Washington, D.C., was the focal point of the international Pulsed Power community from June 28th through July 2nd, 2009, when nearly 550 scientists and engineers converged on the U.S. National Capital for the 17th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference (PPC2009). The conference is held biennially and serves as the principal forum for the exchange of information on pulsed power science, technology, engineering, and applications. The setting for the technical and social events of PPC2009 was the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, a historic site in the heart of downtown Washington.
The conference got a great start on Sunday evening with a well-attended welcome reception that promoted early check-in and offered the first chance to interact with 20 industrial and academic exhibitors showing off their wares and expertise. The technical program kicked off Monday morning with the first of four plenary sessions held each morning in the elegant atmosphere of the Grand Ballroom, the site of many presidential inaugural celebrations. Monday plenary speakers from the Office of Naval Research, Mr. Chester Petry and Dr. John Pazik, discussed the U.S. Navy’s Electromagnetic Rail Gun and Power Systems programs. Dr. Weihua Jiang from Nagaoka University of Technology followed with details of compact pulsed power research in Japan. Tuesday’s plenary speakers were Mr. Richard Gullickson from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Dr. Christopher
Deeney from the National Nuclear Security Administration. Both of Tuesday’s plenary speakers spoke of the important role for pulsed power in weapon stockpile stewardship programs.
Traditionally the Wednesday and Thursday plenary sessions at the Pulsed Power Conference are reserved for presentations by the recipients of the major IEEE NPSS Pulsed Power Science and Technology Committee awards. This year the Erwin Marx Award was given to Mr. John T. Naff and the Peter Haas Award recipient was Dr. John Maenchen. Edl Schamiloglu, past chair of the 2007 Conference and current chair of the PPS&T Committee, spoke of the history of these awards and this year’s recipients: “The list of past Erwin Marx and Peter Haas award recipients represent the giants of the Pulsed Power community. Tom Naff and John Maenchen certainly deserve being on that list.” Their biographies and photographs appear below in the AWARDS section.
In addition to the daily plenary sessions, there were parallel oral and poster technical sessions each day of the conference, with more than 400 presentations in total. Major technical topics included dielectrics and energy storage, charged particle beams and sources, high energy density plasmas, and more. All authors are invited to submit manuscripts for publication in the conference technical digest, which historically has served as the major archival resource of papers published in this field. Registered attendees will receive a DVD copy of the proceedings and additional copies will be available for purchase by those who did not attend. Publication of the PPC2009 conference record is expected to occur by the end of calendar year 2009.
One of the new highlight events of PPC2009 was a panel discussion focusing on the evolving role of women as leaders of science and engineering organizations. Featured speakers were Ms. Mary Lacey, Deputy Program Director of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, Missile Defense Agency; Anh Duong, Director, Borders and Maritime Security Division Department of Homeland Security S&T Directorate; Linda Estepa, Strategic Development Manager, Program Executive Office, Littoral and Mine Warfare; and Susan Hudson, Head of the Electromagnetic and Sensor Systems Department, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division. The panel members related their personal stories and emphasized the major influence that mentorship relationships have had on their careers. A post-panel reception offered conference attendees the opportunity to speak with the panel members on a one-on-one basis.
The attendee level for PPC2009 was slightly lower than the conference historical average but exceeded expectations given the current worldwide economic circumstances and ongoing issues with timely issuance of visas to the United States. About 25% of the attendees came from 22 non-U.S. countries, with Japan leading the
way for international participation. More than half of the attendees were already IEEE members and as part of a conference promotion more than 100 new IEEE members were “signed-up” for 6-month trial memberships that were included in the registration fee.
Student involvement in the technical program was also significant, with students representing more than 20% of the overall conference attendance. PPC2009 budgeted generously for grants to offset student travel costs, providing 12 competitively determined awards of $750 each to students from 6 different universities. The PPS&T Committee also rewards student technical achievement with the Arthur H. Guenther Pulsed Power Student Award. The 2008 Guenther Award was given to Jamie Darling of the University of Oxford and the 2009 Guenther award was given to Andrew J. Young of Texas Tech University. Both recipients were recognized at the conference banquet and received a plaque and a cash award.
PPC2009 General Chair Dr. Frank Peterkin, a Principal Engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, expressed his thoughts to sum up the 17th meeting. “It’s been gratifying to serve the pulsed power community in this capacity. On behalf of the conference committee I want to thank everybody who participated in PPC2009. We worked hard to continue many conference traditions, start a few new ones, and provide opportunities for rewarding professional interactions in an enjoyable and memorable setting. Based on the feedback I heard from many attendees I think it was a very successful event and I’m sure the next one will only be better.”
The 18th IEEE International Pulsed Power Conference will be held in Chicago, Illinois from June 19th–24th, 2011. Per conference tradition the current Technical Chair, Dr. Randy Curry (University of Missouri-Columbia), will be the General Chair for PPC2011, with Dr. Bryan Oliver (Sandia National Laboratories) leading the technical program.