IEEE Region 9 (Latin America) History

IEEE Region 9 (Latin America) History
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Region number 9
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The First Sections of the AIEE and IRE in Latin America

An overview of the history of Region 9 can be found here.

The first explicit interest in the Activities of the AIEE in Latin America was registered in Mexico in 1910. H. S. Foley and J. W. Hale expressed their interest in local activities and forming a Section. A local Committee was elected with J.W. Hale as President for the period 1911-12. The formalization as an AIEE Section wasn’t successful at the time and was only started again after World War I.

On June 29, 1922, the Mexico City Section of the AIEE was officially approved at the Niagara Falls AIEE Meeting. Its first Chair was G. H. Paget.

It is noted the AIEE President H. B. Smith visits the Mexico Section in 1930, when D. E. Arias was Section Chair.

In 1948, the AIEE held one of its Meetings in Mexico; D. E. Arias was Section Chair. In 1932 another first was the formation of a Student Branch of the AIEE in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. This Student Branch, the oldest in the Region, has kept active and vibrant into the present days.

In 1939, thirty-four IRE Members met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the purpose of forming a Section of the IRE. The paperwork was quickly finished and formal approval of the Section was given on October 4. Adolfo Cosentino was named first Chair. It was the first IRE Section outside North America. A Student Branch (#193) was formed in the University of Buenos Aires in 1960. Previously, the Mayaguez campus of the University of Puerto Rico had formed an IRE Student Branch.

In Brazil the first section was formed in Rio de Janeiro in August 22, 1956. Its first chair was Walter Heiniger. Next one was Bogota, Colombia in 1958, with W. Meek as organizer and first chair. Last pre-IEEE section was in Santiago, Chile in 1961. Its first chair was Julio del Rio.

An IEEE Region in Latin America

When the IEEE was formed by merger of the AIEE and IRE in 1963, in addition to the Regions in the United States and Canada, the "rest of the World" was named “Region 9”. At that time in Latin America existed one AIEE Section in Mexico and four IRE Sections in Buenos Aires (Argentina, 1939), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil, 1956), Colombia (1958) and Chile (1961).

In 1965-1966, IEEE reorganized its geographic structure. The new-renamed Region 9 was defined to include All the Americas excepting Canada and the United States;. As two new IEEE Sections had already been formed in Puerto Rico in 1964, and Sao Paulo in 1966, the new “Region 9 IEEE Latin America” consisted now of seven Sections. The new Region would start formally on 1 January 1967. In November 1966, IEEE President, Walter Mac Adam visited seven countries in the Region to contact the existing Section’s volunteers and to promote activities and the formation of more sections. Francisco Hawley and Guillermo Andrews, directives of the Region were also part of the mission.

First Region 9 Director was Guillermo Andrews from Argentina (1966/67), who together with Francisco Hawley (second Director, 1968/69) from Mexico were instrumental in the creation of the Region 9. The first Regional Committee was chaired by Guillermo Andrews; vice-chair and treasurer was Francisco Hawley and Rainer Plugovel from Chile served as Secretary. Alberto Rodriguez from Venezuela was in charge of Student Activities and Eric Wallsten from Mexico the editor of the Electrolatina” regional technical publication.

The first Regional Meeting with the Section Chairs was held in Buenos Aires in 1967, and the Regional Committee has been meeting every year. It is customary to rotate the place of the Regional Meeting among all the appropriate locations. (See attached table of Regional Meetings dates and places).

New Sections and Councils

Some of the countries in the region are quite extended (notably Brazil and Mexico) and the need for local activities in cities different from the capital was addressed with the formation of more Sections. Sao Paulo in Brazil in 1966 and Monterrey in Mexico in 1975 were the first “second Sections” in their countries. A direct consequence was the formation of Country-Councils, first in Brazil (1970) and then in Mexico (1976). Presently (2009) the Mexican council has ten Sections and about 4000 members; the Brazilian Council has five Sections and about 2000 Members.

The Central America Section was formed in 1970 under the direction of Rodolfo Konigsberg of Guatemala, comprising 5 countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In the following years sub-sections were formed in each country. In 1972 a Section was organized in Panama by a group of IEEE Members leaded by Carlos Rodriguez. The section was formally approved. In 1982 the Central America and Panama Council CAPANA was formed by both Sections. In the following years all the countries/subsections were upgraded to Sections, starting with Costa Rica in 1986; Nicaragua was the last one in 1995.

The Regional Directors

The Regional bylaws indicate that the Office of the Regional Director has to rotate among the different countries. As this is an elected office, this is achieved barring candidates from the countries which are already represented in the trio of Past Director, Director or Director Elect. See Table of Region 9 directors.

The Publications of the Region


In 1967, it was an immediate preoccupation of the newly formed Region to edit and distribute among its members a technical publication in Spanish or Portuguese, the only two major languages in Latin America. It’s not very difficult for Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking Members to understand technical papers in the other language, as there are big similarities between them. In 1967 the first number of “ELECTROLATINA” was published. The Editor was Eric Wallsten from the Mexico Section and there were corresponding Editors in every Section/country of the Region. The publication continued for nine years until December 1975 with a total of Issues published.


Portada del NoticIEEEro N° 79

The NoticIEEEro was named changing a little bit the Spanish word “noticiero” which means “news cast”. For some years newsletters have been edited and distributed inside the Regional Committee and key volunteers in IEEE Region 9. In the late 1980s, an effort was made in Brazil to produce a publication for all members in the region. That was printed in newspaper format in Brazil, and packets of printed papers were sent to each section to be locally distributed and used as promotional material at meetings. Waldyr Lukato from São Paulo was the Editor. The “last-mile” local distribution to individual members was not reliable in some sections, and the publication was interrupted in 1989.

Starting in 1990, the NoticIEEEro changed its format to a booklet which was printed in Uruguay, sent by post to all the professional members in the region, and packets were sent to the student branches.

First issue appeared in June, 1990. With the support of Regional Director Luis T. Gandia and its followers, the model was successful for 22 years and 79 issues were published.

First editor and publisher of this “second era” was Juan Carlos Míguez (1990-5) from the newly-formed Uruguay Section. Successive Editors were Marcel Keschner (Uruguay, 1996), Marcelo Mota (Brazil, 1997), Francisco Martínez (Guadalajara, 1998-9) and Rafael Ávalos (Guadalajara, 2000), Jorge Him (Panama, 2001), Luis Alberto Arenas (Colombia, 2002-4, 2008), Pablo Fernando Sanchez (Colombia, 2005-7; Argentina, 2012), and José Ignacio Castillo-Velázquez (Mexico, 2008-11).

Starting in 2012 with the support of Regional Director Gustavo Giannattasio, NoticIEEEro is complemented by a strong and open social media strategy through tools like Facebook, Issuu, and Twitter.

Latin America Transactions

In 2003 being Regional Director Hugh Rudnick, a new publication was started. The “Latin America Transactions” an electronic-only, peer reviewed technical publications that accepts papers in Spanish, Portuguese or English. Jose Jardini (IEEE Fellow, from Brazil) was the first editor, and the first Issue appeared in October 2003. Issue Number 30 was published in 2008, and the present editor is Mirella Sechi from Brazil.

Regional Meetings

The first Regional Meeting was in Buenos Aires in 1967, shortly after the establishment of the Region. The Regional Committee meets every year in a different Section. See Table of Region 9 Meetings.

Conferences in the Region

The first LATINCON was organized in Sao Paulo by Regional Director Jose Roberto Lacerda, modeled on the INTERCON American Model in 1974. It was a biannual conference successively held on even years; the regional committee Meeting corresponding to that year was usually held in conjunction with LATINCON.

In 1988 an excellent and very successful LATINCON was organized and held in Buenos Aires. Distinguished speakers like Marvin Minsky and Ray Dolby, among others. It may have been one of the best Conferences of the Region ever. A few years afterwards the model of a Region-wide horizontal conference started to fail. In 1990 LATINCON was held in conjunction with MEXICON in Mexico and 1992 in Santiago the Chile. Those were the last ones.

Council-organized Conferences are and have been successful. In Central America the CONCAPAN is a very successful example of conference in the Region, alternating among the 6 countries every year. It has a long tradition dating back to 1971, years before the formation of the council CAPANA. The first “Convencion de Centro America”, CONCA was organized by the Central America Section in 1971, form July 30 to August 3 in the city of Guatemala. It was decided that CONCA would be organized in each country twice, moving afterwards to another country in the Central America Section. The last one was CONCA XI, also in Guatemala in 1980. At this conference Antonio Raven (chair of the Panama Section) and the Central America Section directives decide that the next convention would be held in Panama and its name would change to CONCAPAN.

In 1981, with the formation of the CAPANA Council already in process, the first CONCAPAN was held in Panama from July 9 to 11. It has been held every year, rotating among the countries; the XXIX CONCAPAN is in San Pedro Sula, Honduras from 4 to 6 November, 2009.

The Students in the Region

In Latin America the Students make a very dynamic and numerous group. They are approximately 40 percent of the total Membership and occupy a special place in the Region. In some sections there are almost as many Student Members as Professional degree Members. In the regional bylaws, since 1998, a Student representative is a voting Member of the Regional Committee. Together with the Student Activities Committee Chair (who is also a Member of the Regional Committee). There are many events (all kind of Meetings and even national and international conferences) being planned, organized and conducted by students. The Sections and the Region always give support, but the Students are the real force behind those activities.

Some of the most significant Student Conferences, with a tradition extending for many years are: CONESCAPAN (XXVIII in El Salvador, September, 2009) INTERCON (XVI in Arequipa, Peru August 2009), INGELECTRA in Chile every year since 1984.
In addition, the Region supports an annual Branches Meeting (“RRR”, Reunion Regional de Ramas). The first ones were in Lima 1997, Rosario 1999; after the 2001 Meeting in Sao Paulo they are held every year in a different Section


Being an extended, multi-country Region, electronic communications specially e-mail have been intensively used since the early 90’s. To avoid delays of postal services (in some places and times could be very long) and expense of Telephone conferences, extensive usage of e-mail started in 1990 using Compmail for the volunteers who did not had access to University networks (Director Luis T. Gandia, e-communications committee chair Juan C. Miguez among others).

The Region was the first to achieve 100% Sections e-mail coverage in 1993, at that time on of the goals of the Regional Activities Board (now Member and Geographic Activities. There was a gopher of the Region based in the University of La Salle in Mexico in 1993 [1] and the first regional Web started in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez in 1995 with William Velez as Webmaster [2] In 1998 the Web was transferred to Piscataway (using the facility "Entity Web hosting, ewh" and Juan Falcon from PR was the webmaster). In that year Director Juan C. Miguez started the "Virtual Office" of the Region as a protected part of the Website for volunteer information and administrative purposes in the Regional Committee.

IEEE Milestones in Latin America

Three IEEE Milestones have been recognized in Latin America, as follows:

In the Chile Section, on October 24, 2001 the pioneer Chivilingo Hydroelectric Plant, from 1897 was recognized. The 1897 430 kW Chivilingo Plant was the first hydroelectric plant in Chile and the second in South America. It represented a new key technology and a new source of electrical energy in the Region.

Arecibo Observatory

In the Puerto Rico & Caribbean Section the NAIC/Arecibo Radiotelescope, from 1963, was recognized in Nov 2001. The Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest radio telescope, was dedicated in 1963. Its design and implementation led to advances the areas of antenna design, signal processing, and electronic instrumentation, and in the mechanical engineering areas of antenna suspension and drive systems.

In the Panama Section, the Panama Canal Electrical and Control Installations, from 1914 was recognized on April 4, 2003. The Panama Canal project included one of the largest and most important electrical installations in the world early in the 20th century. The use of 1022 electric motors with an installed capacity of 28,290 horsepower largely replaced the steam and water powered equipment then in common use. Reliability and safety were also engineered into the innovative electrical control system, enabling remote lock operation from a central location.

Awards and Recognitions

Two distinguished Directors of the Region have received the prestigious IEEE Haraden Pratt Service Award. Antonio Carlos Bastos from Salvador, Brazil (Bahia Section) in 2006 “For leadership and distinguished service in sustaining and extending IEEE’s global recognition.”

Luis T. Gandia from San Juan, Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico and Caribbean Section) in 2007 “For outstanding leadership in promoting technical activities at the regional level and the transnational character of the IEEE at the Board level.”

Principal Awards of the MGA, Member and Geographic Activities Board (previously Regional Activities board, RAB.

MGA / RAB Larry K Wilson Transnational Award In 2003,Hugo Maria Fernandez-Versteggen, “For his significant contributions to making IEEE a truly global Society”.

In 1995, Luis T. Gandia, (Puerto Rico), for “A full professional life dedicated to serving and stimulating others, through his example, to live and support the principles and ideals of the IEEE”.

In 1986, Carlos Rivera Abrams,(Puerto Rico), for creative accomplishments and exemplary efforts in expanding the Student, Chapter Section and Region activities in Latin America“.

In 1985, Jose Fernando Valdez,(Peru), “For exceptional leadership and creativity in successfully integrating all of the RAB Objectives into the operations of the IEEE Peru Section”.

William W. Middleton Distinguished Service Award, In 2002 to Antonio C. Bastos, (Bahia, Brazil), for inspiring leadership and dedicated service in promoting IEEE Region, Section and Chapter activities in Region 9, and at the international level”.

Region 9 in the IEEE Board of Directors

Every Regional Director is a voting Member of the IEEE Board of Directors. Additionally, some distinguished Volunteers from Latin America and some past Regional Director have served additional terms on the Board as Members of the Executive Committee.

The first to serve as Secretary of the IEEE was Ramiro Garcia Sosa (Mexico) in 1987, followed by Hugh Rudnick (Chile) in 1991, Luis T Gandia (Puerto Rico) in 1994, Antonio Bastos (Brazil) in 1998 and Hugo Fernandez Versteggen (Argentina) 2001 and 2002. Roberto Boisson de Marca (Brazil) was secretary in 2006.

Regional Activities Vice-Presidents have bee: Luis T Gandia (Puerto Rico) in 1992/93 Antonio Bastos (Brazil) in 2000 and Pedro Ray (Puerto Rico) in 2006/2007. Pedro Ray also served as Treasurer in 2003/04 and was elected IEEE President for 2010, the first one from the Region.

On the Technical side, Roberto Boisson de Marca (Brazil) was Communications Society President and Division III Director in 2004/05 . He also served as Technical Activities Vice president in 2008. Luis T. Gandia was Division VI Director in 1999/2000 and Enrique Tejera (Panama) Division VII Director for 2010/11. Teofilo Ramos from Mexico served as Education Activities Vice-president in 2009.

Sources of Information

  • Regional web pages
  • NoticIEEEros
  • Memoria de la Region 9 IEEE” Edited by Carlos Rodriguez; Panama 1984
  • Personal archives from Jose Roberto Costa de Lacerda
  • Personal archives from Juan Carlos Miguez
  • Memoria Historica de CAPANA 1982 - 2007” Marcos Chen; Panama 2007
  • Seccion Peru 40 Años”, 2007.
  • Años IEEE Seccao South Brazil” 2006.
  • Proceedings of the IRE” various Issues
  • Contribution of Juan Carlos Miguez, Feb. 2010

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