The Evolution of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities and the new Humanitarian Activities Committee

Michael Lightner

Date: June 1, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM


The IEEE has carried out humanitarian activities in numerous settings.  Five years ago, the IEEE Board of Directors began a multi-year process to determine whether and in what way those activities might be given greater support and visibility.  This work was carried out by a series of ad hoc committees and included the found of the Special Interest Groups on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT).  In 2014, the IEEE Board of Directors considered several possible future directions for humanitarian activities and in November chose one.  The 2015 Humanitarian Ad Hoc is carrying out the Board directions and developing Bylaws and an Operating Manual for the formal committee which will be chosen by the Board and begin activities in 2016.

This talk details the evolution of the Board level IEEE Humanitarian Activities, discusses the current committee structure, function and goals, and invites question and discussion on how the work of this committee can supplement, complement and support other activities such as the Region 7 Humanitarian Initiatives Committee.


Michael R. Lightner

Michael Lightner is Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs for the University of Colorado System, a role to which he brings eight years of experience as department chair. In addition, he is currently a Professor of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder which he joined in 1981. He received his PhD from Carnegie-Mellon, and BS (highest honors), and MS from the University of Florida, all in Electrical Engineering. He has worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, IBM Watson Research, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, consulted with several major companies on computer-aided design. For many years his research was focused on electronic design automation including simulation, synthesis, test, formal verification and optimization of integrated circuits. He was elevated to a IEEE Fellow, for his contributions to computer-aided design. He has received the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Golden Jubilee Medal, IEEE Third Millennium Medal, and the Distinguished Service Award from IEEE for serving as Editor of IEEE Transactions on Computer-aided Design. He is currently the chair of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee.  
The last ten years have been spent focusing on assistive technology for people with cognitive disabilities. He is Co-Director of the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Advancing Technologies for Adults with Cognitive Impairments (RERC-ATACI) at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Technology Director of Boulder Digital Works, an innovative postgraduate digital media program. Michael Lightner is  a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. In these recent roles he has worked with a variety of government agencies and NGOs, and initiated the first IEEE Conference on the Future of Assistive Technology bringing together government, academe, industry, NGOs, public interest groups, and the public to address the needs in assistive technology over the next decade.

Conference Banquet Keynote

Date: June 2, 6 PM – 8:30 PM

Mark Williamson

MarkMark A. Williamson is Director General of Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science, which operates in partnership with Public Safety Canada. DRDC CSS is responsible for leading the Canadian Safety and Security Program on behalf of the Government of Canada, a program whose mission is to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate,prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, serious accidents,crime and terrorism through the convergence of science and technology (S&T) with policy,operations and intelligence.

Mark has performed and managed S&T activities across the academic, industry and government sectors for over 20 years. He began his government career as a petroleum geoscience research scientist with Natural Resources Canada. Throughout the 90’s he coordinated and led several multidisciplinary academic, industry and government initiatives that evaluated and assessed petroleum potential in Canada’s frontier basins. Subsequently, as Program Manager for the Earth Science Sector (ESS), he managed a large effort to consolidate and make available Canada’s geoscience knowledge base.

In 2006, Mark was appointed Director of Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear and Explosives Research and Technology Initiative where he was responsible for making strategic investments in CBRNE related S&T. This involved efforts to harness existing intellectual capacity across Canada’s federal science based departments and in creating linkages with industry and academia. Subsequently he assumed the role of DDG for DRDC CSS with responsibility to develop a strategic framework within which to identify safety and security policy and operational priorities requiring S&T investments.

Paul Cadario

Paul Cadario is the University of Toronto’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Global Innovation at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Munk School of Global Affairs. In addition to working with faculty and students in the Master of Global Affairs program and PhD candidates at Centre for Global Engineering, he co-teaches a 4th Year Civil Engineering capstone design course, Sustainable Global Communities.

Before his appointment to the University, Paul spent his career at the World Bank. He joined the Bank in 1975 and played a number of diverse roles worldwide, including nearly two decades with the World Bank’s frontline development programs in Western Africa and China and then working on public sector management reform throughout Asia. Among the challenges he most enjoyed were establishing the first World Bank- financed operations in Guinea Bissau and Mongolia and managing the strategy, budget and logistics for the Bank’s work in twenty-two former Soviet and central European states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1998, he began working on the World Bank’s efforts to modernize and streamline its business for the digital age of transparency and accountability, starting with the renewal of the Bank’s global information systems. Focusing on results, quality assurance and compliance, from 2001 he oversaw the multi-billion dollar portfolio of grants managed and disbursed by the World Bank as a trustee for governments, foundations, non-governmental organizations and private development partners. Over the course of his career, his work took him from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from Guinea to Indonesia, from China to Cambodia, and from Bhutan to Burundi.

Cadario’s ties as a volunteer to the University of Toronto have been strong for over 40 years. He was a member of the Governing Council twice, as a student Governor in 1972- 73 and then as an elected Alumni Governor from 1985 to 1994. He was the first president of the University of Toronto Alumni Association to live outside the GTA. He chairs the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Board of Advisors for the Department of Civil Engineering. He is also a member of the advisory boards for the School of Public Policy and Governance and for the Munk School of Global Affairs. He supports fundraising on behalf of the University as president of the Associates of the University of Toronto, Inc. and as a member of the Engineering Campaign Cabinet for Boundless.

Cadario earned his BASc in civil engineering from the University of Toronto in 1973. A Rhodes Scholar, he received a BA and MA in philosophy, politics and economics from the University of Oxford. More recently, he earned a master’s degree in organization development from American University. In 2013, U of T awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Laws.

As an undergraduate, Cadario worked as a U of T research assistant in the Northwest Territories where he developed a passion for Inuit art that remains to this day. He lives in Washington, DC with his partner, Dan Gordon, an attorney and a former Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Obama Administration.

Globalization in Engineering

S. K. Ramesh

Date: June 3, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM


In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin”. Globalization and innovation are driving change at an incredible pace. In this environment of change and development, Engineering has emerged as the renaissance degree program of the 21st century. The Engineer of tomorrow needs to be integrative and have the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries as we address growing challenges in energy, health care, communications and transportation, to name a few.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the only constant in engineering is change. How do we educate future engineers in such a dynamic environment? In order to answer that question we need to understand where we have come from and where we are headed. Ultimately engineering is intrinsic to society and provides the framework and foundation upon which we build our cities, institutions and infrastructure. For instance, Assistive Technology Engineering is an emerging discipline focused on improving the functional capabilities of those who utilize assistive technology devices. Engineering experts create the devices that enable these individuals to function not only in healthcare settings but also in educational and corporate environments where their participation is critical to fulfilling the ultimate goal of making accessibility universal. The Engineer of tomorrow needs the analytical abilities, problem solving skills and communication repertoire to design and build the products, systems and processes that we use in our daily lives. With Engineering we address local challenges with global impact.

This presentation examines the challenges that we face in engineering education today in this dynamic, changing environment with some examples of how we are addressing those challenges.


rameshphoto8aWith an academic career that spans over 28 years Dr. Ramesh has been serving as the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at California State University, Northridge since 2006. Prior to joining CSUN he was Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at California State University, Sacramento, where he also served as the Department Chair from 1994 to 2006. At CSUN he leads the nationally recognized AIMS2 ( program that supports over 180 under-represented students in engineering and computer science. Ramesh serves on the Boards of IEEE Educational Activities, and ABET. He has been elected to serve as IEEE-HKN President-Elect for 2015-16, and chairs the 2014 IEEE EAB Pre-University Coordinating Committee leading signature programs such as TISP (Teacher in Service program) and EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) in IEEE. Dr. Ramesh is an IEEE Fellow who has been recognized for his contributions to entrepreneurship in engineering education. Dr. Ramesh’s professional interests are in Fiber Optic Communications and he received the BE (Honors) degree from the University of Madras, India, in 1981, and the MSEE and PhD degrees from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1983 and 1986 respectively. For additional information please visit

The Internet of Everything

Willa Black

Date: June 3, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM


willa_blackAs Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for Cisco Canada, Willa Black is responsible for strategies designed to promote Cisco’s external brand relevance and transformational impact across key constituencies. She leads initiatives in support of CSR, building strategic partnerships and reinforcing the company’s role as an organization committed to social advancement across governments, nongovernmental organizations, and communities of all kinds with a focus on education and healthcare.

In 2014 Black led the development and launch of Connected North, a groundbreaking virtual program showcasing innovations in the field of learning with the aim of reducing Aboriginal student dropout rates. The program connects students and classrooms in underserved, remote Aboriginal communities with students in Canada’s south via Cisco TelePresence, enabling cultural exchange and mentoring. Connected North also provides real-time Expertson-Demand in the classroom, and teacher training and support via high-definition video. After the success of the  pilot in Aqsarniit Middle School in Iqaluit, Connected North is now scaling across Nunavut and the Northwest  Territories.

Black has held marketing and CSR leadership roles at Cisco Canada since 1999.  She has developed and led  award-winning programming including the “25 Transformational Canadians” campaign to mark Cisco’s 25th  anniversary, in partnership with CTV and The Globe and Mail; and the One Million Acts of Green campaign in  partnership with the CBC. Thousands of Canadians participated in this national challenge to drive personal  commitment towards environmental sustainability, logging in excess of 1.8 million “green acts” and saving 105,  695, 538 kg of greenhouse gas emissions.

A 30-year veteran of the public relations and marketing industry, Black began her career at Ogilvy & Mather  Advertising in Toronto. This was followed by 14 years at Royal Trust/Royal Bank where she was Director, Public  Affairs for the Wealth Management division, RBC.

Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2011, Black sits on the boards of the Canadian Club, the  Toronto Civic Action Steering Committee, the Board of Trustees for the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation,  the Advisory Board for CityWorks/Evergreen Brickworks and was a Founding Member of the Children’s Book Bank  in Regent Park. She is also a member of the Partnership Forum, launched in 2010 by the Ontario Ministry of  Citizenship and Immigration, dedicated to enhancing the relationship between the Ontario Government and not-forprofit sector.  She has also participated in many IT industry initiatives including the Canadian e-Business Initiative,  the Information Technology Association of Canada InGenious Awards Steering Committee and is a frequent  speaker at various industry and association events.

Black holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from Williams College in Massachusetts, USA.

Lighting the Developing World

Dave Irvine-Halliday

Date: June 4, 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM 


DHThe talk starts with a brief overview of the charity LUTW (lights up the world), then continues on to show how a thin-profit organization VLE (Visionary Lighting & Energy India) was born and spun off from LUTW.   The goal for VLE was to design and manufacture new, more efficient, lower cost, lighting products together with the appropriate For-Profit business models specifically applicable to the developing world.  The speaker hopes to infuse the audience with his passion for doing good, and demonstrate that there are wonderful, exciting, fairly compensated, professional careers to be forged in working with, and in, the developing world.


Dr. Dave Irvine-Halliday MSM, PEng, Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary, is the Founder and Executive Chairman of VLE. In 1997, he was the originator of bringing LED Lighting to the developing world. Founded Light Up The World ( ) in 1997, the first ever organization to bring LED lighting to the Developing World. LUTW has installed Solar LED Lighting Systems that have illuminated the lives of over a 1.2 Million poor people in 54 countries. In recognition of Dr. Dave’s services to humanity, he received the following awards: Rolex Laureate; Tech Museum Laureate; Saatchi & Saatchi Laureate; Alberta Emerald; Reader’s Digest Canadian Hero of the Year; Alberta Science & Technology; Time Canada Heroes; Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), Canada; Alberta Government Centennial Medal; Honorary Doctorate from University of Aberdeen, Scotland; K.Y. Lo Medal of the Engineering Institute of Canada; Finalist IET Innovation Awards, London, UK and many more.  In 2009 he founded VLE and at present he is actively taking care of Product Design and International Marketing.