SPOTLIGHT ON: ED PERKINS -- IEEE-USA BOD MEMBER & IEEE DIRECTOR, REGION 6

BY Georgia Stelluto Posted: 1 Sep 2012

Q:  Tell us a little about yourself, Ed.

 

A: I was born in Massachusetts on a small farm. I was interested in science as a kid, my cousin introduced me to ham radio, and I got into building my own equipment, which led me to go to an engineering school—WPI--in Worcester, Mass. There I discovered the computer, and I became focused on programming and software. After graduating, I had a succession of jobs at WPI (while I was a grad student getting a Masters in computer science), and a data processing job in Boston, working for a very small electronics company doing “microcomputer programming”-- with the Intel 8080. Then, I joined DEC (Digital Equipment), and was there for 16 years. I started in small systems software doing real-time systems (now called embedded systems); then worked in chip architecture in semiconductor advanced development; and then in Computer Aided Engineering—where I built a corporate service group supporting the introduction of workstations into the engineering development process for board-level products. When DEC ran into trouble, I immigrated to the West coast, and ended up in Portland, where I worked in the emerging field of virtual test; and then, at a telecom start-up that went bust in the Dotcom bubble. I’m now a consultant in IT Governance, enterprise risk management and risk auditing.

Q:  Misconception people have about engineers


A: I think some people think engineers are one-faceted, that they aren’t aware of what’s going on in the world. I haven’t found that to be the case. Most engineers I know are involved in many activities in both the profession and their communities.

Q:  What you wanted to be when you grew up


A: I wanted to do something with science. As a youngster, when I got into radios, I wanted to be a radio designer. When I got into college, I found I really liked computer programming. But eventually, I found project and program management more--fun as you are organizing things in order to accomplish something.

 


Q: Best thing about living in Portland?

 

A: Best thing about living in the Portland area is the weather is mild.  Plus, in 30 minutes you can be out of town, and we have some spectacular natural attractions.

Q:  What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 

A: If you want to be perfect, you’ll have a tough time. Corollary is:  Everything is perfect as it is.

Q:  What's on your reading pile?


A: I’m looking for what to read next. I read Jobs’ biography last--fascinating look into his life and passions. I like Geoffrey Moore’s recent two books: Dealing with Darwin was very prescient in what’s happening with technology companies; and Escape Velocity builds on it with strategies for navigating today’s business environment.

Q: What was your favorite childhood book, and why?


A: I don’t think I had any favorite book; I liked to read LIFE magazine and National Geographic, with their stores and photos of people in other places.

Q:  What is one of your dislikes?


A: I don’t like pretentiousness.

Q: Broken item you cannot part with


A: My schedule. So you do what you can do.

Q: Leave us with your motto, Ed.


A: There are a few sayings over the years I like: Be prepared--courtesy of the Boy Scouts; If you don’t manage you someone else will; Not deciding is a decision; and Do what you say…

Georgia C. Stelluto is IEEE-USA’s publishing manager, editor-in-chief of IEEE-USA in ACTION, and manager/editor of IEEE-USA E-Books.

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