Message from the Chair

By Philip Krein


As I complete my term as Chair of the IEEE Transportation Electrification Community (TEC), I would like to share some long-term perspective.  It has been interesting to watch the progression of transportation electrification over the past 25 years, and especially over the past five as the TEC has started and matured.  In spite of the more than 100 year history of electric transportation, electric and hybrid cars were little more than clever demonstration projects even when the EV1 was introduced.  Contrast this to the end of 2016, when electrification is a recognized trend, increasingly embraced as a leadership opportunity in many industry sectors.  Many cities and governments are implementing supportive policies to reduce air pollution.  Several nations are pushing to help form major growth industries in electric transport.  Electrification trends and new products in the automotive sector now routinely make headlines, although steady progress continues in nearly all other vehicle and transport sectors.  The disruptions of ride-sharing services and local city rentals are reshaping urban transportation in ways that favor electrification.  This newsletter issue takes it even farther, with discussions of self-contained electric rail to eliminate wire connections, coming full circle from fully electric rail back to hybrid systems.


The challenges led by IEEE members still include operation and performance:  motors, drives, sensors, actuation, but now extend to full autonomy and systems integration.  There is a strong need for systems and software that allow electrified transportation to integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructure.  This includes the utility grid, highway and traffic control systems, air and marine transport systems, shipping and supply chain logistics, as well as vehicle production and maintenance.  There is still the enormous challenge of enhancing safety, making all forms of transportation far safer than is possible with unaided human operators.  And all these things must be accomplished, but at the same time, engineers must continue to meet the personal transportation aspirations of the public, and growing demand for real-time product tracking and shipping.  I expect that another 25 years from now, electrification will be obvious and few will remember when it was an emerging trend.  Keep up your good work, innovations, and ideas.  And be sure to help determine how TEC can help the industry, our members, and the public.


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