The general theme of the 2019 IEEE Electrical Insulation Conference was volunteerism and service to the electrical industry, and I can’t think of a better example of how volunteer teams come together than to host such an informative and entertaining event. The enthusiasm for what many would consider a dry topic – electrical insulation – was contagious, the oral and poster presentations were informative, and the venue was spectacular. The plenary presentation during the opening session was given by Dr. Paul Lewin of the University of Southampton, a dedicated volunteer himself, on the benefits, both personal and professional, of participating as a volunteer for IEEE. His logical approach, as evidenced by his own history with IEEE, was both entertaining and inspiring. And, most importantly, we all learned the difference between beer and cookies. (For the answer to that challenge, you must come to EIC 2020).
The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The hotel staff was efficient and gracious, and the food and beverage service was top notch. Calgary is a very pleasant city with many restaurants, shopping and other entertainment very close to the hotel. All were enjoyed by the attendees and their guests. Many also took advantage of the proximity to the Banff resort to take side trips into the Canadian Rocky Mountains as well. We also enjoyed local produce, wines and beers at several of the events providing good examples of the local flavors and hospitality.
This year we had 210 abstracts submitted and 146 were accepted. 113 papers were reviewed and accepted for presentation and final publication. 44 posters were presented at two evening events and 69 oral papers were presented during 23 sessions over the three days of the event. Several of our sponsors and exhibitors also presented mini topics introducing new products and services available to the industry. As usual, topics ranged from materials to testing to practical field case studies. This seemed to be an exceptionally busy year for studies of rotating machines and for partial discharge topics with multiple sessions in both areas. Short courses were also offered on insulation testing of turbo generators, engineering approaches to updating hydropower generators, diagnostics of transformer insulation and how the DEIS might be involved with the smart grid. This was the second year the technical chairs utilized the ConfTool Conference Management Tool to administer the abstracts, paper submittals and the peer reviewing process which, by all accounts, worked very well to automate the process. This eased the incorporation of many new reviewers and a smooth transfer of the final documents to IEEE eXpress for publication. Also new for 2019, was the Conference4me phone app with scheduling information and event updates handily available for all attendees.
At this year’s Industry Awards Banquet, two true leaders in the industry were honored. The Golden Omega Award is presented biennially to recognize an outstanding contribution to leadership in science and technology. The recipient is selected by the National Electric Manufacturers’ Association (NEMA). The awardee this year was Mark Gliebe, CEO of the Regal Beloit Corporation for his contributions to the electric motor industry and his support of technological development over his long career in the industry. The award was presented by John Caskey, vice-president of operations for NEMA. Mr. Gliebe joins an illustrious list of previous recipients of the award including James A. van Allen, David Packard, William Lear, Charles Knight and Dean Kamen. The second award this year was the Eric O. Forster Distinguished Service Award, presented to a volunteer’s volunteer, Dr. Frank Hegeler of the US Naval Research Laboratory. His resume of IEEE volunteer activities is inspiring and his overall contributions to dielectrics technology are too numerous to list. The award was presented to Dr. Hegeler by Dr. Reimund Gerhard, President of the IEEE Dielectric and Electrical Insulation Society.
The conference team this year exceeded all expectations. The vice-chair, and next year’s general chair, was Diego Robalino of Megger, who, as always, was cheerful, productive and responsible for much of the smooth operation during the event. Technical chairs are often the hardest working members of any conference team, and this year proved no exception. Dave McKinnon of PDMA and Joe Williams of Electrolock worked tirelessly before the conference to assure the best possible content and to keep the authors and reviewers informed. They maintained the high level of professionalism expected of the EIC. Mark Winkeler, of Elantas, also proved indispensable managing the sponsorships and exhibitors. Many thanks to the other critical team members: Nancy Frost, Treasurer; Elizabeth Foley, Publications; Inna Kremza, Short Courses; Valeria Pevtsov, International; Anna Gegenava, Students; and Liz Tillotson, the undisputed Queen of Registration; and to Nicki Lewin, always a gracious host for visiting spouses and guests. My gratitude to all of these wonderful characters knows no bounds.
Next year’s IEEE Electrical Insulation Conference will be held jointly with the IEEE International Power Modulator and High Voltage Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA on June 7-11, 2020. For more information visit www.ieee-eic.org.