Oral-History:Lyle Feisel

About Lyle Feisel

Lyle Feisel, born in Tama, Iowa, received his undergraduate engineering degree at Iowa State, after serving four years in the U.S. Navy. While a student he was a member of both the IRE and the AIEE. In 1964, with a Ph.D. in hand, he moved with his family to begin a nineteen year career at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. He was also active in IEEE's Black Hills Section.

In 1983, Feisel became the founding dean of the Watson School of Engineering at SUNY Binghamton. He has been an active member of IEEE's Educational Activities Board, the IEEE Education Society, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), ABET as well as the IEEE Foundation.

About the Interview

LYLE FEISEL: An Interview Conducted by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, 17 December 2018.

Interview #824 for the IEEE History Center, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.

Copyright Statement

This manuscript is being made available for research purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to the IEEE History Center. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of IEEE History Center.

Request for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to Oral History Program, IEEE History Center at Stevens Institute of Technology, Samuel C. Williams Library, 3rd Floor, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken NJ 07030 USA or ieee-history@ieee.org. It should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows

Lyle Feisel, an oral history conducted in 2018 by Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, Hoboken, NJ, USA.

Interview

INTERVIEWEE: Lyle Feisel

INTERVIEWER: Michael Geselowitz

DATE: 17 December 2018

PLACE: Offices of IEEE-USA in Washington, D.C.

Education

Geselowitz:

This is Michael Geselowitz of the IEEE History Center. I’m here at the offices of IEEE-USA in Washington, DC, interviewing Lyle Feisel as part of the IEEE Foundation History Project. Lyle, please tell me about your early years and how you got interested in engineering and technology.

Feisel:

Well, my very early years, I was born in Iowa, farm boy. Did all of my elementary education in a one-room country school house. Then went to high school there in Iowa and kind of toward the end of my high school years, the faculty at the high school thought perhaps I should do something more than hang around Tama, Iowa. They suggested I should maybe study engineering, and of course, I had never heard of engineering or what engineers were or anything, but that did not deter me from starting at Iowa State right out of high school. I went to Iowa State for a year. The Korean War was just winding down, the Korean GI Bill was scheduled to expire at the end of that year, 1954, and I was out of money.

Geselowitz:

How did that impact you?

Feisel:

I left Iowa State and joined the US Navy. And, so, I was four years in the navy. And, then, I went back to Iowa State and got a bachelor's degree under the GI Bill. That was shortly after Sputnik and passage of the National Defense Education Act. So, I then had a fellowship, a National Education Act Fellowship, which got me through the Ph.D. So, now, here I am at, 1964, with a Ph.D. and wife and three children and went to work out at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where I was in the EE department. I did research and teaching and, and, all the stuff that one does, for some 19 years or so.

Geselowitz:

What were your research interests in those days?

Feisel:

I was basically doing thin-film type stuff, materials, little devices, things that you couldn't see, and, I did some of the early work with tin oxide films for thin-film solar cells. That was the time when the focus began on renewable energy. There were various things that I did. Frankly, I was pretty eclectic in my research, because things would happen, and, oh, gosh, that sounds interesting, and we'd go off and look at that and get a couple of master theses out of it and maybe a doctoral dissertation, and then something else would pop up, and I'd go look at that.

Geselowitz:

Were you involved with IEEE yet at that point?

IRE, AIEE, and IEEE

Feisel:

Yeah, as a matter of fact, I had been a member of both IRE and AIEE when I was a student, because in my senior year I was elected chair of the student branch. At that time, it was a joint student branch, so you had to belong to both organizations, which I did. So, then I went out to South Dakota and became active in the IEEE Black Hills Subsection, which was interesting. It was a subsection of the Denver Section, and at that time, anyway, our IEEE subsection had the highest percentage attendance at our meetings. That's because everyone belonged to either the Homestake gold mine or Black Hills Power and Light or the college. We all knew each other, so it was a great chance for everybody to get together, and we usually had our little social event with it. We'd have 90 percent attendance at our meetings.

Geselowitz:

Did the both the university and the business encourage their employees to belong to and participate in IEEE

Feisel:

Yes. That was emphasized very much. Then, I went through the offices of the subsection, too, so I was now chair of another unit of IEEE. Then career-wise, in 1983, I was invited to become the founding dean of the Watson School of Engineering at SUNY Binghamton. I went out there in 1983 and basically started the school and got it up and running and got to age 65 and thought it's time to get out of there.

Geselowitz:

Now, that's presumably the Watson of IBM.

Feisel:

Yes, it is. Thomas Watson Sr.

Geselowitz:

Because, IBM was originally headquartered in Endicott, New York, not far from there. Though, eventually, that became a branch, a very small satellite office, and I think eventually it might have closed down.

Feisel:

That was correct. It was International Time Recorder, and then that spun into International Business Machines under Thomas J. Watson. Then, of course, he was dead by the time the Watson School was started, but his son was still alive and gave permission to use his father's name to name the school.

Geselowitz:

And, did they donate, IBM or the family, donate a large gift to the school?

Feisel:

IBM gave us a quarter million to start, over a five-year period; the family did not. I used to approach Thomas, Jr. about once every year or six months or so, and I'd send him a nice note, and he's send me a nice note back, and I thought, you know, I know what he's going to do. When he passes on, there's going to be a really nice gift in the will. Didn't happen. They always disappointed me, but Watson himself was not that involved in Binghamton. He hung out in Connecticut, and I'm sure he came to Binghamton from time to time, or Endicott, actually. But, I don't think he ever had the emotional involvement that you have to have in order to be a donor.

Geselowitz:

And they set up the Watson Laboratory, I think, in Westchester County, New York, next to Connecticut.

Feisel:

That's correct. Now, the Glendale Lab was the big development lab of IBM. That was in Owego or Endicott. I don't remember just where it was now, as a matter of fact. It's been gone so long.

Geselowitz:

But in that area.

Feisel:

Yeah, but they closed that all down when they pulled back.

Geselowitz:

So, while you were dean, what IEEE activities were you involved in, or were you too busy?

Feisel:

Well, I believe even as I was department head out at South Dakota, I got involved in the IEEE Education Society, and somewhere along in there I went through the ranks—I think I probably was president of the society, Education Society, when I was still at South Dakota. I also got very heavily involved then in the Educational Activities board and chaired almost every committee that the board has—the IEEE Educational Activities board.

Geselowitz:

Now, how did that work, having both—it's kind of an unusual situation in IEEE to have a board and a society with the same scope

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

So, there's a higher managing board on the IEEE board that has a representative to the big board and there’s a society present. You have a society president, and you have a VP of Educational Activities. How do they interact?

Feisel:

Well, this has been one of the conundrums of IEEE. I don't know what's going on there now, but for a number of years, it was proposed to do away with Educational Activities Board, because that's being taken care of by the society. A couple years later, it was to do away with the society, because that's being taken care of by the Board. But the two are really different. The Education Society is concerned primarily with the nuts and bolts of education, and some of the politics of it, but mostly they are how to teach electrical engineering, what should be in the curriculum, stuff of this nature. Educational Activities Board, on the other hand, looks at a much broader view of education, and it'll look at continuing education. It'll look at elementary and secondary education. They'll look at the interaction with other societies. The accreditation activity is handled by the Educational Activities Board, and rightly so, because you don't want to get one of the societies involved in the politics of the education.

Geselowitz:

You know, that's obviously an area of overlap. Right? So, a lot of people in the Educational society, Education Society, who are faculty or deans, are trying to figure out how to teach actual engineering, but that ties back to accreditation.

Feisel:

Sure.

Geselowitz:

And what they're going to be told by the accreditor about what to teach and not to teach.

Feisel:

Sure, and that's basically how I got involved in both ways. I'm not sure what more to say about that.

Geselowitz:

Well, what years were you actually on the IEEE board?

Feisel:

I think it was 2000 to 2002…more or less, it was in that neighborhood.

Geselowitz:

Also, around that same period you were involved in the IEEE Education Society. Then, you got involved presumably as the VP on the Education Board side and all the committees, and eventually they made you the VP.

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

Because you earned it for all that committee work.

Feisel:

Well, I don’t think I earned the position by doing committee work. I’d rather say the I qualified for the position by working in the committee structure

Geselowitz:

And were you also involved in ABET at that time?

Feisel:

Yes, I was on the ABET Board of Directors and on its Engineering Accreditation Commission. I had chaired the IEEE Committee on Engineering Education activity, which is an Educational Activities Board committee. So, I was chair of that. Also, engineering technology education—I got involved in that peripherally. Then, when I was Vice President, I established the Global Accreditation Activities Committee, because we were really starting to get interested in that. Well, actually, what I should say is that other countries, our members in other countries, were starting to get interested in accreditation, either what we called at that time substantial equivalency with ABET, or setting up their own accreditation system. So, we were involved in setting up an accreditation system. We gave workshops various places around the world to try to help our members understand what accreditation was all about and what its benefits were and how you do it and so on.

Geselowitz:

Has IEEE continued that activity to your knowledge? Has that accreditation continued to be global?

Feisel:

Well, in ABET, yes, I think there's still a global accreditation committee in EAB. At the time I was doing visits and involved, all they did was what they called substantial equivalency. Now, ABET gives regular accreditation to programs in other countries. I think that's working out all right. I haven't been really involved with ABET in the last few years.

Geselowitz:

As if you weren't busy enough, I know you've also been very involved in the American Society for Engineering Education.

Feisel:

Yes, that's true.

Geselowitz:

When did you get involved with those folks?

Feisel:

Well, just shortly after I got my Ph.D. and got my first teaching job, I joined ASEE. We did some activity there on campus. We had a chapter, so I got involved in that and chaired that chapter for a while. At that time there was an ASEE campus position called Campus Activity Coordinator, where you had this person on campus who arranged ASEE activities. . So I was that for the School of Mines. Then, somewhere around—I want to say 1970, 1975, in there—I won the zone four campus coordinator of the year award. I mean there were only four zones now, mind you. So I think it was zone four. At that time, the Board of Directors decided they wanted to do something with young engineers. So, they called the four of us in who had won these four awards and created the New Engineering Educators program. So, we set that up. That's still going today under a different name, I think, but it's still going. And, then, I was on the board. I was the finance vice president for a year or two. And, then, I was president I think 1997, somewhere along in there

Geselowitz:

We'll get back to your career and what you did after retirement, because I know people like you, when you retire you stay busy. During this same period we're talking about, the period when you're at Binghamton, did you become aware of the IEEE Foundation, because that's around when IEEE established its separate foundation? How and when did you become aware of IEEE having a separate foundation?

Feisel:

I'll probably need to think that through, but, frankly, I don't remember—I think I gave some money to IEEE or to the IEEE foundation way back in that period of time. I'm sure it wasn't very much, but I think we made a gift. I didn't really have any concept of the foundation until I got more directly involved with the board. We just didn't know anything about it.

Geselowitz:

Right. So, until you got involved in the IEEE Foundation Board, you mean, or the IEEE Board

Feisel:

On the Foundation Board. Yeah. Mike, back in those days, it was presented, to the IEEE Board, and there was some line on the budget that said something about some foundation, and that just didn't register anyone's consciousness.

Geselowitz:

As an IEEE board member.

Feisel:

Yes. It did not rise to the level of the other things that were going on.

Geselowitz:

Interesting. So, then, let's move back to your career. You said after a certain number of years that it was time to retire as the dean.

Feisel:

I did. For years, I had thought I'll retire when I hit 65, and by golly, I did. It worked out, and it was time for me to leave. I'd been dean there for I think 18 years, founding dean. I'd hired all the faculty. Well, there were a few people who I inherited, but, they just kind of fit in. So, basically, everybody had been hired while I was dean. I thought this is a good time to get out and to leave town, so that the new dean didn't have to worry about me sitting over in the corner entertaining the old faculty when they had a complaint. So, I just left, and we went down to St. Michaels, Maryland.

Geselowitz:

How did that get chosen? You were a sailor, and there's sailing there.

Feisel:

That's exactly what it is. I was not averse to leaving the deep snows, either. I like snow and so on, but it got a little tedious after a while.

Geselowitz:

And, your wife is also from Iowa, or thereabouts, right?

Feisel:

Yes. We met at Iowa State as freshman.

Geselowitz:

So, she's also used to the deep snow.

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

It shouldn't really bother anybody, but you both decided it was time to move south.

Feisel:

It's just, life is just simpler down there, especially on the Eastern Shore. You know? You get in the western shore, over here in Washington, Baltimore, these big cities, it's hard to tell from New York. But, you get on the Eastern Shore, and you go back in time anywhere from 50 to 100 years, I would say, depending on who you're talking to. And, it's still an agricultural and waterman society. It's, it's nice. It's a good life.

Geselowitz:

Good. How have you kept yourself busy then, since that retirement? That said, that, of course, is going to lead to how you got recruited for the IEEE Foundation and is going to be part of that story.

Feisel:

Yes. Well, of course, I have stayed active in IEEE. I'm always on a committee or two doing something or other, and, of course, that's how I got involved in the Foundation. I'm still involved with the IEEE Ethics and Member Conduct Committee. I just went off the IEEE Potentials editor advisory board. What else am I doing with IEEE right now? Maybe nothing with IEEE right now.

Geselowitz:

But, still, I know you're active with ASEE. You're a chair of the Fellows Committee.

Feisel:

No. I wasn’t on the Fellows Committee. I was doing some other things until last year. About all I'm doing with ASEE now is that I'm on—matter of fact, I'm chair—of the Prism editorial board. I'm also on the Tau Beta Pi Bent editorial board, which is quite a deal, because I don't know anything about editing.

Geselowitz:

But, somehow that's what you're active in. So, you were still staying active in IEEE in various committees. Who approached you and said, you know, we have this foundation, and we think you could be helpful? Do you remember who it was?

Feisel:

Well, yes, that was John Meredith. However, that was after I had actually been involved with the IEEE Foundation for a couple years

Geselowitz:

Okay. How did that come about?

Feisel:

Well, I was somehow named chair of the IEEE Life Member's Committee, and the Life Member's Committee chair sits ex-officio on the IEEE Foundation Board, and that's when I really started around about the Foundation. Of course, I'd known John in different lives, I guess, different ways. But, I got to know him well on the Foundation Board, and he liked, I guess, the contributions that I was making, even as an ex-officio member, and recommended me for membership. So, I was off there for a year or two, and then came back on to the board.

Geselowitz:

And, how long were you on the board, would you say?

Feisel:

It must have been about five years, I think. Seems like I was coming to the end of my first term, and then was named Vice President for Development, which I was there for a couple of years, I think. Then, came to the end of that term and was named secretary. And, I think that was just one year. So, I'd say something like five years, five or six years.

Geselowitz:

And, at that time, what were the major issues that you recall as the foundation was grappling with?

Feisel:

I think this was probably when I was ex-officio. The big issue was the relationship of the IEEE History Committee and the History Center and the Foundation and the rather byzantine structure that the history committee/center had with trustees, and I don't remember all the details of it, but that was all being sorted out just as I came on the board. Dick Gowen was president of the foundation and also, fortuitously, Chair of the History Committee, as I recall.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Feisel:

So, Dick and Richard would get together and decide how things should be done.

Geselowitz:

Well, I think that was intentional.

Feisel:

Absolutely.

Geselowitz:

I think it was, because of this issue that you raised. The history center being largely funded by the foundation, but being a unit of IEEE.

Feisel:

Right.

Geselowitz:

You had to have one person, one less person at the table by combining this, so when the person's meeting either with the Foundation Board or with the IEEE Board, it's one voice in terms of trying to figure it out.

Feisel:

No, I think it was absolutely the thing to do. But, that was what was going on. Frankly, I didn’t fully understand at the time, because I didn't have the background on it.

Geselowitz:

But, you also then got involved in the History Committee as well.

Feisel:

I did. I was involved in the History Committee, and I was treasurer for a year or two and then chair for a couple of years.

Geselowitz:

So, I think was part of that same idea of that keeping communication open between the Foundation and the, and the History Committee.

Feisel:

I think so.

Geselowitz:

And the History Center. Who else besides Dick and John? Any other personalities float up in your mind in terms of your work on the foundation board?

Feisel:

Well, one never forgets Eleanor Baum. You know?

Geselowitz:

Well, I assume you had known her probably previously through a range of activities.

Feisel:

Yes. I'd known Eleanor way back when we were both New York deans. She had been dean at Pratt when I was dean up in Binghamton. So, I'd known here for many, many years in many lives. And also Art.

Geselowitz:

Winston?

Feisel:

Winston. Art Winston was there, and I'd known Art a little bit for—I can't remember who as I go around the table who was there.

Geselowitz:

Any particular events stand out to you from those five years?

Feisel:

When I was chair of the Life Members Committee I worked with Pete Lewis to integrate the grant making process of the LMC with that of the Foundation. They had always been separate activities and it was a confusing situation for everyone. So I proposed that we integrate them and Pete, who was VP Grants (or something like that) agreed. There were all kinds of reasons why it wouldn’t work but we forged ahead and got it done.

Well, I think probably one of the things that I always enjoyed about being on the Board is that we got to go to the honor's ceremony. I always liked those events. The other probably most significant event was Karen Galuchie coming in as Executive Director. That was a significant thing, more so than we realized at the time. We knew Karen as she'd been working there, but we didn't know her that well, and she went to the Executive Director position. You say, well, now, we've got a new Executive Director, but she made some changes.

Geselowitz:

Yeah. I think she helped focus.

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

And, particularly, you know this tension between IEEE and the IEEE Foundation and who does what and where the History Committee fits in has not been completely solved. Right? But, it's very clear in the Foundation side that Karen's really professionalized things, instead of just sort of being a support person, which was the older model. Different societies and different committees actually work different ways, but some of them are, like, it's all volunteer, and the staff persons are just supporting, like keeping the minutes or whatever. And, then there's the one where the staff person is actively a partner involved, and that's, I think, what happened to Foundation. I think it's been for the positive.

Feisel:

I think that's right. We've seen some good stuff going on there.

Geselowitz:

It's funny you should say that, because as part of the Foundation History Project I’m supposed to ask certain questions—I hope I sent you these questions in advance, so you're not surprised that I might ask some of these.

Feisel:

Right.

Geselowitz:

And that’s one of the questions—Again, you weren't involved the whole time, or whatever, but from your own knowledge and involvement, what do you think some of the Foundation's most significant accomplishments are?

Feisel:

I think what we're seeing as these—we don't call them Signature Programs anymore—but whatever we call them.

Geselowitz:

Strategic Initiatives.

Feisel:

Something like that. I think those have made a difference. I think the old grants program had greater impact than it's having now. I think it really created or encouraged creativity to an extent that was really, really good. But, I think the Foundation is doing well. I think it's having an impact on society, and I think it is introducing the concept of charity to our members, and I know that sounds a little disparaging of the members that perhaps they don't think about charity. But, I think that people who had not thought in charitable terms have learned to do so somewhat under the Foundation.

Geselowitz:

That's important. Do you feel that those who are familiar with, who give to their church or whatever, maybe can think in a new way realizing that IEEE is involved in these sort of technologically based events or activities?

Feisel:

Yes. I think it is, I think it has contributed to the image of IEEE as an organization that is important to society, in addition to being important to the profession.

Geselowitz:

How do you think going forward the IEEE Foundation might define success?

Feisel:

I think success has two aspects to it. One is the kind of impact you're having on the world, and I think that's important. But, the other is the kind of impact you're having on the members, from not necessarily a service to the members, but of creating an opportunity for members to make a difference to the world. I think that has long been my philosophy of Foundation's fund raising and so on, is that what we're really doing is creating the opportunity for people do do things that they really want to do. Joe Engineer out in Cedar Rapids can't teach history to students, but $100 gift to the History Center lets Joe Engineer teach history through the History Center. You see what I mean.

Geselowitz:

Yeah, I think that's great—that's a really great way of putting it. Let's see. Are you still involved in the Foundation in any way in terms of activities or in terms of philanthropy?

Feisel:

Well, I'm still a donor, but no. As an emeritus director, I get the agenda, and I can attend the meeting if I've got the cash. I have not, although I may someday, particularly if they decide to meet in Baltimore or something like that. Who knows? But, anyway, no, I think primarily I'm just continued as a donor, and I will continue that. We've got the IEEE in the will, and so on.

Geselowitz:

I don’t want to criticize, but for some reasons—I'm sure they had good reasons—they severed the awards ceremony from the Board series, and the Foundation Board attends the board series, so you and others would’ve have had that incentive. Oh, if I attend the meeting I can go to the awards, and not only that, from your point of view down in St. Michaels, they have committed to a number of years on the west coast, so it's, you know, it's not convenient to the awards ceremony.

Feisel:

Well, it's not a big deal. But as an aside, I thought one of the best things they have done with the awards ceremony was to have it at Sections Congress. This made for a much larger audience of “rank and file” IEEE members

Geselowitz:

But, you said you always enjoyed it.

Feisel:

Yeah, I did enjoy it. Dorothy and I were talking about it just the other day, that we miss seeing these people. Of course, the current people are not the same people as were there when I was involved

Geselowitz:

But, they're still good people.

Feisel:

That's right. But, anyway, I try to keep up on what the issues are and so on and so.

Geselowitz:

They would like me to ask—again—do you, based on your experience, have any thoughts you want to share on either where you would like to see the Foundation going or where you see it already going?

Feisel:

Well, I don't think it is astray right now. I think it's moving on. I lament the passing of the old grants program. I don't think that was the right thing to do. Of course, I've supported it, but when that review comes up again sometime, I hope they'll consider going back to an open initiative. And, of course, it was difficult to compare, but, that's what we do as engineers. We do the difficult.

Geselowitz:

If not the impossible.

Feisel:

If not impossible.

Geselowitz:

Right. So, I guess, right now, you're probably aware that the—you have to be because we mentioned you get all the mailings and everything. The Foundation's in the middle of its first major campaign.

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

They would like to significantly increase the corpus.

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

And, that might give new possibilities for a grant's program, if they're successful.

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

Because, I think the decision was, because we're a small foundation, if we want to have real impact, let's pick a very small number of programs and put a lot in to them, instead of a small out grants program, where we put $50,000 here, $50,000 here, $50,000 there. You know?

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

Let's put $150,000 here, uh, but you're saying that sort of this let 1000 flowers bloom philosophy leads to more creativity and potentially—

Feisel:

Yeah. I would not do away with the strategic initiatives. I think those are important. I like the notion of doing some concentration. What I don't care for is the grant's theme program. I would rather say, okay, you folks come up with whatever kind of ideas you can come up with. I realize the difficulty of judging the grant applications if there is not a theme. You have to compare apples to oranges to pomegranates. But as we said earlier, we do the difficult or even the impossible

Geselowitz:

We put aside X for small grants. We have these three programs. We put aside X for small grants.

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

Amaze us. Blow us out of the water. Any idea you want.

Feisel:

That's right.

Geselowitz:

And, that's sort of how it was in the old days.

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

How do you feel about restricting it to IEEE organizational units? Do you think that was the right?

Feisel:

I think that was the right thing to do. I think donors like that, and it just makes sense to me.

Geselowitz:

The point of the mission of the Foundation.

Feisel:

Yes.

Geselowitz:

Also, administratively, it makes it a lot easier.

Feisel:

Oh, yeah. Well, and this is part of the administration. You can trust the proposer. We've gotten some applications from some foundation or another that you can’t find information on that you just say, it's such a nice idea, but how can we be sure that it's going to be done right.

Geselowitz:

Right, and IEEE Organizational Units can find partners where they need to.

Feisel:

Yes. That's right.

Geselowitz:

But, you know it is being run through IEEE.

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

And, it also keeps with the message that the Foundation is for IEEE rather than sort of a general foundation that just grants to anybody.

Feisel:

Exactly.

Geselowitz:

Two last questions. One specific question, and then an open call to add anything you like. But, first, the last question they want to make sure I ask is about this project—and actually it was Emerson Pugh who felt most strongly about it, that with a major anniversary of the Foundation coming up and how much it's transformed, that it ought to preserve its own history. He's a fellow director emeritus. He's a president emeritus of the Foundation, I guess.

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

He approached the Foundation with this idea, and they were a little unsure about really a full sort of writing a full history kind of thing, but they were convinced that they really ought to preserve the memories of people now, so they won’t be lost—not young spring chickens like yourself, of course.

Feisel:

Yeah, right.

Geselowitz:

But, some of the more senior emeritus directors, like Emerson, or whatever, to preserve their memories now, because if you decide you want to write history later and they're not around to tell you the story, then you've lost that opportunity. So, what do you think might or should be included in a history of the IEEE Foundation? What sort of form do you think such a story should take?

Feisel:

Well, obviously you've got just the data. Who was a member when and the stuff like that.

Geselowitz:

That's just the skeleton, right? What's the meat?

Feisel:

Well, it's an appendix, actually. The meat, and it seems to me, would be to go back and try to summarize or compartmentalize, if you want, the contributions that the Foundation has made, and that would be primarily through the projects that have been funded. So, I would say that's probably what would be the greatest interest to people and of the greatest importance to the future of IEEE.

Geselowitz:

Do you think you would probably maybe try and compartmentalize them in some way, sort of say this is education, and this is history, this is whatever, as opposed to sort of in these five years we did these grants, and these fives years these, and in these five years we did those grants?

Feisel:

Probably.

Geselowitz:

What's been our overall impact in education? What's been our overall impact in history?

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

What's been our overall impact in humanitarian or whatever that stuff is called.

Feisel:

Yeah. You know what's going to come out of that? That's going to be one section which is all these little grants that have taken place all around the world. And, if you can just get the reports on those, that'll make a wonderful chapter of this history.

Geselowitz:

I think that was one of the challenges back in the more open-grant program, was getting the reports back.

Feisel:

I know.

Geselowitz:

They thank you for the money. They do—and, some of them do a great job writing their project. But, the project's complete, and they're just too busy to write their report.

Feisel:

I know.

Geselowitz:

They should get the money after they write the report.

Feisel:

We talked about that, and if the grants were only made to IEEE organizations, you could do that.

Geselowitz:

Right.

Feisel:

You could just hold back some of that.

Geselowitz:

But, if it's small groups out somewhere, they need the money up front.

Feisel:

Yeah, well, that's true. But, generally speaking, I think most sections have a little slush fund around. So, the section could—say it's a student branch who wants to do the project, they'll have to work through a section. Well, the section could advance them the money, and then the section will make sure they get that report in so they get their money back.

Geselowitz:

Yeah, I could see that work. So, to get involved again, you have some ideas.

Feisel:

Yeah.

Geselowitz:

So, then, the final question, is there anything you wish to add that you think we didn't cover, either about your own career or the IEEE Foundation?

Feisel:

Well, I think my own career has been pretty well covered here. One of the greatest challenges that the Foundation has is getting itself known to IEEE members. You know that. There've been big improvements in that over the last decade, but still I bet you walk in to an IEEE section meeting and go up to the first IEEE member, and you say what can you tell me about the IEEE Foundation, and they'd say, huh. We still need to get that. I think you do that by telling the stories of what the Foundation has achieved, plus the fact—I keep coming back to these little mini grants that we gave. I'll bet you the people in the Florida section, where they built the radio telescope, I bet you they know what the Foundation is.

Geselowitz:

Just think in that sense the more you spread around small amounts of money instead of concentrating it.

Feisel:

Absolutely. And, probably, the people in that section are more likely to donate to the Foundation.

Geselowitz:

I think the same thing actually happens with the History Center and the History Committee. If a section gets an IEEE Milestone, it may be originally driven by one obsessed member, obsessed with recognizing a particular achievement that happened in their section, but once you have the dedication ceremony everybody knows, and all of a sudden everyone wants to be invited and wants to speak. And then we get calls—well, there's this other thing in our section. That is another milestone.

Feisel:

That's right.

Geselowitz:

That's really how to—retail politics, as they say.

Feisel:

I think the Milestone Program is one of the best things in IEEE today.

Geselowitz:

Well, thank you.

Feisel:

I really do. I think it's a great program. Of course, it reflects my interest in history.

Geselowitz:

Anything else you'd like to add?

Feisel:

I think that's it.

Geselowitz:

Otherwise, I'll have to call you up and try and record you over the phone.

Feisel:

Well, you can do that, of course.

Geselowitz:

Okay. Well, Lyle, thank you very much. It's been a huge pleasure. I learned a lot.

Feisel:

All right.