The First Years of the IEEE Uruguay Section (1988 to 1990)

The beginnings

The IEEE Section in Uruguay was established in 1989.

In the years before 1980, just a handful of Engineers were members of the IEEE in Uruguay, interested in their technical publications. Franco Vazquez Praderi started his Membership in the early 40’s during WW2. He was staying at Westinghouse, studying how to finish and important hydroelectric plant, changing undelivered Siemens hydroelectric turbines by American equipment. The head of the Electrical Engineering Dept. of our University, Segismundo Gerszonowicz, had been awarded AIEE Fellow Grade in 1950.

In 1982, late Regional Director Eduardo Bonzi had sent letters to IEEE Members residing in Uruguay, making known the names and addresses of all of the local Members and trying to create interest in making a Section. The writer had joined the IEEE in 1981 and remembers quite well having received that short list. This initiative did not success.

The LATINCON Initiative

In April 18 to 21,1988 the biannual Conference of the IEEE Latinamerica Region 9, LATINCON’88 was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Several IEEE Members from Uruguay met at the Conference, among them Daniel Slomovitz, Jorge Fernandez Daher and Juan Carlos Miguez. They decided to make an effort and form a new IEEE Section in Uruguay.

In May, contact was made with the IEEE Office in New York (Vice-President Mike Whitelaw) and with the Regional Director Carlos Rodriguez, from Panama. Carlos Rodriguez visited the city of Montevideo on September 22, encouraging volunteers and helping in contacts with the Electric Utility).

Argentina Section Chair Hugo Fernandez Versteggen and his father, past Director Oscar Fernandez were also helpful with counsels and ideas, and offering the possibility of forming a sub-Section of the Argentina Section, as a first, easier step.

There were at the time less than 20 Members and a few Computer Society Affiliates living in the Country (23 addresses in total).

The group of volunteers headed by Juan Carlos Miguez, Daniel Slomovitz, Jorge Fernandez, Victor Ganon, Gerardo Fernandez, and Marcel Keschner, among many others, held a successful recruitment campaign. On September 5,1988, a Historic Meeting took place in the Asociacion de Ingenieros del Uruguay, where the decision was taken to move ahead and form the Uruguay Section (The meeting was so well attended that the assigned room quickly run out of seating space).

Formation of the Section

A few weeks later a sufficient number of Engineers had joined the Institute and a petition was sent to the IEEE Headquarters on January, 12,1989 with Juan Carlos Miguez as the Section Organizer.

The Section was approved by the RAB on June, 2 1989 at its Meeting in San Francisco; at that time Regional Director was Luis T. Gandia from Puerto Rico.

This is a copy of petition including the signatures of 51 Members:

Problem with Members Grade Recognition

One of the major obstacles in achieving the goal of 50 Members was the Member Grade recognition. Most of the Engineers had graduated at the Official “Universidad de la Republica – Facultad de Ingenieria”, that until the late 1980’s was the only University in the Country. Until the 1970’s there were only two titles for 6-year Curses: “Civil Engineer” and “Industrial Engineer”. This later title comprised all the Mechanical and Electrotechnologies.

Most of the new applicants were not directly recognized as IEEE Members, and as “Pending Members” or “Associates” would NOT be counted as valid for the formation of the Section. A lot of effort by the volunteers, a lot of correspondence, and the sending of all the detailed Programs and Faculty to Piscataway were necessary. During the process, a few of the newly invited prospective Members, who had paid their dues and were denied their well-deserved grade, lost their interest and did never renew.

First Activities in 1989

The Section in Formation had already started technical acitvities, among them:

On April, 24 to 27, the “First Simposio de Comunicaciones en el Uruguay” (Chaired by Nestor Mace) with excellent presentations and concurrence of more than 80 engineers, in the premises of the Asociacion de Ingenieros del Uruguay.

On September, 19 and 20, the first Meeting of the Power Engineering Chapter (in formation) was held, with 15 participants. A total of 13 short-papers presenting work being done by Chapter Members were read: Daniel Slomovitz, Jorge Fernandez, Marcos Andrade, Alvaro Portillo, Jorge Alonso, Luis Casamayou, Eduardo Briosso and Pablo Braga.

On October,19 Regional Director Luis T Gandia visited the Section for the official inauguration of activities. The “Primeras Jornadas de Ingenieria Electrica en el Uruguay”, with participation of Distinguished Lecturers Robert Degeneff (General Electric) and Richard Bolbrock (New England Power Planning) from the Power Engineering Society. There were also presentations by Pedro Rosenfeld from Argentina, Nelson Da Silva and Paulo Shinzato from Brazil, Alvaro Portillo, Daniel Solomovitz. Marcos Andrade and Daniel Winokur from Uruguay. The Chair of the Argentina Section, Hugo Fernandez Versteggen, atended these Activities that were held at the “Camara de Industrias del Uruguay”. Prof. Franco Vazquez Praderi and the Dean of the Enginering School of the University, .Luis Abete were also present.

A few days later, October 26 and 27 Rodolfo Aristimuño from Argentina Section dictated a tutorial on “Local Area Networks”.

Although the Section was only officially recognized in June, 1989 has been avery active year and grand total of recorded tecnnical activites was 14.

Boletin IEEE

In April,1989 (even before the official establishement of the Section) the first issue of the Section’s Newsletter was published and sent, free of cost to all Members. Its First Editor was Juan Carlos Miguez. During the first three years of the Section (1989 – 1991) a total of 17 numbers were printed.

Its content included the Section’s News, Awards, Calender of Activites in the Country and in Latinoamerica as well, Reports, a few technical essays by Members of the Section, etc.

In October, 1990, at the Section’s Congress in Toronto, Canada, the “Boletin IEEE” was recognized with the “Best Improved Newsletter” Award

The First Directive of the Section

The First Directive of the Section (1989) was formed by following Volunteers:

    • Chair Juan Carlos MiguezVice-Chair Daniel Slomovitz

Secretary – Marcel Keschner

Treasurer Gerardo Fernandez

Student Activities Omar De Leon

Technical Activities Nestor Mace

Universidad de la Republica Student Branch (in formation) Fernando Silveira

Computer Society Chapter (in formation) Victor Ganon

Joint Power and I&M Chapter (in formation) Daniel Slomovitz

Communications Society Chapter (in formation) Omar De Leon

All four Officers hold their hats in 1990, and some new Volunteers were added: Antonio Azziz, Pablo Braga, Edgardo Cavada, Jorge Fernandez and Pedro Queijo.

Technical Chapters

Petitions for the formation of 3 chapters were made and approved in the first months of the Section:

    • Computer Society Chapter; first chair was Victor GanonJoint Power / Instrumentation and Measurement Chapter; its first Chair was Daniel Slomovitz

Communications Chapter , its first Chair was Omar De Leon.

The first Student Branch was also formed in August, 1989 at the Facultad de Ingenieria of the Universidad de la Republica. Its chair was Fernando Silveira and its first counsellor was Omar De Leon, at the time Head of the Electrical Engineering Dept.

List of Section Chairs

    • Juan Carlos Miguez 1989 – 1991Marcel Keschner 1992 – 1993

Diego Algorta 1994 – 1995

Victor Ganon 1996 – 1997

Pedro Queijo 1998 – 1999

Jorge Fernandez Daher 2000 – 2001

Eduardo Lagos 2002 – 2003

Gustavo Giannattasio 2004 – 2005

Marcos Andrade 2006 – 2007

Marcel Keschner 2008

Miguel Aumento 2009 – 2010

Membership Growth

Data corresponding to December 31st of each calendar year.

    • 1987 23 members and Associates (1 Senior).1988 51 members and Associates (2 Senior) and 18 Students

1989 89 Members and Associates (5 Senior) and 78 Students

1990 128 Members and Associates (10 Senior) and 107 Students

Principal Activities in 1990

In 1990 there were many important activities in the Section, among them were specially significant:

First Conference “Estado de la Informatica en el Uruguay” on May, 9 and 10. It was chaired by Victor Ganon, Computer Chapter Chair, and very successful. Six full-length papers were selected for presentation and included in the printed Proceedings. All 120 participants were given an exemplar on the day of inscription.This successful event was followed by similar Meetings every year until 1995.

Participation in Student Congress in Chile

With  partial support with funds specially requested from a RAB “Electroproject” and the collaboration of the Section and
University, 19 student Members made a historic crossing of the continent and participated in the INGELECTRA Student Conference in
Valdivia, Chile,
August 28 to 30th

Visit to the brand-new Section of the First Colloquium of the IEEE in South America on September, 10. The activities included technical presentations by Presidents of Technical Societies, technical and University visits and volunteer’s interaction with Members of IEEE Board of Directors, including IEEE President Carleton Bayless, TAB Vice-President Troy Nagle, Regional Director Luis Gandia, Transnational Committee Chair Fernando Aldana and the Colloquium Proceedings Editor Willis Tompkins. A total of 41 visitors were part of the Colloquium, among them Leonard Carlson, Wallace Read, Dov Jaron, Mischa Schwartz, Merrill Buckley, Frederick Dill, Theodore Hissey.

Willis Tompkins was the editor of the Proceedings, that included two presentations made by Members of the Uruguay Section: “Expanding the Uruguayan Public Packet Network” by Juan Grompone and Omar Barreneche and “Emitter Drive: A technique to drive a bipolar Power Transistor at 100 KHz” by Gonzalo Casaravilla and Fernando Silveira.

Section Congress in Toronto

The Chair of the Section and two chapter chairs, Victor Ganon (Computer) and Daniel Slomovitz (Joint Chapter of the Instrumentation and Measurement / Power Engineering Societies) attended the Congress. The New Section was recognized with the RAB Growth Award and the “best-improved newsletter” Award.

Recognition to Members, 1989-1991

Two distinguished Professors received the “Region 9 Eminent Engineer Award” in those first years: Franco Vazquez Praderi and Juan Grompone.

In 1988 there was only one Senior Member, Alberto Cayon. At the end of 1991, the list has been extended to 10 with the inclusion of Franco Vazquez Praderi, Diego Algorta, Fernando Castro, Daniel Slomovitz, Juan Carlos Miguez, Nestor Mace, Marcos Andrade, Juan Grompone and Victor Ganon.

Cortesía del Ing. Juan Carlos Miguez