EMC Personality Profile

Introducing Perry F. Wilson
With this personality profile, I would like to introduce an EMC scientist who spent parts of his life on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The person I would like to introduce is Perry F. Wilson, the current Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility. Perry’s professional biography is special, in a way. First, he started his career as a mathematician, not as an engineer or a physicist. Second, with his mathematical educational background he focussed on measurement techniques and measurement tools, not on numerical electromagnetics.

Perry F. Wilson

     I met Perry for the first time during the 2nd International Exhibition and Workshop on EMC that took place in 1997 in Dresden, Germany. My Ph.D. advisor, Heyno Garbe, introduced me to his “Swiss-American” friend Perry Wilson. The following course of the evening was quite normal. After dinner and a walk through downtown Dresden, we ended up in the hotel bar with a suitable number of beers. At that time, I mostly listened to Perry and Heyno, who were remembering old times and chatting on news in the EMC community. Three years later, after the 2000 IEEE EMC Symposium in Washington, DC, Perry gave me a special one day tour through NIST, Boulder, with a focus on the Radio-Frequency Fields Group. Whenever that visit at NIST Boulder comes to mind, I remember his hospitality and his kind personality.
     Dr. Perry F. Wilson has been involved in research related to electromagnetics (EM) and specifically electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) for most of his professional career. As with many, Perry came to EMC quite by accident. Perry’s initial exposure to electronics was in building various Heathkits as a teenager, in particular a short wave receiver. His father (Perry B. Wilson) is a Physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center who specializes in the design of RF systems for electron storage rings and microwave linear accelerators. Perry grew up near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. While he was in high school, Perry’s family spent a year (1969) in Geneva, Switzerland where his father was a visiting researcher at CERN. The year exposed Perry to the wonders of the Alps, great cheese and skiing, the beauty that is the Swiss transportation system, and the fascination of life abroad. In Geneva, Perry had the dubious honor of lecturing a ­polite man on the physics of a spinning disk and inertia during a science fair trying to convey the complexity of the problem – the polite man was T. D. Lee, the 1957 Nobel Prize winner in Physics (Perry’s father observed the exchange with great amusement).
     Perry began his university studies at Stanford graduating with a B.S. degree in Mathematics in 1974. He then went to the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder, Colorado for graduate studies and to be a ski bum, earning a M.Sc. degree in Applied Mathematics in 1977. At this point, he decided it would be fun to try something more “practical”, but he had limited technical coursework outside of mathematics. Fortunately, he was introduced to Prof. David Chang who at that time taught EM courses at CU and headed the Electrical Engineering (EE) Department and became Perry’s advisor. Prof. Chang later became the President of Brooklyn Polytechnic. At the time, CU was very strong in EM, in particular in analytical techniques. Numerical EM methods were only just being explored in the late 1970s. At CU Perry had the privilege of taking courses from Prof. Carl Johnk who taught EM fundamentals based on his excellent introductory textbook; Prof. Chang who taught advanced EM theory and Green’s function techniques; Prof. Leonard Lewin who taught wave guide analysis, special functions, and a wide array of techniques to generate approximate solutions to analytical formulations; Adjunct Prof. Jim Wait who taught courses on geo-electromagnetics and propagation; Adjunct Prof. Mark Ma who taught array analysis; and many others. Perry received another M.Sc. degree, this time in EE (1978) and later the Ph.D. degree in EE (1983). During much of this time, Perry was a Research Assistant on a project funded by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), later the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Perry primarily worked on wave guide analysis, in particular singular ­integral equation representations of slot coupling between wave guides. One application was rectangular coaxial wave guides which form the basis of transverse electromagnetic (TEM) cells. At the time, Myron (Mike) Crawford at NBS was exploring the use of TEM cells for probe calibrations and EMC testing. This was Perry’s rather indirect entrée to EMC.

Perry Wilson is shown in the Chicago Basin after hiking two Colorado 14ers, Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak.

     Upon graduation, Perry won a two-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Postdoctoral Fellowship at NBS and joined NBS in mid 1983, later becoming a permanent staff member in 1985. NBS was a wonderful environment and Perry worked closely with Dr. Mark Ma, Mike Crawford, Dr. Dave Hill, Galen Koepke, Dr. Motohisha Kanda, and many others. Perry worked primarily on TEM cell and reverberation chamber analysis during this period.
     NBS/NIST could have made for a wonderful career, but there was that lingering fascination with life abroad. Again chance intervened and Perry met Dr. Diethard Hansen of Brown Boveri Corp., later Asea Brown Boveri (ABB). Dr. Hansen was building up the EMC group at ABB at the time and offered Perry the chance to join the ABB Research Center in Baden, Switzerland. Perry joined the ABB EMC group in late 1987 and thus began another fun period of EMC related work. The group was involved in developing the GTEM cell as an EMC tool. They also worked on the EMP testing of ABB products, in particular locomotives and high voltage equipment. One particular interest involved comparing test results from various EMC test facilities which initiated work on correlation algorithms. Again, Perry was privileged to work with great colleagues including Dr. Heyno Garbe, Dr. Hans Schaer, Dr. Dietrich Konigstein, and others. Perry also had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe, with the Alps and its winter skiing and summer hiking his favorite destination.
     In 1997, Perry returned to Boulder, first to the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences and then to NIST in 1999. In 2001, Perry became the Group Leader for the Radio-Frequency Fields Group in the Electromagnetics Division at NIST and as of December 2008 is the Acting Chief of the Electromagnetics Division. Throughout his career, Perry has been involved in the IEEE and the EMC Society. He is the current Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility (since 2007) after previously serving as an Associate Editor for ten years. He also won the Transactions on EMC Best Paper Award in 2003. Perry also serves on the EMC Society Standards Development Committee and is active in several Technical Committees and in IEEE sponsored symposia. Perry was elected to the grade of IEEE Fellow in 2005. Perry is also active in the IEC TC77, in particular on the joint task force on TEM cell (61000-4-20) and reverberation chamber (61000-4-21) test methods.
     Perry is married, and he and his lovely wife Kay have two sons, Perry (9) and Christian (8), nicknamed Whirl and Wind. In his free time, Perry enjoys hiking the Colorado 14ers, skiing with the boys, cycling (he is a member of a cycling club in Niederrohrdorf, Switzerland), hacking in vain at tennis balls, and all the diversions that his creative family comes up with.                                           EMC

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