IEEE Chicago Section Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Chicago, IL, May 29, 2019 – The Chicago Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) hosted a fair in recognition of the 125th anniversary of its first meeting that was held at the Armour Institute in 1894. The IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology, and the Chicago Section has the unique distinction of being the first section formed outside the New York headquarters of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE). In 1963 the AIEE and the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) merged to form the IEEE. The fair was held on Saturday April 27, 2019 at the newly opened Kaplan Institute on the campus of Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) not far from the site of the first meeting. In 1940, Armour Institute and Lewis Institute merged to form IIT. The fair recognized the contributions made by Chicagoland electrical and electronics engineers while encouraging high-school students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Outside view of the Kaplan Center

The 125th anniversary fair was held at the new Kaplan Institute on the campus of Illinois Tech.

The Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship (Kaplan Institute) opened in the fall of 2018. This 70,000 sq.-ft LEED-Gold designated building is now the home of IIT’s Institute of Design, and the Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO) where innovation teams collaborate on solving challenging issues facing society. The fair had access to the first floor including the Tellabs Innovation Alley used for the exhibit area, and the Victor Morgenstern Pitch used for informal short speaking opportunities. The reception desk, the John & Pat Anderson Café, maker space and idea shop where also available. Fifteen society chapters of the IEEE Chicago Section had tabletop or poster board displays that demonstrated the technologies they represented such as communications, computers, electromagnetic compatibility, industrial automation, power engineering, product safety, signal processing, vehicular electronics, and engineering management. Student chapter members offered tips on computer programming. Affiliate groups Women in Engineering, Chicago/Rockford Consultants’ Network, Life Members and Young Professionals were invited to display. The winning Interdisciplinary teams from IIT’s IPRO Day were invited to showcase their accomplishments. Engineers were on hand to explain their day-to-day activities, and to discuss career opportunities in their technical specialty. Scheduled speakers covered both technical and professional topics, engineering history, educational opportunities, and issues facing our society. Poster board displays reflected technical accomplishments by Chicagoland engineers and the three Chicagoland milestones granted by the IEEE Board of Directors. Optional tours of the IIT campus were offered.

photo of presentation being given

A view from the top of “The Pitch” where informal presentations were made.

The IEEE Chicago Section recognized the generosity of IIT in the use of the new Kaplan Institute and for program participation. Additional sponsorships came from the Chicago Engineers’ Foundation (CEF) formed in 1903 to encourage and empower young people to become the next generation of engineers; and the Western Society of Engineers (WSE) who for over 100 years have conferred the Washington Award upon an engineer whose professional attainments have preeminently advanced the welfare of human kind. Donors included S&C Electric, UL, BMW Technology Corporation, Weldy-Lamont, Contemporary Controls, IEEE PACE, IEEE Life Members, and IEEE Region 4.

Lisa Schoedel and Dave Koehler

Lisa Schoedel, Chicago Section chair, receives plaque from Dave Koehler of Region 4.

David Koehler, Region 4 director, presented Lisa Schoedel, Chicago Section chair, a plaque recognizing the Chicago Section’s 125th anniversary. David Bart, treasurer of the IEEE History Committee spoke on the “Origins of the Edison Medal” and was one of the exhibitors showcasing his extensive collection of IEEE artifacts.

Students looking at demonstration

If it moved or sparked, students showed the most interest.

High-school students, their families, IEEE members and non-members, IIT students, faculty and alumni attended including groups of students from the Union League Boys and Girls Clubs. Admission was free with visitors receiving IEEE bag and water bottle plus printed program. Approximately 150 adults and students attended the event.

The catalysis for forming the Chicago Section was the favorable impression gained through a successful Columbian Exposition and the leadership of Chicagoland engineers, called “western engineers,” in petitioning what was then the AIEE to hold separate meetings outside New York. Professor Stine from the newly opened Armour Institute Armor Institute 1893(1893), now IIT, offered his lecture room in the main building for holding the initial meetings. The IEEE Chicago Section returned to the same campus not far from the main building to hold an event that recognized past achievements of Chicago’s engineering community while looking towards the future of exciting technical innovation. Those who attended said it was a great event and would like to see it repeated.

David Bart talking with a woman at a table-top presentation

David Bart of the IEEEE History Committee explains the origins of the Edison medal to an attendee.

A view of the exhibition room

Tabletop exhibits occupied the 9,000 sq.-ft Tellabs Innovation Alley

A man and woman talking at a table-top presetation

Visitors had an opportunity to learn about engineering and what engineers do.

A view of a presentation table

The Kaplan Institute was the perfect venue for showcasing the IEEE Chicago Section.