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Oral-History:Bruce A. Eisenstein

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== About Bruce Eisenstein  ==
 
== About Bruce Eisenstein  ==
  
Bruce Eisenstein was president of IEEE in 2000. A native of Philadelphia, where he attended the prestigious Central High School, Dr. Eisenstein earned a B.S. in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. Following a brief employment with Philco, he earned an M.S. from Drexel University in 1965 and, subsequently, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. Dr. Eisenstein was a NASA/ASEE Fellow at Stanford University and the Ames Research Center and a Visiting Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University under the sponsorship of NSF. From 1980 to 1995, he was Professor and Department Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel. He is currently the Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel, specializing in pattern recognition, estimation theory, decision theory and digital signal processing, and serves on the faculty of the university's School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems.  
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[[Bruce Eisenstein|Bruce Eisenstein]] was [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|president of IEEE]] in 2000. A native of Philadelphia, where he attended the prestigious Central High School, Dr. Eisenstein earned a B.S. in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. Following a brief employment with Philco, he earned an M.S. from Drexel University in 1965 and, subsequently, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. Dr. Eisenstein was a NASA/ASEE Fellow at Stanford University and the Ames Research Center and a Visiting Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University under the sponsorship of NSF. From 1980 to 1995, he was Professor and Department Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel. He is currently the Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel, specializing in pattern recognition, estimation theory, decision theory and digital signal processing, and serves on the faculty of the university's School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems.  
  
 
In this interview, Dr. Eisenstein discusses his career as an engineering educator and his continuing involvement with IEEE, first with the Educational Activities Board and culminating with his term as president in 2000. In that position, Dr. Eisenstein guided IEEE into the new millennium and helped to oversee the early stages of the transition from traditional to electronic publication and archiving of the institutes proceedings and journals.  
 
In this interview, Dr. Eisenstein discusses his career as an engineering educator and his continuing involvement with IEEE, first with the Educational Activities Board and culminating with his term as president in 2000. In that position, Dr. Eisenstein guided IEEE into the new millennium and helped to oversee the early stages of the transition from traditional to electronic publication and archiving of the institutes proceedings and journals.  
  
== <br>About the Interview  ==
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== About the Interview  ==
  
 
BRUCE A. EISENSTEIN: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser, Ph.D., IEEE History Center, 17 February 2009  
 
BRUCE A. EISENSTEIN: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser, Ph.D., IEEE History Center, 17 February 2009  
  
Interview #487 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
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Interview #487 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
  
== <br>Copyright Statement  ==
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== 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.  
 
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.  
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Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center,. Oral History Program, IEEE History Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken, NJ 07030 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:<br>Bruce Eisenstein, an oral history conducted in 2009 by Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.  
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:<br>Bruce Eisenstein, an oral history conducted in 2009 by Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.  
  
== <br>Interview  ==
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== Interview  ==
  
 
INTERVIEW: Bruce A. Eisenstein, Ph.D.  
 
INTERVIEW: Bruce A. Eisenstein, Ph.D.  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Not really. I was curious as a child. I did a lot of reading. I really loved reading biographies. In our school library there was a whole collection of biographies and I read every one of them. I also read a lot of novels. I had a general curiosity in science, but I had never been a hobbyist. I never built a radio or anything like that. I was growing up during the time of Sputnik. As Sputnik was launched everyone said that engineering was the field of the future and there are going to be tons of jobs for engineers. Thus I started thinking in that direction.  
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Not really. I was curious as a child. I did a lot of reading. I really loved reading biographies. In our school library there was a whole collection of biographies and I read every one of them. I also read a lot of novels. I had a general curiosity in science, but I had never been a hobbyist. I never built a radio or anything like that. I was growing up during the time of [[Sputnik]]. As [[Sputnik]] was launched everyone said that engineering was the field of the future and there are going to be tons of jobs for engineers. Thus I started thinking in that direction.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
I knew I wanted to be an engineer. They had a number of departments in engineering, and I guess I got into electrical engineering by default. I really did not like chemical engineering because I did not like chemistry all that much; I did not seem to like mechanical engineering because it seemed very mechanistic at that time; they had a department in aeronautics and astronautics but I thought it was somewhat restrictive. I really did not like civil engineering, so that kind of ruled that out, and then it was down to electrical. Therefore I went into electrical. Another aspect of it though was, since I had not been a hobbyist and had not played around with things, I was also very curious about how common electrical items worked – whether it was a motor or a radio or a telephone system. Computers were coming in at that time too, although they were behemoths. I was curious about how they worked and it looked to me like electrical was the way to go to understand this, in contrast to mechanical systems of which I did not have an expert knowledge but I certainly understood how they worked. I knew how a car worked, I knew how heat transfer worked. I could understand mechanical systems because I had daily contact with them. However the electrical systems always seemed somewhat obscure. I figured, boy, this is a good way to learn about it.  
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I knew I wanted to be an engineer. They had a number of departments in engineering, and I guess I got into electrical engineering by default. I really did not like chemical engineering because I did not like chemistry all that much; I did not seem to like mechanical engineering because it seemed very mechanistic at that time; they had a department in aeronautics and astronautics but I thought it was somewhat restrictive. I really did not like civil engineering, so that kind of ruled that out, and then it was down to electrical. Therefore I went into electrical. Another aspect of it though was, since I had not been a hobbyist and had not played around with things, I was also very curious about how common electrical items worked – whether it was a motor or a [[Radio|radio]] or a telephone system. Computers were coming in at that time too, although they were behemoths. I was curious about how they worked and it looked to me like electrical was the way to go to understand this, in contrast to mechanical systems of which I did not have an expert knowledge but I certainly understood how they worked. I knew how a car worked, I knew how heat transfer worked. I could understand mechanical systems because I had daily contact with them. However the electrical systems always seemed somewhat obscure. I figured, boy, this is a good way to learn about it.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
As a sophomore I did. The first Circuits course at MIT had for years been taught by Ernst A. Guillemin, who was very famous. He had written some of the best textbooks in the area. My year was the first year that Guillemin stopped teaching and instead I had Professor Amar Bose. Bose was a very, very charismatic and influential lecturer. I still remember his lectures. As a matter of fact I still use some of the things that he taught us when I talk to my students now, thought it seems to be a hundred years later, I'm still using his things. Of course Bose went on to found the Bose Corporation and Bose speakers and stereo systems are all over the place.  
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As a sophomore I did. The first Circuits course at MIT had for years been taught by [[Ernst Guillemin|Ernst A. Guillemin]], who was very famous. He had written some of the best textbooks in the area. My year was the first year that [[Ernst Guillemin|Guillemin]] stopped teaching and instead I had Professor Amar Bose. Bose was a very, very charismatic and influential lecturer. I still remember his lectures. As a matter of fact I still use some of the things that he taught us when I talk to my students now, thought it seems to be a hundred years later, I'm still using his things. Of course Bose went on to found the Bose Corporation and Bose speakers and stereo systems are all over the place.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
That was as an undergraduate, at the time of the merger. One of my friends told me that if I joined IRE, which was a predecessor organization, that I would get a free book. It was a book he already had, and it was a big thick book of famous people predicting what was going to happen fifty years later. I have it over on my bookshelf over there.  
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That was as an undergraduate, at the time of the merger. One of my friends told me that if I joined [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]], which was a predecessor organization, that I would get a free book. It was a book he already had, and it was a big thick book of famous people predicting what was going to happen fifty years later. I have it over on my bookshelf over there.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
If you joined IRE you got that free. That sounded like a good deal and I joined. Then the merger happened and I automatically became a member of IEEE and I have been a member ever since.  
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If you joined [[IRE History 1912-1963|IRE]] you got that free. That sounded like a good deal and I joined. Then the merger happened and I automatically became a member of IEEE and I have been a member ever since.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
There was, but I was never a part of it. Quite literally my only contact was my friend telling me, "Get this free book." I guess I should just step back a little. The Philadelphia section of IEEE has always been one of the most active in all of IEEE. There have been a number of people, many of whom are still alive, who are among the most dedicated volunteers that you'll see anywhere. These people just worked and worked and worked on behalf of IEEE. Among the things that they do is volunteer to host a number of international conferences. The first actual contact I had with IEEE on a formal basis was with some people from the Philadelphia area. Two gentlemen from the Philadelphia section came to me in my capacity as a young assistant professor and asked if I would help participate in an International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics. It was going to be held in Philadelphia and they needed someone to do local arrangements and arrange the hotels and some other things. I told them, "Look. I've never done anything like that," and they said, "It's okay, we'll go with you and teach you how to do it." That was literally my first involvement with IEEE. While I was there I met some other people that were active in two of the Chapters here – the Control Systems and Information Theory chapters. I started working in there, and over a period of time I became president of the Control Systems chapter here in Philadelphia. I also started doing student advising here at Drexel, and that put me on the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Section for the Student Advisory Council. At that point I was going to section meetings and over a period of time they asked me if I would agree to be the Secretary of the Section. Then that is a progression up to President of the section, I eventually became too. My beginning involvement with IEEE was though the Philadelphia section and through the conferences and chapters we had here. We still have them here, as a matter of fact.  
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There was, but I was never a part of it. Quite literally my only contact was my friend telling me, "Get this free book." I guess I should just step back a little. The Philadelphia section of IEEE has always been one of the most active in all of IEEE. There have been a number of people, many of whom are still alive, who are among the most dedicated volunteers that you'll see anywhere. These people just worked and worked and worked on behalf of IEEE. Among the things that they do is volunteer to host a number of international conferences. The first actual contact I had with IEEE on a formal basis was with some people from the Philadelphia area. Two gentlemen from the Philadelphia section came to me in my capacity as a young assistant professor and asked if I would help participate in an International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics. It was going to be held in Philadelphia and they needed someone to do local arrangements and arrange the hotels and some other things. I told them, "Look. I've never done anything like that," and they said, "It's okay, we'll go with you and teach you how to do it." That was literally my first involvement with IEEE. While I was there I met some other people that were active in two of the Chapters here – the [[IEEE Control Systems Society History|Control Systems]] and [[IEEE Information Theory Society History|Information Theory]] chapters. I started working in there, and over a period of time I became president of the Control Systems chapter here in Philadelphia. I also started doing student advising here at Drexel, and that put me on the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Section for the Student Advisory Council. At that point I was going to section meetings and over a period of time they asked me if I would agree to be the Secretary of the Section. Then that is a progression up to President of the section, I eventually became too. My beginning involvement with IEEE was though the Philadelphia section and through the conferences and chapters we had here. We still have them here, as a matter of fact.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Without leaving town. I would literally take a subway downtown and go to a conference. It was very nice – and is nice. I still do that.
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Without leaving town. I would literally take a subway downtown and go to a conference. It was very nice – and is nice. I still do that.  
  
 
=== Professional Advancement  ===
 
=== Professional Advancement  ===
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Yes, within the Philadelphia Section.
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Yes, within the Philadelphia Section.  
  
 
=== Moving to the National Stage  ===
 
=== Moving to the National Stage  ===
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
After I was department head, a group of us decided to form a National EE department heads Association, which we called at that time the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association (NEEDHA). One of the guys that helped start it said the reason the name was appropriate was because when you go to the dean and say, "We have needs," the dean will say, "Need? Ha!" We started having national meetings of department heads. The initial few meetings were at Hilton Head, South Carolina. That was arranged by one of our colleagues who was from Clemson, South Carolina. In that third meeting I was elected president of that organization. As president of that organization, that automatically gave me a seat on the Educational Activities Board (EAB) of IEEE. That was my first exposure to IEEE board meetings, when I attended the EAB Meetings. Then my friend and colleague, Joe Bordogna, was elected President of the Education Society. He asked me if I would serve as his Secretary-Treasurer. It was an appointed position and I agreed. That was how I got into the Education Society. I not only went with him to the AdCom meetings and conferences of the Education Society but also to the board meetings. Once I became President of the Education Society I sat on both EAB and TAB. I was doing both for a while there. Those were the two parallel paths that brought me at the Board level: one through NEEDHA and the other through the Education Society.  
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After I was department head, a group of us decided to form a National EE department heads Association, which we called at that time the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association (NEEDHA). One of the guys that helped start it said the reason the name was appropriate was because when you go to the dean and say, "We have needs," the dean will say, "Need? Ha!" We started having national meetings of department heads. The initial few meetings were at Hilton Head, South Carolina. That was arranged by one of our colleagues who was from Clemson, South Carolina. In that third meeting I was elected president of that organization. As president of that organization, that automatically gave me a seat on the [[IEEE Educational Activities Board|Educational Activities Board (EAB)]] of IEEE. That was my first exposure to IEEE board meetings, when I attended the EAB Meetings. Then my friend and colleague, [[Joseph Bordogna|Joe Bordogna]], was elected President of the Education Society. He asked me if I would serve as his Secretary-Treasurer. It was an appointed position and I agreed. That was how I got into the Education Society. I not only went with him to the AdCom meetings and conferences of the Education Society but also to the board meetings. Once I became President of the Education Society I sat on both EAB and TAB. I was doing both for a while there. Those were the two parallel paths that brought me at the Board level: one through NEEDHA and the other through the Education Society.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
  
What issues did you deal with as President of the Educational Society?  
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What issues did you deal with as President of the Education Society?  
  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
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'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
  
Did you interact much with Eric Herz while he was Executive Director?  
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Did you interact much with [[Eric Herz]] while he was Executive Director?  
  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
That's right. People who would work for him.  
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That's right. People who would work for him.
  
 
=== Board of Directors  ===
 
=== Board of Directors  ===
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Since there was no one standing at the door watching, it was essentially open to anyone that walked in. And anyone could pick up a binder. They would find all the issues and everything else there. There were no closed meetings. The only time they would close the meeting was when they were having an election. They would ask the candidates themselves to leave the room, but other people could stay. Later on when I became President of IEEE we were advised by our lawyer and others that this was probably not such a great idea, particularly since we were in a competitive environment and competitors could walk in and pick this up. No one thought about that back in the '80s or '90s. It was never an issue. Board Meetings were just open. Executive sessions were very, very rare. The issues were pretty much always the same. The Board's responsibility is primarily a fiduciary responsibility and the Board has to make sure that the organization is going to remain solvent and be in great shape. That leads to a number of Board discussions that don't change.  
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Since there was no one standing at the door watching, it was essentially open to anyone that walked in. And anyone could pick up a binder. They would find all the issues and everything else there. There were no closed meetings. The only time they would close the meeting was when they were having an election. They would ask the candidates themselves to leave the room, but other people could stay. Later on when I became [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|President of IEEE]] we were advised by our lawyer and others that this was probably not such a great idea, particularly since we were in a competitive environment and competitors could walk in and pick this up. No one thought about that back in the '80s or '90s. It was never an issue. Board Meetings were just open. Executive sessions were very, very rare. The issues were pretty much always the same. The Board's responsibility is primarily a fiduciary responsibility and the Board has to make sure that the organization is going to remain solvent and be in great shape. That leads to a number of Board discussions that don't change.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
We did not use the word globalization then but international, meaning outside the United States. There was certainly a lot of discussion about that. There was very little discussion about other things. You mentioned diversity. The Board at that time would have been almost entirely male. With the exception of the Regional Directors that came from outside the U.S, it was entirely U.S.-based. I guess about the time Martha Sloan became President of the IEEE was the first time we really had women on the Board or a woman as a President – at least in that period of time.  
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We did not use the word globalization then but international, meaning outside the United States. There was certainly a lot of discussion about that. There was very little discussion about other things. You mentioned diversity. The Board at that time would have been almost entirely male. With the exception of the Regional Directors that came from outside the U.S, it was entirely U.S.-based. I guess about the time [[Martha Sloan|Martha Sloan]] became President of the IEEE was the first time we really had women on the Board or a woman as a President – at least in that period of time.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
The Assembly in IEEE parlance is all those members of the Board of Directors that are themselves elected by the members. It is the ten Division Directors, the ten Regional Directors and the three Presidents – President-Elect, President and Past President. Those twenty-three people constitute the Assembly. At the time they elected all the remaining members of the Board, which was all the Vice Presidents. Vice President for Technical Activities, Standards, Publications and what used to be called Professional Activities – which is now IEEE USA. I'm probably leaving something out, but that's because I'm trying to do it from memory without tabulation.  
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The Assembly in IEEE parlance is all those members of the Board of Directors that are themselves elected by the members. It is the ten Division Directors, the ten Regional Directors and the three Presidents – President-Elect, President and Past President. Those twenty-three people constitute the Assembly. At the time they elected all the remaining members of the Board, which was all the Vice Presidents. Vice President for Technical Activities, Standards, Publications and what used to be called Professional Activities – which is now [[IEEE-USA History|IEEE-USA]]. I'm probably leaving something out, but that's because I'm trying to do it from memory without tabulation.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
There was a feeling within TAB which I thought was very important. I believed – apparently incorrectly – but I believed that if the Vice President for Technical Activities was elected by the members that they would also then be on the Assembly and that that would elevate the stature of that Vice President because they would not be dependent on the other delegates with whom they were working. I had worked very hard to get a parallel structure within Regional Activities. Those two Vice Presidents would be elected by the members and would then become part of the Assembly. The part with TAB went through and worked and we modified the Bylaws and they became that way. Regional Activities did not want to do that. Regional Activities told me they felt more comfortable having the election done by the IEEE Assembly rather than by the members as a whole. They remained the way they were and later on for other reasons a lawyer gave interpretation that just because you are elected by the members does not get you on the Assembly. Therefore that part never materialized. The motivation was to put more clout into the positions of the two Vice Presidents by giving them membership on the Assembly. We felt that gave them a stronger position within the organization.  
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There was a feeling within [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]] which I thought was very important. I believed – apparently incorrectly – but I believed that if the Vice President for Technical Activities was elected by the members that they would also then be on the Assembly and that that would elevate the stature of that Vice President because they would not be dependent on the other delegates with whom they were working. I had worked very hard to get a parallel structure within Regional Activities. Those two Vice Presidents would be elected by the members and would then become part of the Assembly. The part with TAB went through and worked and we modified the Bylaws and they became that way. Regional Activities did not want to do that. Regional Activities told me they felt more comfortable having the election done by the IEEE Assembly rather than by the members as a whole. They remained the way they were and later on for other reasons a lawyer gave interpretation that just because you are elected by the members does not get you on the Assembly. Therefore that part never materialized. The motivation was to put more clout into the positions of the two Vice Presidents by giving them membership on the Assembly. We felt that gave them a stronger position within the organization.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
A lot of people remember a speech that I gave one time when I came over as Vice President. I was asked by the Regional Activities Board (RAB) to give a speech to them about what was going on in TAB. I said that the role of the TAB Vice President is a lot like herding cats. They thought that was very funny. It seemed to have been an original comment at the time. It's very tough. TAB is a very large board with the presidents of all the societies and the chairs of all the committees that go with TAB. Then there are the various leadership positions within TAB like the Treasurer, the President-Elect or Vice-President-Elect and so forth. It's a very large and somewhat unwieldy body.  
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A lot of people remember a speech that I gave one time when I came over as Vice President. I was asked by the Regional Activities Board (RAB) to give a speech to them about what was going on in [[IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)|TAB]]. I said that the role of the TAB Vice President is a lot like herding cats. They thought that was very funny. It seemed to have been an original comment at the time. It's very tough. TAB is a very large board with the presidents of all the societies and the chairs of all the committees that go with TAB. Then there are the various leadership positions within TAB like the Treasurer, the President-Elect or Vice-President-Elect and so forth. It's a very large and somewhat unwieldy body.  
  
 
However it is also a body that suffers from the fact that for many societies at the time and even to this day the term of the society president is one year. Essentially 50 percent of TAB was turning over every year. Even if you had a full two-year term it is still turning over 50 percent on the average. I would frequently walk in – this happened in my first year as Vice President – and perhaps as much as 75% of the TAB was totally new and had never been at a TAB meeting before. In the talk that I gave them as Vice President I told them about my first TAB meeting. Remember I told you everyone had these big agenda books? When they were talking about how TAB should do this and TAB should do that, I was looking at the tabs in the book to see. I asked someone, "Which tab is he talking about?" and he looked at me sort of quizzically like I was some kind of an idiot. I had not gotten myself at that time plugged into what was going on. When I gave that talk to the incoming members of TAB a lot of them told me they had the same feeling but were afraid to ask.  
 
However it is also a body that suffers from the fact that for many societies at the time and even to this day the term of the society president is one year. Essentially 50 percent of TAB was turning over every year. Even if you had a full two-year term it is still turning over 50 percent on the average. I would frequently walk in – this happened in my first year as Vice President – and perhaps as much as 75% of the TAB was totally new and had never been at a TAB meeting before. In the talk that I gave them as Vice President I told them about my first TAB meeting. Remember I told you everyone had these big agenda books? When they were talking about how TAB should do this and TAB should do that, I was looking at the tabs in the book to see. I asked someone, "Which tab is he talking about?" and he looked at me sort of quizzically like I was some kind of an idiot. I had not gotten myself at that time plugged into what was going on. When I gave that talk to the incoming members of TAB a lot of them told me they had the same feeling but were afraid to ask.  
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'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
  
Did you remain involved with the Education Society and Educational Activities?  
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Did you remain involved with the Education Society and [[IEEE Educational Activities Board|Educational Activities]]?  
  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
To some extent. In addition to being President of the Education Society I also at a later time was chair of one of their major conference committees. I was attending the conferences and meetings of the AdCom. However as Vice President I thought it was inappropriate for me to spend a lot of time with any one Society, so I tried to limit my contact. I'm still a member of the Education Society. I've held that membership and I still follow their affairs.  
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To some extent. In addition to being President of the [[IEEE Education Society History|Education Society]] I also at a later time was chair of one of their major conference committees. I was attending the conferences and meetings of the AdCom. However as Vice President I thought it was inappropriate for me to spend a lot of time with any one Society, so I tried to limit my contact. I'm still a member of the Education Society. I've held that membership and I still follow their affairs.  
  
 
=== National Leadership  ===
 
=== National Leadership  ===
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
It did. All of these jobs at the Board level require substantial time commitment. Going back to the days in the '80s when I first started going to Board meetings, the Board meetings used to stretch over a two-week period. They would start on a Monday of a week and stretch past the weekend that came intervening and ending on the following Sunday over two weeks. They shortened it at one point to ten days where it would start on a Wednesday and then follow to the following Sunday [or Sunday next]. It was virtually impossible for someone who was fully employed to be on the Board due to these meetings unless their employers were willing to give them all that time off. Many employers were willing to do that. In the Philadelphia area Bell of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Electric thought that this was a high service to be at the IEEE Board level. When their people said, "I have to take a week off to go to Board meetings," they would approve it. Nowadays that is not possible. At the time that Joe Bordogna became President he tried to limit the Board Series to four days, going from Thursday to Sunday, period. There were no pre-meetings and no post-meetings. We just had to get done what we had to get done or meet elsewhere off-site. We have now seen a longer meetings creep back in, and the meetings are now stretching out more than a week. They will start on a Friday or Saturday and extend to the Monday next.  
+
It did. All of these jobs at the Board level require substantial time commitment. Going back to the days in the '80s when I first started going to Board meetings, the Board meetings used to stretch over a two-week period. They would start on a Monday of a week and stretch past the weekend that came intervening and ending on the following Sunday over two weeks. They shortened it at one point to ten days where it would start on a Wednesday and then follow to the following Sunday [or Sunday next]. It was virtually impossible for someone who was fully employed to be on the Board due to these meetings unless their employers were willing to give them all that time off. Many employers were willing to do that. In the Philadelphia area Bell of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Electric thought that this was a high service to be at the IEEE Board level. When their people said, "I have to take a week off to go to Board meetings," they would approve it. Nowadays that is not possible. At the time that [[Joseph Bordogna|Joe Bordogna]] became President he tried to limit the Board Series to four days, going from Thursday to Sunday, period. There were no pre-meetings and no post-meetings. We just had to get done what we had to get done or meet elsewhere off-site. We have now seen a longer meetings creep back in, and the meetings are now stretching out more than a week. They will start on a Friday or Saturday and extend to the Monday next.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
  
How did you come to run for IEEE President?  
+
How did you come to run for [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|IEEE President]]?  
  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
There were no petition candidates, but I ran against Joel Snyder and Ray Findlay. Then in subsequent years Joel and then Ray won.  
+
There were no petition candidates, but I ran against [[Joel Snyder|Joel Snyder]] and [[Raymond Findlay|Ray Findlay]]. Then in subsequent years Joel and then Ray won.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Well, no. The simple answer is no. Both of the people I was running against were old friends of mine. Ray had been Vice President of Regional Activities, Joel had been President of IEEE USA and I came out of the top side. There were between us some of these internecine issues that would sometimes surface, but nothing rose to the level of a controversy between us. I think it is largely a matter of style and personality. The voters that saw us would have made their judgment about that, and the ones that did not see us made a judgment based on whatever written statements there were.  
+
Well, no. The simple answer is no. Both of the people I was running against were old friends of mine. Ray had been Vice President of Regional Activities, Joel had been President of IEEE USA and I came out of the TAB side. There were between us some of these internecine issues that would sometimes surface, but nothing rose to the level of a controversy between us. I think it is largely a matter of style and personality. The voters that saw us would have made their judgment about that, and the ones that did not see us made a judgment based on whatever written statements there were.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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When you were running for President were there things that you wanted to accomplish if you became President?  
 
When you were running for President were there things that you wanted to accomplish if you became President?  
  
'''Eisenstein:'''<br> <br>There were, but they fall in the level of mundane when you look at it. They were not grandiose. I believe that if you really want to effect change in an organization that you can do that structurally within the organization to create a framework for the change to take place, evolve and grow. Stating that you want change and stating how you want it to change is essentially worthless. Why is it worthless? Because you are President for only a year. You are not going to get that change in that period of time. And the Board is rotating 50 percent a year. As soon as a year goes by everything is lost and essentially everything is starting over again. On the other hand if you make some structural changes those changes can persist within the organization. I made a lot of structural changes, but they are not the kinds of things to stand up and brag about. They had to do with the way budgeting was done, the way budgets were allocated, the way money was spent, the way staff organization took place. They were really of that nature and some of their effects are still in place today. For example, one of the structural changes I made prior to becoming President was the way in which the TAB Vice President is elected. That has changed the dynamic of the way TAB operates as an organization. I think it is for the better. That is in place to this day.  
+
'''Eisenstein:'''
 +
 
 +
There were, but they fall in the level of mundane when you look at it. They were not grandiose. I believe that if you really want to effect change in an organization that you can do that structurally within the organization to create a framework for the change to take place, evolve and grow. Stating that you want change and stating how you want it to change is essentially worthless. Why is it worthless? Because you are President for only a year. You are not going to get that change in that period of time. And the Board is rotating 50 percent a year. As soon as a year goes by everything is lost and essentially everything is starting over again. On the other hand if you make some structural changes those changes can persist within the organization. I made a lot of structural changes, but they are not the kinds of things to stand up and brag about. They had to do with the way budgeting was done, the way budgets were allocated, the way money was spent, the way staff organization took place. They were really of that nature and some of their effects are still in place today. For example, one of the structural changes I made prior to becoming President was the way in which the TAB Vice President is elected. That has changed the dynamic of the way TAB operates as an organization. I think it is for the better. That is in place to this day.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
The leader of this group was clearly Joe Bordogna. Joe, as I told you, had gotten me involved with the Education Society early in the game. He asked me to be his Secretary-Treasurer and I moved through the ranks on that regard. Joe had also preceded me as President of the Philadelphia Section and Ken came after me as President of the Philadelphia Section. We were together and involved and we were on the Board at much the same time in various other positions working together. There was that natural progression. However, just the way things worked out, Joe Bordogna became President of the IEEE without having had any Board level experience. He was literally plucked in and became President of the IEEE. Ken gone through I think the Circuits and Systems Society.  
+
The leader of this group was clearly [[Joseph Bordogna|Joe Bordogna]]. Joe, as I told you, had gotten me involved with the Education Society early in the game. He asked me to be his Secretary-Treasurer and I moved through the ranks on that regard. Joe had also preceded me as President of the [[IEEE Philadelphia Section History|Philadelphia Section]] and Ken came after me as President of the Philadelphia Section. We were together and involved and we were on the Board at much the same time in various other positions working together. There was that natural progression. However, just the way things worked out, Joe Bordogna became President of the IEEE without having had any Board level experience. He was literally plucked in and became President of the IEEE. Ken gone through I think the [[IEEE Circuits and Systems Society History|Circuits and Systems Society]].  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Then he became the Vice President for Education. While he was Vice President for Education he asked me to be the Vice Chair of the Educational Activities Board. I worked with Ken for the two years that he was Vice President on EAB. We were working together in that way. Independently but nevertheless in a linked way we all became very well known to members of the Board. That's why we had three in a row. If you look back there were actually four in a row, because Chuck Alexander had come out of the Philadelphia Section as well.  
+
Then he became the Vice President for Education. While he was Vice President for Education he asked me to be the Vice Chair of the [[IEEE Educational Activities Board|Educational Activities Board]]. I worked with Ken for the two years that he was Vice President on [[IEEE Educational Activities Board|EAB]]. We were working together in that way. Independently but nevertheless in a linked way we all became very well known to members of the Board. That's why we had three in a row. If you look back there were actually four in a row, because Chuck Alexander had come out of the Philadelphia Section as well.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
At the time he was elected he had moved to California, but he had done his initial campaigning and stint leading up to the Presidency out of Philadelphia. Then before that was Merrill W. Buckley, Jr.  
+
At the time he was elected he had moved to California, but he had done his initial campaigning and stint leading up to the Presidency out of Philadelphia. Then before that was [[Merrill Buckley Jr.|Merrill W. Buckley, Jr]].  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
The other dynamic is that the Philadelphia Section has been very active in that regard and been a very important component of IEEE. All of us came out of that dynamic and Joe, Ken and I have been and still are very close in terms of working together.  
+
The other dynamic is that the [[IEEE Philadelphia Section History|Philadelphia Section]] has been very active in that regard and been a very important component of IEEE. All of us came out of that dynamic and [[Joseph Bordogna|Joe]], [[Kenneth Laker|Ken]] and I have been and still are very close in terms of working together.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
The biggest change was the change Joe Bordogna had put in, which was shortening the meeting series to four days. Over the course of my administration and Ken's, we had a little bit of creep and the meetings were starting on Tuesday and ending on Sunday. It was still a much shorter series. It was not stretching over a two-week period. I believe very strongly that the best way for the Board to operate was to concentrate on strategic issues rather than the mundane. We had a Board Caucus before the Board meeting and I tried to get as many items as possible on the consent agenda so they would not even be discussed at the Board meeting. We were successful in that regard. The mantra that I kept repeating to the Board members was, "Look. If the vote is going to be 25 to 2 in favor of an issue, I understand that the two of you that would like to oppose it would like to have your voice heard but I am not certain that the remaining people in the room want to hear it. The caucus is your time to make your pitch. If it looks like there is an overwhelming consensus, let's get it on the consent agenda and don't anyone waste our time pulling it off." On the other hand, if something is close and there is a substantial fraction of the Board that really does not want to have something done, then by all means let's discuss it. That's what a Board meeting is for, that we discuss that. The result was that we got rid of about 90 percent of the issues at the caucus. They went on the consent agenda and they were adopted within 5 minutes after the start of the meeting. We had that done and we had the rest of the meeting to devote to other things. And it enabled the meetings to end before 5 o'clock easily. We would start at 8:00 and they would end at 5:00. My recollection is the meetings were non-controversial in the sense that the Board was working more harmoniously. Both prior and after I get the feeling that some of these issues are debated over and over again. They are plowing the same field. There is no new knowledge coming and there is no new information, but stuff stretches out to fill the available time. The Board now meets over two days and frequently the meetings don't end until 11 o'clock or midnight.  
+
The biggest change was the change [[Joseph Bordogna|Joe Bordogna]] had put in, which was shortening the meeting series to four days. Over the course of my administration and [[Kenneth Laker|Ken's]], we had a little bit of creep and the meetings were starting on Tuesday and ending on Sunday. It was still a much shorter series. It was not stretching over a two-week period. I believe very strongly that the best way for the Board to operate was to concentrate on strategic issues rather than the mundane. We had a Board Caucus before the Board meeting and I tried to get as many items as possible on the consent agenda so they would not even be discussed at the Board meeting. We were successful in that regard. The mantra that I kept repeating to the Board members was, "Look. If the vote is going to be 25 to 2 in favor of an issue, I understand that the two of you that would like to oppose it would like to have your voice heard but I am not certain that the remaining people in the room want to hear it. The caucus is your time to make your pitch. If it looks like there is an overwhelming consensus, let's get it on the consent agenda and don't anyone waste our time pulling it off." On the other hand, if something is close and there is a substantial fraction of the Board that really does not want to have something done, then by all means let's discuss it. That's what a Board meeting is for, that we discuss that. The result was that we got rid of about 90 percent of the issues at the caucus. They went on the consent agenda and they were adopted within 5 minutes after the start of the meeting. We had that done and we had the rest of the meeting to devote to other things. And it enabled the meetings to end before 5 o'clock easily. We would start at 8:00 and they would end at 5:00. My recollection is the meetings were non-controversial in the sense that the Board was working more harmoniously. Both prior and after I get the feeling that some of these issues are debated over and over again. They are plowing the same field. There is no new knowledge coming and there is no new information, but stuff stretches out to fill the available time. The Board now meets over two days and frequently the meetings don't end until 11 o'clock or midnight.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
It was turning over when I was President. It was the same thing. I don't know if they do this or not anymore on the Board, but I held a retreat in January in which we had all the Board members at the retreat. It was not a Board meeting but was an educational session: here are the issues you are going to face, here is what we expect you to do. I had Bob Dwyer talk to the group as lawyer for the Board about the responsibilities of Board, what is expected of them, what rights they have and what rights they do not have. I think it made things work more harmoniously. I am not a big fan of debating and debating until coming to a unanimous consensus. I don't think that is necessary. An overwhelming majority passes a bill, a simple majority passes a bill, and that should be all you do. You don't bring it up again. That is another habit that Boards both before and after this period of time had. They would pass a motion and it was like a vaccination. Everyone was afraid that it wouldn't take unless they had a booster shot. They would bring up the same motion again, there would be exactly the same discussion on it, and it would pass again. No one was every certain when something was actually a motion. You know, "It has only passed four times. Is that enough?"  
+
It was turning over when I was President. It was the same thing. I don't know if they do this or not anymore on the Board, but I held a retreat in January in which we had all the Board members at the retreat. It was not a Board meeting but was an educational session: here are the issues you are going to face, here is what we expect you to do. I had Bob Dwyer talk to the group as lawyer for the Board about the responsibilities of Board, what is expected of them, what rights they have and what rights they do not have. I think it made things work more harmoniously. I am not a big fan of debating and debating until coming to a unanimous consensus. I don't think that is necessary. An overwhelming majority passes a bill, a simple majority passes a bill, and that should be all you do. You don't bring it up again. That is another habit that Boards both before and after this period of time had. They would pass a motion and it was like a vaccination. Everyone was afraid that it wouldn't take unless they had a booster shot. They would bring up the same motion again, there would be exactly the same discussion on it, and it would pass again. No one was every certain when something was actually a motion. You know, "It has only passed four times. Is that enough?"
  
 
=== Into the New Millennium  ===
 
=== Into the New Millennium  ===
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Others might see it differently than I. There were certainly some Board members pushing it very actively. Ken Laker had been a big proponent of electronic publishing. He pushed that very hard. Obviously we reaped the benefits of those decisions at that time. My recollection is that to a large extent it was staff-driven and professional-driven. The Board said as a policy we want to have as much electronic as we can. Then I think it came out and we started evolving and coming up with things like Xplore and APP and the other things that were being done electronically instead of on paper. What we did not do – although some people had mentioned it – is we did not talk about the consequences of these decisions. That is one of the regrets that I had, that while the Board was focusing on minutia they are not doing big picture issues. For instance my university has IEEE Xplore. I can go to my computer and get everything that IEEE publishes, including standards. However, I don't have to be a member of a Society to get that. That was one of the value propositions that people had. When they asked, "Why should I join IEEE?" the answer was, "To get access to the technical information." Now with IEEE Xplore and Google Scholar and a lot of these other things floating around that takes away that value proposition component. We never adequately explored that possibility at that time. I know people are looking at it now and are very concerned about it, but it was not explored or thought about at the time.  
+
Others might see it differently than I. There were certainly some Board members pushing it very actively. [[Kenneth Laker|Ken Laker]] had been a big proponent of electronic publishing. He pushed that very hard. Obviously we reaped the benefits of those decisions at that time. My recollection is that to a large extent it was staff-driven and professional-driven. The Board said as a policy we want to have as much electronic as we can. Then I think it came out and we started evolving and coming up with things like Xplore and APP and the other things that were being done electronically instead of on paper. What we did not do – although some people had mentioned it – is we did not talk about the consequences of these decisions. That is one of the regrets that I had, that while the Board was focusing on minutia they are not doing big picture issues. For instance my university has IEEE Xplore. I can go to my computer and get everything that IEEE publishes, including standards. However, I don't have to be a member of a Society to get that. That was one of the value propositions that people had. When they asked, "Why should I join IEEE?" the answer was, "To get access to the technical information." Now with IEEE Xplore and Google Scholar and a lot of these other things floating around that takes away that value proposition component. We never adequately explored that possibility at that time. I know people are looking at it now and are very concerned about it, but it was not explored or thought about at the time.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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Dan Senese was responsible for managing that transition in IEEE. We would not have had electronic publishing if Dan had not put the enablers in place to allow all the infrastructure to be built and the people to be hired that made that happen. We would not have had the use as we do now of the emails. That changed the role of the President in terms of the necessity to go off into Piscataway. My predecessors had an office in Piscataway. They went up maybe two days a week and stayed over to do their business out of there. I had no need to do that. I had a cell phone and would get all my calls, I had access to email and I was carrying a laptop with me. In all of my activities I had very little trouble. In the year 2000, when I was President, connecting to the Internet was a real adventure almost no matter where you went. I used to carry a bagful of adapters, plugs and wires. We would go to a hotel let's say outside the United States and I would have to set up a telephone modem connection to get onto the Internet and get the email. The cell phones worked but they were very klutzy. And it's not that many years ago.  
 
Dan Senese was responsible for managing that transition in IEEE. We would not have had electronic publishing if Dan had not put the enablers in place to allow all the infrastructure to be built and the people to be hired that made that happen. We would not have had the use as we do now of the emails. That changed the role of the President in terms of the necessity to go off into Piscataway. My predecessors had an office in Piscataway. They went up maybe two days a week and stayed over to do their business out of there. I had no need to do that. I had a cell phone and would get all my calls, I had access to email and I was carrying a laptop with me. In all of my activities I had very little trouble. In the year 2000, when I was President, connecting to the Internet was a real adventure almost no matter where you went. I used to carry a bagful of adapters, plugs and wires. We would go to a hotel let's say outside the United States and I would have to set up a telephone modem connection to get onto the Internet and get the email. The cell phones worked but they were very klutzy. And it's not that many years ago.  
  
However then the transition occurred very rapidly. I've talked to some of the recent Presidents about this, particularly Leah Jamison. Leah is Dean of Engineering at Purdue, a large institution. I asked her, "How can you be Dean of Engineering and be IEEE President?" She told me she can conduct almost all her business from her blackberry. She gets the email, she gets the phone calls, she can call people up and ask them to do this or that, and it doesn't matter much whether she's in West Lafayette or Europe. That was starting to happen with me. It was just starting in 2000. It made it unnecessary to go often to Piscataway. They took my office away, at my suggestion. They needed it for someone else.  
+
However then the transition occurred very rapidly. I've talked to some of the recent Presidents about this, particularly Leah Jamison. Leah is Dean of Engineering at Purdue, a large institution. I asked her, "How can you be Dean of Engineering and be [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|IEEE President]]?" She told me she can conduct almost all her business from her blackberry. She gets the email, she gets the phone calls, she can call people up and ask them to do this or that, and it doesn't matter much whether she's in West Lafayette or Europe. That was starting to happen with me. It was just starting in 2000. It made it unnecessary to go often to Piscataway. They took my office away, at my suggestion. They needed it for someone else.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
I traveled a lot. Really what it has devolved to is that is the main role of the President of IEEE is to show the face of IEEE around the world. People were very, very gracious in receiving me as President. They arranged seminars, I would give talks, I would take tours of the universities. In some cases I would meet with the Ministry level people. That part was very important and very nice. It was a lot of travel. That starts as President-Elect and continues through for the three years of the Presidency.  
+
I traveled a lot. Really what it has devolved to is that is the main role of the [[Presidents of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)|President of IEEE]] is to show the face of IEEE around the world. People were very, very gracious in receiving me as President. They arranged seminars, I would give talks, I would take tours of the universities. In some cases I would meet with the Ministry level people. That part was very important and very nice. It was a lot of travel. That starts as President-Elect and continues through for the three years of the Presidency.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Yes. It is probably not a great idea to go into them now, but there were certainly flare-ups. It's funny. I was thinking about this the other day when I addressed the current President of IEEE, John Vig. I reminded him that there were forty-six people that preceded him. He's the forty-seventh President of the IEEE. I said, "The time goes very quickly when you look back on it. A year goes by in the blink of an eye, though it does not seem that way at the time. You have three Board meetings that you chair and then you have several obligatory crises to work out, lots of travel and there is very little permanent legacy. This is primarily because of the nature of the position. We are using the title President and CEO right now, but probably a more correct title would be Honorary President and Chairman of the Board. You are Chairman of the Board. That part is true.  
+
Yes. It is probably not a great idea to go into them now, but there were certainly flare-ups. It's funny. I was thinking about this the other day when I addressed the current President of IEEE, [[John Vig|John Vig]]. I reminded him that there were forty-six people that preceded him. He's the forty-seventh President of the IEEE. I said, "The time goes very quickly when you look back on it. A year goes by in the blink of an eye, though it does not seem that way at the time. You have three Board meetings that you chair and then you have several obligatory crises to work out, lots of travel and there is very little permanent legacy. This is primarily because of the nature of the position. We are using the title President and CEO right now, but probably a more correct title would be Honorary President and Chairman of the Board. You are Chairman of the Board. That part is true.  
  
 
=== A Time of Transition for IEEE  ===
 
=== A Time of Transition for IEEE  ===
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That was just getting underway. The transition to a more computer-based society. The Internet was really coming into its own. Email was coming into its own. Cell phones were coming into their own. It was a period of transition in that regard. Starting in the middle of my term as President the stock market started going way down. I'm sure everyone remembers the big dot-com bust that occurred towards the end of 2000-2001. That created an odd dynamic in the Board. As a Board we got clobbered on the stock market, as did everyone else, and it made people very upset. Whereas the year I was Treasurer there was a $30 million surplus. Everyone gave me a big cheer when I reported that, and when we presented the budget it passed the Board in less than 5 minutes. I made a motion to approve the budget, it was discussed and there were a couple questions and bam.  
 
That was just getting underway. The transition to a more computer-based society. The Internet was really coming into its own. Email was coming into its own. Cell phones were coming into their own. It was a period of transition in that regard. Starting in the middle of my term as President the stock market started going way down. I'm sure everyone remembers the big dot-com bust that occurred towards the end of 2000-2001. That created an odd dynamic in the Board. As a Board we got clobbered on the stock market, as did everyone else, and it made people very upset. Whereas the year I was Treasurer there was a $30 million surplus. Everyone gave me a big cheer when I reported that, and when we presented the budget it passed the Board in less than 5 minutes. I made a motion to approve the budget, it was discussed and there were a couple questions and bam.  
  
By the time 2001 came around and Joel Snyder took over as President the Board started getting very testy. They were asking a lot of questions, there were budget issues and then 9/11 occurred on September 11th, 2001. That completely altered the dynamic on travel. I was still involved as Past President at that time. All of a sudden travel became a major, major hassle. That has persisted to this day. It is no longer the kind of thing where I used to get a call and someone would say, "We need you in Chicago," I'd call up my travel agent, drive to the airport, fly to Chicago, attend a meeting and come back that night. You just do not do that anymore. One has to allow hours on either end just to get through airport security. What used to be day trips become overnight trips; what used to be overnight trips become two-day and three-day trips. That was another transition that occurred. I get the sense that things are not that much better. From my perception from sitting in on some of the Board meetings, it seems to be less collegial. I think that is to the loss of the organization a whole.  
+
By the time 2001 came around and [[Joel Snyder|Joel Snyder]] took over as President the Board started getting very testy. They were asking a lot of questions, there were budget issues and then 9/11 occurred on September 11th, 2001. That completely altered the dynamic on travel. I was still involved as Past President at that time. All of a sudden travel became a major, major hassle. That has persisted to this day. It is no longer the kind of thing where I used to get a call and someone would say, "We need you in Chicago," I'd call up my travel agent, drive to the airport, fly to Chicago, attend a meeting and come back that night. You just do not do that anymore. One has to allow hours on either end just to get through airport security. What used to be day trips become overnight trips; what used to be overnight trips become two-day and three-day trips. That was another transition that occurred. I get the sense that things are not that much better. From my perception from sitting in on some of the Board meetings, it seems to be less collegial. I think that is to the loss of the organization a whole.  
  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
 
'''Hochheiser:'''  
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'''Eisenstein:'''  
 
'''Eisenstein:'''  
  
Well, there is a role for the Past-Past President and the Past-Past-Past President. There is a certain perpetuation. There are certain committees that are designated in there. It is a tapering off process rather than a dropping-off-the-cliff process. At various times I have been asked to come back and serve in capacities at the Board level. In a relatively recent time I was asked to be on the Educational Activities Board, so I have been back on there for a while and going to Board meetings or Board Series is a consequence of that. Then most recently I am the current President of Eta Kappa Nu. Eta Kappa Nu and IEEE have just signed merger agreements. The two organizations are going to merge together. I was down in Puerto Rico for the Board Series where we had a formal signing ceremony for the merger agreements. It will become IEEE Eta Kappa Nu and I will sit on a number of IEEE Boards. I retain some activity at the Board level.  
+
Well, there is a role for the Past-Past President and the Past-Past-Past President. There is a certain perpetuation. There are certain committees that are designated in there. It is a tapering off process rather than a dropping-off-the-cliff process. At various times I have been asked to come back and serve in capacities at the Board level. In a relatively recent time I was asked to be on the Educational Activities Board, so I have been back on there for a while and going to Board meetings or Board Series is a consequence of that. Then most recently I am the current President of Eta Kappa Nu. Eta Kappa Nu and IEEE have just signed merger agreements. The two organizations are going to merge together. I was down in Puerto Rico for the Board Series where we had a formal signing ceremony for the merger agreements. It will become IEEE [[Eta Kappa Nu|Eta Kappa Nu]] and I will sit on a number of IEEE Boards. I retain some activity at the Board level.  
  
 
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I have always viewed biomedical engineering as an application area for signals, which has really been my interest. When I became Fellow of the IEEE it was for signal processing, not biomedical engineering. I always think of myself as a signals person. Signals are very much a part of communications. It's the essence of communications. I have always been in that area. I still go back on occasion and teach the controls courses, but controls also work off of signals and it is that same systems aspect. Cell phones were a more interesting situation. Although I taught communications, I did not know specifically about cell phones. There came a point in time when, for a variety of reasons, I was asked to help municipalities out in understanding something about cell phones because cell phone providers were asking to put up towers in the community. And the community wanted to understand something about it and municipalities had asked me to consult with them about the siting of cell phone antennas. What started off as just a sporadic and incidental type of thing emerged into a major area of consulting for me. It is a fascinating area, because it is intermixed with the technology of the cell phones, the way in which the antennas and the phones themselves work, with the propagation of electromagnetic signals. That is not my primary area of interest but nevertheless something I learned about. It is also mixed with local land use law and the Federal Telecommunications Act. In working with these systems I have become expert in all those areas. I found myself going to hearings sometimes two and three times a week talking about cell phone issues. In the process I keep myself informed about what's going on. That's how I got into the cell phone area.  
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I have always viewed biomedical engineering as an application area for signals, which has really been my interest. When I became [[IEEE Fellow Grade History|Fellow of the IEEE]] it was for signal processing, not biomedical engineering. I always think of myself as a signals person. Signals are very much a part of communications. It's the essence of communications. I have always been in that area. I still go back on occasion and teach the controls courses, but controls also work off of signals and it is that same systems aspect. Cell phones were a more interesting situation. Although I taught communications, I did not know specifically about cell phones. There came a point in time when, for a variety of reasons, I was asked to help municipalities out in understanding something about cell phones because cell phone providers were asking to put up towers in the community. And the community wanted to understand something about it and municipalities had asked me to consult with them about the siting of cell phone antennas. What started off as just a sporadic and incidental type of thing emerged into a major area of consulting for me. It is a fascinating area, because it is intermixed with the technology of the cell phones, the way in which the antennas and the phones themselves work, with the propagation of electromagnetic signals. That is not my primary area of interest but nevertheless something I learned about. It is also mixed with local land use law and the Federal Telecommunications Act. In working with these systems I have become expert in all those areas. I found myself going to hearings sometimes two and three times a week talking about cell phone issues. In the process I keep myself informed about what's going on. That's how I got into the cell phone area.  
  
 
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Thank you.<br>090309 <br>
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Thank you.
  
[[Category:IEEE|Oral-History:Bruce A. Eisenstein]] [[Category:Engineers|Oral-History:Bruce A. Eisenstein]] [[Category:Engineering_education|Oral-History:Bruce A. Eisenstein]] [[Category:Electrical_engineering_education|Oral-History:Bruce A. Eisenstein]] [[Category:Educational_activities|Oral-History:Bruce A. Eisenstein]]
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[[Category:IEEE|Eisenstein]] [[Category:Engineers|Eisenstein]] [[Category:Engineering education|Eisenstein]] [[Category:Electrical engineering education|Eisenstein]] [[Category:Educational activities|Eisenstein]]

Latest revision as of 16:35, 30 June 2014

Contents

About Bruce Eisenstein

Bruce Eisenstein was president of IEEE in 2000. A native of Philadelphia, where he attended the prestigious Central High School, Dr. Eisenstein earned a B.S. in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963. Following a brief employment with Philco, he earned an M.S. from Drexel University in 1965 and, subsequently, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970. Dr. Eisenstein was a NASA/ASEE Fellow at Stanford University and the Ames Research Center and a Visiting Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Princeton University under the sponsorship of NSF. From 1980 to 1995, he was Professor and Department Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel. He is currently the Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel, specializing in pattern recognition, estimation theory, decision theory and digital signal processing, and serves on the faculty of the university's School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems.

In this interview, Dr. Eisenstein discusses his career as an engineering educator and his continuing involvement with IEEE, first with the Educational Activities Board and culminating with his term as president in 2000. In that position, Dr. Eisenstein guided IEEE into the new millennium and helped to oversee the early stages of the transition from traditional to electronic publication and archiving of the institutes proceedings and journals.

About the Interview

BRUCE A. EISENSTEIN: An interview conducted by Sheldon Hochheiser, Ph.D., IEEE History Center, 17 February 2009

Interview #487 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

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

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the IEEE History Center,. Oral History Program, IEEE History Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken, NJ 07030 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:
Bruce Eisenstein, an oral history conducted in 2009 by Sheldon Hochheiser, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEW: Bruce A. Eisenstein, Ph.D.

INTERVIEWER: Sheldon Hochheiser, Ph.D.

DATE: 17 February 2009

PLACE: Dr. Eisenstein's office at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Background and Education

Hochheiser:

This is Sheldon Hochheiser of the IEEE History Center. I'm here with Professor Bruce Eisenstein in his office at Drexel University. Good afternoon.

Eisenstein:

Good afternoon.

Hochheiser:

As a way of starting I would like to learn a little bit more about your background. I take it you were born and raised here in Philadelphia?

Eisenstein:

Yes. I went to high school at the very famous Central High School here in Philadelphia. Graduated in the 211th class. Should I go on past high school or do you want to talk more about Philadelphia?

Hochheiser:

I'm interested in your background. How did you come to go to Central High School? I certainly know the reputation of the school.

Eisenstein:

I came from a very poor neighborhood within Philadelphia, and the junior high school I attended was not really adequately preparing students for academic high school. I was advised by the guidance counselor not to go to Central but instead to go to a vocational school with the idea of becoming a plumber or an electrician. Some people – particularly my mother – thought I should get an academic education, and as a result I got into Central not by examination the way everyone else got in but by District Superintendent recommendation. My mother and the District Superintendent knew more than the guidance counselor about what was good for me, because it seems to have worked out all right. I did very well at Central, and it was a very good experience for me.

Hochheiser:

Were you interested in science and technology as a child?

Eisenstein:

Not really. I was curious as a child. I did a lot of reading. I really loved reading biographies. In our school library there was a whole collection of biographies and I read every one of them. I also read a lot of novels. I had a general curiosity in science, but I had never been a hobbyist. I never built a radio or anything like that. I was growing up during the time of Sputnik. As Sputnik was launched everyone said that engineering was the field of the future and there are going to be tons of jobs for engineers. Thus I started thinking in that direction.

Hochheiser:

Did this thinking evolve while you were at Central High School?

Eisenstein:

Yes. The other thing that probably motivated me more towards engineering was the older of my two sisters. Her husband was a Professor at MIT. They were very encouraging that not only was engineering good but MIT was a good place to go to school. That also played in my mind.

Hochheiser:

Was it your brother-in-law's position and influence that led you to go to MIT?

Eisenstein:

Probably. Otherwise I would have more likely come here to Drexel or to Penn State or something local. I would not have thought of going away. Certainly MIT helped me a lot with financial aid, but I did not know that when I was thinking of schools, and the expense was really very high.

Hochheiser:

What did your parents do?

Eisenstein:

My parents divorced when I was maybe three years old. My father moved away to Newark and my mother did odd jobs to try to keep the family together. As I said, we were very poor. There came a point came where my father returned to Philadelphia and I had interaction with him, but not a lot – at least not while I was growing up. After I graduated from college I became closer to my father. And we moved back to Philadelphia, so I also came back in touch with my mother. My parents were uneducated. I was the first one in my family to go to college.

Hochheiser:

Did you have any particular curriculum in mind when you entered MIT?

Eisenstein:

I knew I wanted to be an engineer. They had a number of departments in engineering, and I guess I got into electrical engineering by default. I really did not like chemical engineering because I did not like chemistry all that much; I did not seem to like mechanical engineering because it seemed very mechanistic at that time; they had a department in aeronautics and astronautics but I thought it was somewhat restrictive. I really did not like civil engineering, so that kind of ruled that out, and then it was down to electrical. Therefore I went into electrical. Another aspect of it though was, since I had not been a hobbyist and had not played around with things, I was also very curious about how common electrical items worked – whether it was a motor or a radio or a telephone system. Computers were coming in at that time too, although they were behemoths. I was curious about how they worked and it looked to me like electrical was the way to go to understand this, in contrast to mechanical systems of which I did not have an expert knowledge but I certainly understood how they worked. I knew how a car worked, I knew how heat transfer worked. I could understand mechanical systems because I had daily contact with them. However the electrical systems always seemed somewhat obscure. I figured, boy, this is a good way to learn about it.

Hochheiser:

Did you have any particularly memorable or influential professors during your undergraduate years?

Eisenstein:

As a sophomore I did. The first Circuits course at MIT had for years been taught by Ernst A. Guillemin, who was very famous. He had written some of the best textbooks in the area. My year was the first year that Guillemin stopped teaching and instead I had Professor Amar Bose. Bose was a very, very charismatic and influential lecturer. I still remember his lectures. As a matter of fact I still use some of the things that he taught us when I talk to my students now, thought it seems to be a hundred years later, I'm still using his things. Of course Bose went on to found the Bose Corporation and Bose speakers and stereo systems are all over the place.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Eisenstein:

He was very important to me. Some of the others that were also important to me were Jack Siebert, who taught in the Systems area; and Sam Mason, who also taught in Systems. I was very impressed with the fact that Mason's Rule was named after him. Hermann A. Haus, who taught electromagnetics was also a very important influence. Every undergraduate at MIT has an advisor, and my faculty advisor was Robert Fano. He was very important and influential. There were some great professors there.

Into Academia

Hochheiser:

And when you graduated you came directly to Drexel for your master's?

Eisenstein:

Actually, when I graduated I told everyone that I knew that I was never going to take another course in college again. Ever, ever, ever. I was tired of school. I had interviewed for industry positions and had settled on working for a company here in Philadelphia by the name of Philco Corporation. I had interviewed in the February/March timeframe, and the job was terrific. It was exactly what I was looking for, it was one of the highest-paying jobs offered at the time and it was in Philadelphia, so I would be back home. I was also in the process of getting married to the lady who is still my wife. She is from Philadelphia as well, so we had a lot of incentive to move here.

When I graduated from MIT it was on a Monday and my only decision was whether I would start work Tuesday or Thursday of that same week. There was no honeymoon in Europe for six weeks or anything like that. I had to get to work and start earning money. I decided to splurge and start on Thursday, so I stayed up at MIT an extra couple of days where I helped out with Alumni Weekend and some other things. When I went to work on Thursday they sent me down to Personnel. They did the usual things and gave me Friday off. Monday was my first day at work. When I walked in the place where I was supposed to work – which at one point had employed well over 300 engineers in this office – was empty. They were down to twelve people.

My boss explained to me that Philco had been acquired by Ford and they had moved the entire operations out and laid off everyone and that they would be shutting this place down very shortly. Remember, this is my first day on the job. I said, "Well now what do I do? I'm about to get married, I just got out of school, I need money." He said, "Okay, wait. Here's your choice. Ford has two places you can go. One is Houston, Texas where Philco has the contract to put in the Manned Space Flight Center." That is now called the Johnson Facility, but at that time it was just called the Manned Space Flight Center. Then he said, "By the way if you go to Houston we give you a 10 percent bonus because it's such a bad place to live." I hope I'm not offending anyone from Houston. That was my boss speaking. Not me. Then he said, "Or you can go to this place in California called Palo Alto." I'm being honest with you: I had never heard the name in my life. They had what I think it was called the Western Development Laboratory out there in Palo Alto. He said, "You could go out there."

I went home and talked to my wife about it, and neither of those options sounded very good. I went back to my boss and said, "Look. I don't want to go to Houston. I don't want to go to Palo Alto. Now what am I going to do?" He said, "Well look. First of all, we are not going to shut down immediately. It will take us some time to get the place closed down. In the meantime it would be smart of you to pick up a master's degree." I said, "Why?" He said, "Look around. The twelve that are left out of the 300 all have master's degrees, including me," – my boss speaking – and he said, "It is going to be good for your career." I said, "Okay. Where should I go for a master's degree?" He said, "I got my master's from Drexel, so why don't you go down there and talk to them?" Of course I knew Drexel. I was from Philadelphia. I went down and talked to the people at Drexel. They had a very interesting program at that time. They said they had a graduate co-op.

As I am sure you know, Drexel is very famous for its undergraduate co-op. At that time and for a very brief time around that period they had a graduate co-op as well. The way it worked was you took courses for six months, you went into industry for six months, you alternated for two years and you got a master's degree at the end of the two years. I went back to my boss and said, "They have this program. They've accepted me into it. It's a co-op," and my boss said, "This is perfect. I'll pay your tuition, and you start school and then when it comes time for your co-op you can come back here and we'll take care of you. I'll cover all your tuition and since you're going to be working half time I'll give you half your salary." That was not a bad deal. I figured that was okay. It was a little tight for my wife and I, but we figured we could manage on that, so I accepted that plan. I started here at Drexel. I was taking courses, doing fine and everything was okay.

I was working part-time back at Philco in the afternoons. All the courses at Drexel were in the evening, so I could take my evening courses and everything was working out really well until just before Christmas. My boss called me up and said, "I'm sorry. I just got the news. They are shutting us down before the end of the year. I have to let you go. And that means I can't pay your tuition anymore and you're not going to get any salary." This was a weeks’ notice about two days before Christmas.

Between Christmas and New Year's I made an appointment to see the department head at Drexel to tell him that I'd have to drop out of the program and I would probably have to go somewhere else. I did not know what I was going to do. I was waiting in the outer office when it came time for my appointment, and inside the office, in the inner office of the department head, I could hear an argument. There was shouting and screaming and it was really, really loud. Then a guy came storming out the of the department head's office and slammed the door so hard that the glass pane in the door shattered. Now there was glass all over the floor. Then the department head came out and said, "Mr. Eisenstein, you're next." I stepped across the broken glass and went into the department head's office. He looked down for a long while, going through some notes. He had my resume in from of him. Then he said, "Do you think you could teach a course in Circuit Theory?" Bose had made a big impression on me, and because of him I thought I could. Even though I had never done anything like that in my life I said, "Yes. I think I can do it." He said, "Well, I had to fire that guy that you just saw running out, and now classes are beginning in a couple days and I need someone to teach Circuit Theory to the mechanical engineering students. You think you could do it?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Okay, here's the deal. You are still in the Graduate Co-op Program. Your co-op assignment will be as an Instructor here teaching labs and some courses, and after two years you will get your degree." Then he told me he would pay me what turned out to be the same amount I had been getting for half of my salary at Philco. Except there was a real bonus with that. At that time as a teaching assistant the salary was tax exempt. That is not true anymore, but at that time, and that was actually a big raise for me. It worked out really well.

That is what I started doing. Then I found, without ever suspecting or knowing that I would, that I really liked the teaching. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the interaction with the students. It was bizarre because most of the students were at least my age if not older, since I had literally just gotten out of school, but nevertheless it worked out okay. I was a good teacher and I enjoyed it. Now here I am many years later still doing sort of the same thing. When I talk to people about career counseling I say, "I can tell you honestly that never in a million years had I ever thought of teaching as a career. I told all my friends I was never going to graduate school. And yet it turned out I was just wrong in my initial impression of what I would like doing." That is how I wound up here.

I got my master's degree from Drexel. When I got my master's degree, Drexel was in the process of changing. Prior to when I was there and for many years back Drexel had been almost entirely an undergraduate institution. They always had a graduate program, but it was very small. There was no Ph.D. program. However they came into transition. The transition was that they wanted to move more like a regular university with full graduate programs and Ph.D. programs. And as a result, the only faculty they were hiring were faculty that had Ph.D.s. The department head that had initially hired me had long left and there was a new department head. He wanted to keep me at Drexel, but he said, "I can't keep you without a Ph.D. You are going to have to get an advanced degree, but," he said, "I can give you of a year-to-year appointment as an Instructor. Go over to the University of Pennsylvania and pick up a Ph.D. there." And that is what I did. I enrolled in the program at Penn. I got a Fellowship that covered part of my tuition there. I was teaching full time at Drexel while I was a full-time Graduate student at Penn. I did that for five years, and at the end of that time I got my Ph.D. I also at that point got a Fellowship to go to Princeton University for a year as a Visiting Faculty Member. I taught at Princeton for a year, and when I got done I came back here to Drexel. I have literally been here ever since. That part worked out fine. I would have never anticipated it. It was not something I would have ever thought about. Every year my wife and I would say, "Okay, well we'll do it for one more year, and that's it. Then we'll make plans for where we're going to go next." The next year would come around there we'd be again. Then again we would say, "One more year." It's more than forty years now, a year at a time.

Hochheiser:

On what did you do your dissertation?

Eisenstein:

I worked with a gentleman who just recently died. His name was David W. C. Chen. His area was adaptive control, I worked on problem and control theory, which involved estimation. It was a variant of Kalman filtering. I was looking at adaptive Kalman filters in which two processes were running: one to estimate the noise parameters and the other to actually control a system. The Kalman filter was constantly being adapted to handle the new noise information as it came.

Hochheiser:

In looking briefly at your CV I see a lot of publications and what at least seem from the titles be biomechanical engineering.

Eisenstein:

Or biomedical engineering. Yes.

Hochheiser:

Biomedical engineering.

Eisenstein:

When I first came to Drexel the gentleman who was the Graduate Advisor for electrical engineering was Dr. H. H. Sun. Dr. Sun had been a very famous circuit theorist. He had gotten his Ph.D. from Cornell and he wrote a book on the synthesis of RC circuits. He had moved into the area of applying circuit theory to biomedical engineering. During the years when I was here teaching while going to school and getting my master's degree Dr. Sun had been on leave at MIT. When he returned from MIT he came back with a grant from National Institutes of Health and was looking for someone to assist him on the grant and he asked me if I would help him. He and I and others collaborated on a lot of research and I found myself in the biomedical engineering program. At that time it was sort of part of electrical engineering. Almost the people in it were electrical engineering faculty members, and I was one of them. We had a number of grants from NIH and I moved more from controls over to signal processing. I was doing a lot of work on identifying arrhythmias from electrocardiograms and did work in thermal imaging for breast cancer detection – all of which had this flavor of signal processing but with a biomedical application. I did not do that for my doctoral dissertation but I came back after my doctorate and started applying some of these techniques to biomedical problems.

Joinining IEEE

Hochheiser:

Stepping back a bit, when did you first become aware of and when did you first join IEEE?

Eisenstein:

That was as an undergraduate, at the time of the merger. One of my friends told me that if I joined IRE, which was a predecessor organization, that I would get a free book. It was a book he already had, and it was a big thick book of famous people predicting what was going to happen fifty years later. I have it over on my bookshelf over there.

Hochheiser:

I have seen that volume.

Eisenstein:

If you joined IRE you got that free. That sounded like a good deal and I joined. Then the merger happened and I automatically became a member of IEEE and I have been a member ever since.

Hochheiser:

What was your first involvement beyond membership? Was there a student chapter at MIT?

Eisenstein:

There was, but I was never a part of it. Quite literally my only contact was my friend telling me, "Get this free book." I guess I should just step back a little. The Philadelphia section of IEEE has always been one of the most active in all of IEEE. There have been a number of people, many of whom are still alive, who are among the most dedicated volunteers that you'll see anywhere. These people just worked and worked and worked on behalf of IEEE. Among the things that they do is volunteer to host a number of international conferences. The first actual contact I had with IEEE on a formal basis was with some people from the Philadelphia area. Two gentlemen from the Philadelphia section came to me in my capacity as a young assistant professor and asked if I would help participate in an International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics. It was going to be held in Philadelphia and they needed someone to do local arrangements and arrange the hotels and some other things. I told them, "Look. I've never done anything like that," and they said, "It's okay, we'll go with you and teach you how to do it." That was literally my first involvement with IEEE. While I was there I met some other people that were active in two of the Chapters here – the Control Systems and Information Theory chapters. I started working in there, and over a period of time I became president of the Control Systems chapter here in Philadelphia. I also started doing student advising here at Drexel, and that put me on the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Section for the Student Advisory Council. At that point I was going to section meetings and over a period of time they asked me if I would agree to be the Secretary of the Section. Then that is a progression up to President of the section, I eventually became too. My beginning involvement with IEEE was though the Philadelphia section and through the conferences and chapters we had here. We still have them here, as a matter of fact.

Hochheiser:

One of your activities was advising the student chapter here at Drexel?

Eisenstein:

Yes. The gentleman who had been the founder of the AIEE Chapter way back in the 1920s stayed on to be the Advisor of the IEEE Chapter here. He died suddenly – literally in the classroom. The department head at the time asked me if I would take over as the Student Advisor for the Student Branch here and I agreed. Therefore, for a long while I was the Student Branch Advisor. That put me on the Student Advisory Council at the section level. From there I moved into the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Section. That was my path up.

Hochheiser:

Alongside this did you participate in or attend IEEE Conferences or was your main interest the local activities?

Eisenstein:

It was mainly the local activities, but at that time we used to have the annual conference in New York. It was a big IEEE convention held up near Columbus Circle. It was a huge event with I don't know how many thousands of vendors. I heard a 100,000 people attended those things at the time. I used to go to that every year, and later I used to take my classes there. We would all go up there on the train to the IEEE conventions. At that point in time I had gone to a couple of technical conferences but travel funds were always tight and I tended to go to the conferences that were here in Philadelphia. And there are many conferences here. It wasn't like there was any shortage of them.

Hochheiser:

And you were able to do that without leaving town.

Eisenstein:

Without leaving town. I would literally take a subway downtown and go to a conference. It was very nice – and is nice. I still do that.

Professional Advancement

Hochheiser:

Meanwhile you were working your way up the hierarchy. By some point in '76 or so you had become Associate Dean.

Eisenstein:

Yes. We don't do this anymore and I think it's a loss, but at that time there was a policy at Drexel of rotating junior faculty through various administrative positions in the university. The idea was to prepare them for leadership positions later down the line. One of these positions was Associate Dean of the Graduate School, which position was effectively director of research. We had an embryonic research program that was getting started, and my job was to review all the proposals being sent out from Drexel, sign them if I approved of them and approved of the budget. Or if not, I would go back and negotiate with the people. I did that for two years, and that was a really a very valuable experience for me. It gave me a view not only of the research operation but of the whole university. The proposals were coming out of Chemistry and Physics and the Business College and Engineering and other departments in Engineering, so I really got to see a whole mix and got to meet a lot of people around the university. It was a very helpful thing.

Hochheiser:

I notice that not terribly long after that you became the Department Chair.

Eisenstein:

Yes. There was one intermediate position. I was asked by the Dean of Engineering to be an Associate Dean of Engineering. He had a specific task for me, and that was to develop a series of agreements with the community colleges in this area to make sure that a student that went to the community colleges could articulate into Drexel seamlessly. I went to about twelve different community colleges around this area and sat with them and talked about their courses and their course work and helped form an articulation agreement. Most of those are still in effect today. They still follow that same agreement. It was after that that I became Department head.

Hochheiser:

You became active in IEEE locally both in the Philadelphia Section and in some of the society chapters?

Eisenstein:

Yes, within the Philadelphia Section.

Moving to the National Stage

Hochheiser:

When did you first become involved on a more national level?

Eisenstein:

After I was department head, a group of us decided to form a National EE department heads Association, which we called at that time the National Electrical Engineering Department Heads Association (NEEDHA). One of the guys that helped start it said the reason the name was appropriate was because when you go to the dean and say, "We have needs," the dean will say, "Need? Ha!" We started having national meetings of department heads. The initial few meetings were at Hilton Head, South Carolina. That was arranged by one of our colleagues who was from Clemson, South Carolina. In that third meeting I was elected president of that organization. As president of that organization, that automatically gave me a seat on the Educational Activities Board (EAB) of IEEE. That was my first exposure to IEEE board meetings, when I attended the EAB Meetings. Then my friend and colleague, Joe Bordogna, was elected President of the Education Society. He asked me if I would serve as his Secretary-Treasurer. It was an appointed position and I agreed. That was how I got into the Education Society. I not only went with him to the AdCom meetings and conferences of the Education Society but also to the board meetings. Once I became President of the Education Society I sat on both EAB and TAB. I was doing both for a while there. Those were the two parallel paths that brought me at the Board level: one through NEEDHA and the other through the Education Society.

Hochheiser:

What issues did you deal with as President of the Education Society?

Eisenstein:

At that time the major issue the Education Society was looking at was methodologies or ways of teaching electrical engineering. This was at a period when the computers were coming in but were not yet omnipresent.

Hochheiser:

Was it the mid-1980s?

Eisenstein:

Yes. We were still at the point where most universities if they had computers would have them in the computer center. It was a big machine. Although researchers were using personal computers, no one really thought of bringing them into the classroom or students using them. Nevertheless, people were starting to think about, "What would we do if we had some different ways of teaching?" The Education Society was trying to get itself very much involved in that. A lot of it was methodologies and another part of it was a lot of philosophy. In other words, what philosophy do you want to use when you are teaching engineering students? There are extremes. There's one extreme that would say purely the science/math base of engineering should be taught. Teach that and everything else follows from that. The other extreme believed engineering should be an apprenticeship. You learn how to do engineering from practicing engineers who teach you the know-how. And of course there is a spectrum of things in between. We had a lot of discussions about that. Articles would appear in the Transactions on Education that were all following this methodology. So it was methods and methodology and philosophy.

Hochheiser:

Would you describe the activities of the Technical Activities Board?

Eisenstein:

It was strangely much like it is today. As a matter of fact, if you had a Rip Van Winkle time capsule and came back twenty-five years later and walked into a TAB Meeting you would hear much the same discussion. I just came back from the TAB Meetings and I can verify that.

Hochheiser:

What are those areas?

Eisenstein:

They're worried about budgets, about publications, about the number of members. It's the same issues.

Hochheiser:

Though important, it sounds less interesting than the issues you were talking about in the Education Society.

Eisenstein:

But of course you were asking about the parts that I remember. The parts that I try and forget were the parts about the budget and the membership and all the mundane things, but of course those issues were there, and maybe they don't ever change.

Hochheiser:

During this period did you have much interaction with the IEEE Staff?

Eisenstein:

Yes. Very much so.

Hochheiser:

In which ways did the staff work with you on your activities?

Eisenstein:

Over the years I have found the staff immeasurably helpful. Every interaction I have ever had with IEEE staff has been positive. Probably even more than positive. In almost all the things in which I've been involved the staff has done more than I expected them to do. I wouldn't want to single out individuals because there have been so many of them over the years I have been involved, but also the staff of TAB, EAB and all the Societies and at every level the staff has been terrific. I was at the Board level more than twenty-five years.

Hochheiser:

Did you interact much with Eric Herz while he was Executive Director?

Eisenstein:

At the time he was General Manager and Executive Director he was too many pay grades above the work that I was doing, so the answer is no at that time. However but Eric and I have since become very close friends. We have been on a number of other committees together outside of IEEE. In going through our mutual records, the first paper I ever had published was at the San Diego Symposium on Biomedical Engineering. I did that with Dr. Sun, whom I mentioned before. Eric Herz was the General Chair of that conference. I remember sitting in the plenary session and hearing him address the conference. That was the contact we had; but no, I never interacted with him in the IEEE at that time.

Hochheiser:

As a society president and a TAB Board member you interacted with people several levels below him?

Eisenstein:

That's right. People who would work for him.

Board of Directors

Hochheiser:

These are among the things we're trying to figure out in the process of doing these interviews. The next thing I found as far as your IEEE activities chronologically was becoming Division 6 Director.

Eisenstein:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Is that an elected position?

Eisenstein:

Yes. Elected by the members of all the Societies that comprise Division 6. It's a technical director/delegate position. Several years after I had been President of the Education Society I got a call from the Nominating Committee. They asked if I'd stand for election for Division Director and I agreed. I lost the election. I did not think much of it and two years went by and they called and asked me if I would run again. It did not seem to be much work to run, sending them a photograph and a bio, so I said, "Fine. I'll run again." I won that time.

Hochheiser:

I have a follow-up question. How does one run in a contested election?

Eisenstein:

That's a very interesting question. You essentially prepare a statement that gets published. There was no campaigning, no Gallup polls, nothing like that. I've since run for other things on occasion and it's always a mystery to me why I get elected or not. One never knows. I became a Division Director and that put me on the Board of Directors.

Hochheiser:

Was this the first time you were on the Board of Directors?

Eisenstein:

That was the first I was a member of the Board. I had been attending Board Series before, but it was my first actual Board involvement.

Hochheiser:

What were some of the major issues facing the Board during that time? Was this the late '80s?

Eisenstein:

It might have actually been in the early '90s. I can't remember any major issues. I have the same impression about Board meetings at that time that I had about the TAB Meetings, and that is that if you walked into a Board meeting today you'd hear much the same discussion. There is one exception. Our Board meetings recently have relied a lot on executive sessions, where everyone is excluded from the meeting except the Board itself. At that time the Board met openly. There were lots of people around. They used to publish an agenda book. It would be a binder, and the binders were left around the room. Anyone that walked in could pick up a binder and follow the items on the agenda. It was a very open set of meetings.

Hochheiser:

Do you mean open to any IEEE member who wanted to attend?

Eisenstein:

Since there was no one standing at the door watching, it was essentially open to anyone that walked in. And anyone could pick up a binder. They would find all the issues and everything else there. There were no closed meetings. The only time they would close the meeting was when they were having an election. They would ask the candidates themselves to leave the room, but other people could stay. Later on when I became President of IEEE we were advised by our lawyer and others that this was probably not such a great idea, particularly since we were in a competitive environment and competitors could walk in and pick this up. No one thought about that back in the '80s or '90s. It was never an issue. Board Meetings were just open. Executive sessions were very, very rare. The issues were pretty much always the same. The Board's responsibility is primarily a fiduciary responsibility and the Board has to make sure that the organization is going to remain solvent and be in great shape. That leads to a number of Board discussions that don't change.

Hochheiser:

Financial issues are eternal.

Eisenstein:

Membership and organizational issues are also there. Way back in the '90s we had been discussing member models and what we'd do about declining membership or how to increase membership. Those issues were very much on the table.

Hochheiser:

Things that were otherwise of considerable interest to you, such as education, were not discussed at the Board level?

Eisenstein:

That's correct. You would not hear any technical discussion at the Board level, whether it was education, electrical engineering or computer engineering technical. It was all relationships among what we now call organizational units of IEEE. Frankly, if we were running a cookie factory the discussions would have been the same. The names and words would be different, but they were not technical.

Hochheiser:

What about social and philosophical questions in areas like diversity, globalization, non-technical aspects. Did these reach the Board level?

Eisenstein:

We did not use the word globalization then but international, meaning outside the United States. There was certainly a lot of discussion about that. There was very little discussion about other things. You mentioned diversity. The Board at that time would have been almost entirely male. With the exception of the Regional Directors that came from outside the U.S, it was entirely U.S.-based. I guess about the time Martha Sloan became President of the IEEE was the first time we really had women on the Board or a woman as a President – at least in that period of time.

Hochheiser:

How long was your term as Division 6 Director?

Eisenstein:

That was a two-year term.

Vice President for Technical Activities

Hochheiser:

Did you leave the Board at the end of those two years?

Eisenstein:

No. At that time all the Vice Presidents were elected by the Assembly. The current Assembly elects next year's Vice Presidents. In my last year of service as Division 6 Director I was elected Vice President for Technical Activities. I served in that position for two years.

Hochheiser:

Was this an election from just the Assembly?

Eisenstein:

Correct.

Hochheiser:

Not as in the Division 6 Directorship from a membership constituency.

Eisenstein:

That's correct. It's from the Assembly.

Hochheiser:

What is the Assembly?

Eisenstein:

The Assembly in IEEE parlance is all those members of the Board of Directors that are themselves elected by the members. It is the ten Division Directors, the ten Regional Directors and the three Presidents – President-Elect, President and Past President. Those twenty-three people constitute the Assembly. At the time they elected all the remaining members of the Board, which was all the Vice Presidents. Vice President for Technical Activities, Standards, Publications and what used to be called Professional Activities – which is now IEEE-USA. I'm probably leaving something out, but that's because I'm trying to do it from memory without tabulation.

Hochheiser:

That's okay.

Eisenstein:

And the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Executive Director. All those were elected at that time by the Assembly. The Assembly would meet and have an election. Now we have changed some of them. The Vice President for Education and the Vice President for Regional Activities are still elected by the Assembly, but the Vice President for Technical Activities is now elected by all the technical members of IEEE on a direct ballot.

Hochheiser:

Why was that change made? Do you know?

Eisenstein:

There was a feeling within TAB which I thought was very important. I believed – apparently incorrectly – but I believed that if the Vice President for Technical Activities was elected by the members that they would also then be on the Assembly and that that would elevate the stature of that Vice President because they would not be dependent on the other delegates with whom they were working. I had worked very hard to get a parallel structure within Regional Activities. Those two Vice Presidents would be elected by the members and would then become part of the Assembly. The part with TAB went through and worked and we modified the Bylaws and they became that way. Regional Activities did not want to do that. Regional Activities told me they felt more comfortable having the election done by the IEEE Assembly rather than by the members as a whole. They remained the way they were and later on for other reasons a lawyer gave interpretation that just because you are elected by the members does not get you on the Assembly. Therefore that part never materialized. The motivation was to put more clout into the positions of the two Vice Presidents by giving them membership on the Assembly. We felt that gave them a stronger position within the organization.

Hochheiser:

What were your main activities as Vice President for Technical Activities?

Eisenstein:

A lot of people remember a speech that I gave one time when I came over as Vice President. I was asked by the Regional Activities Board (RAB) to give a speech to them about what was going on in TAB. I said that the role of the TAB Vice President is a lot like herding cats. They thought that was very funny. It seemed to have been an original comment at the time. It's very tough. TAB is a very large board with the presidents of all the societies and the chairs of all the committees that go with TAB. Then there are the various leadership positions within TAB like the Treasurer, the President-Elect or Vice-President-Elect and so forth. It's a very large and somewhat unwieldy body.

However it is also a body that suffers from the fact that for many societies at the time and even to this day the term of the society president is one year. Essentially 50 percent of TAB was turning over every year. Even if you had a full two-year term it is still turning over 50 percent on the average. I would frequently walk in – this happened in my first year as Vice President – and perhaps as much as 75% of the TAB was totally new and had never been at a TAB meeting before. In the talk that I gave them as Vice President I told them about my first TAB meeting. Remember I told you everyone had these big agenda books? When they were talking about how TAB should do this and TAB should do that, I was looking at the tabs in the book to see. I asked someone, "Which tab is he talking about?" and he looked at me sort of quizzically like I was some kind of an idiot. I had not gotten myself at that time plugged into what was going on. When I gave that talk to the incoming members of TAB a lot of them told me they had the same feeling but were afraid to ask.

There is an odd dynamic within all these IEEE volunteer boards in that at the February meeting a lot of the people at that time were totally new to the operation – including myself. By the June meeting one is a little more comfortable and by the November meeting one sort of knows what is going on – but is then rotating off. It's too late and a new person comes in. The newer Boards have overcome that for two reasons. One of them is, most of the Directors, Division Directors and Regional Directors, are elected for a two-year term as Director-Elect. During the Director-Elect term they attend the Board meetings. They are coming in for two years and are in the on-deck circle as it were, they see what's going on and then they're ready to step in. That is one way the problem is overcome.

The other thing that now overcomes the problem a lot with TAB is that many of the Societies have moved to a two-year term for their Presidents. However there are still some with one-year terms. That is one of the chronic problems with governance of IEEE, this constant turnover of the Board. New Boards are allowed to do whatever they want. They can overrule all the actions of the previous Board. It is very difficult to maintain continuity in that kind of environment. Not that continuity is always good, but lack of continuity is also not always good.

Hochheiser:

We notice that on the staff side.

Eisenstein:

Yeah, I can imagine. The staff becomes the permanent fixture of the organization. The institutional memory is on the staff side.

Hochheiser:

Did you remain involved with the Education Society and Educational Activities?

Eisenstein:

To some extent. In addition to being President of the Education Society I also at a later time was chair of one of their major conference committees. I was attending the conferences and meetings of the AdCom. However as Vice President I thought it was inappropriate for me to spend a lot of time with any one Society, so I tried to limit my contact. I'm still a member of the Education Society. I've held that membership and I still follow their affairs.

National Leadership

Hochheiser:

You served a two-year term as the Vice President for Technical Activities?

Eisenstein:

Yes. After that I was off the Board and had no Board involvement. However the then-President of the IEEE asked me to chair a Blue Ribbon Committee.

Hochheiser:

Who was that?

Eisenstein:

That was Chuck Alexander. I'm blanking on what the Blue Ribbon Committee was about. As Chair of the Committee, I had the function of reporting the activities of the Committee to the Board. As a result I was still going to Board meetings, but I was not sitting on the Board. That was still during the period of time when Board meetings were conducted in the open. Just attending the Board meeting one could certainly follow what the Board was thinking, discussing and debating.

Hochheiser:

Is there any issue that they were discussing at that time that sticks in your mind?

Eisenstein:

This would have been about 1997.

Hochheiser:

Okay.

Eisenstein:

There is no major issue that sticks out in my mind. It was the usual Board stuff. There was nothing that was really that different.

Hochheiser:

And following that you became Treasurer?

Eisenstein:

They asked me if I would serve as Treasurer and I agreed. Treasurer was elected by the Assembly, as it is today. I was elected Treasurer of the IEEE. The Treasurer's job is a very interesting one. At that time – and I think it is different today – the Treasurer was also Chair of about nine different committees.

Hochheiser:

That must have kept you busy.

Eisenstein:

Yes. That was actually a busier time for me than being President. In addition to the obvious ones like the Finance Committee and the Budget Committee, there were Committees on Member Benefits, Individual Benefits, Staff Benefits, Insurance and Risk, and Buildings and Maintenance. It went on and on. There were nine committees that the Treasurer chaired. Each of these committees was very important and they all reported through the financial side of the house in IEEE. That was a real eye-opener for me because I was then involved in activities I had never seen before even as a Board member and privy to information that wasn't around.

Hochheiser:

I imagine that must have taken a substantial time commitment.

Eisenstein:

It did. All of these jobs at the Board level require substantial time commitment. Going back to the days in the '80s when I first started going to Board meetings, the Board meetings used to stretch over a two-week period. They would start on a Monday of a week and stretch past the weekend that came intervening and ending on the following Sunday over two weeks. They shortened it at one point to ten days where it would start on a Wednesday and then follow to the following Sunday [or Sunday next]. It was virtually impossible for someone who was fully employed to be on the Board due to these meetings unless their employers were willing to give them all that time off. Many employers were willing to do that. In the Philadelphia area Bell of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Electric thought that this was a high service to be at the IEEE Board level. When their people said, "I have to take a week off to go to Board meetings," they would approve it. Nowadays that is not possible. At the time that Joe Bordogna became President he tried to limit the Board Series to four days, going from Thursday to Sunday, period. There were no pre-meetings and no post-meetings. We just had to get done what we had to get done or meet elsewhere off-site. We have now seen a longer meetings creep back in, and the meetings are now stretching out more than a week. They will start on a Friday or Saturday and extend to the Monday next.

Hochheiser:

You mentioned that some of the industries in the area were encouraging back in this early period. How about your university, and how did you balance these time commitments with your commitments at Drexel?

Eisenstein:

At that time the university felt that this was a good thing to do. It increased the visibility and prestige of the university to have their people at a high level and they were willing to grant the time off. At both the industry and university levels that is changing, if not changed already. Bell of Pennsylvania no longer exists. It is now absorbed in a much larger Verizon. Philadelphia Electric was bought out by a Chicago-based company Exelon. I do not believe they would support that policy, nor would any of the others. It is getting harder and harder to find employed volunteers at the Board level. Most of our recent Presidents have been retired.

IEEE President

Hochheiser:

How did you come to run for IEEE President?

Eisenstein:

Having been a member of the Board and then Vice President for Technical Activities and then Treasurer it just seemed to be a natural progression at that point. I decided that was something that I could do and wanted to do. I became a candidate during the year I was Treasurer. Lucky enough to have gotten elected, I became President-Elect the following year.

Hochheiser:

Right. Were you nominated by the Board?

Eisenstein:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

Was that a contested election?

Eisenstein:

It was a contested election.

Hochheiser:

Was it you and one other person?

Eisenstein:

No. There were a total of three of us running.

Hochheiser:

Some years there are petition candidates.

Eisenstein:

There were no petition candidates, but I ran against Joel Snyder and Ray Findlay. Then in subsequent years Joel and then Ray won.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Eisenstein:

We all made it, but in sequence.

Hochheiser:

Was there more campaigning involved in running for President than running for Division Director?

Eisenstein:

Yes, although I am not certain how effective it was to be campaigning. I literally went around the world, talked to people, met with sections and had a lot of good meetings. I called a lot of people, sent some emails out. There was a general level of activity. At some point after I had stopped being President and others came to me asking my advice on how to run for President, I began thinking about what happened. I think over the course of the entire year I probably did not meet a thousand different people, and most of them would have had their minds already made up anyway. I am not in fact certain that the campaigning does any good. Since we don't have any polling numbers, we don't know how anyone votes, I am not certain on what it is they base their vote. I just don't know. It's been a mystery to me in my own case and in other cases I've looked at how one does or does not get elected to this position.

Hochheiser:

How substantial is the voting participation?

Eisenstein:

In recent years I don't think it has ever exceeded 15 percent, and it is probably in the 10 to 12 percent range of eligible voters.

Hochheiser:

I guess the first question even before who to vote is simply, "Am I going to vote?"

Eisenstein:

Yes. I think what happens is that in good times when there are no real issues on the table most members feel, "Why bother?" Everything is going okay and they don't vote. Then when times get harder and there are issues on the table then they decide, "Okay, now it's time for me to look carefully and figure out for whom to vote." The year that I got elected was a fairly easy year. We had a very nice budget surplus, things were going well, membership was on the rise, things were doing okay. The year that I was President everything was okay. We had no serious issues.

Hochheiser:

Since you did campaign, even if you are not sure to what effect, were there particular issues on which you ran? Was there some kind of platform?

Eisenstein:

Well, no. The simple answer is no. Both of the people I was running against were old friends of mine. Ray had been Vice President of Regional Activities, Joel had been President of IEEE USA and I came out of the TAB side. There were between us some of these internecine issues that would sometimes surface, but nothing rose to the level of a controversy between us. I think it is largely a matter of style and personality. The voters that saw us would have made their judgment about that, and the ones that did not see us made a judgment based on whatever written statements there were.

Hochheiser:

When you were running for President were there things that you wanted to accomplish if you became President?

Eisenstein:

There were, but they fall in the level of mundane when you look at it. They were not grandiose. I believe that if you really want to effect change in an organization that you can do that structurally within the organization to create a framework for the change to take place, evolve and grow. Stating that you want change and stating how you want it to change is essentially worthless. Why is it worthless? Because you are President for only a year. You are not going to get that change in that period of time. And the Board is rotating 50 percent a year. As soon as a year goes by everything is lost and essentially everything is starting over again. On the other hand if you make some structural changes those changes can persist within the organization. I made a lot of structural changes, but they are not the kinds of things to stand up and brag about. They had to do with the way budgeting was done, the way budgets were allocated, the way money was spent, the way staff organization took place. They were really of that nature and some of their effects are still in place today. For example, one of the structural changes I made prior to becoming President was the way in which the TAB Vice President is elected. That has changed the dynamic of the way TAB operates as an organization. I think it is for the better. That is in place to this day.

Hochheiser:

One of the striking things about the period in which you were President is that you were the third of three Presidents in succession from this neighborhood.

Eisenstein:

Yes. From within a couple thousand feet of where we're sitting right now.

Hochheiser:

Exactly. Did this cause an additional dynamic that your two predecessors were just up the street at Penn?

Eisenstein:

First of all, it was not an accident.

Hochheiser:

Okay.

Eisenstein:

It was not just a coincidence.

Hochheiser:

I did not think it could be.

Eisenstein:

The leader of this group was clearly Joe Bordogna. Joe, as I told you, had gotten me involved with the Education Society early in the game. He asked me to be his Secretary-Treasurer and I moved through the ranks on that regard. Joe had also preceded me as President of the Philadelphia Section and Ken came after me as President of the Philadelphia Section. We were together and involved and we were on the Board at much the same time in various other positions working together. There was that natural progression. However, just the way things worked out, Joe Bordogna became President of the IEEE without having had any Board level experience. He was literally plucked in and became President of the IEEE. Ken gone through I think the Circuits and Systems Society.

Hochheiser:

Yes.

Eisenstein:

Then he became the Vice President for Education. While he was Vice President for Education he asked me to be the Vice Chair of the Educational Activities Board. I worked with Ken for the two years that he was Vice President on EAB. We were working together in that way. Independently but nevertheless in a linked way we all became very well known to members of the Board. That's why we had three in a row. If you look back there were actually four in a row, because Chuck Alexander had come out of the Philadelphia Section as well.

Hochheiser:

Ah.

Eisenstein:

At the time he was elected he had moved to California, but he had done his initial campaigning and stint leading up to the Presidency out of Philadelphia. Then before that was Merrill W. Buckley, Jr.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Eisenstein:

The other dynamic is that the Philadelphia Section has been very active in that regard and been a very important component of IEEE. All of us came out of that dynamic and Joe, Ken and I have been and still are very close in terms of working together.

Hochheiser:

Can I assume from what you said earlier that there really was not much difference in how the Board operated when you were President than from when you had first gotten involved with the Board over a decade before? Or were there changes?

Eisenstein:

The biggest change was the change Joe Bordogna had put in, which was shortening the meeting series to four days. Over the course of my administration and Ken's, we had a little bit of creep and the meetings were starting on Tuesday and ending on Sunday. It was still a much shorter series. It was not stretching over a two-week period. I believe very strongly that the best way for the Board to operate was to concentrate on strategic issues rather than the mundane. We had a Board Caucus before the Board meeting and I tried to get as many items as possible on the consent agenda so they would not even be discussed at the Board meeting. We were successful in that regard. The mantra that I kept repeating to the Board members was, "Look. If the vote is going to be 25 to 2 in favor of an issue, I understand that the two of you that would like to oppose it would like to have your voice heard but I am not certain that the remaining people in the room want to hear it. The caucus is your time to make your pitch. If it looks like there is an overwhelming consensus, let's get it on the consent agenda and don't anyone waste our time pulling it off." On the other hand, if something is close and there is a substantial fraction of the Board that really does not want to have something done, then by all means let's discuss it. That's what a Board meeting is for, that we discuss that. The result was that we got rid of about 90 percent of the issues at the caucus. They went on the consent agenda and they were adopted within 5 minutes after the start of the meeting. We had that done and we had the rest of the meeting to devote to other things. And it enabled the meetings to end before 5 o'clock easily. We would start at 8:00 and they would end at 5:00. My recollection is the meetings were non-controversial in the sense that the Board was working more harmoniously. Both prior and after I get the feeling that some of these issues are debated over and over again. They are plowing the same field. There is no new knowledge coming and there is no new information, but stuff stretches out to fill the available time. The Board now meets over two days and frequently the meetings don't end until 11 o'clock or midnight.

Hochheiser:

Is that at least partially because the membership of the Board turns over so quickly?

Eisenstein:

It was turning over when I was President. It was the same thing. I don't know if they do this or not anymore on the Board, but I held a retreat in January in which we had all the Board members at the retreat. It was not a Board meeting but was an educational session: here are the issues you are going to face, here is what we expect you to do. I had Bob Dwyer talk to the group as lawyer for the Board about the responsibilities of Board, what is expected of them, what rights they have and what rights they do not have. I think it made things work more harmoniously. I am not a big fan of debating and debating until coming to a unanimous consensus. I don't think that is necessary. An overwhelming majority passes a bill, a simple majority passes a bill, and that should be all you do. You don't bring it up again. That is another habit that Boards both before and after this period of time had. They would pass a motion and it was like a vaccination. Everyone was afraid that it wouldn't take unless they had a booster shot. They would bring up the same motion again, there would be exactly the same discussion on it, and it would pass again. No one was every certain when something was actually a motion. You know, "It has only passed four times. Is that enough?"

Into the New Millennium

Hochheiser:

You mentioned that by getting many issues on the consent agenda it gave time for the actual discussions to be on more strategic things. What were those strategic things?

Eisenstein:

The year I was President was the year 2000 and one of the big issues that was floating around was the Y2K problem. You may remember that.

Hochheiser:

Oh yes.

Eisenstein:

Going into the year 2000 no one was certain what was going to happen on January 1st, 2000. It seems silly when we look back on it now, but there were nightmare scenarios of the whole power grid failing and everything falling apart. Of course nothing happened – or at least nothing of any consequence. There were a lot of millennial type issues that people were thinking about. People were wondering what was going to happen with the Internet, happen with electronic publishing, with our membership models. There were these discussions at a strategic planning retreat we had. There was really no resolution. Part of it was that some of the people on the Board came away with a somewhat of a bad taste in their mouths from the branding exercise that had been done before. I don't remember the year of it.

It was sometime before I was President, and it came back again in another incarnation. For the branding exercise we hired an outside marketing firm to try and establish the brand for IEEE. They came up with some suggestions we followed, such as using IEEE instead of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. That was good. Then they came up with their notion of a logo for IEEE that was really heinous. It was not something that anyone liked and some people felt that this was being shoved down their throats. Then we got into an argument about where the IEEE emblem should appear and how big it was and if the IEEE emblem were put next to another name what was the ratio of size. They came up with this formula which is actually in style guide. This was debated at Board level. People were saying, "No, it should be 5 to 8 on this dimension, 3.2 for this" and so on. It was that level of discussion. It is really unproductive for Board members to get involved in something like that.

Hochheiser:

Minutia.

Eisenstein:

It's minutia. It's beyond minutia. The legacy of the branding exercise was there. I think to some extent the branding exercise and this business of the arguments about the logo and the arguments about the minutia caused the Board to move down from 10,000 feet which is maybe where boards should be. Thirty thousand feet is a little too high. Maybe 10,000 to 5,000 feet is where they should be, looking at the terrain under them. They move from there to about three and a half inches off the ground. That's where I think to some extent the Board is lodged today. They are losing sight of big picture issues. I think that is to the detriment of the organization. In looking back on what I think was my accomplishment as President was we avoided those issues. Holding the gavel, I would just move off of that issue. I would say, "It's not appropriate for the Board to discuss it. Let's delegate it to the staff and have the staff come back with a recommendation and we'll handle that at the next meeting." And that's what happened. The staff would go out, they would do an excellent job, they would come back and say, "We've studied the issue. Here's what we think it should be," and the Board would say, "Yeah, it looks good. It's fine." Boards have a natural tendency to get into micromanagement or even nano-management, and I think it's the responsibility of the Chairman of the Board to make sure that doesn't happen. The Chair needs to keep backing them off to looking at the big picture rather than focusing on the minutia.

Hochheiser:

Around this period was when IEEE moved into electronic things such as IEEE Xplore, moving a vast amount of things online with a website with lots and lots of meat for the members and the public. Was there Board involvement in these developments?

Eisenstein:

Others might see it differently than I. There were certainly some Board members pushing it very actively. Ken Laker had been a big proponent of electronic publishing. He pushed that very hard. Obviously we reaped the benefits of those decisions at that time. My recollection is that to a large extent it was staff-driven and professional-driven. The Board said as a policy we want to have as much electronic as we can. Then I think it came out and we started evolving and coming up with things like Xplore and APP and the other things that were being done electronically instead of on paper. What we did not do – although some people had mentioned it – is we did not talk about the consequences of these decisions. That is one of the regrets that I had, that while the Board was focusing on minutia they are not doing big picture issues. For instance my university has IEEE Xplore. I can go to my computer and get everything that IEEE publishes, including standards. However, I don't have to be a member of a Society to get that. That was one of the value propositions that people had. When they asked, "Why should I join IEEE?" the answer was, "To get access to the technical information." Now with IEEE Xplore and Google Scholar and a lot of these other things floating around that takes away that value proposition component. We never adequately explored that possibility at that time. I know people are looking at it now and are very concerned about it, but it was not explored or thought about at the time.

Hochheiser:

It only became apparent that this was a problem after the systems were in place, I guess.

Eisenstein:

Yes, and a downturn in Society membership in particular has occurred. It is easily explainable, and it should have been foreseen. There were some that were raising the issue. They were coming at it from the viewpoint of pricing. That was a very sensitive issue and we had a lot of discussion about that. If the electronic products had been priced too high at the time it would not have sold, would not have gotten a market. If priced too low the other memberships are driven out, because people figure that at a low price they may as well do that and not join. If it is priced right the mix can be titrated so that people will say, "I want to keep my Society membership and I want this as well."

Hochheiser:

As President did you work closely with Dan Senese?

Eisenstein:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

As opposed to when you were you know in other positions.

Eisenstein:

I worked closely with Dan, but certainly not as closely as prior Presidents had worked with Eric Herz. I believe Dan viewed his primary responsibility as being to the staff. He was the Chief Operating Officer of IEEE and ran staff functions. He attended Board meetings and I thought he gave really good reports about the state of IEEE in his Executive Director Reports. He also represented IEEE to outside organizations. As Executive Director he would represent IEEE. He did not interact much with the Presidents or with the Board members themselves. He delegated that to others.

Hochheiser:

Were there other specific staff members with whom you worked?

Eisenstein:

Lyle Smith was the main contact with the Presidents at the time. Lyle and his staff were the ones I tended to deal with. Lyle called me almost every day to talk about what was going on at IEEE and what things I should be aware of that were coming up on the schedule. I had very little contact with Dan in an official way as President.

Hochheiser:

How frequently did you have occasion to go up to Piscataway to operations headquarters?

Eisenstein:

I went up twice, maybe three times a month. It's a very easy trip from here, as you know.

Hochheiser:

I just took that trip today.

Eisenstein:

It's about an hour's trip and it's an easy drive. I live north of the city, so I could leave from my house and get up there very easily. The other major transition that had occurred at about the time that I became President was the emergence of the cell phones and emails. It's an interesting thing. In the early incarnation when I first joined the Board someone had the idea that every Board member should have a laptop computer. A laptop computer at that time was the size of a small briefcase with a tiny screen. It must have weighed 8 lbs.

Hochheiser:

I remember those old Compaqs.

Eisenstein:

Right. I think it was a Compaq. They were like cinderblocks. We would carry them to Board meetings. Each item that the Board was discussing would be on its own floppy. We would have to stick the floppy in and wait for the item to come up. That often took 3 or 4 minutes. In addition it was impossible to go back and forth and compare items. That became an absolute fiasco, and after a year or two everyone just gave their laptops back. They were glad to be rid of them. It was not a good experiment. It is interesting looking back on it. Until you just mentioned that now I hadn't really thought about that much. There was a brief window in which that was true, and then all of a sudden everything changed – with the lighter laptops, access to the Internet and now there are these memory sticks everyone carries around. Now everyone brings their laptops to meetings. Everything can just be posted on a website and people can access all the information that way. It's quick and not a lot of material need be issued.

Dan Senese was responsible for managing that transition in IEEE. We would not have had electronic publishing if Dan had not put the enablers in place to allow all the infrastructure to be built and the people to be hired that made that happen. We would not have had the use as we do now of the emails. That changed the role of the President in terms of the necessity to go off into Piscataway. My predecessors had an office in Piscataway. They went up maybe two days a week and stayed over to do their business out of there. I had no need to do that. I had a cell phone and would get all my calls, I had access to email and I was carrying a laptop with me. In all of my activities I had very little trouble. In the year 2000, when I was President, connecting to the Internet was a real adventure almost no matter where you went. I used to carry a bagful of adapters, plugs and wires. We would go to a hotel let's say outside the United States and I would have to set up a telephone modem connection to get onto the Internet and get the email. The cell phones worked but they were very klutzy. And it's not that many years ago.

However then the transition occurred very rapidly. I've talked to some of the recent Presidents about this, particularly Leah Jamison. Leah is Dean of Engineering at Purdue, a large institution. I asked her, "How can you be Dean of Engineering and be IEEE President?" She told me she can conduct almost all her business from her blackberry. She gets the email, she gets the phone calls, she can call people up and ask them to do this or that, and it doesn't matter much whether she's in West Lafayette or Europe. That was starting to happen with me. It was just starting in 2000. It made it unnecessary to go often to Piscataway. They took my office away, at my suggestion. They needed it for someone else.

Hochheiser:

How much traveling did you do elsewhere on behalf of IEEE while you were President?

Eisenstein:

I traveled a lot. Really what it has devolved to is that is the main role of the President of IEEE is to show the face of IEEE around the world. People were very, very gracious in receiving me as President. They arranged seminars, I would give talks, I would take tours of the universities. In some cases I would meet with the Ministry level people. That part was very important and very nice. It was a lot of travel. That starts as President-Elect and continues through for the three years of the Presidency.

Hochheiser:

Are there any particularly memorable trips you would like to talk about?

Eisenstein:

I presented a medal to the great Russian scientist V. A. Kotelnikov in Moscow at a meeting of the Popov Society. I spoke in South Africa at the University of Pretoria where there must have been 800 students and faculty in the room when I gave my address. I had great meetings all through Europe and Asia. I had great meetings in China, Japan, South America. There was Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru. I attended a lot of Region meetings. The Region meetings gave me an opportunity to meet the very active regional volunteers. It was a very important time.

Hochheiser:

To what extent can one run an organization of the size and complexity of IEEE?

Eisenstein:

Well, of course the fact is the President is not running the organization. At the very best the President is chairing the Board which has the general oversight over the activities. It's the people down below that run the organization. If you look at any large corporation in the world, the CEO of that corporation does not run the corporation. It would be impossible. No one could possibly know all the things that would be necessary to make that organization work. Therefore the President has to work at a higher level. I describe it as a scaling factor. You do not want to be down so low that you are actually typing memos and filling out forms, but you do not want to be up so high that all you have is a generic bird's eye view of the organization. You have to set yourself somewhere in between. That in between can vary depending on the issues at hand at any given time. There may be some part of IEEE that is working fine, is not requiring any attention and going on its own. That does not get attention from the President. There may be other organizations or parts of the institute that do require attention. Then one has to be able to zoom in and focus on them.

Hochheiser:

Were there any particular parts you recall that required your attention?

Eisenstein:

Yes. It is probably not a great idea to go into them now, but there were certainly flare-ups. It's funny. I was thinking about this the other day when I addressed the current President of IEEE, John Vig. I reminded him that there were forty-six people that preceded him. He's the forty-seventh President of the IEEE. I said, "The time goes very quickly when you look back on it. A year goes by in the blink of an eye, though it does not seem that way at the time. You have three Board meetings that you chair and then you have several obligatory crises to work out, lots of travel and there is very little permanent legacy. This is primarily because of the nature of the position. We are using the title President and CEO right now, but probably a more correct title would be Honorary President and Chairman of the Board. You are Chairman of the Board. That part is true.

A Time of Transition for IEEE

Hochheiser:

Is there anything further you would like to add on the three years you were among the Presidents?

Eisenstein:

No. It was a great time. I enjoyed it. It was an illuminating experience for me. It was a time of transition for IEEE.

Hochheiser:

Transition in what sense?

Eisenstein:

For instance the transition to electronic publishing.

Hochheiser:

Right.

Eisenstein:

That was just getting underway. The transition to a more computer-based society. The Internet was really coming into its own. Email was coming into its own. Cell phones were coming into their own. It was a period of transition in that regard. Starting in the middle of my term as President the stock market started going way down. I'm sure everyone remembers the big dot-com bust that occurred towards the end of 2000-2001. That created an odd dynamic in the Board. As a Board we got clobbered on the stock market, as did everyone else, and it made people very upset. Whereas the year I was Treasurer there was a $30 million surplus. Everyone gave me a big cheer when I reported that, and when we presented the budget it passed the Board in less than 5 minutes. I made a motion to approve the budget, it was discussed and there were a couple questions and bam.

By the time 2001 came around and Joel Snyder took over as President the Board started getting very testy. They were asking a lot of questions, there were budget issues and then 9/11 occurred on September 11th, 2001. That completely altered the dynamic on travel. I was still involved as Past President at that time. All of a sudden travel became a major, major hassle. That has persisted to this day. It is no longer the kind of thing where I used to get a call and someone would say, "We need you in Chicago," I'd call up my travel agent, drive to the airport, fly to Chicago, attend a meeting and come back that night. You just do not do that anymore. One has to allow hours on either end just to get through airport security. What used to be day trips become overnight trips; what used to be overnight trips become two-day and three-day trips. That was another transition that occurred. I get the sense that things are not that much better. From my perception from sitting in on some of the Board meetings, it seems to be less collegial. I think that is to the loss of the organization a whole.

Hochheiser:

In what ways have you remained active in IEEE since completing your year as Past President?

Eisenstein:

Well, there is a role for the Past-Past President and the Past-Past-Past President. There is a certain perpetuation. There are certain committees that are designated in there. It is a tapering off process rather than a dropping-off-the-cliff process. At various times I have been asked to come back and serve in capacities at the Board level. In a relatively recent time I was asked to be on the Educational Activities Board, so I have been back on there for a while and going to Board meetings or Board Series is a consequence of that. Then most recently I am the current President of Eta Kappa Nu. Eta Kappa Nu and IEEE have just signed merger agreements. The two organizations are going to merge together. I was down in Puerto Rico for the Board Series where we had a formal signing ceremony for the merger agreements. It will become IEEE Eta Kappa Nu and I will sit on a number of IEEE Boards. I retain some activity at the Board level.

Hochheiser:

We're getting near the end of questions.

Eisenstein:

Okay.

Hochheiser:

I would like to circle back for a minute to your professional career. I notice that you have somehow managed to move over the years from biomedical engineering towards telecommunications and cell phones.

Eisenstein:

Yes.

Hochheiser:

How did that evolution occur?

Eisenstein:

I have always viewed biomedical engineering as an application area for signals, which has really been my interest. When I became Fellow of the IEEE it was for signal processing, not biomedical engineering. I always think of myself as a signals person. Signals are very much a part of communications. It's the essence of communications. I have always been in that area. I still go back on occasion and teach the controls courses, but controls also work off of signals and it is that same systems aspect. Cell phones were a more interesting situation. Although I taught communications, I did not know specifically about cell phones. There came a point in time when, for a variety of reasons, I was asked to help municipalities out in understanding something about cell phones because cell phone providers were asking to put up towers in the community. And the community wanted to understand something about it and municipalities had asked me to consult with them about the siting of cell phone antennas. What started off as just a sporadic and incidental type of thing emerged into a major area of consulting for me. It is a fascinating area, because it is intermixed with the technology of the cell phones, the way in which the antennas and the phones themselves work, with the propagation of electromagnetic signals. That is not my primary area of interest but nevertheless something I learned about. It is also mixed with local land use law and the Federal Telecommunications Act. In working with these systems I have become expert in all those areas. I found myself going to hearings sometimes two and three times a week talking about cell phone issues. In the process I keep myself informed about what's going on. That's how I got into the cell phone area.

Hochheiser:

Looking back, would you speak a bit about to what extent you found synergies between your IEEE activities and your career as an educator and engineer?

Eisenstein:

Yes. I believe that IEEE gives a laboratory for leadership. It gives one the ability to take on leadership roles in a way which is non-threatening to you as an individual and non-threatening to society. I do not believe you can take people and just suddenly thrust them into a position where they are running a major technical project for example that is going to interact with the public or building a missile system or something like that. It takes people a long while to move up through a management chain to get into that. In my case, as a very young person I was put in charge of the local arrangements for an IEEE conference. It is not like running the world, but nevertheless it requires certain management skills. Mistakes are made. One does not get it right all the time. However the mistakes made in IEEE easily correctable, and if one learns from these mistakes those same mistakes are not repeated and one can move on. IEEE has given me the ability to take on leadership positions in a way that would have been way ahead of the leadership positions I would have been given in the university, industry or government. That part is good. Working with IEEE has also enabled me to meet people from around the world. Due to this I have seen different ways in which both engineering and socioeconomic problems are approached. That is very important. The combination of all that has fit in with the engineering that I do, and of course when I want to learn about something in engineering or find out about the details I go to the IEEE – either Transactions, or the standards or the magazines. I go to something which I know is going to be authoritative and that I can quote them with confidence.

Hochheiser:

In what ways do you think IEEE has evolved or changed over the course of your years of involvement?

Eisenstein:

IEEE is such a large organization that it depends on one's vantage point how it is seen. As a student I saw it one way, as a member of one Board another way, as President another way. Now I see it yet another way. I think it's the pieces of IEEE. In one sense as an organization there has not been much change. IEEE is IEEE and it represents our profession. To that extent it has not changed hardly at all. That is good. One does not want something that one expects to have as a bastion of one's profession changing. On the other hand, looking at some of the Societies or areas of IEEE, they have changed enormously in the way business is conducted. If we are looking at IEEE from the viewpoint of the governance, what they now call the "inside the beltway look" when they are talking about Washington, I think that IEEE some years ago was an almost home-like situation. Staff that worked there and the volunteers all felt like they were part of a family. Over the last years – and I do not know when it started but maybe it has been over a period of time –a great deal more formality has been put into the system. That formality tends to put people at more arm's-length relationships to one another. I am not certain that that is for the good. That is one of the difficulties that I see now. I think that formality has caused the IEEE to become a stiffer organization. The old way of doing things probably does not fit the modern times. The new way would have been a real anathema in the old days. It certainly has been a change.

Hochheiser:

Can you think of anything you would like to add that I did not think to ask you about?

Eisenstein:

No, I think you have been very complete. You have a good set of questions there, nice notes and did your homework. I think I have covered what I would like to cover.

Hochheiser:

Very good. Thank you for your time.

Eisenstein:

Thank you.