Power Electronics

Recognizing Progress on Many Fronts

Last month, we began our celebration of the magazine's 30th anniversary. We continue that celebration this month with another installment of “Then & Now” (page 46) and with a feature that traces the development of magnetics design over the last 30 years (“Modern Magnetics Builds on Legacy of the Past,” page 52). Like the anniversary articles that appeared in the July issue, these features seek to discuss power component developments in context. Often that context involves discussion of many different topics.

For example, in the magnetics area, it's almost impossible to write about the development of inductors and transformers without discussing the evolution of switched-mode power supplies (SMPSs) and their progression to higher switching frequencies. And going a step further, it's impossible to talk about SMPSs moving to higher frequencies without mentioning the improvements in transistor technology that made higher-switching frequencies practical. Similarly, the advent of CAD software and the Internet had a major effect on magnetics design, shortening the time and effort required to model inductors and transformers.

Technical developments also have a context rooted in the businesses and people that foster them. This fact becomes apparent in reading many of the anniversary articles. Although the intent in these features is to explain how particular types of components and design techniques have advanced, it's difficult to do so without pointing to the particular companies that played important roles in developing the new technologies.

Of course, “companies” don't innovate. It's the people within those companies who make the big breakthroughs happen. But because of the team environment that pervades much of the corporate world, the role of the individual in inventing new technologies is often downplayed. So while we may know where certain discoveries were made, we often don't know who made them. Given the brevity of our 30th anniversary articles, we may not be able to identify many of the individuals responsible for milestone developments in power over the last three decades. However, we do have a forum for highlighting the achievements of individual engineers who have had a major impact on our industry. That forum is our Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is meant to recognize a pioneering individual for his or her technical and business-related accomplishments. Last year, Power Electronics Technology honored Eric Lidow, founder and chairman of International Rectifier (El Segundo, Calif.), with our first Lifetime Achievement Award. This year we will be spotlighting the accomplishments of another worthy individual for contributions to power electronics engineering or the business of power electronics.

The individual selected to receive our second annual Lifetime Achievement Award will be profiled in the September issue of our magazine. The honoree will then be recognized in a ceremony at the upcoming Power Electronics Technology Conference and Exhibition, which is part of PowerSystems World, that will take place October 25-27 in Baltimore. Presentation of the award will follow the keynote speech.

During this ceremony, we also will present our Product of the Year award, recognizing a recent innovation that we believe will impact the field for years to come. An article announcing the award selection and discussing the significance of the product selected will appear in the October issue.

Last year, this award celebrated Enpirion's (Bridgewater, N.J.) development of a dc-dc converter IC with a MEMS inductor embedded in the package — an accomplishment that may herald how dc-dc converters will be constructed in the future. With this year's Product of the Year award, we seek to pay tribute to another product development that stands out as being both highly innovative and potentially trend setting.

Together with our ongoing anniversary celebration, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Product of the Year give us additional opportunities to shed some light on the evolution of our industry. We also hope that by recognizing past and present accomplishments in our field, we may encourage other engineers to continue working toward what may be the breakthroughs of the future.

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