President’s Message

As I write this last “President’s Message” article that ends my term as your President, most of us here in the US find ourselves deep into recovery efforts from a series of hurricanes that have devastated many in the South of our country. The toll in human suffering has been staggering, and the response from the rest of the country heart warming. There is a long way to go to before we return to “normal”, if ever, but one thing we have learned for certain: when the call for help goes out, it will be answered!
When personal assistance is beyond our ability, we respond in other ways. I know that as a Society, EMC contributed $3,000 to the relief fund, and that was matched by many other Societies in the IEEE. Our local SE Michigan EMC Chapter managed to donate $2,000 to the relief fund. I have yet to see a full accounting from IEEE as a whole, but I expect that the total donated was considerable.
There was all this from a technical Society? What is the connection? The connection is the same as it always has been. As a “Society”, we are made up of people. As long as that Society accepts its place in the human equation, it will express itself in human terms. While it is possible for a Society to become isolated from its humanity (the French “mob” during the “Terror”) or completely inhuman in its actions (Hitler’s SS during WWII), the more usual behavior is that the Society will act as a reflection of the basic human values of its constitute members.
This is something that all of us on the Board of Directors have come to realize over the past year, and recognize more and more. The most important aspect of our Society is its ability to facilitate human interactions. Yes, we disguise those interactions as technical meetings, symposia, workshops, tutorials, committee meetings, etc. But, the fundamental reason we get together and work together is to be together! We might be able to accomplish most of the purely technical aspects of what we do via E-mail, telephone, fax or teleconference, and indeed we use these tools to great effect every day. But, the reason we all eventually get together in meeting rooms, in face-to-face meetings, is that only then can the full scope of human interactions be realized.
They say that over 80% of all human communications is non-verbal. Even with all of the electronic communications media that are available, that means we can only achieve about 20% of the human interactions we seek without that face-to-face contact. And, in the end, isn’t that why we attend conferences? We can read the paper. But, until we have a chance to talk with the author, how much of the subject do we really ‘get’? Obviously, not enough. So, we seek that human contact.
BOD Activities
As a manager, one of the things I tell my staff is: “Have Fun!” If your work is not fun, something is wrong. Find out what it is that is not fun and change it. Except for some people who still believe that a career should be like a penance and feel that success should be accompanied in equal measure by suffering, most people eventually agree with my “have fun” philosophy. You should like your work. It should give you pleasure and rewards along with the long hours and sleepless nights.
Being a member of the EMC Society Board of Directors is something like the above. We are all trying to move the Society in directions that make sense from a business and technical point of view. But, at the same time, we strive to make sure that we have fun doing the job. Most of the Board seems to enjoy our meetings, and even tolerate the occasional meeting that runs way longer than any of us had planned. Elsewhere in this Newsletter, Janet O’Neil describes the BOD activities as to what happened at our last Board meeting. But you can also see a number of photos of BOD members enjoying each other’s company, usually deep in conversation.
One of my new duties as past president during the next two years will be to encourage many of you to take a stab at running the Society yourselves. Many of us begin by participating in committee activities, perhaps assuming a leadership on a committee, and finally taking the step of running for the Board. That is where I come in next year. As past president it will be my pleasure to assist those interested in accepting nomination to the Board of Directors as a Director-at-Large. That position opens up many other opportunities as an active member of the working groups and committees of the Board. Believe me, if you like human interaction, this is the place to be.
Stepping Down
As I mentioned earlier in this monologue, this will be my last article as your President. On January 1, 2006 our own Andy Drozd will assume the duties of President, and I will step back to aid him in his work where I can. As Past President, there are several duties that will occupy me, but not having to carry the torch will also give me more freedom of action, and I am looking forward to working on some of the Society tasks that I could not find time to address while serving as your President.
In effect, I am looking forward to volunteering in other areas, but continuing to work for the good of the EMC Society as a whole, and for the benefit of its members in particular.
Someone said that the best way to maximize the benefits of your membership was to volunteer. I do believe that this is true. Volunteering is for everyone. Some of us just find this out later than others. Also by volunteering and working toward a goal, you eventually find yourself following ‘up front’. I am looking forward to working for and with Andy on a number of new initiatives for the Society, and helping achieve his set of goals for all of our benefit.
At the same time, I am also looking forward to many more committee meetings, Chapter meetings, conferences, symposia, workshops, tutorials, and any other excuse I can find to meet with and engage my fellow Society members. EMC

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