The Road from Tel-Aviv (1992) to Istanbul (2003)

I appreciate the opportunity to submit this article in this special occasion of the successful conclusion of the 2003 IEEE International Symposium on EMC! Struggle, pain, patience, and victory - these are the phases we've passed through to make this Symposium become a reality, marking a conclusion of over a decade of work coming to its climax, in the beautiful city of Istanbul. And how eventful these years were, more than I would have expected and surely more than I could have wished for.

The Early Years: 1990 to 1995
A common EMC slogan states: "Design Engineers believe in miracles; EMC engineers embed them in the design." As you will see below, the fact that the Symposium came to occur at all somewhat marks a miracle of its own merit.

It was more than 12 years ago, circa 1990, that Mr. Rafi Rubinstein, then the Chair of the Israel IEEE EMC Chapter and myself, the Secretary of the Chapter, filed a petition to the IEEE EMCS for holding the International IEEE Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Considering that the Israel IEEE EMC Chapter was the first outside Regions 1 through 6 of the IEEE (USA), it seemed like it was "about time" that the Symposium become global in the true sense!

However, the EMC Society of the IEEE DID NOT approve our petition THEN, but encouraged us to hold a "small" regional symposium to prove "we could do it." And, we did! In May 1992, the Israel IEEE EMC Chapter held the 1992 IEEE Regional Symposium on EMC, attracting 200 attendees from 18 countries, ranging from Australia to the United States. With the EEC EMC Directive coming into force that year, the slogan of the Symposium was: "From a Unified Region to a Unified World."

Flo Haislmaier with Moshe Netzer (left) and Charles Goldblum (right), recipients of the Best Symposium Paper Award, dedicated to the memory of Bob Haislmaier. This was presented at the 1992 IEEE International Symposium on EMC.

We were lucky to have with us then Professor Michel Ianoz and Mr. Georges Goldberg, both from Switzerland, who gave us much help as members of the International Advisory Committee, and Mr. Dick Ford, officially representing the IEEE EMC Society, who had faith in us from start! (All three were with us in Istanbul, too, somewhat of a déjà-vu, and I am grateful for their continued support over the years.)

That Symposium set the foundation for the 2003 IEEE International Symposium on EMC held in Istanbul!

In 1995, with the prospects of regional peace resting over the region, a new petition was submitted to the EMCS, now with Elya B. Joffe as the Israel IEEE EMC Chapter Chair. The request was granted, and the Israel IEEE EMC Chapter was to host the 2003 IEEE International Symposium in Tel-Aviv, Israel. A steering committee was formed as early as 1995, and plans for holding a symposium began. Our hopes went sky-high that we could form a regional committee with members from our neighboring countries.

Special thanks are due to Dr. Henry Ott, then the IEEE EMC Society VP for Conferences and Symposia, for his guidance then and throughout the years to come.

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
Cicero said: "The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory." If this is true, then this is definitely a glorious moment for us all.

The road to the Symposium was indeed a bumpy and rough road "under construction" following eventful years of detailed planning and hard work. In February 2002, after almost seven years we realized that relocating the Symposium out of Israel was inevitable, due to the terrorism and the subsequent events in our Region. The escalation experienced during those days seemed to be only the beginning.

In a series of meetings held in March 2002, the Symposium Organizing Committee made the very brave decision to relocate the Symposium, as has been done with many other symposia and conferences, to guarantee its chances for success.

Obviously, that was not an easy decision, and was devastating for some. However, by a vast majority, the final decision of the Committee was to proceed with relocating the Symposium venue.

Surprisingly, feedback was not always favorable. In fact, several cancellations were received at this time in protest against our "surrender to terrorism." The Committee stood by its decision, which was correct in my opinion.

The Decision was Made: The New Site Was Chosen
Several alternatives were considered, all in the near vicinity of the Eastern Mediterranean, for practical purposes. The decision fell on Turkey, particularly Istanbul, for the following reasons:

a) Accessibility: The Istanbul airport is a large international hub, with non-stop flights from all around the world, east and west.
b) Distance to Israel: Istanbul is only 1.5 hours of flight time from Israel, making it easy for the Israeli members to attend the Symposium.
c) Local IEEE Support: Turkey has an IEEE Section and IEEE EMC Chapter that it was believed then would be glad to cooperate in co-hosting the Symposium and supporting its activities.
d) Tourist Attraction: Istanbul is a beautiful tourist attraction, blending east and west cultures, the only city to reside in two continents, Europe and Asia.
e) International Cooperation: Turkey is a member of NATO, which makes it an ally of the US, and of Western Europe, and thus was expected to have the least restrictions on air travel in the post 9-11 era. See how that turned out!
f) Affordable and Cost Effective: Turkey is very inexpensive for any tourists coming with foreign currency.
g) Technical Interest: Turkey has hi-tech industries as well as much EMC activity in industry and academia.

New Difficulties Arise: The "Winds of War" in 2003
With events following each other, the regional unrest due to the Gulf War hit us again. Even though the war was over well before the Symposium, "travel warnings" in the US and Europe were a detriment to travel. Turkey, being a NATO member, apparently was still not considered a "safe venue"… A massive (25%) cancellation in attendance from the US and Europe followed these events.

More Difficulties: SARS and Global Economics
Finally, since trouble always comes in three's, the outbreak of SARS led to an additional 7% cancellation in attendance! Global economics appeared to be the reason for an additional 16% cancellation.

Happy Ending: EMC'2003 (Istanbul) Begins!
Nevertheless, with determination, faith and persistence, work went on. Following the philosophy embedded in two sayings: "Winners must have two things: definite goals and a burning desire to achieve them" and "The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in one's determination," we decided to press ahead, literally ignoring any "this is impossible" warnings. Whenever someone said doing something was impossible, we went ahead and did it! And behold the results!

Read about the Symposium itself in the article "Region 8 Celebrates its First IEEE International Symposium on EMC in Istanbul, Turkey" in this issue of the Newsletter. EMC

From a difficult beginning to a happy ending! Elya Joffe (left), Symposium Chairman and Sagit Isay (right), Symposium Coordinator, set up the sign of the Symposium in the registration area.

If you would like to contact the IEEE Webmaster
© Copyright 2003, IEEE. Terms & Conditions. Privacy & Security

return to contents
IEEE logo