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2021 Herz Award Goes to Former IEEE Senior Director of IT

He established the IEEE Data Center during his 32-year career

2 min read
A bearded man in a grey shirt and Black jacket
David Bankowski

David Bankowski, former senior director of IEEE's IT infrastructure systems, is the recipient of this year's IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award.

Bankowski, who retired in May, was recognized for "leading the restructuring of the IEEE Data Center and ensuring its resilience and continuity of services for over two decades."

The award is sponsored by IEEE.

During his 32-year career, Bankowski led and supported critical infrastructure and operational services including the IEEE Data Center, which was established in 2001.

In the last two decades of his career, Bankowski focused on ensuring IT services were reliable for members and customers. He worked closely with IEEE departments to understand and deliver on their operational needs while considering cost effectiveness.

Members and customers have Bankowski to thank for IEEE's smooth-running IT services, says IEEE Fellow Dejan Milojicic, his nominator. Milojicic, a technologist at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., worked with Bankowski while chair of the IEEE Audit Committee. "David's work ensured business continuity, cost effectiveness, and innovation during his time at the organization," he says.

Bankowski also established and maintained IEEE's disaster recovery program, with instructions on how to reduce service disruptions to the organization's critical customer-facing services. The program was implemented in 2012 at the IEEE Operations Center, in Piscataway, N.J., during Superstorm Sandy and allowed for systems to switch over to IEEE's remote server site in Arizona when the building lost power. The program also has made the transition to remote working easier for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bankowski also provided guidance for the initial expansion of on-premise services to the cloud.

The IEEE Board of Directors created the award in 2005 to honor Herz, an IEEE Life Fellow and longtime volunteer who served in many capacities including IEEE general manager and executive director. He died in 2016 at the age of 89.

The award, which recognizes a present or past full-time IEEE staff member, includes a cash prize.

The nomination deadline for the 2022 Herz Award is 15 January. For more information, visit the awards website.

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Economics Drives Ray-Gun Resurgence

Laser weapons, cheaper by the shot, should work well against drones and cruise missiles

4 min read
In an artist’s rendering, a truck is shown with five sets of wheels—two sets for the cab, the rest for the trailer—and a box on the top of the trailer, from which a red ray is projected on an angle, upward, ending in the silhouette of an airplane, which is being destroyed

Lockheed Martin's laser packs up to 300 kilowatts—enough to fry a drone or a plane.

Lockheed Martin

The technical challenge of missile defense has been compared with that of hitting a bullet with a bullet. Then there is the still tougher economic challenge of using an expensive interceptor to kill a cheaper target—like hitting a lead bullet with a golden one.

Maybe trouble and money could be saved by shooting down such targets with a laser. Once the system was designed, built, and paid for, the cost per shot would be low. Such considerations led planners at the Pentagon to seek a solution from Lockheed Martin, which has just delivered a 300-kilowatt laser to the U.S. Army. The new weapon combines the output of a large bundle of fiber lasers of varying frequencies to form a single beam of white light. This laser has been undergoing tests in the lab, and it should see its first field trials sometime in 2023. General Atomics, a military contractor in San Diego, is also developing a laser of this power for the Army based on what’s known as the distributed-gain design, which has a single aperture.

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