Melba Crawford is a Professor in the Schools of Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Agronomy at Purdue University, where she holds the Chair of Excellence in Earth Observation. Prior to joining Purdue in 2006, she was an Engineering Foundation Endowed Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, where she founded an interdisciplinary research and applications development program in space-based and airborne remote sensing at the UT Center for Space Research. She holds a PhD from Ohio State University and B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Crawford is a Fellow of the IEEE, Past President of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS), and the current Treasurer of the IEEE Technical Activities Board. She also served as the Executive VP, VP for Conferences, VP for Technical Activities, and as a GRSS Distinguished Lecturer. She was a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State in 2005 and a member of the NASA EO-1 Science Validation team, the NASA Earth System Science and Applications Advisory Committee, and the NASA Socioeconomic Applications and Data Center (SEDAC) Advisory Committee.
Dr. Crawford's research interests focus on signal processing and its application to multi-modality sensing in geoscience, forestry, and agriculture. She co-leads a joint initiative between the Purdue colleges of engineering and agriculture to develop sensing technologies and data analytics for plant breeding and crop monitoring. She is an author of more than 200 journal and conference papers, reports, and book chapters.
I have been active in the Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) for 30 years, serving as President (2013-14) and Past President (2015-16). Previously, I was Executive VP (2011-12), VP for Conferences (2004-10), VP for Professional Activities (2000-01), and Education Director (1998-99). In response to rapidly developing space-based technology and international investment in remote sensing programs, GRSS expanded its global focus in Latin America, China, India, and Africa, strategically initiating participation in the UN Group on Earth Observation (GEO) and developing MOU's with multiple in-country organizations and sister societies, as well as supporting formation of new IEEE GRSS chapters and regional conferences. During my period of leadership, the Society also broadened its scope to include new applications and interdisciplinary initiatives, and sought to increase diversity in the profession. As a GRSS Distinguished Lecturer (2012-2016), I delivered lectures and tutorials both domestically and internationally in support of these initiatives. As VP for Conferences, I successfully advocated for a 3-year rotation of the flagship conference, IGARSS, between North America, Europe/Africa, and Asia to facilitate development of local membership, chapters, and participation of local volunteers, space agencies/local governments and industry. I also facilitated development of multiple financially and technically co-sponsored conferences (e.g. MicroRad, Whispers, Atmospheric Transmission, Urban, RAST, ICMARS (India), APSAR (Asia/Pacific).
Both as a VP and later as President of GRSS, I had significant responsibility for developing and executing financial strategy for the Society. Serving as TAB Treasurer, I have worked with volunteers and IEEE staff to develop budgets and effectively manage financial resources and operations. During my tenure as chair of TAB FinCom, the committee has addressed multiple issues, including the Society/Council periodical package product program distribution algorithm, the Society/Council Watch List, and project spending. An Ad Hoc on Financial Health now engages with of S/Cs on the Watch List, and an Ad Hoc on Projects is currently focusing on improving processes to increase effective utilization of the "3% and 50%" spending rules.
As TAB Treasurer, I have also developed a broader understanding of financial operations of the IEEE. I am currently a member of the IEEE Investment Committee and serve on multiple IEEE committees focusing on financial issues, including the IEEE Ad Hoc on Financial Transparency, the IEEE Ad Hoc on Financial Improvement, the IEEE Ad Hoc on Contracting, and the IEEE Ad Hoc on Conference Finance Management.
In addition to experience with financial operations at IEEE, as Associate Dean of Engineering for Research at Purdue University from 2010-2019, I dealt with a broad range of complex accounting and financial issues that have many characteristics in common with those of a non-profit organization such as the IEEE, including implementation of a new comprehensive financial accounting system.
While the IEEE operational forecast for May indicates a 12.8M positive variance relative to the 2019 budget, trends show continued decreases in membership and transition of publishing models toward Open Access, coupled with economic uncertainty, which all increase financial risk. A core staff team is developing a multi-tiered financial roadmap to provide improved processes and tools for financial accounting and reporting. The resulting successful implementation of Concur for travel expense reporting is a model for deploying a future general platform for expense reporting. These efforts should continue in 2020, with some possible realignment of scope. From my perspective, the single most critical area for financial improvement to IEEE financial processes involves changes to the general ledger chart of accounts, in conjunction with implementation of project accounting in a single, interconnected system. Without these capabilities, inefficient, manual interventions for S/C gross up and TAB-wide rollup reports will continue, and analysis capability will be limited. While costly and disruptive, the current financial health of the IEEE makes it viable for this project to move forward, while maintaining fiscally conservative budgeting to address risks. In response to the TAB request for allocation of infrastructure costs across all lines of operation, the Ad Hoc on Alternatives to the 30% Rule proposed a percent of revenue model based on 2017/2018 data. Analysis over additional years, incorporating dynamics and uncertainty, and consideration of implementation options over a period of at least 5 years are needed, and would be a priority under my leadership as IEEE Treasurer.
I received the B.S. in Electrical Engineering (1974) and the M.S. in Telecommunications (1997) from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. I have 46 years experience in telecommunications engineering and management and was employed by BellSouth Telecommunications from 1973 to 2002. During these years, I held positions of Design Engineer, Planner, Support Manager, Engineering Manager and Planning Manager. When I retired in 2002 I was a member of the BellSouth Louisiana State Staff providing engineering and construction support. In 2003 I joined NorthStar Communications Group as the Director of Corporate Quality. In September 2005 I returned to BellSouth for seven (7) months working on Hurricane Katrina restoration. From 2010 to 2018 I performed internal quality audits to the ISO9000, TL9000 and M-1003 standards on a part time basis. During my professional career I attended numerous training sessions on telephony, management, leadership, contract administration, and quality management. Debbie and I have been married for 47 years. We have two children, both Electrical Engineers, and five grandchildren.
I have been involved in IEEE activities since joining as a student. Over the years I have been involved at the Section, Region and International levels and have served on the IEEE , MGA, Awards, Foundation and IEEE -USA Boards. I have served as Treasurer for the IEEE, MGA, IEEE-USA, Foundation, Consumer Electronics Society, Smart Village and Lafayette Section and have been a member of the IEEE Finance Committee 15 of the past 18 years.
Region 5 Director 2000-2001, Region 5 Committee 1988-2005. Served on several Region 5 committees.
Consumer Electronics Society Board of Governors 2013-2018, Treasurer 2013-2017, Secretary, 2014.
IEEE Smart Village Steering Committee serving as Finance Chair 2016-2017.
IEEE is currently in the best financial position that we have ever been in, however, the job is not completed. We still have additional work to do to improve our overall financial systems and processes while at the same time ensuring that our operating expenses do not exceed our operating income. We have proven that we can live within our means and we need to continue this trend. We can do all of this if we are willing to work as a team and continue to evaluate and improve our business processes so that we can deliver the same or improved products and services at a lower overall cost. I have the knowledge, experience and skills required to move us in this direction. I am willing to devote the required time and energy to continue to perform the functions of the IEEE Treasurer. I can get the job done.
As a member of the IEEE Finance Committee and Treasurer, I have led the effort to improve the IEEE financial performance by working with the IEEE Board, the Executive Director (ED) and others in leadership and decision-making positions. In doing this work we have the following objectives:
1. Operating Within Our Means - The 2018 financial performance and 2019 budget delivers a surplus to the institute. Work on the 2020 budget indicates that this trend will continue.
2. Reviewing Our Overall Labor Costs - Recent work by the IEEE ED has held the overall headcount at a lower level compared to 2017. This action provides time to evaluate the labor component of our expenditures and determine if efficiencies and savings can be identified. Using this process, we will be better positioned should our revenue streams shift. I will continue to support and work with the ED in this effort.
3. Implementing Efficiencies - We need to fully support our ED as he continues to evaluate all processes to ensure that staff is performing work in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
4. Accounting Systems and Processes - We continue to evaluate our accounting systems and processes to ensure that we are performing processing and reporting at the lowest possible cost. We have deployed an expense reporting tool and we are currently developing a detailed plan to update our overall financial process. This is a key component of the overall financial roadmap.
I look forward to working with you on these objectives.