Newsletter - 2014 In Review

Message from the Chair

2014 was another good year for the IEEE Newfoundland-Labrador Section. In March we held another successful Student night, honouring the achievements of this year's Electrical and Computer Engineering graduating class in their capstone projects. Once again this year we awarded prizes for the top three presentations and top demonstrations in the class. Those winners were:

  • Presentation - 1st Place: Optimisation of Neural Recording Interface
    Alika Bhatia, Stephen Gilharry Aaron McLonghlan and Kathryn Ronayne
  • Presentation - 2nd Place: Control System for an IPM Motor Drive
    Mark Kenny, Brian Corcoran, Kyle Critch and Raheel Zaman
  • Presentation - 3rd Place: Team Skandle - Automatic Book Scanner
    Jamiu Adeleke, Seamus Blackmore and Mitchell Applin
  • Best Demonstration: Model of a Permanent Magnet Hysteresis Motor
    Matt Halloran, Tyler LeDrew, and Alex Matchem

The Section held its annual Lobster Boil in June. Although the weather did not want to cooperate those in attendance were in great spirits. With a mix of newcomers and "the regulars" the event was a great chance to network with colleagues in a casual environment.

September saw the single largest event the Section has ever been involved with, Oceans 2014. In fact, Oceans was the largest conference ever held in St. John's. With over 1200 full conference registrations and over 1900 total attendance, the conference was a huge success. Oceans was the result of a collaboration between the Provincial and Federal Governments, the City of St. John's, and the local IEEE and MTS Sections. IEEE NL was well represented on the committee by the hard work of members of our OES Chapter.

In November the Section held another successful NECEC. This years conference included a special session sponsored by our new Women In Engineering Affinity Group that highlighted achievement of local female Engineers and participants in the WISE Summer Student Employment Program (SSEP). The final numbers are not in yet but the conference was very successful from a financial point of view. Surpluses from NECEC are used by the section to support student activities.

Oceans 2014

The Oceans 2014 Conference was held in St. John’s in September 2014. There were 1963 attendees, of which about 1200 were full delegates with the remainder comprising exhibitors and students. It was a large conference for St. John’s, exceeding the next largest in recent experience that had 1600 delegates, and one of the larger Oceans conferences internationally.

Over the years Oceans has evolved into both a technical conference and a trade show.

For the technical program 547 abstracts were received and 317 papers were accepted, including 62 from Newfoundland. There was a large poster session for students and 4 tutorial sessions. In addition to the core topics common to all Oceans Conferences, the technical program for the St. John’s event included as themes:

  • Marine Operations in Ice-Infested Waters
  • Augmented Reality for Marine Applications
  • Subsea Power Transmission
  • Cold Ocean Safety, Survival, and Rescue
  • Persistent Ocean Observations
  • Sustainable Fish Harvesting and Aquaculture Technologies
  • Unmanned Marine Systems for Open Ocean Applications
  • Ocean Science and Technology Research Infrastructure

There was a total of 151 exhibitor booths from companies and organizations from all over the world, a large proportion being from Newfoundland.

There were tours of Memorial including the STePS2 project, the Autonomous Ocean Systems Laboratory, C-CORE, and the Marine Institute. The Town of Holyrood sponsored Day in the Bay for delegates to promote its Oceans Holyrood Initiative to attract ocean industries to the town.

Computer, Communications, Circuits and Systems Chapter Update

The IEEE Newfoundland-Labrador Section Computer, Communication, and Circuits & Systems Joint Societies Chapter ran three well-attended events during 2014 as outlined below.

  1. Computer Society DVP Seminar on Large System Resilience

    Time: Aug 05, 2014

    Speaker: Dr. Prabhakar Kudva from IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, USA

    Presentation Title: Development of Automation Tools for VLSI Chip Optimization and Large System Resilience

    Location: Engineering Building (Room EN-4002), Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada

    Prabhakar Kudva Event
    Prabhakar Kudva of IBM giving his talk.
  2. IEEE Communication Society DLT Seminar on Carrier-Grade Networks

    Time: Aug 22, 2014

    Speaker: Dr. Koichi Asatani from Nankai University, Tianjin, China and Kogakuin University, Japan

    Presentation Title: Carrier-Grade Networks toward the Future - NGN and Its Issues

    Location: Engineering Building (Room EN-4002), Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada

    Koichi Asatani Event
    Koichi Asatani presenting.
  3. Technical Talk on Underwater Wireless Communications

    Time: Sept 15, 2014

    Speaker: Dr. Rosa Zheng from Dept of ECE, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409, USA

    Presentation Title: Low-Cost Underwater Wireless Communications and Network Applications

    Location: Engineering Building (Room EN-4002), Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada

    Rosa Zheng Event
    Rosa Zheng on underwater communications.

Awards and Scholarships

The IEEE NL Section Electrical and Computer Engineering Scholarships

The IEEE NL Section Scholarships are awarded yearly to two full-time undergraduate students in Term 4 and 6, respectively. The students must be enrolled in Electrical and Computer Engineering, active IEEE student members, and of scholarship standing as defined by the University. The objectives of these scholarships are to increase the interest of the students in the IEEE, enhance a promising student's ability to succeed at the undergraduate level, and provide students with a reason and opportunity to think seriously about their professional goals. This year, the Term 4 scholarship was awarded to Meghan McGee and the Term 6 scholarship was awarded to Neil power. Let us continue to encourage our university engineering students to be active participants in IEEE.

IEEE Women in Engineering Affinity Group

IEEE Women in Engineering celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014. IEEE WIE is the largest international professional organization dedicated to promoting women engineers and scientists. The mission of IEEE WIE is to facilitate the recruitment and retention of women in technical disciplines globally.

For the last number of years there has been an IEEE representative on the Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador Board of Directors, to work with WISE-NL to help achieve this mission. With the encouragement of the Region and the support of Section members, a WIE Affinity Group was formed in the IEEE NL Section early in 2014. The group intends to work closely with WISE-NL and other like-minded organizations and activities to promote ECE fields as viable career options to young women, and help women already in those fields.

Gloria Montano gives insight into working in Silicon Valley during the early years.
Gloria Montano gives insight into working in Silicon Valley during the early years.

At NECEC 2014 a special Women in Engineering session was held, with invited talks from Gloria Montano (past-president, WISE-NL) about her experiences in early Silicon Valley, and from the manager and some participants from the WISE-NL Summer Student Employment Program on what the program does for young women and the experiences of some young women who worked in Electrical and Computer Engineering roles. The final presentation of the session was one of the NECEC award winners - Shuyen Chen, who presented her research in high-frequency radar.

The WIE group is currently chaired by Lori Hogan, who will be stepping down from the role due to other commitments as soon as a replacement can be found. If you are interested in this, please contact Brian Kidney, Section Chair.

Membership Development Update

The membership development of our section has keeping steady over the past few months. The total active members as of November 2014 are 217, which includes: Associate Member (1), Graduate Student Member (36), Life Fellow (1), Life Member (2), Life Senior (3), Member (116), Senior Member (16) and Student Member (42). If you have not already done so please consider renewing your membership. You can do so online at:

If you would like to be a member but special circumstances (such as minimum income, retired, unemployed, or permanently disabled) have impacted your ability to pay the full amount of the IEEE membership dues, IEEE is willing to offer reduced membership fees. For more information go to:

Senior Member is the highest grade for which IEEE members can apply. We encourage anyone who is eligible to apply. To see if you qualify for senior membership go to:

We are always looking to recruit new members and we encourage our current members to share their experience with someone who you think would benefit from an IEEE Membership. Through the Member-Get-a-Member (MGM) program, IEEE rewards your efforts in recruiting new members. For more information go to:

NECEC 2014

NECEC 2014 was held November 3rd, 2014 at the Holiday inn in St. John's. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, sponsors, and attendees, this year's conference was a once again both a technical and financial success.

NECEC 2014 Keynote and Luncheon Speakers
NECEC 2014 Keynote and Luncheon Speakers

The day started with a keynote talk presented by Yves Fontaine of Bell Aliant and Chris Hardy of Ciena entitled Closing the Agility Gap for Optical Transport Networks: Unleashing the Information-Powered Carrier. Mr. Fontaine concentrated his portion of the keynote on recent developments of Bell Aliant's transport networks in Newfoundland and Labrador, while Mr. Hardy focussed on the capabilities software-defined networks would bring to future optical transport networks. The luncheon speaker, Gerard Dunphy (Nalcor), spoke on the notion of The Engineer as Humanitarian and the various activities undertaken by the IEEE to improve the world through technology. Both talks were very well-received.

NECEC 2014 Poster Session
NECEC 2014 Poster Session

A full slate of 52 technical oral presentations were offered throughout the rest of the day by students, academics, and industry members. An additional 14 poster presentations were viewed during coffee breaks. In recognition of the 20th anniversary of IEEE Women in Engineering and the formation of a local affinity group, a special session on Women in Engineering was held.

NECEC 2014 Crush Area
NECEC 2014 Crush Area

Four awards were presented at lunch to those authors of high caliber papers. These winners were:

  • Wally Read Best Student Paper Award: "An Ionospheric Reflection Coefficient Model for Mixed-path Propagation of HF Radio Waves" by Shuyan Chen, Eric W. Gill, and Weimin Huang
  • Wally Read Best Young Professionals Paper Award: "Development of a Novel Water Current Energy Device" by N. Khan and S. Rabbi
  • T. David Collett Best Industry Paper Award: "Enabling Beyond 100G Optical Transport Networks in Next Generation Field Programmable Gate Arrays" by Chuck Rumbolt
  • Byron Dawe Best Poster Award: "Aspects of Computer Controlled X-ray Spectral Line Shape Analysis of Asphaltenes" by John Courtenay Lewis and John Shirokoff
NECEC 2014 Award Winners
NECEC 2014 Award Winners

This year's conference was chaired by Jane Kieley of Bell Aliant who led a committee consistion of Paul Thorburn, Lihong Zhang, Mohamed Shehata, Weimin Huang, Kathryn Hong, Sarah Mansour, Susie Moore, Lori Hogan, Andrew Cook, Eric Gill, Brian Kidney, and Andrew House. The committee wishes to thank Memorial University's Faculty of Engineering for invaluable logistical support and resources. Many thanks as well to the sponsors of NECEC 2014.

Gold Sponsors
Ciena Nalcor
The Electronics Centre Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development
Silver Sponsors
ABB Altera
GJ Cahill PEG-NL
Newfoundland Power  
Bronze Sponsors
Rutter Graybar Canada
Core Engineering Inc.  

IEEE Young Professionals Update

At the end of 2013, IEEE GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) was renamed to IEEE Young Professionals in order to make its purpose clear and widen its membership.

Two guest speaking events were held this year at Memorial University of Newfoundland for the Young Professionals group. These events were organized based on feedback received from the Young Professional members on what sort of events members were interested in attending. As always feedback from the membership is welcomed in order to appropriately plan future events. Please feel free to contact the Young Professionals Chair Jamie Schurmans at the following email address for any event requests: See below for event details for 2014.

Solace Power – Guest Speaker Event – May 29, 2014

Solace Power technology
Solace Power technology

Justin Blackwood from Solace Power gave a talk on wireless power technology used in products developed by Solace Power. The company is involved in research and development in electric field induction-based wireless technology for the purposes of developing wireless power to electronic devices.

Solace Power in action
Solace Power technology in action

Protoshed – Guest Speaker Event – Dec 02, 2014

Jordan Elliot from Protoshed gave a talk on hackerspaces in St. John's. The presentation included projects the group was involved in such as 3-D printing, addressable LEDs, GPS, and Raspberry Pi computers.

Protoshed talk
Jordan Elliot of Protoshed

Young Professionals Congress

In addition to the events, the Young Professionals Congress was held in Toronto this year which welcomed Young Professional Chairs from across Canada. (Jamie Schurmans attended on behalf of the Newfoundland-Labrador section.) The Congress provided information sessions on what other Young Professional groups are doing in Canada. These sessions included topics such as type of events held in other sections, options for events, collaboration with other sections and tools available for event planning and execution. We will be looking to incorporate some of these ideas in future events.

Student Branch Report

In January, the Student Branch began to look for students interested in running for the Student Branch Executive (Society A). There were no elections necessary and the new society A executive is as follows:

  • Jessica Hillier was elected Chair
  • Neil Power was elected Vice Chair
  • Tyler Stevens was elected Secretary
  • Andrew Swan was elected Treasurer

In March, the newly elected Student Branch, aided by the senior students, helped out with the annual IEEE Student Night project demos.

Later in October, three teams competed in the IEEExtreme 24 Hour Programming Competition. The teams worked hard through the night to solve challenging programming problems, proctored by a team of volunteers from the Section. The competition proved both enjoyable and educational to all participants and Student Branch anticipates hosting such a successful event again in future years.

In November, the Student Branch helped out at the Newfoundland Electrical and Computer Engineering Conference (NECEC). The Student Brach provided nine volunteers to help set up and operate Audio/Visual Equipment and burn of CDs containing conference material. The Student volunteers were given an excellent opportunity to learn about about the electrical and computer engineering projects happening around the province.

In late November, the Student Branch applied for funding from the region for the McNaughton Centre which has been unused the past few years. Both Society A and Society B have come together to discuss what the McNaughton Centre should be and the theme of robotics had been decided. A budget was created and the branch was awarded $1500 to spend on equipment for the room. What the money will be spent on exactly is yet to be determined. There are many plans that the branch is hoping to flesh out over the next year to bring more opportunities to students.