Bob Alden has been the champion of this over the years, and if you attended the meeting we had here last night, which was the awarding of all of our medals for this year, we have an area medal for East, and one for West, and one for Central, and they're all named after very important people in IEEE Canada, all of whom have passed away. And then we have other service metals. And I was the only one that the service medals are named after that's alive today, and that's why I appeared on the stage and made the presentation to Dave Kemp. But the Awards program is in good hands. It's been excellent. We have Bob Hannah, the past chair of IEEE Canada, as a Director, and all these contributors to the nominating committee and the selection, it's an excellent operation and it's been nourished by Bob Alden.

Geselowitz:

And I know you've been involved at the IEEE level as well, on IEEE medal committees and the Fellows Committee, and so forth. So I wonder if you ought to say some thoughts about the general importance of a recognition program, either in Canada or globally in IEEE. Why you feel it's important to be involved?

Read:

Well, I think recognition is important as a symbol of what can be — what younger students coming along now can aspire to. Did you hear any of the talks last night?

Geselowitz:

I did, yes.

Read:

They attributed the winning of that medal not to themselves but rather to all the people that supported them. It's a very independent and highly recognized program in Canada and around the world as well. Region 8 has its own awards program, and it's just raises the profile of the big IEEE, and I think it's recognition of that nature that is so fabulous, and very important to know that even if you haven't won the medal, that you've been a part of that person winning that medal. We need to do that for all of our membership.

Historical Changes in IEEE

Geselowitz:

So, Wally, we've covered your very long career in IEEE, so to start to wrap up I'd like to ask you, looking back over your long career, what do you see as the big trend in how IEEE has changed and where it is and how it got here?

Read:

Well, I'm very comfortable with what I thought, back when I ran for President — the directions that IEEE could move in and improve our image for the rest of the world, not necessarily just as engineers but the impact on your lifestyle through the technical accomplishments of IEEE. Let me lead up to where we are now, and is it any different than when I went into the presidency? I mentioned those two goals, international membership and industry involvement. I'm not trying to claim credit for this, but we did open the doors to each of these activities in both areas. In terms of globalization, it probably was for reasons of Standards, that we became more international and associated with other bodies in the world that create standards. Very important — standards for our industry and the application of our technologies.

In the other area, back before my presidency our membership outside of the United States was 30% of our total membership. When I left, or shortly after I left the past-president role, it grew. Our target was 50/50; it grew from that time up to 50/50. We're 50/50 now — 50% of our members reside outside of the United States. So it's not just an American association; it's global, and I think we've got the right balance now. So I feel that was an achievement, not my achievement alone but a lot of hard work by all the leadership.

The second goal of becoming more industry-connected rather than just academic — researchers locking themselves in a room — is also related to the problem of public visibility. Not telling anybody that they were doing excellent work, not talking about that accomplishment, again, to the public, is no longer acceptable. We made a good deal of progress in that area, and we need to make more. So I felt very gratified, along with the team that we had over the years, to have made that progress.

The Creative Importance of Engineers

Read:

As far as going forward is concerned, and I didn't mention that earlier, but we need to reach down even at the grade-school level, to show the importance of our profession, and the importance of it, not just from the point of view of how we make certain gadgets and they work and that's it. But we're penetrating that audience now, now because of a change in of activities worldwide. You know, we engineers are, along with the arts people, the most important contributors to the benefit of mankind. And we don't tell people enough about that yet. We started it, but we need to make sure that the public is aware of the importance of the profession of engineers in establishing our role as citizens of the earth. Jokingly, when I speak to groups outside IEEE, I tend to talk to them on the basis of, there are only two professions in the world. These other people that call themselves professional — doctors, lawyers, accountants — they're not creators. And I'm kind of insulting some members of the audience as I go through this little preamble. It's the artist and the engineer that create new things to meet the challenge of the workplace and impact on the environment — the impact on the environment is what we're getting into now. But we never did like to talk about it; we just want to produce a technical paper and publish it and then go on from there. We’ve got to keep telling more to the rest of the world that we are creators of technology and how we're so like the artists.

And when you talk about the two professional creativity groups — arts, including music — you can take somebody from Russia, you can take somebody from South America, you can take people from Africa, and they have all contributed and can all appreciate it. That's why history is important, to show what great contributors they've been. And they don't care what governments are doing, or what wars people want to fight politically. They're a welding force for the whole world, and we — engineers — are one of those big contributors. The arts world: you can take arts here in Canada, bring it back to Europe, do tours, and people come together whether they were at one times fighting or not fighting, and you know, the difference between war and peace. We engineers are the same way: we’re creative. Our problem in engineering, in my opinion, is that we tend to create things and unfortunately, humankind keeps trying to misuse it.

Unfortunately, those who are not steeped in what you've presented to the world as a new invention — for example, being able to communicate through satellites and so on, all that is great stuff — tend to misuse it. But if it's misused by the world, by politicians, or whatever group you want to talk about, if it's misused, then it's not to the benefit of mankind. So that's why it's very important as in the arts, that the people recognize its true value. I always refer to the Nobel prize. Nobel, as you know, invented dynamite, and we misused it in some cases, and having done that, Nobel, of course, created the Nobel prizes for people who benefit humankind. So I think that's the message that we need keep hammering on, and we need to talk publicly about the importance of the creativity of the engineering profession. And that's what I've been working on since my presidency, at the local level in Canada.

Geselowitz:

And it ties into history. It ties into ethics, showing that we have responsibility. And it ties into the recognition, so it ties into public visibility, and into all of your IEEE activities.

Read:

Yeah, and people know sometimes I'm joking, but sometimes I'm serious, and they have trouble figuring it out. So whenever I give this speech about there are only two professions in the world; the rest are all maintenance. Doctors are glorified plumbers, you know. I go on with that. Then when I come to the end of that I say, "Now, I don't want you to get me wrong. If I'm on the operating table, I don't want an engineer operating on me." Because that's what we're getting with robots. So I can see the audience's concern when I say there are only two professions. Anyway, that's the way I present it. And that message needs to be carried, not just by IEEE Canada; it's a worldwide message that has to get out there. Because we're still misbehaving with some of our technologies, and we don't want that. We want to technologies to serve the public.

The Future of IEEE

Geselowitz:

Now, looking into the future, are you an optimist in terms of where IEEE is going? Does the organization actually seem to be recognizing this and moving in this direction to make this a primary function?

Read:

I'm an optimist from the point of view that I see the need out there in the world today. I'm not an optimist in that I don’t think anything will improve unless we work at it. I don't think we're working hard enough at how important the environment is out there, and what a contribution we, as technical people, can make towards analyzing what's forthcoming in the next fifty years with respect to the environment. So we don't speak out enough on it. Each one of the IEEE engineers that I've ever worked with has been so knowledgeable, but they're shy. They don't mind talking to a technical group. I mean, this conference is all technical debaters. It's not enough for us in the future. We've got to talk to the public of the world, and we've got to keep stressing the message with the importance, particularly in our case, of electrical technologies to make sure that the message is public: here's what we've done, great technology, needs to be used by the whole world, but don't misuse it.

Don't misuse it as some dictators in the world in the past, in WWI and WWII and so on. Don't misuse the knowledge that we put out there to make us a great, a great image for the public, and to respect the engineer profession. We don't talk about it enough, and we need to move in that direction because technologies are changing. I mean, who would be talking about the environment and this global warming, and all the other aspects that are now coming to fore, that we have made great contributions but never have never let anybody know about. So I see that as a future, and I think it can be achieved, but I want the IEEE presidents of the future to zero in on these marvelous contributions we've had that are making this world better, and not worse by misuse of the technology. That's where I see us going.

Geselowitz:

Well, that's great. Well, it's been a fascinating interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add that you didn't cover or I didn't ask, before we sign off?

Read:

No, I think you have covered the ground with your questions. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to participate.

Geselowitz:

We're happy to have you, Wally. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.

Further Reading

Tribute to Wally Read