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IEEE’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The health and safety of the IEEE community is the organization’s first priority

2 min read
Illustration of a megaphone with announcement icons and the IEEE logo on the megaphone
Illustration: iStockphoto

THE INSTITUTE As you are aware, on 11 March the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic. This global health crisis is a unique challenge that has impacted many members of the IEEE family. We would like to express our concern and support for all the members of the IEEE community, our staff, our families, and all others affected by this outbreak.

Governments around the world are now issuing restrictions on travel, gatherings, and meetings in an effort to limit and slow the spread of the virus. The health and safety of the IEEE community is our first priority and IEEE is supporting these efforts.

We request that all members avoid conducting in-person activities in areas impacted by the coronavirus threat and instead maximize the use of our online and virtual alternatives. IEEE provides many tools to support our membership with virtual engagement, including our online collaboration space IEEE Collabratec.

Following the advice of local authorities, most IEEE conferences and meetings have already been postponed or replaced with virtual meetings.

IEEE publications continue to accept submissions and publish impactful cutting-edge research. Our online publications remain available to researchers and students around the world.

IEEE standards development also continues, using online collaboration to replace in-person working groups.

IEEE Educational Activities continues to offer online instruction and IEEE’s preuniversity educational resources may be of assistance to families of students whose classroom activities have been disrupted.

All IEEE operations are continuing. At many of our global offices, IEEE staff will support IEEE’s mission while teleworking from their homes to minimize risk. As of this time, on the advice of local authorities, IEEE offices in China remain open.

We know that many of you are directly and indirectly engaged in the fight against this disease: supporting biomedical research and applications, supporting data analysis and modeling, maintaining critical communications and power infrastructure and caring for each other.We are grateful for your work.

We extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of our IEEE members for your understanding. These are difficult times, but we will get through them by working together. Thank you for your support of our shared mission to advance technology for humanity.

Please stay safe and well.

Toshio Fukuda is the 2020 IEEE president. Stephen Welby is the IEEE executive director.

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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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