Reliability Society Newsletter


Vol. 60, No. 2, May 2014

Table of Contents

Front page:

President's Message

From the Editor

Society News:

In Memoriam: Harold E. Ascher (1935-2014)

Candidates Sought for Reliability Society Admin Committee (2015-2017)


Members & Chapters

Chapter Outreach Xi'an, China

Chapter Outreach Taiwan

Chapter Outreach UK/Ireland Chapter

Announcement: Reliability Outreach, Milan, Italy

Dallas Chapter

Boston-NH-Providence Chapter


Meetings & Conferences

2014 IEEE PHM Conference in Spokane

RAMS 2015, Palm Harbor, FL

Letters in Reliability

Thoughts on the Power of Questioning

Microsecond PHM


Reliability Society Home

RS Newsletter Homepage

President's Message

Dear Reliability Society Member,

As a member of the IEEE Reliability Society you have made a strong statement that reliability is important to you. That is, you have joined a group of peers within your profession to either maintain/gain knowledge or share your expertise on how to make products more reliable, dependable, safe, secure, trustworthy or maintainable. Products relevant to your profession may range from software to hardware, from microelectronics devices to large scale systems and your applications of interest may range from consumer electronics to aerospace, power grid or medical devices, but one thing we can all agree on is: Reliability matters!

But why would reliability not matter? Have you ever met someone about to make a major purchase saying “I’ll take the one with lowest reliability.” Few people are even willing to openly trade reliability for cost, knowing that at the end of the day reliability will translate into cost anyway. This is not to suggest that price is not a factor in most purchases and that reliability alone can sell a product. But I would argue that most customers, if knowing all the facts, will tend to choose the product with the highest reliability that fits within their available budget.

It would also seem trivial that for most people, more reliable is better. A recent AT&T TV commercial featuring actor Beck Bennett talking to young children says it well “It’s Not Complicated: More Reliable is Better.” But is that always true? I have heard anecdotally, although I am unable to quote accurate sources to back this up, that there are companies that have produced a product so reliable that it would essentially last forever, and thus put the company out of business given the lack of need to ever replace an old product with a new one. Neither have I found any sources to support that there might be lawyers appreciative of companies producing unreliable or unsafe products with the result of generating more clients to represent in lawsuits against such companies. It is, however, easy to find sources that show that cybercrime has become a billion dollar industry, and that cybercriminals do not want to see your software become more reliable or more secure since it makes their job of stealing your valuable data more difficult. But even for those to which less reliable is better, it still comes back to the same thing: Reliability matters!

The IEEE is an organization of over 400,000 members. While reliability matters to all of those members only a small percentage of these have made the commitment that you have to make reliability the first consideration in engineering design and analysis. As members, we have the ability to change this. You can help by telling your colleagues about the wealth of knowledge that is communicated through IEEE Reliability Society sponsored meetings, conferences and publications. The Reliability Society website is always a good place to start. I encourage you to continue or become active in your professional community by attending one of our sponsored conferences or by joining a local Reliability Society chapter in your area (see website for a list of chapters located around the world). Tell your colleagues who are not Reliability Society members why reliability matters.

I sincerely thank you for your loyalty to the Reliability Society and for your dedication to the reliability engineering and related specialty engineering disciplines. Together we can make the world and all of its devices, systems and networks more reliable. 

Christian K. Hansen, PhD
2014 Reliability Society President



From the Editor

Welcome to the second installment of our 2014 IEEE-RS Newsletter!

If you look at the message from our President, Christian Hansen, you might get an idea how much he wants to share the knowledge and experience of this Society with others. I am guessing that, if you spoke to any of our Executive or Adminstrative Committee members, you would probably find that same enthusiasm. There are two things that continue to attract me to the Reliability discipline: (a) We're doing good in this world, and (b) The technologies are REALLY interesting!

Here's a few things that this passion has fostered that you'll find recounted in these pages:

  • Chapter outreaches from China to Italy, from Dallas to Taiwan to UK/Ireland
  • An upcoming Prognostics & Health Management Conference in Spokane
  • Two "Letters in Reliability".

One of the "Letters" contributors is Dr. Sam Keene, who is not only a brilliant technologist, but is one great story-teller. You will find his paper on the power of questioning quite interesting.

The other Letter, "Microsecond PHM," from Ryan Lowe (Applied Research Associates) and Jacob Dodson, Jason Foley (USAF Research Laboratory) reviews an innovative idea of leveraging PHM predictive capabilities in the high-speed (microsecond) domain. This subject will be featured in a panel at the Society's PHM Conference in Spokane.

Our Society lost yet another icon in Reliability -- Harry Ascher. Talk about enthusiasm for reliability! We included a very personal elogy by Professor Hansen, who was one of his friends, as well as a technical associate. It is a rather technical piece -- something I think Harry would have appreciated.

Interested in helping to operate the Reliability Society? Maybe become an officer? Preparations are being made for the Administrative Committee (AdCom) elections this fall. See "Candidates Sought..."

As always, if you have feedback or news to add, please let me know. Thanks for reading here!

Joe Childs
2014 Newsletter Editor-in-Chief

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