IEEE New Zealand North Section History
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The Early Years
New Zealanders have made signioficant marks on technology in the early days, here is vackground on two:
Earnest Rutherford was a schoolboy in Nelson New Zealand in 1884. He entered Cambridge University England in 1895 and researched with J.J. Thompson the characteristics of the conduction of electricity through gases. His crowning achievement was the development of the nuclear theory of atoms and the explanation of the structure of the atom. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1908 and is the father of electronics as we know it in the science of electrical and electronics engineering.
W.H. Pickering, a Fellow of the IEEE and Member of the US National Academy of Engineering was born in NZ in 1910. He emigrated to the USA as a youth and studied at the California Institute of Technology. In 1954 he became Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory California, initiating early satellite projects including Explorer and later, for NASA, the unmanned exploration of the moon and planets by use of guided space vehicles, a programme which reached its zenith with the Viking mission to Mars in 1976. He visited New Zealand regularly throught his career and retirement.
The original New Zealand Section of the IEEE, initially with just 50 members, was established early in 1968 following an earlier formation of a Tokyo Section in Japan. Many of the 50 members,one was the late Sir John Allum a benefactor and former mayor of Auckland, had been members of either the AlEE or IRE, the two societies which merged to form the IEEE just a few years earlirer.
The petition organizer for the new Section in NZ, Robert Adams, had no easy task in filling the petition, because when first contemplated the number of members resident in NZ was below the necessary 50. Also, because members had addresses scattered throughout NZ, circulating a petition for signature was an exercise in itself. The regional director appointee at the time of seccessful section establishment was Dr. Shigeo Shima of Tokyo, formerly with NHK and for some time now executive adviser with the Sony Corporation. In a congr-atulatory letter he expressed his delight at having another IEEE Section in his care.
The founding officers of the New Zealand Section were,
Robert Adams Chairman, Earnest Davenport Vice Chairman, David Joseph
Treasurer, David Hutt Secretary.
The technical meetings in Auckland which followed were on occasions held conjointly with other technical and scientific interest groups and newsletters were introduced to keep contact with members remotely situated, which included the South Island of New Zealand.
The NZ IEEE Section became a co-sponsor of the annual national electronics conference (NELCON) in 1969 and supported the idea of a standing joint committee of participating societies for the purpose of planning the conference from year to year, an arrangement which still stands. A very successful joint electronics conference was held in 1970 with the Prime Minister visiting an IEEE exhibit which had been arranged to promote membership interest, and to promote co-operation with other societies.
Earlier hopes of like participation in a national power conference have not eventuated, this is a less vigorous technology.
The first visit by an IEEE President, namely Robert Tanner, took place in June 1972. He met IEEE members in Auckland and in Christchurch and meetings were arranged between Mr. Tanner and the officers of kindred societies for the purpose of extending cooperation and understanding.
In 1974 the first technical chapter was formed, namely that of the Industry Applications Society.
In 1975 Robin Harrington of Christchurch approached the executive of the NZ IEEE Section with a proposal that a South Island NZ Section of the IEEE be established.
The proposal could not proceed at the time because there were fewer than 50 members in the South Island. At a subsequent election of officers Robin Harrington became Vice Chairman of the existing New Zealand Section.
In 1978 he put forward a first petition for a South Island Section. This petition was finally approved in 1979 after a boundary adjustment which divided the New Zealand membership into two sections, namely:
- New Zealand North Section; and
- New Zealand South Section.
Since 1970 Sections have been instrumental in arranging visits to New Zealand of several distinguished speakers in the computer, medical and communications fields of interest. Council and Section officers have been pleased to receive
visits by IEEE Presidents in 1972, 1976, 1978, 1981 and 1983.
Sections have made an arrangement with the national engineering society IPENZ whereby they share participation at the monthly electrotechnology meetings.