IEEE’s history begins more than 130 years ago with the Foundation of the American Institute of electrical engineers AIEE. It was founded by American businessmen with the aim of developing a skilled workforce and prepare standards for electrical industries of the United States. Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison were founding members.
The Institute of Radio Engineers or IRE, was formed in 1912 by the pioneers of radio electronics who did not feel fully drawn with the electric power orientation that AIEE had.
Both associations had growth and global reach, and overlapping technology interests in common led to the formation of IEEE in 1963 with a merger of the AIEE and IRE.
Latin America had sections that belonged to the AIEE and IRE when these two associations merged in 1963. The sections of Latin America at that point in time were:
An AIEE section in Mexico (1922) and IRE sections in Argentina (1939), Brazil (1956), Colombia (1958) and Chile (1961).
When IEEE emerged, sections that were outside the territory of the United States (Regions 1-6), Canada (R7) and Europe (R8), were part of the territory known as “Rest of world” or “Región 9”. Being coordinated, at the time, directly by the IEEE headquarters in the United States.
Before 1966, “Region 9” was used to refer to all the sections that were not in regions 1-8. That year, the growth of the activities of the IEEE in Latin America made that IEEE officially formed an entity with own structure, not only geographical but also administratively. It was agreed to appoint a Director in the region, with responsibility for its sections and be part of the IEEE Board of Directors. William Andrews of Argentina was appointed as the first Director of the R9 for a period of two years (1966-1967). Mr Andrews, in collaboration with Francisco Hawley (second Director of R9, 1968-1969), of Mexico, were instrumental in the formation of the Region 9.
In the year of 1966, the Director of IEEE R9 and the Director of IEEE decided to reorganize for a better functionality of the geographical territory of R9.
The statutes approved in November 1966, says: «Effective on 01 January 1967, the territory comprising the islands of Bahama and Caribbean, South America and Central America and North America (except the United States and Canada) shall be designated Region 9.»
The first Regional meeting was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1967 and most of the Presidents of R9 sections gathered.
This year, the IEEE President Walter Mac Adam visited 7 countries in the region in contact with volunteers from the existing sections and promote activities and the formation of sections further.
In 2016, Region 9 celebrated its first 50 years of advancing technology for humanity in Latin America.
Today there are more than 16,000 members (31/Dec/2018) in 37 sections comprising practically all of the countries in Latin America.
To see more about the 50th anniversary click here.