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VIRGINIA MOUNTAIN SECTION
NEWSLETTER
IEEE Region 3, Council 9, Section 6                                         
April, 1999

*************************************************
                CONTENTS
April Meeting
        Student Paper Contest   ..... 1
Reservations                    ..... 2
Directions                      ..... 3
Student Paper Abstracts         ..... 4
March meeting Report            ..... 5
Our 50th        (Anniversary)   ..... 6
Computer/Control/IES meeting
        ATM Technology          ..... 7
Spread the Word 1/2-year dues   ..... 8
Employer Prof. Dev. Award       ..... 9
IEEE Eng. Guide, CD ROM         ..... 10
VMS Web Page                    ..... 11
1998-99 VMS Schedule            ..... 12
Your IEEE Benefits              ..... 13
Virginia Mountain Section       ..... 14

*************************************************( 1 )
April Meeting
Annual
Student Paper Competition

This year's all undergraduate competition takes the 
form of Poster Displays.  With the largest number of 
participants ever, there is an impressive line up of 
topics:

Analog Sound Synthesis
John Lee Pitts and Wen-Jeng Huang 
Virginia Military Institute
--------------------
The Design and Use of a Capacitor Plate for the 
Removal of Adherent Cells from Culture Petri Dishes
C. Thomas Boyer and Darius P. Parker
Virginia Tech
-------------------
The Autonomous Tank
M. Lesole, M. A. Kuhr, and D. C. Wilbun
Virginia Military Institute
--------------------
A Hybrid Approach to Inverse Neural Network Control 
of Nonlinear Systems
Brian Gold 
Virginia Tech
--------------------
Reduction of Electrical Consumption
Stephen Lucas, Andrew Kratt, Jae Kwon, and Daniel 
Parker 
Virginia Military Institute
--------------------
VLSI Design of Plastic Cell Architecture
Mikhail Itskovich, Justin Bowlus, and Daniel Roddy 
Virginia Tech
--------------------

Digital Camera Scope for a Rifle
Michael J. Condon, Brian Curtis, Trent Warnecke, and 
Wyatt McGraw 
Virginia Military Institute
--------------------
Image Processing with Configurable Computers
Louis M. Pochet 
Virginia Tech
--------------------
4-kA, 6-kV Emitter Turn-off Thyristor
Mark Hartman
Virginia Tech

*************************************************( 2 )
Reservations for the April Meeting

Thursday, Apri15, 1999

Reservations are not required

Place:  Hancock Atrium Virginia Tech
Time:   6:00 PM
Cost:   No Charge

Light refreshments

*************************************************( 3 )
Directions

From the US 460 bypass, take the Price's Fork Road 
Exit toward downtown Blacksburg.  Turn right at the 
second traffic light -- West Campus Drive. Proceed 
past the parking lot on your left and turn left onto 
Perry Street, which runs between the parking lot and 
the campus buildings.  The entrance to Hancock Hall 
is about half-way down Perry Street, behind 
Whittemore Hall.  The atrium is on the ground floor.  
After 5, parking should be available anywhere in the 
large parking lot. 

*************************************************( 4 )
Presentation Abstracts

Analog Sound Synthesis
The purpose of this project is to explore the 
synthesis of instrumental sound through the design 
and manipulation of electronic circuitry. We desire 
to investigate the electrical circuitry that will 
produce a complex waveform reproducing or imitating 
the sound of a musical instrument. This project 
requires knowledge of wave shaping, wave 
amplification, and timing.

We began this project by examining basic waveforms 
such as triangle, square, and sine that have 
characteristics which make them useful as building 
blocks for different musical sounds. An example would 
be a sine wave which is well adapted to stringed 
instrument sounds.

The next phase required us to look at the tools used 
to shape the basic waveforms into the complex 
envelopes which imitate the natural sound: the signal 
generator, filter and amplifier. Filtering is the 
most important part of the waveshaping process. To 
avoid a purely trial and error method, we 
investigated the filtering process on a computer. 
This allows us the freedom to do our manipulation 
within the computer and find an equation which could 
then be used in circuit realization.

With the waveform defined in an equation, we could 
then take the equation and break each piece down into 
the respective electrical component, and form a 
circuit which, when attached to an output speaker, 
produces the simulated sound of a musical instrument.

The Design and Use of a Capacitor Plate for the 
Removal of Adherent Cells
This paper discusses the research method, procedure 
and progress of designing a capacitor-like structure 
to aid in the removal of adherent cells from the 
surfaces of Petri dishes. Adherent cells develop 
proteins on their surfaces, some of which aid in 
attaching the cells to the Petri dish upon which they 
are growing. These proteins are damaged when the 
cells are removed from the dish. The theory behind 
this project is that the poly-anionic glass substrate 
charge can be reversed to the same polarity of the 
poly-cationic proteins to electrically repel the 
cells from the Petri dish surface. This results in 
minimizing damage to cells when they are removed.

The research entails thin film deposition processes 
to include spray-pyrolysis, sol-gel, and sputtering. 
The materials researched were highly conductive and 
could be applied as a transparent layer on a Petri 
dish. Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) is the ideal metal oxide 
for this project.

The procedure will describe the proper application of 
the thin film, and discuss the appropriate voltage 
supply necessary to reverse the surface charges. Such 
a structure, as applied to a Petri dish, would create 
several unique research capabilities for biologists 
and chemists alike who are studying cellular growth.

The Autonomous Tank 
This year for the first time the Virginia Military 
Institute has selected four students to participate 
in the annual Autonomous Tank competition held in 
conjunction with SoutheastCon. 

The competition has three major areas of focus. The 
first was the building of the course. It is divided 
into four sections with each section focusing on 
different problems. The second area was the design of 
the car. The car must be small enough to meet the 
size requirements for the rules of the competition 
but large enough to contain all necessary components. 
The last area of focus was the actual components that 
were placed on the car, enabling it to work through 
each of the four sections of the course. This 
competition uses electrical, mechanical, and computer 
engineering to solve the problems at hand.

A Hybrid Approach to Inverse Neural Network Control 
of Nonlinear Systems
The use of neural networks in an inverse control 
strategy has been very popular in recent literature. 
Because of their nonlinear structure and 
generalization abilities, neural networks are able to 
adapt online to operating conditions often not 
captured by classical linear methods. This benefit 
does not come without a price, however. In a survey 
of the literature on inverse neural network control, 
most all work includes some offline "pre-training" to 
initialize the weights of the network to a rough 
estimate of the inverse plant dynamics. Most of these 
papers give little discussion of why this is 
necessary, nor offer any substantive alternatives to 
this method. This short paper attempts to show the 
motivations behind the conventional approach of pre-
training the network, and offers an alternative based 
on a hybrid architecture integrating soft and hard 
computing techniques. An application to a nonlinear, 
open-loop stable plant is also considered.

Reduction of Electrical Consumption
This project's goal is to reduce the energy 
consumption of the Fairfield Apparel Corporation. 
Through the Virginia Military Institute's cooperative 
engineering center, the Fairfield Apparel Corporation 
proposed the project of conserving the electrical 
energy consumption of Fairfield Apparel's processing 
plant. The project involves an interdisciplinary team 
collaborating with industry to implement a real world 
project with real world constraints. Teamed up with 
three mechanical engineers, the team will investigate 
alternatives related to saving energy within the 
apparel plant. Possible areas for improved energy 
efficiency are improved lighting, additional building 
insulation, purchasing energy-efficient equipment, 
and possibly renegotiating the power contract with 
Virginia Power. Economic constraints are that capital 
expenditures need to pay out within five years and 
suggestions for improvements in current equipment 
need to pay out within two years. All our proposed 
solutions for energy consumption, and the associated 
economic analysis, will be presented to Fairfield 
Apparel's management. Our goal is to reduce the 
plant's electric costs by at least fifteen percent.

  
VLSI Design of Plastic Cell Architecture
With the dynamic nature of communications engineering 
and signal processing, the necessity for flexible and 
rapidly reconfigurable computing architectures is 
essential for further growth in the field.  This 
project is a new approach to programmable logic based 
on a larger concept of Plastic Cell Architecture 
(PCA) proposed by Dr. Oguri and his group at NTT 
labs, Japan.

The implementation of the programmable cells involves 
full custom VLSI design, utilizing alternate storage 
architectures and mapping techniques. Routing and 
fixed logic is implemented in SFL, a Structured 
Function description Language.

In the early designs there were concerns with data 
stability and routing efficiencies. The new 
architectural and component modifications promise a 
greater stability, better functional efficiency and 
finer granularity.  This project is a part of an 
ongoing research to develop an alternative to Neumann 
architecture. When implemented, PCA will breach the 
gap between hardware and software, and will present 
new means for power and speed efficiencies.

Digital Camera Scope for a Rifle
This project is to integrate a digital camera into a 
rifle scope to be used by the police for training or 
by hunters for recreational use. The scope is to be 
completely independent from the rifle. That is, it 
should only be connected to the rifle at the mount. 
The scope is to take the image of the target, split 
it with an image splitter and project one of the 
images through the rifle as normal. The other is to 
be reflected into the digital camera mounted on top 
of the original scope.

The camera is to be operated both manually and 
automatically. Through use of an audio activated 
sensor, it will take a single picture when it hears 
the rifle fired. The camera will also have a manual 
button to use without having to fire the weapon. The 
images are to be stored on both a smart card that can 
be sent off to a photo lab for developing as well as 
storage on the camera itself so that the images may 
be downloaded to a computer. The digital scope is to 
be compact and use off-the-shelf parts available from 
a store or through a catalog.

Image processing with Configurable Computers 
FPGA's (Field Programmable Gate Array's) or 
reconfigurable computers are well suited to image 
filtering because of the extent to which parallelism 
can be exploited. Reconfiguration is important 
because it allows the speed of custom hardware to be 
combined with the multi-purpose flexibility of 
software.

This project uses FPGA's to capture images from an 
analog camera, transmits the image along a high speed 
network to an array of FPGA's for filtering, and then 
outputs the image to a screen. VHDL code was written 
and tested for implementation on the FPGA's. A C host 
program was required to initialize and interface with 
the FPGA's. A Java applet was written to display the 
raw image data. Each of these phases had to be 
simulated and tested separately.

The project was implemented on Wild Force cards 
containing five 4062 XL FPGA's holding the equivalent 
of sixty two thousand gates on each chip. The Wild 
Force architecture lends itself to image processing 
because of the large bandwidth of communication 
between each individual chip. Difficulty was 
encountered with the limited chip to memory 
communications. A standard analog camera was used to 
supply input.

4-kA, 6-kV Emitter Turn-off Thyristor
A new high power semiconductor switching device to be 
used in switching power converters is being 
developed. The Emitter Turn-Off thyristor (ETO) is 
rated up to 4kA, 6kV and can switch at l kHz. At 
these ratings, the ETO is expected to compete with 
current Insulated Gate Commutated Transistor (IGCT) 
technology. At its core is a Gate Turn-Off thyristor 
(GTO), which provides the high rating capability of 
the ETO. Unlike the GTO, however, the ETO is turned 
off through the emitter, allowing for higher 
switching frequencies and lower turn-off losses. An 
innovative topology allows the ETO to be hard 
switched, cutting down on energy storage components 
and cost. The unique mechanical structure of the ETO 
and accompanying gate driver is extremely compact, 
resulting in a footprint half the size of a typical 
IGCT.

*************************************************( 5 )
VMS Activities

Meeting Report
The German Club in Blacksburg was the site of the 
March section meeting, held jointly with our Power 
Engineering Chapter.  The chair of our Power 
Engineering Chapter is Ted Aaron, of American 
Electric Power in Christiansburg.

The talks given in the technical program of this 
meeting were particularly interesting.  Two faculty 
members from the Electrical and Computer Engineering 
Department at Virginia Tech discussed their recent 
work in the field of power engineering.  

Dr. Yilu Liu spoke first.  The title of her talk was 
"Artificial Intelligence Applications in Transformer 
Fault Diagnosis."  It is known that important 
information can often be obtained from the chemistry 
of the transformer oil.  Various types of faults in 
the transformer's operation affect the oil's 
chemistry in different ways.  The challenge is to 
develop effective techniques which can reliably 
predict transformer faults which have developed, or 
which are likely to develop.  Such a scheme is a very 
valuable tool in preventing catastrophic failure of 
power systems and can aid in improving power system 
reliability and in reducing costs.  Dr. Liu discussed 
her recent work using neural networks in predicting 
specific types of transformer faults.  She has 
demonstrated that, by using neural networks, an 
expert system giving a correct prediction in 98% of 
cases can be developed-sometimes the percentage can 
be even higher.

The second talk was presented by Dr. Anbo Wang.  The 
title of his talk was "Optical Fiber Sensor-based 
Techniques for On-Line Detection of Partial 
Discharges in Transformers."  Dr. Wang is a photonics 
expert-and, by the way, a former VMS section chair.  
He reported on his work in photonics as it relates to 
transformer diagnostics.  The development of fiber 
optic-based sensors is a very active area of research 
and development, and Anbo spent the first portion of 
his talk discussing the principles of fiber optic 
sensors and just how the particular sensor used in 
this work operates.   An important aspect of the 
sensor's operation is that the sensor is, to a 
significant degree, self-calibrating.  This is quite 
important in making the sensor a practical 
measurement tool that can be employed in the field.  

Funding from the National Science Foundation has 
recently been received to allow further work in this 
collaboration between Yilu Liu and Anbo Wang.

Ed Wheeler, section vice chair, rose to thank Yilu 
and Anbo for their very important work and 
interesting talks and presented them with a 
certificates of appreciation from the IEEE Virginia 
Mountain Section.    

Ed Wheeler then presented a plaque to Dr. David 
Livingston, our section chair, in recognition of the 
outstanding service he has given our section.  For 
several years, David has been an integral and vital 
part of the activities of the Virginia Mountain 
Section of IEEE.  As the person responsible for local 
arrangements, he was instrumental in making 
Southeastcon '97, held at Virginia Tech, such a 
success, and, as section chair, he has provided 
leadership to our section for the last two years. 

... Ed Wheeler

*************************************************( 6 )
OUR 50th

1999 is Special
It marks the fiftieth anniversary of our Virginia 
Mountain Section.

Plans to celebrate at the September meeting are 
already underway. Look forward to celebrity speakers, 
numerous special guests and memorable dinner. Mark 
the date, September 16, on your calendar now .

*************************************************( 7 )
Computer/Control/IES

ATM Technology and ATM Networking

Gary Mangus

Litton Network Access Systems

Tuesday, April 6
5:00 to 7:00 PM

Mr. Mangus will introduce ATM Communications 
technology and its application to networking.

ATM Technology Basics including ATM, ATM protocols, 
switching, and multiplexing will be described. Gary 
will explain how the technology provides support for 
multimedia communications including video, voice and 
data, through the use of applicable communications 
standards such as UNI, PNNI, LANE, MPOA. 

About the Speaker
Gary R. Mangus presently works for Litton Network 
Access Systems as the Director of Customer Support in 
Roanoke, Virginia. Mr. Mangus has been active in the 
ATM technology area since 1993 and is a member of the 
ATM Forum. During this period, he has worked closely 
with customers, and with their feedback has been 
instrumental in defining the direction for Litton's 
new product developments in ATM Access.

He received his BSEE degree from Texas A&M University 
in 1974.

Meeting
The talk will be given in Cafeteria A at the GE Main 
Plant, 1501 Roanoke Boulevard, Salem, VA.  Enter the 
front door, near the flag pole.  An escort will meet 
you at the reception desk.

All IEEE Members and guests are welcome.  You do not 
have to be a member of the Chapter.  

Soft drinks and snacks are available from the 
cafeteria for a nominal fee.  There is no charge for 
the meeting.  Please come and bring a friend!

Dave Geer, Chapter Chair
        540 - 387 - 7359 (voice)
        540 - 387 - 7631 (FAX)
        d.geer@ieee.org (email)

*************************************************( 8 )
SPREAD THE WORD

The Half-Year Dues Payment Period has begun...and 
it's a great time to recruit! Beginning 1 March and 
extending through 15 August, all new applicants to 
IEEE and its Societies can join for half of the full 
annual dues rates. This is an ideal opportunity to 
encourage IEEE membership, as new applicants will 
receive service throughout 1999 at reduced rates.
 
In addition, IEEE Society membership and the 
Societies' optional publications are half price. If 
you are a renewed IEEE Member who has been 
considering trying a new Society membership, what 
better time than when lower rates are available?

Potential IEEE and Society members can go to the IEEE 
home page at www.ieee.org and select the link for 
IEEE Membership for information and an interactive 
application. If the Web site is not available to you, 
contact IEEE Member Services Department.

*************************************************( 9 )
Employer Professional Development Award

The IEEE Educational Activities Board (EAB) will 
grant the annual IEEE Employer Professional 
Development Award to an organization that has made 
outstanding contributions to employee continuing 
education and professional development.


To be eligible:

* The organization must currently employ IEEE members
* The organization must have made outstanding 
contributions to employee continuing education 
programs and professional development as evidenced by 
quality, innovation, or impact.

We look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to 
contact me if you have any questions about the awards 
or nomination process.

The deadline for nominations is 30 April 1999. For 
more information or to submit a nomination, contact 

Rae Toscano.
IEEE Educational Activities
445 Hoes Lane
Piscataway, NJ 08855-1331
e-mail: r.toscano@ieee.org
Tel: 732 562-5482
Fax: 732 981-1686

For information about other IEEE awards, visit the 
IEEE Web site www.ieee.org/awards.


*************************************************( 10 )
Best-Selling IEEE Book Series Goes Electronic!

PISCATAWAY, NJ, 24 March 1999 - Now available on CD-
ROM from the IEEE is the best-selling Engineers 
Guides To Business Series.   Originally produced and 
still available in book format, this series seeks to 
develop within the business-minded engineer an 
awareness of non-technical skills. Titles in the 
series include:

Presentations That Work
Writing for Career Growth
High-Tech Creativity
Winning the New Product Development Battle
Building Internal Team-Partnerships
Teaching on TV and Video
Starting a High-Tech Company
Working in a Global Environment
Starting to Manage:  The Essential Skills
Marketing for Engineers
Practicing Engineering Ethics

Highly applications oriented, this CD-ROM is meant to 
be used on the job to close the gap between the 
working engineer's technical knowledge and business 
know-how. 
IEEE Product Code: EC105-QVE;   1 CD-ROM;
IEEE Member Price: $79.99;  IEEE List Price:  $99.99

Order from 
IEEE Customer Service Department, 
445 Hoes Lane, PO Box 1331, 
Piscataway, NJ 08855-1331

Shipping and handling charges apply.   
E-mail:  customer-service@ieee.org


*************************************************( 11 )
Your VMS Web Page

Some of your current Web page 
features should be of interest to you. 

Take a look. 
Items Include:
1.  Meeting and General Announcements
2. VMS Chapter Meetings and Announcements
3. Past VMS Newsletters
4. PACE Info, Announcements, and Policies
5. IEEE USA Leadership Wire (IEEE USA periodical)
6. Links to IEEE Hdq, USA, Services, 
7. What Is? (Descriptions of IEEE, Region and Section 
Entities)
8. Special Interest Items
9. Misc. reports of general interest
10. IEEE USA Newsletters
11. VMS Calendar Highlights
12. Meet the Officers
13. And Much More

Anything YOU would like there? Drop me a note.

...editor

*************************************************( 12 )
1998-1999   REMAINING   MEETING    SCHEDULE
DATE
MEETING PLACE
SPEAKER/TOPIC

May 20,1999

Litton Poly-Scientific
Blacksburg

Plant trip

*************************************************( 13 )
Take Advantage of Your Member Benefits

CONTINUING EDUCATION
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HERE ARE SOME OF THE  PERSONAL BENEFITS IEEE 
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For access information and details on any of these, 
take your browser

Directly to the IEEE at:
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Or to the VMS Home Page at:
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select  (6) Links to IEEE , then (12) Member 
Services
 
*************************************************( 14 )
IEEE  Virginia  Mountain  Section

VMS OFFICERS
Chairman:       David Livingston
        d.livingston@ieee.org     (540) 857-6261

Vice Chairman:  Ed Wheeler
        wheeler@vmi.edu           (540) 464-7548

Sec./Treasurer:         Andy Stevenson
        stevenson-ac@salem.ge.com (540) 387-8471

VMS Executive Committee
                John Bay
        bay@vt.edu                (540) 231-5114
                Russell Churchill
        arcova@swva.net           (540) 731-0655
                Ira Jacobs
        ijacobs@vt.edu            (540) 231-5620
                David Kingma
        dkingma@swva.net          (540) 382-0956

Junior Past Chairman: 
                David Livingston
        d.livingston@ieee.org     (540) 857-6261

Virginia Council
Representative: Ed Wheeler
        wheeler@vmi.edu           (540) 464-7548

VMS Chapter Chairs

Industry Applications
                Andy Stevenson
        stevenson-ac@salem.ge.com(540 ) 387-8471

 Industrial Electronics/Computer/Control Systems
                David Geer
        d.geer@ieee.org          (540) 387-7359

Microwave Theory & Techniques/Electron Devices
                VACANT

Power Engineering
                Ted Aaron
        Tea45@aol.com            (540) 381-2521

COMMITTEE CHAIRS
Awards :        Ira Jacobs
        ijacobs@vt.edu           (540) 231-5620
Membership Development:
                Russell Churchill
        arcova@swva.net          (540)-731-0655
Nominations:     David Livingston
        d.livingston@ieee.org    (540) 857-6261
                Anbo Wang
        awang@vt.edu             (540) 231-4355
                Lynn Abbott
        abbott@vt.edu            (540)-231-4472
PACE :          Dan Jackson
        d.jackson@ieee.org       (540)-774-0484
Program :       Ed Wheeler
        wheeler@vmi.edu          (540) 464-75
Publicity :     John Fennick
        j.fennick@ieee.org       (540) 552-0052
Student Activities:
                John Bay
        bay@vt.edu               (540) 231-5114
                
NEWSLETTER
Editor:                 John Fennick
        j.fennick@ieee.org       (540) 552-0052

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