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Q&A About IEEE Diversity

As membership outside the US continues to grow, President Vig talks numbers, sets future goals

3 min read
Illustration of a world map representing diverse global membership
Illustration: iStockphoto

THE INSTITUTE As IEEE begins its annual membership renewal drive, some wonder whether 2011 will be the year when at least half of IEEE's approximately 397,000 members reside outside the United States. It could happen. After all, last year 46.5 percent of members lived outside the country, and that percentage has been growing for years.IEEE is recognized as one of the most diverse technical societies in the world. The Institute asked 2009 IEEE president and CEO John R. Vig about IEEE's strides in membership diversity. Vig, one of the recent presidents born outside the United States (in Hungary), is a proponent of IEEE's globalization efforts.

How diverse is IEEE's highest governing body, the Board of Directors? Are the directors still mostly from the United States?

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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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