President’s Message

Life Imitates Art?
Mike, a friend of mine recently asked me about electromagnetic interference and the nature of the work we do. He seemed very intrigued by the subject and at the same time was a bit puzzled. I proceeded to give him the somewhat traditional layman’s view of EMI/C by illustrating the potential effects of radiated emissions/susceptibility on electronic assemblies and integrated systems. Although Mike is a savvy individual, he is a professional artist by trade. Nonetheless, he had a good grasp on the basic concepts I presented. He tends to have a pragmatic perspective on things. His view of EMI, in his words, was “…a breakdown between communications devices like radios and cell phones…” including “…the effect of energy exposure on people.” Indeed, his interpretation was a valid one at that, but this exchange got me thinking more about how important it is to reach out and educate others in the various aspects of EMC technology, including its impacts on humanity and connection to other scientific disciplines in today’s modern age of wireless communications, information systems, and sensor technologies, to name a few. This brings me to two themes I would like to pursue in this message: electromagnetic diversity as a new age technological challenge and the importance of EMC engineering education.
Let’s go back to my artist friend Mike for a moment. I commissioned Mike to do a painting for my office meant to depict, in an abstract way, the concept of electromagnetic diversity. In the general sense, diversity as in diverse viewpoints, opinions, or ideas can be a good thing. In the realm of electromagnetics, diversity can present a major challenge. Electromagnetic diversity encompasses and embellishes the notion of a highly dynamic, diverse and electromagnetically-rich environment along with the myriad electromagnetic effects that can arise all leading to fundamental EMI/C and safety/hazard issues that we address in our day to day work. The diversity comes from the various ways energy can be produced, propagated, coupled, received and processed at victim devices. No matter how you look at it, electromagnetic signals and their effects can be viewed in various orthogonal domains or RF resource spaces, including, but not limited to frequency, time, modulation/code, geo-space, polarization, power, as well as other possible dimensions. In fact, the RF communications and radar waveform diversity communities have embraced this view and investigated methods for exploiting the multi-dimensional nature of the RF signal space to enhance communications throughput and for improving object tracking/discrimination. For instance, such enhancements can be realized by properly controlling time, frequency, and waveform parameters of an electromagnetic signal in an adaptive way as environmental conditions or states change dynamically. This is electromagnetic diversity. What the communications and radar communities have run up against is the electromagnetic environment issue which introduces a whole new set of system of systems EMI problems that were unexpected and must be dealt with. The goal of achieving non-interference limited communications and sensor surveillance has taken a front seat in much of the R&D work we have today. This is where our community steps in. However, I don’t want to get bogged down in the nature of the technical problem and its solution here. Instead, let’s again return to my artist friend Mike and the painting I commissioned.
When I posed the theme of the painting to Mike, I asked him to commit to canvas his personal view of electromagnetic diversity and the battle of EMC (good) versus EMI (evil). The result is shown on the following page. The original idea for commissioning this work was to replace some of the stock pictures of airplanes, printed circuit boards, and spectrum allocation charts currently occupying the walls of my office at work. I wanted to replace these with photos or artwork that would evoke some passion about the topic by graphically conveying the notion of EMI versus EMC. This harkens back to circa 1983 as I recalled a cleverly designed cover of the premier edition of EMC Technology and Interference News magazine published by Don White Consultants. The cover picture of that issue put a face on EMI, sort of, by personifying EMI as a menacing, axe-wielding, medieval hooded character (aka “EMI”) threatening to attack a piece of electronics gear. I thought that was a classic depiction. I wanted to duplicate the novelty of that depiction, but approach it from a layman’s viewpoint and in more of an abstract way.
The painting shows the ‘seething’ EMI force (dark tendrils) trying to choke the EMC force (white tendrils) from within an electromagnetically-rich environment, which itself is living, breathing and highly diverse and complex. It conveys a yin-yang (good vs. evil) quality where EMI and EMC battle each other as if they were actual living forces. The tendrils are like electromagnetic waves traveling through time and space giving the impression of energy forces that are changing to counteract each other perhaps to achieve some sort of balance at the very least. So, what do you think?
What does this all mean? Simply, this depiction is a type of harbinger of the challenges ahead to the EMC community. It reminds us that as forefront technologies arise, evolve and mature, we must be vigilant of the EMI/C issues that may need to be addressed.
I am a firm believer that diversity in terms of new technologies, innovations and novel applications is a good thing. However, there is a potential risk side to all this if we don’t consider the big picture including the cross-discipline synergies involved in designing, developing and fielding new devices, products and systems in the future. EMC is only one piece of the puzzle, but perhaps one of the key pieces that properly completes the picture.

Electromagnetic Diversity and the Battle of EMI and EMC
(Artwork courtesy of Mike Watson, Photo courtesy of Andrew C. Blackburn)

This edition of the Newsletter includes a practical paper that addresses topics in EMC, magnetic and RF sensor technologies for small- as well as large-scale applications, and human safety. The paper identifies critical EMI and potential electronics and personnel hazards issues for state-of-the-art technologies in the context of real-world problems. This represents a prime example of how we are working to constantly keep pace with new technology trends and issues.
Indeed, I am pleased by the progress that has been made by the EMC Society’s Technical Committees (TCs) and Standards Development Committee (SDCom) to embrace new technology issues. In particular, these committees have begun to actively engage in study projects on topics related to electromagnetic terrorism (i.e., the exploitation of electromagnetic signals to disrupt systems, to illegally sniff or extract data from information systems, and so on), power line communications, new paradigms in spectrum management and the emergence of policy defined radios, to name a few. Most notably, at the time of this writing, the EMC Society Board of Directors approved the creation of TC-11 on Nanotechnology and EMC, at the recommendation of Vice President of Technical Services, John Norgard, and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Chair, Bob Scully. This is a prelude to the formation of yet additional TCs and standards study projects over the next couple of years that will focus on other new and burgeoning technologies outside of the traditional EMC realm. This is what I had hoped for and sets the path for the future under President-elect Elya Joffe’s leadership and beyond.
Now, this brings me to the next theme: EMI/C education.

Educating the Masses
For the past several years, the Board of Directors of the EMC Society and its various technical, standards, and education committees have made a concerted effort to more clearly establish a viable path for fostering education in EMC from grade school to the work force level. For instance, we are revamping strategies towards achieving a more tightly knit and coordinated effort between the EMC Society’s Standards Education and Training Committee (SETCom) and our Education and Student Activities Committee (ESAC). This is being done to define the EMC educational product map and to define services that we might provide to schools and private industry in the future. Vice President of Standards Don Heirman as well as John Norgard will lead this activity in cooperation with SETCom and ESAC Chairs Qiubo Ye and Bob Nelson, respectively. Bob Nelson is also working on redefining near- and long-term strategies for the ESAC. This is expected to revitalize and fine-tune existing education programs for students in grade school up through the university level, as well as institute new initiatives in EMC education to keep our perspectives fresh and on target with the needs of today’s engineers. We are exploring a number of options to develop training courses in basic and advanced EMI/C applications, including seminars and workshops that delve into the processes behind standards development for EMC. This training will be online media based as well as delivered in person by world-renowned experts (e.g., via the Distinguished Lecturer Program and other avenues). More on this to come in the near future.
We are looking for volunteers to help develop the training programs and educational curricula. Are you interested in helping to contribute or even become a leader in this effort? If you are, we gladly welcome your participation!
Now it would seem that the “need” for EMC education cycles roughly with the generations, i.e., the emergence of a generation of individuals who enter the engineering profession, are faced early on in their careers with solving EMI/C problems, and who remain as EMC engineers for the bulk of their career. These EMC “veterans” who worked on solving EMI/C problems early on in their jobs typically subscribed to the services of professionals who helped train them and enhance their understanding of EMC. Some joined professional organizations like the EMC Society to learn the trade, become EMI/C experts themselves, as well as network with other knowledgeable people in the field. So at certain points in time, we have witnessed a clear and present need to educate engineers in the importance of EMC in their work. Once properly trained and entrenched in EMC, these individuals can sustain high productivity and provide significant contributions over the long term. These engineers adapt and apply their knowledge and become part of the “EMC pack.” This does not mean that they have no further need for some form of continuing education in EMC in the course of their careers.
Times have changed. As electrical and electronics devices become increasingly more complex, the gap between each generation is closing and we find it ever more important to provide up-to-date educational products and services more frequently. There are two catalysts at work here: (1) more university students majoring in electrical engineering today are graduating with EE degrees with some specialty in or related to EMC; and (2) technology is evolving so rapidly that it requires entry-level electrical and electronics engineers to adapt ever more quickly to become EMC experts on the job. So what used to be perhaps 10-15 or 15-20 years between major generations of EMC engineers and the need for education in EMC has now likely dwindled down to less than 10 years. In reality, the need for EMC education is always there for one reason or another. Today, there is a clear need for more frequent EMC educational products and services than ever before in our universities and in the work place. Other factors that may work in concert with or against this trend include a rapidly changing work force and job duties that cause a shift in expertise and/or a change in emphasis on EMC in the workplace. Many forces and factors are at play here, but the importance of EMC education remains undiminished.
Remember, that except for what has taken place over the past 13 or so years as a result of the EMC Society’s University Grant Program, there were virtually no “EMC Engineering” undergraduates as such. Today, due to the success of the University Grant Program, we have taken a significant leap forward in advancing knowledge and understanding of EMC at the university and industry levels. We continue to support and even expand what is considered to be a vibrant and highly successful program for instituting EMC education in colleges and universities throughout the world. However, more work needs to be done. We must not rest on our laurels.

Keeping it Short!
This being our Summer issue, my hope was to keep this message relatively short, so I’ll stop here and close by reminding you that our next edition of the Newsletter will be devoted to the 2007 EMC Symposium in Hawaii and coverage of our 50th anniversary celebration. I can assure you that the next edition will be a keeper! Dan Hoolihan has provided us some nostalgic tidbits in this edition as a teaser to our next edition coverage. He has done a wonderful job in making all the plans and arrangments to commemorate our Society’s 50th anniversary. If you see him, please give him a thumbs up for all his efforts.
I hope to help launch a new initiative under my tenure as President to formally begin the process of carefully archiving the historical records that Dan and his 50th Anniversary Committee have been so diligent in gathering, sorting and organizing, and to maintain them for the duration. This will prepare us to commemorate future Society anniversary events and celebrate other major milestones in our history.
Besides, our 60th anniversary is only ten years away!
Until next time, I hope you enjoy the painting! EMC

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