IEEE-USA in Action

Spotlight On: Ed Perkins – IEEE USA BOD Member & IEEE Director, Region 6

By Georgia Stelluto

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.

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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.

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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.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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