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Oral-History:Andrew Drozd

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Andrew Drozd, an oral history conducted in 2013 by Sheldon Hochheiser , IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
 
Andrew Drozd, an oral history conducted in 2013 by Sheldon Hochheiser , IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
 
==Interview==
 
==Interview==
INTERVIEWEE:         Andrew Drozd
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INTERVIEWEE: Andrew Drozd
INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser
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INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser
DATE: 22 January 2013     
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DATE:     22 January 2013     
PLACE: IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ
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PLACE:     IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ
  
 
===Family and Education===
 
===Family and Education===

Revision as of 21:21, 12 May 2014

Contents

About Andrew Drozd

Andrew Drozd is a Fellow of the IEEE for the development of knowledge-based codes for modeling and simulation of complex systems for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). He was President of the IEEE EMC Society for 2006-2007. He is the Chair of the EMC-S Standards Development Committee sponsored P1597 Working Group on the development of standards for the validation of computational electromagnetics (CEM) computer modeling codes and a member of the IEEE P1900 series projects which are devoted to developing new policy defined radio standards. He is also a member of the TC-9 Committee on CEM, the Applied Computational Electromagnetics Society (ACES), and the Electromagnetic Code Consortium (EMCC).

In this interview, Drodz discusses his family’s immigration to the United States from Belgium, his early interest in math and the physical sciences that led to his career in engineering, his work at Kaman Sciences, and the creation of his own company, ANDRO Computational Solutions. He also discusses his involvement in IEEE, his presidency of the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society, ECM expansion and other initiatives, and his experiences with IEEE societal governance.

About the Interview

ANDREW DROZD: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE History Center, on 22 January 2013 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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: Andrew Drozd, an oral history conducted in 2013 by Sheldon Hochheiser , IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Andrew Drozd INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser DATE: 22 January 2013 PLACE: IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ

Family and Education

Hochheiser:

Okay. Very good. This is Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE History Center. I am here with IEEE EMC Society past President Andrew Drozd at the IEEE History Center in Brunswick, New Jersey. And it is the 22nd of January, 2013. Good morning.

Drozd:

Good morning.

Hochheiser:

If we could start with a little bit of background, where were you born and raised?

Drozd:

Well actually I was born in a town called Vucht in Belgium. My family would have amounted to refugees because they were displaced residents during World War II. My parents primarily came out of central-eastern Europe and my mother is from the Ukraine. My father is from Germany and he had German and Polish ancestry. So I come from that essential background and nationality.

Because they were workers and they were faced with the Nazis and the German front and so on, they ended up being displaced over time and they ended up migrating and vagabonding throughout Europe. Sometimes they were caught in the middle of the war and sometimes outside of it. They eventually moved to Belgium as one of the countries they lived in before they came to the United States.

The reason for Belgium is because of work. My father needed work; he worked in the coal mines. And so at the time I was born, he didn’t want to make coal mining a career for him or his other sons. My brother was also born in Belgium. So they decided to emigrate to the United States. We had family here in the U.S. and particularly upstate New York who helped us along with the assistance of the American Red Cross and Catholic Charities. And so that’s where I come from and that’s kind of the cultural and nationalistic heritage I stem from.

Hochheiser:

How old were you when you came to the United States?

Drozd:

A little bit under a year. Just a little under a year old.

Hochheiser:

And you came to upstate New York where you had family?

Drozd:

Yes, we actually came first to New York City and stayed there for a short period of time.

Then we ended up relocating to Buffalo and eventually came to upstate in the Rome, New York area.

Hochheiser:

And what did your father do once he landed in Rome?

Drozd:

Well, actually the first job he got was again through relatives. It was in a steel mill. There was a company called Rome Strip Steel which was a cold-rolled steel mill. And what they basically did is develop steel sheets and steel rollings that were used in the car manufacturing industry, other heavy duty kind of applications where you had manufacturing, building cars and other vehicles, and so on. He worked his entire career at that plant. And eventually I ended up working there as a summer hire when I became of age. So it was kind of an interesting story; we shared some culture and heritage from around the world and in Upstate New York as well.

Hochheiser:

Were you interested in science, math, technology, things like that as a youth?

Drozd:

Yes, when I was very young, I was very intrigued by math. And math was at first very difficult for me. I had teachers that actually brought me along in the subject. They worked with me, gave a little extra effort to me and really showed me the insights of math. So when I was in my later grammar school grades, I really started to develop a skill for math.

When I went to high school, it really became interesting because now I was relating math to the science courses I was taking. I was taking general science, electrical science, and these things became a little bit more apparent as for the relationship between math and science. And then I started looking at music. And I could see the relationship to music. So it became very interesting to me.

However, math was not my first choice. I was more intrigued by the physical sciences, physics, Materials, things in the world that we deal with and handle on a daily basis. I was at one point very interested in geology and archaeology and history and all of those subjects. But I always brought it back to science, you know, always asking “what is the science behind all of these different disciplines?” But eventually physics became my real interest. And then eventually I brought in more math and then engineering, where electrical engineering eventually became my calling and my career.

Hochheiser:

Did you go directly from high school to college?

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

And what led you to Syracuse University?

Drozd:

I wanted to stay local to where I was living. There were a lot of reasons economically. My family was a middle class family and I didn't want to burden them or myself with a lot of long distance expenses with school and tuition and so on. I actually worked while I was going to school and helped support my family’s expenses in terms of school and other things like that. So it was a local personal family decision that kept me in the Syracuse area.

Hochheiser:

And when you were in school, did you live by campus or did you commute from Rome?

Drozd:

Actually both. I ended up commuting for a period of time. Then I actually moved out to campus for a while. And I stayed on the campus then to get my graduate degree and commuted back and forth to Rome because I had a job there at the time. So it kind of reversed roles a bit.

Hochheiser:

What did you major in as an undergraduate?

Drozd:

Well undergraduate it was physics with a minor in math. And then when I graduated from Syracuse University and pursued my graduate degree, I pursued electrical engineering with an emphasis in radio frequency communications and signal processing.

Hochheiser:

You mentioned that you were working part time. I noticed that you had a position at the Rome Air Development Center.

Drozd:

Yes, the Rome Air Development Center.

Hochheiser:

At the Air Force base?

Drozd:

Yes. At that time, it’s now called the Air Force Research Lab.

Hochheiser:

Right. I know the rest of the base eventually closed

Drozd:

Yes. I actually started there under what you would consider an internship program. They called it a coop program that was being sponsored through or in conjunction with Syracuse University. Now, universities across the country have had similar arrangements with AFRL including the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Detroit, and many others.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

So I started coop/intern work with them on a part-time basis through a program that the Air Force had with Syracuse University at that time. That lasted a couple of years. I worked with a number of the engineers on projects that involved mathematical and scientific equation derivations to software engineering and code validation as well as some performance testing and lab measurements. Also, I performed a variety of other duties such as graphics arts and drafting.

The lab got me involved in writing papers and co-authoring publications early in my career. So it was a very good cultivating experience for me and got me started on my career path.

Hochheiser:

Did this experience influence your decision to move from physics into electrical engineering?

Drozd:

No, actually that occurred before I even landed the coop/internship there. It was more job driven at the time, as you would expect.

Hochheiser:

Sure.

Early Engineering Career and Graduate School

Drozd:

When I graduated as an undergraduate with a physics degree, I actually did start work right away after graduation. But it was in an area that I was not totally enthused about. It had to do with reliability engineering. While this involved a good amount of physics and math, it was a little bit more routine type work where I would plug in numbers into equations and tabulate results related to reliability failure prediction. It was a good breaking ground opportunity for me in the sense that it made me more familiar with how math and physics are used for reliability engineering. We even got down to device-level physics of failure which was quite interesting, you know, semi-conductor devices and such.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

And we had to understand how they operate, how they fail, electrical overstress, reliability metrics, etc.; a lot of these things came together in a very quick fashion within less than a year.

However, it really wasn’t where I wanted to focus my career. I felt I needed more electrical engineering experience and there seemed to be more opportunities that arose within an electrical engineering degree and the career opportunities that came along.

Hochheiser:

So then you went back to Syracuse for your masters?

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Now were you doing this part time while you were working?

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

And where were you working at the time?

Drozd:

Well actually I was working in Rome at the time and that’s when I reverse commuted for a short while to accommodate my work and school load. I was working in Rome at the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute or IITRI office, which is now called Alion. It’s currently an employee owned company. I worked for its predecessor organization called IITRI which is a well-known organization. IITRI had a contract with the Air Force Research Lab (or RADC at that time). That contract dealt more with electromagnetics science research and development, the work I eventually was to do and that continues for me to this very day.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

This is how I began my electromagnetics career, as I was working with laboratory people both on computational electromagnetic computer simulations as well as testing. This led me more and more into the electromagnetics discipline while I was going to school.

As I was doing that kind of work, I was also faced with solving radio frequency communication issues for radio devices, telemetry, data collection, transmission, reception, processing, and so on. All of this came together very quickly. I felt that I really needed to concentrate on that problem space in school for my graduate degree. So that’s where radio frequency communication and signal processing became part of my core curriculum.

Hochheiser:

Were you dealing with EMC type issues there?

Drozd:

Yes, absolutely. During that timeframe when I was pursuing my master’s degree and working at IITRI in Rome, NY, I became actively involved in EMC computer codes used to simulate electromagnetic effects on systems. For example, if one considers an aircraft platform with many antennas installed on it, including on board cabling and electronic systems that are directly exposed to external electromagnetic environments produced by radars or other potential sources, intentional or fratricide, I was tasked with studying and analyzing how those energies propagate, how cabling and electronics are affected, and even how it may affect people working in the vicinity of these electromagnetic environments. So the team of analysts I worked with got involved in a myriad of EMC concerns to the point where we developed computer models to simulate these effects and predict the responses, then determine how to fix or mitigate them.

Hochheiser:

And all this is going on while you were simultaneously completing your masters?

Drozd:

Yes. That was a very busy period I recall. But being a young engineer with a lot of energy and interests at the time and trying to shape my career path, well, it was a fun period in my life and I’d have to say yes it all worked out well in the end.

Hochheiser:

Oh yes. A lot of people do that.

Drozd:

Sure and I admire people who can do that and make a difference.

Hochheiser:

Was there something about the EMC problems that were part of what you were working on that shined out to you that this is where you might make the center of your career?

Drozd:

Yes. Actually it’s an interesting question because I had worked with some of the greats at the time. For example, Dr. Clayton Paul, who everybody in the EMC business knows and who recently passed away, was one of my early mentors. I worked with him for several years on and off on different projects where we were taking EMC computer stimulation codes and trying to improve them based on his theoretical and experimental work. A lot of his research was being literally migrated into these codes. We were testing them and validating them against real world experiments. I was heavily involved in that work.

I was lucky to be involved because I was able to learn not only the engineering process but also had a great opportunity to work with literally the EMC experts who eventually went on to become quite pre-eminent and prominent within our IEEE EMC Society and our community in general. So when I was working with Dr. Paul and others like him, that’s when I began to see how I could over time get into the driver’s seat on this kind of work.

This was and is a great place to be. It’s a good career and an important discipline; I have learned so much and am still continuing to learn new things all the time. All of this is what really locked me in so to speak.

Hochheiser:

Did you leave IITRI while you were still a grad student?

Drozd:

No.

Work at General Electric and Kaman Sciences

Hochheiser:

I noticed a short period where you were with General Electric underwater electronics.

Drozd:

Yes, I actually spent a little over a year with General Electric.

Hochheiser:

Now was that after you finished your masters?

Drozd:

Yes, I finished my master’s degree while I was employed by IITRI; After graduation for my master’s degree, I continued to work at IITRI for a little over a year and then left to do some teaching in between. At the time I ended up teaching physics and electromagnetics for Syracuse University.

Hochheiser:

At Syracuse?

Drozd:

For a Syracuse University satellite campus location in Utica, NY. I really enjoyed that stint but I didn't want to make that into a full time job at the time.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

I was shortly thereafter offered a position at General Electric in Syracuse, NY to be a lead EMC test engineer and to work with their testing team. Actually it was an excellent experience because whereas I was working mostly in computer simulations prior to that and dealing most with theory, here now I was working with test hardware, setting up experiments, collecting data and making sense out of it all. I was doing some of that in my prior work, but not as much as at GE. This work was almost 90% measurements and testing oriented.

Hochheiser:

Right, real hands on rather than on computers.

Drozd:

Hands on, right. Exactly. And it was fun work. Because I got a chance to learn how the equipment works, what the real world hardware issues were, and how my theoretical and computer simulations background fit in. I could see it all here, and how it all applied. It was an eye opener. So this type of work nicely complemented what I had done previously and what I was doing at the time and ever since then, I have always have kept my hands a little dirty in the measurement world to validate certain concepts when I can or when it’s possible. That’s been a very good teacher for me.

Hochheiser:

Now was this General Electric operation in Rome or was it…

Drozd:

No actually this was in Syracuse. I ended up actually moving back out to Syracuse for a period of time while I was working there. So it was a combination of commuting and staying at one place or the other during my early career. I consider myself a local, homegrown type as I stayed close to home, family, school and my work career in Upstate New York.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

To me it is important to be family oriented, being local, you know, and all that comes with that. So I ended up going back and forth over several years. Anyway, when I was in Syracuse, I actually stayed near the university campus. I was able to still maintain my university connections, my past research connections, and my connections with General Electric in Syracuse at that time. It worked out very well for me.

I was later offered a position at another company in the Utica-Rome, NY area to resume my EMC computer modeling and simulation work. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up so although I was at General Electric for a relatively short time in my early career, it was one of the most fruitful and educational times for me. I learned a great deal. I brought back a lot of good experience to my new job which was during the 1984 timeframe, working for a company called Kaman Sciences Corporation.

Hochheiser:

What sort of company was Kaman Sciences?

Drozd:

Kaman was a very eclectic company as far as research goes. It was owned by Charlie Kaman who started the Kaman Corporation Helicopters of Bloomfield, Connecticut. Charlie Kaman was a Russian immigrant, who started a business that eventually competed with the likes of Sikorsky Helicopter as well as others at the time focusing on advancements in lightweight yet sturdy rotor blade technologies and such. He decided that was a good place to focus his business and from there it expanded into aerospace and research and development in a number of strategic areas important to the defense community.

The company expanded over the years into a sciences group, into an engineering group, and into other applied sciences divisions. I along with several other people decided to start up a Kaman field office in the Utica-Rome area to support work for the Air Force at the time. We also worked on developing some new research programs with them.

I was a natural for this because I knew a lot of the people, I was local and had a good handle on the electromagnetics technology that was central to a lot of the work at the time. They offered me this opportunity to help start up this new field office and to develop a research and development component for Kaman central.

Hochheiser:

Okay. So you were in charge of the field office then?

Drozd:

No, not in charge of it. I was actually one of the several staff that launched the operations along with a couple of former US Air Force Rome Air Development Center engineers. That opportunity just fell into my lap at the right time and I decided that the work we would be doing was something I really wanted to get back to.

Hochheiser:

Okay.

Drozd:

Kaman has involvement in many things, and they’re still in operation. That particular group I worked with was more science and technology, research development oriented and was eventually bought out by ITT.

Hochheiser:

Okay. And so what sort of activities did you do there? You’re back now mainly on computer simulations?

Drozd:

Yes, I resumed work on computer simulations and computational electromagnetics and there were several programs that the company and our office were beginning to support for large aerospace contractors. I can’t talk much about those programs unfortunately.

Hochheiser:

I understand.

Drozd: 

A good deal of the computer codes that we had developed years before in my previous work were very germane to solving problems for these companies and customers. So we had taken these codes and had made major upgrades to be able to model the specific phenomena and analyze key problems related to EMC. They were all EMC related primarily for defense clients.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

So these codes became the basis for our work, our research, and working with these companies to help solve their problems. I was involved in some commercial EMC work as well. So we were actually working hand in hand with several aerospace companies to accomplish EMC-driven missions or goals for the systems, platforms and product lines.

Hochheiser:

Right. And were these ultimately Air Force defense related projects?

Drozd:

I would say largely yes. These were not restricted to Air Force and one could say it was for the greater defense purpose. Though there was a very heavy emphasis on Air Force related problems and applications.

Hochheiser:

Rather than commercial customers?

Drozd:

Yes. What we developed at that time could have been almost equally applied to serve commercial industry needs if we had marketed it and commercialized it and pursued things on that front.

Hochheiser:

But you didn’t--

Drozd:

Not so much, but to a certain degree yes. I was more involved in the Department of Defense needs gaps to be filled during most of my career and to this day it’s still the same.

Hochheiser:

Right. Well I guess being in your field in Rome, New York with the big Air Force Development Center regardless what its name is in a given year would kind of lend to those connections.

Drozd:

Correct, yes. That’s why I say it’s sort of a natural thing for me to do that.

IEEE Involvement

Hochheiser:

Yes. According to IEEE records, you first joined IEEE in 1985.

Drozd:

Yes, that sounds about right. The reason I remember that is because I was working for Kaman at the time and a lot of my colleagues, both in my prior work and in my existing office were very active in IEEE conferences and such. So I began to get more intrigued about what this IEEE organization was all about.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

Unfortunately I was not really involved when I was an undergraduate or a graduate student in chapter activities. I was somewhat aware of IEEE, especially at Syracuse University but never became active until after my career began as I realized the benefits and importance of being an active IEEE member including the chance to publish, attend conferences and so forth.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

The IEEE credentials were very important to me and still are. Yes, 1985 would be about the right timeframe when I really became aware of the importance of the IEEE in my career advancement.

Hochheiser:

In what ways did you become involved? Did you look to the local section or chapter, the EMC Society, papers, conferences?

Drozd:

That’s a very good question and it’s kind of the cart before the horse in a way because before I joined and became active in the IEEE, I was actually giving talks to the local sections and EMC chapters. I remember very early on there was an EMC chapter that still exists in the Mohawk Valley area that I gave talks to on multiple occasions.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd: 

I recall a mini-conference that our EMC chapter sponsored that dealt with some of the Air Force work that was going on during the early 1980s. They wanted to have several presenters talk about the work we were doing, clearly at a general unclassified level. I was one of the younger recent graduate engineering students that came to support this event and I recall the introductions by the session chair at the time saying “he’s just gotten his master’s degree and he’s supporting a project for the Air Force, he’s working for this company in Rome, and he’s going to present the results of some key research work for the Lab.” You get the picture.

That gave me a platform to talk a bit about my work very early on, even before I became an IEEE member. So you could say, the grass roots chapter piqued my interests as well, but I didn’t act on this until sometime later in my career. Then as my colleagues were going to conferences and publishing papers, I became even more interested. I thought I should be part of that. That’s when I became more active in publishing and attending the conferences, during the ’87, ’88 timeframe.

A very interesting thing that happened during the 1991, ’92 timeframe was that once again I connected with Dr. Paul who mentored and shepherded me into IEEE EMC Society activities as a volunteer and asked if I would like to be on this or that particular committee for the EMC Society. At the time I decided to volunteer for the Education Committee and the rest is history.

Hochheiser:

Would that have been about when you first joined the society as opposed to the overall IEEE?

Drozd:

That would be about right. I may have joined it a year or two earlier but I wasn’t as active. It was more like supporting conferences and trying to co-publish a paper or two.

Hochheiser:

So when did you start going to this symposium?

Drozd:

I started actively going to the symposium during the ’88, ’89 timeframe. I would go to the annual symposium but I still was not involved at any committee levels. Again, it was more like presenting a paper or seeing papers, and going to the exhibits.

Hochheiser:

Yes. But that is what probably the majority of the people who attend the symposium do.

Drozd:

Well it’s interesting too because at that time compared to what it is today the exhibits were much smaller. I mean, we had a fairly healthy exhibit area, but it wasn’t anything as large as it is today. It was an important part of the show but it wasn’t quite as prominent. These days it’s probably one of the biggest features of our conference of course along with the technical sessions.

Hochheiser:

So you started going and attending the technical sessions?

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

And do you give some papers there?

Drozd:

Yes. I remember in the ’88, ’89 timeframe, I gave my first one or two official papers and it was an educational experience because I was so nervous about giving those papers at the time. I’d never done anything of such a magnitude for a large audience before that. Since then, I have been publishing and presenting at different conferences and on various topics.

Hochheiser:

Yes. And I assume also in the society’s transactions.

Drozd:

Actually as a co-author, but not as a sole or primary author of a transaction paper. My work on the development, application and fundamental theory underlying new computational electromagnetic standards has made its way or been cited in transactions and other publications.

Hochheiser:

So, in ’91 you got reconnected with Dr. Paul and he invites you to join the Education Committee.

Drozd:

Yes, right.

Hochheiser:

What led you to say yes?

Drozd:

I think it was the fact that he asked me and when he asks, you do. I always had a lot of respect for Dr. Paul and he guided me into the society’s activities more and more each year.

He had this very brilliant idea along with others on the IEEE EMC Society Education Committee to start the so-called “Demonstrations and Experiments Special Session which we launched during the 1992, ’93 timeframe. He had asked me if I would like to be in charge of it. After giving it some thought and after talking with some of the other people within the committee who encouraged me, I decided to do it.

From about ’92 to the present day, we have held this at each of our symposia. I invited presenters do a hardware or software based demonstration to solve a particular EMC problem and describe important EMC concepts and fundamental theory in action. I was very proud to be part of that activity. However, I might have not been so willing if it hadn’t been for Dr. Paul being the catalyst for this. This really took off in ’93 and has been going strong since and ever since then I’ve been a highly active volunteer eventually leading me to become EMC Society President during 2006-2007.

Hochheiser:

How long did you stay with this activity?

Drozd:

With the demonstrations?

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

Oh, actually almost every year in one capacity or another to this present day. I became in the past five to six years more of an advisor. Whereas before I was doing all of the detailed arrangements, including soliciting for the experiments and the demos, the up-front planning, developing the agenda, everything, now I am more acting in an advisory capacity and have turned my attention on helping out with the vendor exhibits at several of our recent annual symposia.

During the past five or six years I’ve backed off because it’s grown and because of this, has become an institutional component of the symposium that is now handled by a dedicated committee. There are now chairs and co-chairs on the symposium committees that do these things. I just advise and provide guidance. The committee is doing a great job and can function without me.

Hochheiser:

Yeah. Well that’s a long time to stay involved in it, doing one specific activity in any case

Drozd:

Yes. That was one activity and as time went on into the ’93, ’94, ’95 timeframe, I got more involved in other things as well so this became a strategic path for me leading me into other volunteer activities.

Hochheiser:

What other activities did you get involved in?

Drozd:

Well it was interesting because I used the demonstration and experiments as my platform to get engaged and involved in the society on several other fronts and that was great for me. I continued over the years to publish papers and give talks. But also I began to explore opportunities to serve on the EMC Society Board of Directors. Once again, Dr. Paul was instrumental in this. He was the hook. He encouraged me to attend a board meeting and report on my demonstration experiments activities to the board members. So I attended a board meeting very early on, again during the ’93, ’94 timeframe. I would actually give a quick summary of what we did, what worked, what was successful, what maybe didn’t work, etc. including our plans for the following year. Everybody seemed very interested in this activity which pumped me up even more.

One thing led to another and I would find myself attending a series of board meetings getting some important visibility in the process. After doing this for several years, I was the encouraged to run for the board by several of the board members. I realized I was in the company of very good people and world renowned experts in EMC. How could I refuse? Dan Hoolihan was an important mentor to me at that point in time along with Joe Butler and several others who kept me on the right path. Those two in particular led me through the process and gave me much support and encouragement. They were looking for new faces to serve on the board at the time and once again the rest is history.

Hochheiser:

Right, right.

Drozd:

So, in 1988 I believe I was voted in as a member of the board after several attempts. I have been active serving on the board of directors and as a society officer since.

Creation of ANDRO Computational Solutions

Hochheiser:

And in the meantime while this is happening, you started your own company?

Drozd:

Yes, actually I started that in 1994.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

And that was an interesting story too because I was still working with Kaman at the time. It was about the ten year mark with Kaman. Then the first Gulf War hit during the ’91 timeframe.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

The Gulf War caused a drain in the research and development dollars that we were receiving. So the EMC work I was doing, that was in my comfort zone, and that I wanted to continue doing, was beginning to unexpectedly dwindle. The company wanted to reassign me to work on information technology research along the lines of early internet research, but that was not as enticing (had I only known how important the Internet would become in our daily lives shortly thereafter!). I just liked the physics, math and science behind EMC. So I left Kaman and decided “to try this on my own, as an experiment”.

Little did I know then that my timing couldn’t have been better. I was encouraged by people that I had worked with over the years at the Air Force Research Lab to strike it on my own. They were familiar with my computational electromagnetics work and helped me to navigate the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to get me established. They wanted to see me continue and even pointed me to some opportunities to bid on work. So I said, okay well I’m now on my own and I’ll give this a try.

I was successful (lucky) on my first couple of attempts. I was awarded research funds and I started to take some of the old software work I had done and upgraded it, demonstrated it and my Air Force customer embraced it. This was what they wanted and my new path was set. One thing led to another, I persevered and slowly expanded, and my new company was off and running. I have stayed with it since.

Hochheiser:

How would you contrast running your own company as opposed to working for someone else?

Drozd:

Like anything in life there are distinct advantages and some disadvantages. Obviously there’s a safety net when you work for a company, which is somewhat less true today, but you can count on a steady income. Sometimes the work can be interesting, sometimes less so and challenging. When I started my own company, I took a somewhat calculated risk, but with many assumptions and unknowns. I had to take care of my own needs and be the chief cook and bottle washer. I had to learn and do virtually everything to establish and maintain a viable business. I had also just gotten married shortly before that and slowly a family like was forming.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I really like the freedom of having my own company, making my own career and life decisions and do the kind of work I want amidst all of life’s opportunities and challenges along the way.  Yes, there are risks, but like anything you work hard and reap the benefits of a job well done.  I never really thought grand or on elaborate scales; I always thought of keeping the company small, lean, and mean as it were.  My philosophy:  do good, honest work keeping risk factors down, and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day as well as create opportunities for the next person.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

And that’s what we’ve been doing pretty much since I began and right now we about 22 people strong and growing. It’s been some 20 plus years that we’re doing this. Most of our work is still EMC or electromagnetic effects oriented. But we’ve branched out into other areas. And it’s self-sustaining; we’ve had a couple of lean years, and mostly good ones. So we survive and thrive and keep plugging away.

Hochheiser:

Is it still primarily directed towards DOD customers?

Drozd:

Yes, I would say about 75% to 80% of my business is still defense oriented. Because the services and defense industry as a whole continue to be faced by ever-evolving challenges in new technologies and EMC problems, and they know our reputation, so there’s a good fit here. However, we are slowly branching off into more commercial work. We do have some commercial customers as well where we support federal and civilian aviation work.

IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society

Hochheiser:

Going back to EMC-S activities. While you were becoming more involved with the overall society, were you also active with the local chapter?

Drozd:

Yes. As a matter of fact I was very active for three to four years. I started out as a vice chair of our local IEEE EMC chapter and then I moved up to the chair position. That was during the ’95 through 2000 timeframe. As a chapter chair and vice chair, you have to arrange meetings, solicit interesting topics, send out the advertising flyers, work with your section officers, et cetera. I had done all of that and became very familiar with the section members and I truly enjoyed that. It was fun. But as the work that was paying the bills sapped more and more of my time, I felt it was necessary to off-load that responsibility. Interestingly enough one of my current work staff, at that time was willing to give it a try, and took over as EMC chapter chair. So I had nominated her for the chair position and she was voted in and took over. She’s done a great job too.

Hochheiser:

How large was the chapter?

Drozd:

It’s an interesting question too but you have to look at the membership over time. We started out in the middle to late ‘80s very healthy. I’m talking about 50, 60, maybe up to 100 people that were very active largely because of the Air Force lab’s presence there. So that helped a lot. But as time went on and the economics and the demographics shifted, we’re down to like less than 20 people that are active in one form or another in EMC and I’m one of them. So I would say our chapter is still active but certainly not as active as it could be and it’s a struggle these days. A sign of the times we live in.

Hochheiser:

According to the records, at the end of the ‘90s and going back to the overall EMC Society, you became the society’s membership chairman?

Drozd:

Yes. I was the membership chair; more specifically, the chair of the Membership Committee under the vice president of member services. This eventually led to me becoming the vice president of member services.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

That was part of the plan and path leading to the presidency of the society.

Hochheiser:

What were the issues facing--how healthy was the membership at the end of the ‘90s?

Drozd:

Well I would say that we left the ‘90s roughly at the 5,000 level. We were always like 5,000 or 5,500 strong more or less during the ‘90s entering the 2000s, but because of a variety of factors again based on demographics, age, economics of the time, our society eroded over time to about 4,200 or so.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

So yes, one could say we experienced a bit of erosion over the years. We looked at other societies as well and most of the others were facing a similar kind of erosion at different rates of decline. One or two societies increased, which was interesting. It was a sign of the times, and the economics. There were a number of other factors as well I am sure. I think that economics played a big role. People were not only losing their jobs, but companies were no longer supporting their employees’ memberships like they used to, and they were not necessarily supporting the conferences like they did in the past to the levels that I recall back in the ‘90s. So I think all that contributed to the natural decline but I think now it’s beginning to reverse slowly as the economy starts to improve.

Hochheiser:

Did membership then occupy a good chunk of the board’s time in the late ‘90s?

Drozd:

Oh yes, definitely, because when we saw that the demographics were shifting, and we were losing members, we spent a lot of time including meetings held at IEEE, talking about what’s causing membership decline, how we got there, and how do enact measures to reverse the trends for the better, as well as what can we do as an IEEE society to help reverse the trend, and again, we were addressing this at both the Institute level as well as at the society level. Again I think the decline is on the reverse, but ever so slowly and I still think we have a lot of challenges ahead with the economics of the world being the way they are and such a driving factor in our day to day lives in so many respects.

Hochheiser:

Were there other issues on which the board was spending good chunks of time in the late ‘90s?

Drozd:

Well in addition to membership retention issues, I would say that a good deal of our time was spent on standards activities as standards was in a state of being strategically redefined within our society’s organizational structure in the sense that it was really taking off and becoming more visible within our membership. The society was trying to increase its footprint in the standards area at the time. By that I mean our standards committees and working groups were very active prior to my involvement but I saw an intentional effort to try and increase its visibility and actively engage the membership throughout our society and beyond. I saw what I considered a dramatic increase in the formation of standards activities, special study groups and linkages with other groups.

We had the standards in education committee and we had another standards group called SACCOM or the Standards Advisory and Coordination Committee, which supports standards committee representation on different organizations that address EMC standards development and regulatory compliance outside of the IEEE EMC society. There was a lot of activity on this front that I became involved in as well.

Eventually I became the chair of the EMC society Standards Development Committee, which was recently renamed the Standards Development and Education Committee or SDECom. So I would say there was an explosion of standards activities and we were all feeling our way through the world of standards and how to best contribute to it. It is certainly an important area.

Hochheiser:

Did you have much involvement with standards in your professional career? As opposed to your IEEE career?

Drozd:

Well not that much except for being a user of standards, mainly military EMC standards in my previous work. The only standards that I really worked on in my professional career was when I chaired two working groups to develop new, emerging IEEE standards for computational electromagnetics technique validation; namely, IEEE Std. 1597.1 and IEEE Std. 1597.2. In short, there had never been a standard for computation electromagnetics. I had attended a number of meetings over the years where this gap had been discussed as well as what could be done to fill that gap. I realized there was a strong link, better yet, a fortuitous intersection between what I was doing in my research career and my involvement in standards development. That intersection eventually led to the development of the first of a kind CEM validation standards that were immediately embraced by the community. I leveraged the resources of the IEEE Standards Association and the Standards Board as well as our SDECom and SACCOM within the EMC society to accomplish this. So I took the initiative to pursue the development of these standards for computational electromagnetics which are in fairly wide use today. I’m proud of that.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

And as far as anything else goes that I did and that was active on the radar at the time, well, all I can say is that there were a number of competing initiatives going on at the time in the late ‘90s going into 2000’s. Membership I would say was the first. We were faced with how to retain members and how to grow membership.

Again, in addition to that and standards, we dealt a lot with governance of the society as how do we make this society relevant, modern and be appealing to younger people coming out of school. So there was this image and branding issue that we were pursuing through society governance initiatives to entice new members and create new opportunities for them. There were a lot of discussions on that which probably are still going on as far as I know.

Hochheiser:

Now did you also get involved as the EMC’s web editor?

Drozd:

Yes I was the society webmaster for at least two years. I was asked--well really I was volunteered. There was a need for somebody to take over the web activity and we didn't really have a dedicated person. What we had were a couple of volunteers who were sort of working behind the web scenes but it wasn’t a dedicated effort by any means. Whoever was doing it usually had a day job, as well as other commitments so a sporadic volunteer was the best we could do at the time.

Since I had become involved in the society and in the committees, I felt that maybe my company through me could help with this responsibility. So I offered up my services through the company to help for about a two year period to update and revitalize the webpage, maintain it, and give us more visibility to the professional community. We also pursued an initiative dealing with paid sponsorships by EMC vendors. I was not trying to commercialize our web pages but instead offer fair advertising opportunities for our traditional EMC vendor base to help subsidize the website maintenance while providing a good platform for advertising with links to their company webpages, along the lines of what the IEEE Spectrum has done. We did that, in what I would consider a very tasteful, professional and proper way. We were careful not to endorse any one company or companies and instead allow traditional advertisers to pay a fee to join and become a sponsor. My company was able to help support that for a couple of years and it worked out well and despite a lot of good webpage work we did for the society, we all recognized that eventually we needed a dedicated person for a longer term and professional services to support this.

Hochheiser:

You also got involved with the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems council?

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

As the EMC representative I assume?

Drozd:

Yes. And actually that was a combination as I recall of encouragement by others and my willingness to volunteer to do that at the time. During the late ‘90s I was asked to think about being a representative for the society. I liked this opportunity to liaison with what at the time was an IEEE technical council. They were doing some very groundbreaking work to advance intelligent transportation technologies. I liked the technology and I could see a role for the EMC society. A technical council is represented by multiple IEEE societies and is therefore multidisciplinary. That was a great experience. I did that for several years, learned a great deal and met new professional colleagues. The council eventually became a full-fledged IEEE society. We still communicate with them but not at the same level when it was a council and when I was more actively involved.

Hochheiser:

Yes. Was this your first exposure to people whose primary affiliations were other societies of the IEEE?

Drozd:

Yes, I would say that was probably one of the more prominent exposures, because it was in the setting of an organized group consisting of engineers from multiple disciplines each with an agenda that addressed their individual concerns. That was a good experience. I had been involved with people that were members of other IEEE societies so I was aware of their affiliations and some of their work but not quite at the same level as the ITS Council setting. One became acutely aware of other engineering issues by participating in council meetings. That’s the difference.

IEEE Fellow and EMC Society President

Hochheiser:

Around this time you became a fellow of the IEEE as well?

Drozd:

Yes, 2002, I recall. I am very grateful for that because it’s something that totally came out of the blue. I had worked with a professor at Syracuse University over the years. He and I and my group have done collaborative research for a number of years by that time. He wanted to nominate me. I must admit at questioning my own qualifications for being elevated to IEEE Fellow at the time. I didn’t think I had the credentials and knew how difficult it was to become a Fellow. My professor colleague differed with me on that and he knew of the impact of my research work and contributions in computational electromagnetic technology over the years. He felt it was a natural course to take for me in my professional career and development. So he pursued the nomination and the references and endorsers came through for me at that time. It was a nice accomplishment and this is a credential I am very proud of. Since then I have supported a number of nominations on behalf of many of my other colleagues.

Hochheiser:

What was the professor’s name?

Drozd:

Professor Pramod Varshney who’s very well known in the areas of communication and sensor research. He had gone through the EMC society as the sponsor having worked on some EMC projects in the past and knew I had been involved in the same. To this day, he and I collaborate on various projects that deal with communications, sensors and electromagnetic spectrum issues.

Hochheiser:

How did you come to decide that you wanted to be the president of the EMC society?

Drozd:

I chuckle at that because as the saying goes, don’t ask for something you’re not prepared for or ready to undertake, but I had already been involved with the EMC society for a number of years at that point and knew how it operated and what to expect, more or less. I’m a person who likes challenges. I wanted to see if I could make a positive difference and help overcome things that I saw were stymieing the society like the membership retention and growth challenges. I like to try different things, do my best and see what works. It sounds trite but challenges like these and the willingness to confront them just make you a better person, I think.

My past experience and my willingness to attempt to make a difference along with the encouragement I received were the deciding factors. I felt I had confidence to take this on because of all the prior work I had done in the society, the many volunteer activities and committees I’d been part of, from membership to standards and now governance, including the intelligent transportation liaison work. I really felt this was another chance to try my best and to prove to myself that I can contribute something good, and that I can learn something in the process. I can also get to meet some great people and have a chance to work with them within the society and of course, make a positive difference in our profession. I think everybody recognized that I was very sincere about that. That’s the attitude I had when I stepped into the election ring for the presidency. I wasn’t seeking any awards or accolades as such; I was not putting forth any sort of extreme agenda or platform. My position on society matters came out of humble beginnings and was pretty basic. I wanted to serve the society because I believed in what it does and stand for, but I could see areas where we could improve and do things better. I also wanted to better myself and I was willing to work hard for it. That was my election speech at the time and it was well received. That’s my philosophy; straightforward and very honest, I would work hard and I enjoyed dealing with the challenges most of the time. It kept me busy, actively engaged in real issues and made me a bit more youthful and energetic.

Hochheiser:

You said you wanted to run but now the president is elected by the board members, correct?

Drozd:

Yes, the president is elected by the board of director members.

Hochheiser:

Right. Once you decided you wanted to, how did you come to be selected by the board?

Drozd:

An election occurs every two years according to our by-laws. You’re not running alone. You’re usually running against one, two, sometimes three other candidates sometimes.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

The process involves one expressing their desire to run and to explain his or her platform including the reasons why one wants to serve as president. So based on my past experience, along with my proven dedication to the society and its best interests, I became a viable candidate. I had a great relationship with everybody on the board. They liked what I was doing, I think. From what encouragement I received, I believed that to be the case, in all honesty. Certainly it was not that the other candidates were not qualified. I think they were very qualified, but I think everyone on the board knew I was a go getter, energetic, and willing to get the job done. That’s the sort of person I am, I suppose and it played in my favor.

Hochheiser:

Mm-hm.

Drozd:

Not sure I answered your question—

Hochheiser:

No, you answered it but there’s one thing, were you selected the first time you ran?

Drozd:

No that’s an interesting question though. The first time I ran I was actually nominated via a floor nomination back during the late 1990s. I had attended a board meeting in the Boston area as I recall. Someone on the board talked up my nomination and I was asked by the nominations chair beforehand at the time if I would be willing to be nominated. I agreed to run at that point if nominated from the floor. I really didn’t give it much thought at the time, and I was always up for a good challenge so to speak.

Although I did receive some votes, which was quite interesting, I did not make it at that time. I think the board members felt that I was too “green” at the time and that was fine with me. I did show my willingness to run which may have helped in my eventual accession to the presidency. As the saying goes, it was an honor to be nominated. So as a few years passed and I was still on the board, I gave it more thought and given the proper encouragement at the time, I decided to make a serious run at the position and made it known well in advance. That was during the 2004-2005 timeframe.

Hochheiser:

Now you spent a year as president elect before becoming president, is that right?

Drozd:

Yes, one spends a year as president-elect to learn the ropes, work closely with the presiding president, and with the board members and committees. If you were a board member prior to running, which usually is the case, then you would know how to navigate the system and pave your way to the position and all the responsibilities that bear on the office.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

And it’s just a matter of working with the acting or presiding president to get details of how to conduct the society’s business.

Hochheiser:

And so can you describe to me a bit more how you worked with Kimball Williams, who was your predecessor?

Drozd:

Sure. It would just be a matter of shadowing him at each board meeting. He would always make me aware of the meeting agenda in advance. He would ask me to review the meeting minutes, just to make me aware of the intricacies of preparing for the meeting, knowing what the agenda is, knowing what some of the issues are, and so forth. So I became aware of most of the issues in advance. I think that’s what made the difference. Even the VP’s were not always aware of the full agenda. Where it really became important was at our executive committee meetings where the society officers would get together and go over the high priority issues of the day.

As president-elect at that time, I was Kimball’s right hand man so to speak, and he would culture me in the process and inform me of what’s going on, show me the ropes as it were. He was a very good teacher, meticulous and serious minded. I picked things up from there. It helped too that I had been a board member for a number of years, since about ’98 and knew my way around somewhat and how things were done. My breaking in period with Kimball just punctuated the experience and learning process for me.

Hochheiser:

Mm-hm. Well you ran for president and served a year as president elect, were there particular things that were you were hoping to be able to accomplish once you became president?

Drozd:

An excellent question. One of the first things that I wanted to tackle was membership retention and growth. Our downturn was driven by economic factors for the most part as we entered the new millennium. Our membership numbers were down, and IEEE and the societies were very concerned and looking to reverse negative trends. As society president it was incumbent on me to identify ways to reinvigorate the membership and retain members. So I was very heavily involved in that aspect as soon as I began my term.

Strengthening our numbers by at least 10 percent was one of my first goals. I would say that our membership actually did pick up slightly as a result of our membership pursuits. Our outreach globally I think helped a lot. New EMC chapters were forming all over at the time as a result of our push. Our ranks increased modestly but very quickly within two to three years and we’re holding fairly steady right now. Again, it was due to the combined efforts of our officers and committee chairs who reached out to the grassroots chapter level to make a compelling case for membership recruitment, chapter development and overall growth.

Hochheiser:

What were some of the other things?

Drozd:

Well another goal was to expand our society’s focus and mission to encompass new technology fronts. I felt that EMC was very relevant to virtually any discipline: mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, spectrum engineering, nano-technologies, computational sciences, and the subsets thereof. So I led initiatives at the time to espouse our relevancy to a variety of new technology areas. For example, nano-technology was just beginning to burgeon and we asked ourselves, how does EMC fit into that? We discovered, through a series of study projects and prior research that we have an impact on something called nano-carbon tubes and on their material structure. So we formed a technical committee during my term directed at addressing the relationship between nano-technology and EMC. We also pursued the spectrum management and engineering area. The spectrum managers, spectrum engineers and EMC engineers have a strong intersection of concerns. Yet, these work over divided highways so to speak. I led efforts to bridge that division within as well as external to the society.

My point is that we identified a variety of technology fronts that we felt EMC made a significant contribution. We undertook significant efforts to outreach and underscore what the EMC society has to offer, and how EMC contributes to solutions in multi-disciplinary technology spaces. Another area I pursued shortly after my term as president was in cyber security and EMC, but from a somewhat different, non-traditional perspective. One of the things we deal with today that we’re not addressing very effectively is radio frequency interference attack on communications and information networks. One can unintentionally or even deliberately disrupt a network with the right amount of energy with a certain power spectral content. We have not done enough recently to really quantify that problem. So I’ve been pushing to make EMC a part of the wireless cyber security realm. That’s just an example and there are many others I can point to. But I would say again the membership and the technology fronts were really the two biggest focus areas during my term as president.

Hochheiser:

Were there others or were those the two?

Drozd:

I was building upon our standards work as well. Concurrent with my officer duties, I began to work towards the development of standards for computational electromagnetics and to support spectrum standards studies. We had pushed for expanding our standards activities, looking at certain specialty and new technology areas. So that would be another very important area we pursued during my term. To this day, standards development is a very important matter and we need to constantly revisit the standards documents in order to update them and maintain their currency with today’s technologies and applications.

EMC Society Expansion during Presidency

Hochheiser:

Well was there much interest or issue in terms of globalization, in terms of moving beyond regions one through six?

Drozd:

Oh yes, absolutely. I mentioned earlier our significant outreach efforts for membership growth and to enhance awareness of what our society does on a global scale. My predecessors and successors really should be credited for jump starting globalization outreach efforts in recent years. I will take some of the credit for contributing to this initiative during my term. We would allocate a good portion of our budget for this purpose, to visit different chapters around the world and wave the EMC society flag. Other societies were doing that as well including at the Institute level. We crafted and implemented a plan to attend key, high-profile events, be a part of other EMC conferences and chapter activities, and develop a cooperative agenda. This was all done in an effort to grow chapters, entice new members to join the EMC society, engage various EMC groups and activities, and ultimately grow our society. As part of this effort, we co-sponsored a number of other non-IEEE EMC conferences and events. We did this kind of outreach work literally around the world. It worked very well to the point where we went from 40 chapters to something like 60, 65 EMC chapters at that time. A lot of what we did then benefited the society in the long run.

Hochheiser:

Which was in Singapore, which sounds kind of strange. Is this part of these efforts?

Drozd:

Yes. Singapore was a very important part of our regional outreach efforts. I also supported similar outreach in Barcelona for an event called EMC Europe. Those were two fine examples of a successful outreach program. The people that we dealt with and the committees that supported us and then invited us to visit them were excellent to work with. They understood the importance of the EMC society and the need to work together. They had the same agenda as we did. They wanted to cultivate EMC interests and expertise; they wanted to have that “EMC presence” in their own backyard so to speak. They also wanted to convince their companies and their universities of the importance of EMC. So our outreach fit very well into their agenda for raising EMC interest and awareness in their region. It was and is a win-win for all. So by having the IEEE EMC Society presence by way of visiting delegations, guest lectures and key note presentations, our mutual goals of globalizing the society and the importance of EMC were being met. This also worked out very well for other conferences and venues including EMC Zurich, Singapore, Mexico City, Barcelona, and many others.

Hochheiser:

So these are not IEEE conferences?

Drozd:

Well yes and no, sort of. What I mean is that some are indeed full-fledged IEEE conferences or symposia held over several days that bringing people from all over the planet whereas others are 1-2 day colloquia that may be sponsored by an IEEE section or an EMC chapter and are on a much smaller scale. For instance, EMC Europe, which was held in Barcelona during 2006 I believe, had strong IEEE presence, but was not a pure IEEE conference as such. I had done the key note speech for that conference and helped bring in the notion of overall EMC community synergy and collaboration. Its following and advisory board was a bit broader than that. Different EMC organizations in Europe led by both IEEE EMC Society and EMC chapter members as well as non-members in Barcelona formed a consortium at the time to propose EMC Europe in Barcelona. EMC Europe continues to this day and is held periodically in different key cities across the European continent. The EMC Society has a standing invitation to be part of that and we work through local chapter representatives to entertain co-sponsorships and other forms of support or collaboration including international advisory board participation. So it’s more like a series of other quasi-IEEE events.

Hochheiser:

Right. Another thing that I know that happened while you were president was the 50th anniversary of the society and the celebratory symposium.

Drozd:

Yes. I just have to say--I still can’t believe that. I have to be one of the luckiest guys on the planet. It was the crowning moment of my term as president. I was honored and humbled to be president at the time. I mean, it just happened that way and it was so memorable for me.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

And I remember something that our EMC Society secretary Janet O’Neil said to me that to this day intrigues me.

Hochheiser:

Right.

EMC Society President and 50th Year Symposium

Drozd:

I once told her I feel very privileged to have been society president during its 50th year celebration. She suggested that it was because of the ‘good karma’ that follows me, or something to that effect. If true, any good karma was largely amplified by the many good people I had the pleasure of working with over the years and who helped me along the way. It’s a nice way of looking at it I suppose. Sometimes it's luck and other times it’s a lot of hard work, perseverance and just the right timing that gets you there. I am really proud to have been part of this and of our many accomplishments. To close out the first 50 years, well that was kind of cool, I thought, the right time and the right place so to speak.

Hochheiser:

Can you tell me about the special events that occurred at that symposium that because it was the 50th?

Drozd:

Yes. The first thing that pops into my head besides all of the many celebratory side activities was the Founder’s Lunch which was a very nice event. I had a chance to meet some of the founders of our society. I had heard about a few of them prior to this, but to actually meet them and have lunch with them and listening to their stories was incredible and really memorable for me. It gave me a glimpse into the past to understand why the society formed, why it was so successful, where it originated from and the people who were behind it all. There were a couple of the founders whom I had interacted with in the past without knowing that they were founders at the time. I had apparently worked with them through my research projects or had been involved with them somehow by telephone or whatever it may have been at the time. So I got to meet them and could put them in the perspective of the past and my previous interactions with them. That was cool. I really enjoyed that a lot. There were other nice and classy social events that I enjoyed like the beach luau being in Hawaii for our 50th year celebration at the time. It was 50 years in the 50th state. I think the fact that we had it in Hawaii and never had it there before, was very special for all of us. I don't know what else to say at this point except that it was just a great memory and one I will never forget for a variety of reasons.

[End Tape 1, begin Tape 2]

Hochheiser:

Was there much in the way of new trends or new areas of interest and research in EMC during this period that would have been reflected in the symposium?

Drozd:

Yes. Actually referring back to what I had mentioned before about nano-technology, we had actually formed a track at one of our symposia on that just subject several years ago. It was very popular. In fact that’s what eventually led to the formation of the technical committee on nano-technology. So it was more of an idea, a proposal by several people; there was research being done in this area, and even prior to my presidency, I was asked if I would support this due to my involvement in the EMC Society Education and Student Activities Committee, which was sponsoring these kinds of themes and technology tracks. So I would say that nano-technology was one of those subject areas that started at a grassroots level and grew. It is an area that is still pushed quite heavily and to this day is very popular and relevant to the society’s future goals.

Hochheiser:

Were there any activities in the area of long range planning?

Drozd:

Oh yes, quite a few. That seemed to be a natural function of the Board of Directors and in particular, the officers and the president. They would lead that charge. It seemed to have taken on a life of its own as we entered the new millennium with the many membership issues we were facing at the time. I recall that long range planning was always talked about as more of a strategic planning matter. We called it different things. When we had realized that the membership ranks in general were beginning to erode, we began to put a lot of emphasis on the causes and how to mitigate them in order to reverse declining trends. So that became the core of our long range planning activities.

It covered many other areas as well, but that seemed to be the central theme for a number of years. It probably is to this day a main topic of discussion during these turbulent economic times. But it has expanded in perspective including new technology fronts which again I’m very proud to have helped promote to show relevancy and be able to illustrate how EMC fits into so many diverse things across various engineering disciplines. That’s also part of long range planning currently.

Balancing Commitments as EMC Society President

Hochheiser:

How substantial a time commitment was being the society’s president?

Drozd:

Well, I would say that I would spend probably close to a day a week over my term, somewhat less so prior to and after my term. And that would be an average. As we came close to our board meetings and there were a number of issues that needed to be addressed, I had to prepare for that, and clearly that would require more of my time to the cause. I would say on the average for a couple of years, I’d take close to a day a week on a variety of issues that had to be dealt with. It was manageable if you had the time and could manage it. I found it was very possible to do that with the proper planning and dedication to the position and the responsibilities that came along with the office.

Hochheiser:

How did you balance that time commitment with your responsibilities to your company and your clients?

Drozd:

Well there’s the trick, and you forgot to add family commitments. Because I had to take that rough -average day a week or so, it did cut into my work to the point where as far as new business development was concerned, I had to turn more of that over to my business development staff. We did feel that pinch a little bit during my term as president. There wasn’t as many new starts or new business that came out during that period. My staff did tell me at one point it was nice that I was president of the society, but they looked forward to having me back “full time” at the company. At the end of my term and into my past president term, the duties began to fall off a little bit over time. But still I didn’t reap the full benefits of time management until my term as past president ended. It took several years.

Hochheiser:

Did being the society’s president involve much in the way of travel?

Drozd:

Yes, which I enjoyed. I had traveled a great deal during my career. And traveling for the EMC Society was not a problem. I enjoyed nearly every trip I was on but yes, there was quite a bit of travel because of the outreach, globalization efforts, membership drives, conference delegations, and so on. To do this via a newsletter or by email or by phone really wasn’t effective enough. We had to show our physical presence and express our open commitment to the chapters and support the other initiatives of this type. So yes, I did do quite a bit of travel.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

I would also add that as a board member, and not necessarily just as an officer, we would support certain conferences at international locations as I mentioned earlier, and hold board meetings at these venues. These were very politically and strategically good because we showed organizations our commitment and that we were willing to come visit, conduct meetings, integrate ourselves with the conference activities and lend our support in terms of the promoting the EMC message all for the purposes of developing membership interests, participation, and so forth and it did accomplish that. It really did benefit us in that way and I think it benefited them as well because as I said their agenda was to raise the awareness of EMC. How better to do it than with the society and experts who were willing to visit an international location and hold meetings to conduct business. So it all worked out well.

IEEE Technical Activities Board and Society Governance

Hochheiser:

Now being the society president put you on the overall TAB for IEEE.

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Was this your first exposure to overall IEEE activities?

Drozd:

Actually no. It’s again a very good question. I had been involved at the board level including major committees since 1994 and really started getting TAB exposure as early as then. What I mean is that Warren Kesselman, one of our esteemed members and founders, asked me at one of the board meetings if I would attend an IEEE Education Activities Board workshop. I agreed to do that because I wanted the opportunity to see what the EAB was all about and to see if I could contribute and learn some things. So I had attended a workshop and to be honest, I can’t even remember where it was now, the Denver area I think. But that was my first exposure to the larger IEEE committee activities that are TAB-like.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

I learned a great deal at these meetings. I recall thinking after the EAB meeting about all the people I had met and the many things I had been exposed to on the education front, then realizing how far reaching was the influence of the Institute and its various societies and councils, internationally speaking. So I had attended more meetings like that over the years at the request of Warren Kesselman as well as other EMC Society officers. Warren was one of the people who mentored me and cultured me in the ways of the broader IEEE community and its activities. I thank him for doing that. He and the others recognized my interest and willingness to do this. So I gained some prior exposure to TAB through EAB and other such activities including major boards such as standards. When I became president, then I naturally became an active TAB representative.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Drozd:

That’s when I got full exposure to the IEEE and its governance bodies. I had some interesting experiences while being on the TAB. It’s something that can take a lot of your time too, to attend all of the meetings and participate at the committee level. But I found it to be a very fruitful experience, and I would do it again in a different volunteer capacity. It was a very interesting and good experience overall.

Hochheiser:

Were there things that you were able to take from TAB back to the society that were useful?

Drozd:

Yes. The things that dealt with controlling finances, increasing membership, or membership retention and membership growth strategies in general. I had attended a number of what amounted to, strategic planning meetings on these topics. We would break out into groups and discuss SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. You analyze what’s working, what isn’t working, and why and how to course correct. I had taken a lot of what we learned at these meetings and brought it back to the society and tried to present it to the board and the membership to see how it would be relevant to our society and to address our specific needs or goals.

Hochheiser:

What were TAB meetings like?

Drozd:

TAB meetings were conducted in a very official manner. I would say it was probably more structured, more formal than even our board meetings at the society level and in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order. There were certain voting protocols and processes and procedures that you follow according to the bylaws. It was a great learning experience and this was put into practice on the spot. I found the meetings at times to be very political as you might expect. People with certain agendas and axes to grind, so to speak, could be quite the order of the day.

I noticed there were some interesting personalities in the crowd. You had to understand that this culture was a little bit different than what I had been used to at the society board level. But I still found it extremely interesting because the people, the dynamics, the agendas, how you pitch things, and so on was quite intriguing. It was a bit of a different environment than what I was used to. It was unique to say the least.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

There’s this pitch, then that stated position and then the debates ensued. It was quite interesting at time. But I think the procedures, politicking, and personalities involved along with the varied agendas kept things interesting and dynamic. No matter what, debates and arguments were always handled very professionally. Admittedly, sometimes there were personal axes to grind, but that was understandable and expected.

I would say also that TAB is not for everybody. I know a couple of my colleagues were somewhat soured on the TAB experience and I could understand why, but overall, I found it to be an educational experience and made many long-time friends in the process. Others wholeheartedly love and enjoy it. I did not mind doing it for the short period of time I was involved and learning the ropes. TAB is not probably where I want to be for any extended period of time unless I can contribute in one of its committees. I prefer to be more on the technical rather than on the political governance front of things.

Hochheiser:

Now one other task as being the society president is that you were running the board meetings.

Drozd:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Well how does one run a board meeting?

Drozd:

Well one starts by drawing upon Robert’s Rules of Order, then everything falls into place naturally. I learned meeting conduct strategies from my vice presidents and predecessors as well as the TAB experience. This became important when dealing with people who have strong positions on topics and where there are diverse agendas. You have to be open to understanding their position and what he or she may be pushing for and then apply the rules of negotiation and compromise. The biggest lesson I learned is when and how to do that while remaining neutral as a president or chairman. That’s important. But at the same time, one has to temper the deliberations on issues in order to reach a logical conclusion. That’s the challenge. But the interesting aspect of all this is the fact that you do have people with agendas and personalities and you have to temper and control what’s going on to prevent an unwieldy process from unfolding. And if it’s something that really is truly meaningful and worthwhile, you want to keep pushing and pursuing it. If it’s something that is not as important or critical, so to speak, you want to resolve it or get it off the table as quickly as possible for obvious reasons. And you can already sense ahead that the rest of the board is not in favor of supporting a particular position or vote. So you have to be neutral, but also go with the sense of the board on the direction to take on any position. There is a bit of a fine line here and you do the best you can. It takes practice and developing some experience to do this effectively. I’m still working at it.

Transitioning out of EMC Society Presidency

Hochheiser:

Anything else from your term as president that we haven’t covered?

Drozd:

Well the only other thing I can think of would be my term as past president. That was an interesting period too because roles are reversed and ended up teaching the next person to guide him into the position. There again it’s interesting because the one thing I think I can say about that process, about being president, training the next person, and knowing how others do it is that we each have our own styles. One of the things that I brought to the job was the more traditionalist viewpoint on society governance.

In other words, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. I watched how my predecessors did things. I tried to blend the best of all of them, call it best of breed, and added my own personal style. I never tried to really dismiss or quash an idea, but I would try and steer things in certain directions based on the sense of the board. If I saw things were going in an uncertain direction, or in the right direction, I would either push or pull back a little bit. I didn’t mind risk when it was warranted. But I didn’t like to push agendas and things that people wanted just for the sake of change without purpose. Again if it wasn’t broken, then why apply a lot of time, energy and resources to fix it? That’s my philosophy. So I came into the presidency with this philosophy and attitude and tried to impart that to the next person, but one has to follow their own heart and mind and to do things his or her own way. I understood and accepted this.

Hochheiser:

That’s right.

Drozd:

So you can’t totally influence and expect them to do things your way, but you can give them some insights and guidance as to why you’re doing certain things a certain way. And that’s what I tried to do. But if you look at everybody’s approach to things, it’s different. You have to respect that and that’s fine. The president that followed me was a bit more of a reformer and risk taker on certain things many of which I agreed with and some that I could not endorse. He did a lot of things I probably would never have done and there’s nothing wrong with that. My style was different. And so I’ll leave it at that.

Hochheiser:

In what ways have you remained active in the society since completing your term as past president?

Drozd:

Right after my term as past president and board member, I took over as chair of the Standards Development Committee of the EMC Society, now called the Standards and Education Development Committee. I did that for three years. In fact, the August 2012 meeting was my last as the chair. I still remain actively involved in the SDECom. Those standards that I had led the development of along with my working group, are about to be revised and updated. So I’m very actively involved in this and as a regular member of the SDECom. I still attend the annual symposium religiously. I am now more involved as an exhibitor, and am because of my company’s EMC software products that are commercially sold. I also publish papers quite often and give talks. I’m not as active in my EMC chapter as I should be, only because of lack of time these days. But I’d like to go back and see if we can reinvigorate the chapter again and get some new things going. So that’s what I’m doing at the moment It’s less society activity these days and my board days are somewhat over except for my involvement in a select committee or two.

Hochheiser:

Right. Well I know you were the exhibits chair in 2012 at the symposium in Pittsburgh, which is why we’re doing this here rather than there, I mean, back in Pittsburgh.

Drozd:

Right and I would have gladly have met with you then and I think we talked about trying to do that. With all the activity at the time, it would have been difficult to conduct an extended interview, but here we are today and all is good.

Hochheiser:

I appreciate your willingness to come here.

Drozd:

Oh yes, it’s no problem. It’s actually a nice break in the daily routine for me. But what I meant earlier about being an exhibitor and an exhibits chair for one of annual symposia is that my focus and involvement in society activities has shifted these days. I actually did two stints already as exhibits chair and anticipate another one in the future. For instance, I did that for 2009 and also for Pittsburgh in 2012, and may do it again for Santa Clara for 2015.

Hochheiser:

What does that involve?

Drozd:

Well first of all, I think you have to be able to come up with a good plan and then do the proper outreach. You have to take the lessons learned from what others have done before and customize that plan to meet you goals and expectations. This includes identifying the kinds of exhibitors you want to engage, how many to accommodate or plan for, capturing important exhibitor demographics and targeting new or non-traditional exhibitors. So there’s a lot of planning to identify and plan for all these things. We often like to target new exhibitors, those that have not previously exhibited at our symposia or that stopped exhibiting for whatever reasons. What makes things easier is if you have a good conference management service at your disposal. We had a great group that helped us with the overall infrastructure planning and so on. That made my job much easier. They did a lot of the detail leg work; I did a lot of the general planning. But yes its commitment in any case. It’s a one year commitment to be sure. Maybe two to three hours a week over the course of a year. And then again that varies week to week. It’s not a super huge commitment, but it’s significant enough, I’ll have to say.

Hochheiser:

In what ways has the EMC Society evolved or changed over your years of participation?

Drozd:

Well I think the one thing that stands out to me the most is corporate support or lack thereof these days. It varies form company to company. Referring back to my Kaman days when I first got started in the ’85 ’86 time frame, the company was very supportive of my volunteer work and attendance at conferences, publishing papers, being an active member and so on. In fact, they subsidized our memberships at that time. I thought that was great. And then I found out that some of the large aerospace companies were doing the same.

The culture of corporate support I think is very important and it’s also a systemic issue these days with the dwindling support we see across different organizations and companies. You don't really have this anymore, at least not as much. So that’s the big difference I see over the past ten or so years. It would be nice if more corporate support and sponsorship was evident because it’s a professional credential, and encourages good networking opportunities that could lead to business growth. When you bring all that together, I think companies should be able to find the wherewithal to support this, but again the economics work against that so that’s the big issue right now.

Education and Career Synthesis

Hochheiser:

Mm-hm. We’ve touched on your career at various points through time. Now as a whole, how would you characterize your career and how it has evolved at least to this point; I know you’re still active.

Drozd:

Oh yes. I still have at least another 15 years of that, I think.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

Well I would say that when I started out, I began as basically a student intern or coop and I had a somewhat of a narrow scope on things, but as time went on, I broadened my scope and interests and took some chances in my career. I continued my grassroots EMC work, but have certainly branched off in a variety of areas. These days I am more heavily involved in radio frequency communication, cognitive radios, sensors, signal processing; spectrum efficiency; as well as electromagnetic environment effects. In addition to computer simulation, I am back into some hardware design and testing.

So it’s actually become a full circle, multi-faceted experience taking me into other areas that use EM and EMC and vice versa. This is a good example of what I was trying to do with the society at the time I was president which was to make us more relevant to multiple engineering disciplines. That’s what I’m doing in my day job. Cyber security is also one of my things that deals with electromagnetic spectrum and waves. We do work in cyber security that relates to EM and radio frequency effects for communications. So it’s a nice blend of subject matter over the years that we’ve been able to weave and evolve into our business thrust areas right now. EMC is not really by itself or does not stand alone practically speaking. It’s tied into hardware, software, system, etc. So EMC really is connected to a lot of different things and it manifests itself in a variety of ways and places.

Hochheiser:

I started out with a stack of cards face up and now largely my cards are face down. So can you think of anything you’d like to add that I neglected to ask you about?

Drozd:

Well an interesting question that’s been raised in the board recently and in the society in general is should a past president run again for president? I’ve always thought about that. Someone actually asked me that a couple of years ago, that is, would I run again. My answer at the time was I think I would. Then after I think about all the work and responsibility that comes with the position. But you know, in retrospect, I would probably run again because the plusses outweigh the minuses.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Drozd:

I won’t do that though because I think we need to give other people a chance. You need diversity of ideas. You need some free thinkers or some new thinkers, and some young thinkers. So I guess what I’m leading to is that I see a lot of people who are very heavily involved for many years in the society and you need that. You definitely need that legacy, and you need that experience base. But I do like to see new faces and new ideas on the horizon. This is how we’re going to keep things fresh.

I’d like to see paradigm shifting. That can be described in a variety of ways I suppose. One is change in and through the members and leaders. I think we need leaders who have fresh ideas; sometimes you need young people that can work with the veterans and the experienced members. I don't see that as much these days. I’d like to see more of that. So I think I would like to impart with just one philosophical thought along those lines. We need to [] a little differently about reinvigorating the society model, or the paradigm if you will, and encourage new people to come up with ideas that will lead to positive change in the future. Call them catalysts of change or agents of change for the good. I think that’s beginning happening. I just would like to see more of it happening at a faster rate.

One thing I’ve told our own board is that when we hold elections, for example, I’d like to see brand new faces and names on these election ballots. I know that a lot of people like to keep running and running again and that’s great. But I think after a time we need to balance that off a little bit with new people who bring fresh ideas and perspectives. We need some new people because you’ve got to give them a chance. They may have some great ideas that we have yet to tap into that could make a tremendous difference. And there you go. So that’s my philosophy on that.

Hochheiser:

Anything else?

Drozd:

I just want to thank you for this opportunity to reminisce and wax philosophical. I hope I haven’t been too verbose.

Hochheiser:

Not at all--not in the least. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

Drozd:

Oh it’s been fun. I enjoyed this, you know. Thank you.

Hochheiser:

In that case, I guess we’re finished.

Drozd:

Yes. My regards!