Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Senior Member

In picking up my mail yesterday for the first time after Christmas vacation, I found a letter from IEEE President Leah Jamieson:

It is a pleasure to advise you that have you have been elevated to the grade of Senior Member in the IEEE. Only 7.78% of our approximately 374,800 members hold this grade which, as you know, requires experience reflecting professional maturity and significant professional achievements.
While this is something I’ve wanted to do for almost five years, the main hang-up was getting the recommendation letters from three people at Senior or Fellow rank. Such inertia seems like a reasonable hurdle to force applicants to clear, and last fall I was finally fortunate to identify three sponsors whose reputations carried the day.

Thanks to longtime Computer Society board member (and someday CompSoc president) Jim Isaak for agreeing to be my first sponsor 30 months ago. We met after he’d submitted his analysis of 20 years of IEEE POSIX standardization first to a conference track and then to a special issue that I was co-editing on IT standards. For obvious reasons I didn’t ask until after the paper had been accepted, not that it was ever an issue: both Henk de Vries and I strongly always wanted to accept the paper if we could, because it provided a unique perspective on the Unix wars and also on IEEE standardization more generally.

Thanks also to my friend Ken Krechmer for providing a second recommendation. We first met at the 2001 SIIT conference which (less than a month after 9-11) was the smallest of the five SIIT conferences thus far. Since then, Ken has provided ongoing feedback on getting my stories straight when studying communications standards, as well as shouldering (in retirement) the thankless job of SIIT program chair.

Most of all, thanks to IEEE Fellow Dave Forney of MIT, who after a year still really only knows me from reading draft manuscripts from my (ongoing) book project From MIT to Qualcomm. Since then, Dave has opened a lot of doors for me, including introducing me to other leaders in Information Theory and sponsoring my guest talk last year at the ’Tute. Given Dave is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering — as well as a Marconi Fellow and the 1995 winner of the Shannon Award — I suspect his backing made the application impossible to refuse.

Thanks Jim, Ken and Dave. Let’s see if I can contribute something myself to the IEEE (other than write book reviews).

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