SEM History

IEEE Section Anniversary: A Historical Perspective

By Don Bramlett, IEEE/SEM Advisor
This article originally
appeared in the January 1996 issue of Wavelengths newsletter.

January 28, 1996 is the 85th anniversary of the founding of the
Michigan section of AIEE, the forerunner of the Southeastern
Michigan Section of IEEE (IEEE/SEM). The section has roots stemming
from a number of founding professional organizations. The
chronology of the section follows from nothing that 1996 is also

  • 112th anniversary of the founding of AIEE (the first
    organization in the chronology which led to IEEE),
  • 84th anniversary of the founding of IRE,
  • 70th anniversary of the founding of the Detroit section of IRE,
  • 50th anniversary of the founding of the Vehicular Radio Group
    of IRE,
  • 33rd anniversary of the merger of AIEE and IRE into IEEE, and
  • 33rd anniversary of the formation of the IEEE/SEM Section

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
(IEEE) origins began with the founding of the
American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE)
in New York
City in 1884 by a group of electrical inventors and entrepreneurs.
At the time, telegraph lines were strung across the land and under
the sea to link peoples and nations; the telephone, less than a
decade old, was already revolutionizing the patters of
communications. Thomas Edison’s electric light invented only five
years earlier, was being installed in just about every industrial,
commercial, and residential application.

Three students earned bachelor degrees in electrical engineering
from the Physics Department at the
University of Michigan
in 1890. The degrees were the first
such degrees awarded in the state of Michigan. By 1895, the number
of students studying electrical engineering, primarily in the area
of electrical machinery, had grown to the extent that the Department of Electrical
was founded at the University of Michigan.

The Michigan Section of AIEE was founded on January 29, 1911.
Electrical engineers in the section practiced in the power areas of
generators, transformers, switchgear, cables, and transmission
lines. Utility engineers, primarily from Detroit Edison , Consumers Power , and Michigan Bell
were heavily represented in the membership and

The emergence of the dramatic new technology of radio, with its
equally profound consequences for mankind, led to the founding of
Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)
in 1912. IRE became the
lead organization for technology which evolved into electronics,
with the resulting invention of television, radar, control systems,
and computers.

The use of two-way radios was first demonstrated in Detroit police
cars in 1925. The following year on May 22, 1926, the Detroit
Section of IRE was founded. Radio and electronics engineers in the
Detroit Section practiced in the areas of telegraphy, radio,
electron theory, radio astronomy, and electron microscopy. There
was also heavy representation by members of academia in the Detroit
Section of IRE.

The diverse technical fields in both electrical engineering and
electronics engineering resulted in both AIEE and IRE forming
specialized technical groups. One of these technical groups was the
Vehicular Radio Group, founded in 1946. This group is the
predecessor of the IEEE
Vehicular Technology Society

The Detroit Sections of IRE and AIEE were recognized by the
national organizations as being among the more active sections.
Each section had hosted several national conventions and many
smaller technical conferences in Detroit. Several local officers
went on to leadership roles at the national levels in AIEE and IRE.

The field of electronics engineering grew, and by the end of World
War II, equaled power and communication engineering in scope and
membership. Increasingly, the common interests of electrical and
electronics engineers drew them closer together. On the national
level, as well as the local section level, AIEE and IRE
co-sponsored more and more joint technical programs. Talks on a
merger of the two organizations began and the merger of the two
international organizations was formulated and agreed to at the
1961 AIEE Fall General Meeting, held here in Detroit ( about
, city
). The AIEE and IRE national organizations merged in
1963 to form a new technical engineering society, the Institute of Electrical and
Electronic Engineers (IEEE)

Following the 1961 AIEE Fall General Meeting, the officers of the
Detroit Sections of AIEE and IRE held several discussions to iron
out many potential problems in order to make the new union a
success. The two sections merged to form the Southeastern Michigan Section of
on June 1, 1963. The first year of the
merger was a time of obvious change, and there was a great deal of
concern about the manner in which the two sections would come
together. Despite the somewhat diverse interests of the two
sections, the transition was carried out in a spirit of
cooperation, and concerns proved to be unfounded.

The technical groups in the two local sections were combined,
resulting in eight technical groups within IEEE/SEM. Five of the
groups came from the former IRE and three from the former AIEE. The
technical groups were:

  • Computer Group,
  • Aerospace and Electronics Group,
  • Power Group,
  • Industry and General Applications Group,
  • Communications Technology Group,
  • Vehicular Technology Group,
  • Automatic Control and Information Theory Group, and
  • Trident (AP, ED, MTT) Group

The incoming AIEE section chair became the first IEEE/SEM
chair. The incoming IRE section chair became the first IEEE/SEM vice
chair and assumed the chair position the following year. An
executive committee was formed which consisted of four officers,
eight administrative members, and the junior past chair. An advisory
committee was formed; it included the chair and vice chair of all
the active committees and technical groups and the executive
committee. There were sixty-eight members on the advisory committee.
There were over 200 active committee members out of a section
membership of 2,200 during the first year.

A meeting was held in early 1963 to plan the year’s activities.
During the first year of the merger, six section meeting and
forty-five technical group meetings were held. The IEEE/SEM
Education Committee conducted several tutorial symposia in Detroit
and Jackson that were
successful and produced income for the section.

IRE published Crosstalk, a monthly newsletter at the time of the
merger. The newsletter was in the form of a magazine. AIEE
published a monthly announcement called the Michigan Section
Newsletter. It was felt that a professional looking publication was
desirable, and a magazine type publication called the Michigan
Section IEEE News was initiated. The cost of the newsletter was
subsidized by the income from symposia conducted by the IEEE/SEM
Education Committee and income from advertisers listed in the
business directory of the publication. Some of the original
advertisers were Engel-Klaes Co., Osborne Transformer
, George R.
Peters Associates
George R. Peters Associates
, Myron Zucker Inc. , and
The Satullo Company . IEEE/SEM held a contest in 1970 for the
purpose of renaming the newsletter. Wavelengths was selected as the
winning entry and the January 1971 issue was the first issue
published under the new name.

The history of the IEEE/SEM since 1963 has been one of
demonstrated activism and volunteerism on both the national and
local levels of IEEE. Numerous technical conferences have been
hosted and co-sponsored, including:

  • 1966 First National Conference on Automobile Electrical and
    Electronic Equipment
  • 1968 International Power Generation Conference
  • 1969 Industry and General Applications Group Annual Meeting
  • 1970 Annual Vehicular Technology Conference
  • 1974 The World Energy Conference
  • 1974
    (also held every two years in Detroit following
    the original conference)
  • 1991 Industry
    Applications Society
    Annual Meeting
  • 1991 VNIS Conference

The activism of IEEE/SEM has extended to involvement in the
broader engineering, professional and scientific community. Past
issues of Wavelengths illustrate the involvement of IEEE/SEM and its
members in programs with the
Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD)
, and especially the ESD
Affiliate Council
, the
Michigan Society of Professional Engineers
, National Engineers Week , and the
Science and Engineering Fair of
Metropolitan Detroit

IEEE/SEM has also been creative in trying to service the needs of
its members at various times throughout its history. With the
amending of the IEEE Constitution in 1972 to add matters of
professional concern, IEEE/SEM created the position of Director of
Professional Activities to concentrate on the professional as well
as technical needs of its members. The section has reorganized its
structure of directors to be more responsive to the needs of the
technical society chapters, student branches, and individual

IEEE/SEM presented a half-hour program in 1974 on WTVS/Channel 56 . It was a panel
discussion on “Nuclear, Solar, and Windmill Energy Sources as a
Solution to the Energy Crunch.” In 1983 and 1984, IEEE/SEM
co-sponsored with the IEEE
Columbus, Ohio Section
a new regional, high-technology
electronics show and convention called OHMCON. During the 1981-82
section business year, IEEE/SEM operated a telephone news line and
job posting system. An electronic bulletin board was operated
during 1987-99 using a computer system purchased with funds from
IEEE Region 4.

The section revitalized the format of Wavelengths in 1988-89
under an active new editor. The section adopted a new format for
the IEEE/SEM Fall 1990 Meeting that included parallel technical
society meetings that preceded a general section meeting; the new
format stimulated the interest and attendance of section members
and guests. In 1992, under the leadership of the Director of
Professional Activities, the section jointly co-sponsored several
technical job fairs in Southeastern Michigan with job-fair
producers in order to advance the employment needs of the members.

The Section Geography

The boundaries of IEEE/SEM encompasses the counties of Clinton , Eaton , Ingham , Jackson , Livingston , Macomb , Oakland (
about Oakland
) ,
St. Clair
, Washtenaw
, and Wayne in
Michigan, and the county of Essex in Ontario,
Canada. IEEE/SEM has grown from 2,200 members in 1963 to
approximately 2,500 members in 1973 and over 4,000 members in
1996. the section has student branches at ten universities in
southeastern Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, Canada. There are nine
chapters that represent fourteen IEEE technical societies.
IEEE/SEM has over forty section officers, directors, and chapter

The Section Volunteers Today

IEEE/SEM has a great deal to offer its members,
both technically and professionally. Members through service with
IEEE/SEM can contribute to fellow members and play a role in the
development of the section. Members may volunteer to work with a
committee, attend technical meetings, assist with program
activities, serve as an editor with Wavelengths, solicit funds for
various programs, and seek election to an office. The section
sponsors technical and professional programs that provide each
member with the opportunity to participate and learn about the new
technologies and network with peers in the electrical, electronics,
and computer engineering profession. Members interested in
volunteering should contact the chapter chair or one of the
executive committee members.

I wish to acknowledge the contributions of Mr. Frank Klaes to the
content of this article. Frank was the first chair of IEEE/SEM when
AIEE and IRE merged in 1963. Frank’s firm, Engel-Klaes Co. has been
an advertiser in Wavelengths from the beginning. Thanks, Frank, for
your support and assistance!

Past Chairs of the Michigan Section of AIEE
1911 C.L. DeMurait 1928-1929 A.H. Lovell 1946-1947 G.M. Chute
1911-1912 C.L. DeMurait 1929-1930 L.F. Hickernell 1947-1948 A.W. Rauth
1912-1913 J.J. Woolfenden 1930-1931 L. Braisted 1948-1949 M.R. Horne
1913-1914 A.R. Sawyer 1931-1932 J.J. Shoemaker 1949-1950 E.F. Dissmeyer
1914-1915 H.H. Norton 1932-1933 O.E. Hauser 1950-1951 O.E. Bowlus
1915-1916 R. Collarome 1933-1934 R. Foulkrod 1951-1952 I.B. Baccus
1916-1917 A.A. Meyer 1934-1935 J.R. North 1952-1953 A.P. Fugil
1917-1918 H.H. Higbie 1935-1936 H.P. Seelye 1953-1954 H.E. Crampton
1918-1919 G.E. Lewis 1936-1937 S.S. Atwood 1954-1955 J.J. Carey
1919-1920 J.C. Parker 1937-1938 D.H. Baker 1955-1956 H.R. Armstrong
1920-1921 C. Kittredge 1938-1939 R.E. Greene 1956-1957 F. Von Voightlander
1921-1922 A.S. Albright 1939-1940 W.G. Knickerbocker 1957-1958 H.M. Hess
1922-1923 J.H. Cannon 1940-1941 E.V. Sayles 1958-1959 J.W. Eakins
1923-1924 E.L. Bailey 1941-1942 S.M. Dean 1959-1960 B.H. Schneider
1924-1925 F.L. Snyder 1942-1943 M.B. Stout 1960-1961 J.J. Frederickson
1925-1926 G.B. McCabe 1943-1944 J.W. Bishop 1961-1962 H.S. Mika
1926-1927 H. Cole 1944-1945 M.M. Cory 1962-1963 A.C. Fagerlund
1927-1928 F.H. Riddle 1945-1946 L.W. Clark
Past Chairs of the Detroit Section of IRE
1926-27 T.E. Clark 1939 H.D. Seilstad 1951 K.R. Schmeisser
1928 E.D. Glatzel 1940 J.D. Kraus 1952 P.L.Gundy
1929 A.B. Buchanan 1941 M.Cottrell 1953 F.W. Chapman
1930 A.B. Buchanan 1942 H.F. Tank 1954 E.J. Love
1931 L.N. Holland 1943 F.M. Hartz 1955 N.D. Saigeon
1932 H.L. Byerlay 1944 R.A. Powers 1956 M.B.Scherba
1933 G.W. Carter 1945 L.H. Larime 1957 E.C. Johnson
1934 S. Firestone 1946 H.E. Kranz 1958 L.M. Augustus
1935 A.B. Buchanan 1947 P. Frincke 1959-60 L.J.Giacometto
1936 E.C. Denstaedt 1948 A. Friedenthal 1960-61 W.J.Norris
1937 R.L. Davis 1949 C.K. Kocher 1961-62 D.V. Stocker
1938 E.H.I. Lee 1950 N.C. Fisk 1962-63 H.W. Farris
Past Chairs of the Michigan Section of IEEE
1963-1964 F.F. Klaes 1977-1978 M.W. Davis 1991-1992 D.C. Bramlett, P.E.
1964-1965 R.O. Sather 1978-1979 W.D. Becher 1992-1993 S.N. Basu
1965-1966 K.E. Jamison 1979-1980 D.H. Winner 1993-1994 M.K. Krage
1966-1967 D.C. Achtenberg 1980-1981 L.F. Kazda 1994-1995 S. Bajpayee
1967-1968 B.S. Quell 1981-1982 J.J. Kolb 1995-1996 D.G. McKendry
1968-1969 W. Kerwick 1982-1983 J.F. Firlit 1996-1997 Dave Horvath
1969-1970 M.P. Ristenbatt 1983-1984 J.B.Kreer 1998-1999 George Peters
1970-1971 J.H. Bryant 1984-1985 D.E. Solomon 1999-2000 Sandy Hunter
1971-1972 J.H. Bryant 1985-1986 L.A. Murray 2000-2001 J. Woodyard
1972-1973 N. Alimpich 1986-1987 J.R. Grady 2001-2002 J. Miller
1973-1974 E. Longman 1987-1988 R. Wieszcyzk 2002-2003 M. Snyder
1974-1975 H.G. Hedges 1988-1989 N.M. Boustany 2004-2005 S. Barada
1975-1976 E.M. Aupperle 1990 M.A. Shanblatt 2006-2007 Mark Ciechanowski, P.E.
1977 P.A.E. Rusche 1990-1991 V.V. Liepa 2008-2009