IEEE Talks Transportation Electrification: Prof. Yaobin Chen

Yaobin Chen, Chair, IEEE Transportation Electrification Community (TEC) Administrative Committee & Chair, Standards Standing Committee, IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society provides insights on IEEE TEC goals and activities. 


Q: How do you define TEC and what’s its mission?

YC: If you look at transportation electrification as a technical field, it really consists of a number of IEEE technical units that all work on certain technical aspects related to the broad area of transportation electrification. This directly impacts our mission, which is to coordinate broad and deep activities throughout the IEEE to drive the growth of electrification across all the transportation domains. That said, it’s not just electric and hybrid vehicles and automobiles, but also electrification applications for aviation, shipping and rail transportation systems.  With so many component technologies related to transportation electrification within IEEE, and the many technical societies that are addressing certain aspects of those component technologies, such as system integration, for example, IEEE TEC stands to offer a unified voice to engage stakeholders outside IEEE, and to solicit input and participation to help advance this broad market sector.  


Q: How does TEC work and coordinate with other IEEE societies?


YC: As an IEEE technical community, we partner with several technical societies and councils within IEEE. Our seven core member societies include the IEEE Power Electronics Society, the IEEE Power and Energy Society, the IEEE Consumer Electronic Society, the IEEE Industrial Application Society, the IEEE Standards Association, the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society, and the IEEE Industrial Electronics Society. Our affiliate members include the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society, the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, the IEEE Reliability Society, and the IEEE Systems Council. IEEE TEC enjoys similar privileges defined by IEEE Technical Activity Board, just like other technical societies.  However, TEC doesn’t compete internally with technical societies and remains focused on serving as a coordinating unit to the outside the world.


Q: So, how does TEC interact with these participating societies:


YC: Because we have insight into each of these societies, our efforts are concentrated on making determinations about where activities or initiatives could be launched. How that works is that for each core member society, we have a rep that serves as voting members on our steering committee. Added to that count, the four affiliated societies agree upon an elected representative to cast a single vote. The voting members essentially are formed to run the technical community.

Q: How did TEC come about and what are some near-term objectives and challenges?

YC: This is the third year of our existence as a community, where we were initially named an initiative under IEEE Future Directions. TEC is among the first technical communities established within IEEE, so as expected we were first challenged to make ourselves known and educate people as to our purpose and intent so as to demonstrate value as an organization. 

Secondly, we have to coordinate work with our eleven partnering units, each of which has their own scope of focus on technical areas where we don't want to have overlap or compete with them. The challenge was to foster effective collaboration, where TEC works with those technical units to enhance and complement what they have already achieved, help provide further benefits for all of them moving forward. Effective communication is key to achieving this and an area where we remain focused. 

Thirdly, we are tasked with further developing our membership. IEEE TEC membership is free, as we are supported by our core societies and affiliate societies. While we currently have in the neighborhood of 7000 members, we really are focused on how to provide a value-added service to our partnering society members, and to think of services that will not overlap with those societies and which will really provide a value-added service. One offering that has received positive recognition is our IEEE TEC Newsletter, which is now being indexed by Google Scholar, and has helped facilitate growth through its free offering to TEC members.


Q: What are some core activities of IEEE TEC and how are they achieved?

YC: The steering committee within TEC is our governing body, and under that we have a number of standing committees that address specific areas, such Industry Relations, Professional Development, Education, Publications, and Conferences. Each of these committees is structured in a uniform manner common to IEEE, with a chair and vice chair in a leadership role and focused on their inpidual activities. For example, our Education Committee has done wonderful job organizing and hosting educational activities, such as webinars covering different topics and offering short educational courses.  What’s more, we also have a distinguished lecture program, with several distinguished lectures having been funded by TEC, where they can pursue a variety of invitations to give distinguished lectures.  The Publications Committee is also very active, and works in partnership with the IEEE Power and Energy Society in developing content for its Electrification Magazine, and our Conference Committee is also very active pursuing opportunities in that specific area. Also, our Steering Committee represents members with strong affiliations to industry and standards development, so we are involved in this very important aspect of advancing transportation electrification technology. 

Q: What are some specific areas where you see emerging technologies related to transportation electrification? Are there any associated TEC activities in play? 

YC:   Obviously, there is a lot of familiarity with automotive or the automobile industry, such as electrical vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, driven by high visibility such as Tesla and other emerging manufacturers.  But there's still lot of technical challenges that need to be overcome through engineering and science to address the core emerging technologies associated with transportation electrification. We are looking broadly to explore new and emerging areas and developing cooperative agreements with organizations working in these areas. One such example is collaboration with The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a group of professionals, academics, standards and industry technical leaders. TEC and AIAA recently signed an MOU to launch a joint AIAA/IEEE conference series in the electrified aircraft area. This type of collaboration with other professional technical organizations is essential to staying abreast of emerging technical areas where we can participate and bring value to our members. We are exploring similar opportunities in maritime transportation electrification.    

Q: In closing, what is your main priority for the coming year?

YC: Clearly, we want to grow our membership and encourage broader participation to ensure we develop a comprehensive strategic plan that can evolve to meet the market demands and technological requirements of the transportation electrification industry. I invite stakeholders and interested parties to visit our website to explore our many resources and activities and see how they might lend their expertise and knowledge as an IEEE TEC member.