A longtime stalwart in the IEEE standards development process, Ron Petersen died on July 9, 2018. He was 81. Ron served on various IEEE committees and particularly SCC28, SCC34, and SCC39 (i.e., International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety-ICES) since the 1970’s. He has been a dominant figure in this field ever since–so much so that he was named “the Czar of Electromagnetic Energy.” He worked on IEEE standards until his last days distributing upcoming meeting information for the ICES just a few days before his passing.
Ron Petersen received the BSEE and MSEP (Electrophysics) degrees from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. He joined the Bell Labs Solid-State Device Development Laboratory in 1960 where he was involved with the development of low-noise travelling-wave maser amplifiers, broadband solid state amplifiers, and silicon diode array camera tubes. In 1970 he joined the Bell Labs Environmental Health and Safety Center and, until his retirement in 2001, managed the Bell Labs Wireless and Optical Technologies Safety Department (WOTS), which served as the AT&T and Lucent Technologies Inc. resource for all non-ionizing radiation safety issues and related standards.
He chaired IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 34 (SCC-34) Product Performance Standards Relative to the Safe use of Electromagnetic Energy, SCC-28 Safety Standards with Respect to Human Exposure to Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields, and most recently served as Executive Secretary/Treasurer of SCC-39, which was formed by merging SCC-28 with SCC-34. He was a member of the IEEE-SA Standards Board for several years and served on and chaired several Standards Board committees. He also chaired IEC Technical Committee 106 Assessment of Exposure of Humans to Electric, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Fields, 0 to 300 GHz. He served two six-year terms on the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) where he chaired Scientific Committee 89 Non-Ionizing Radiation and served as Scientific Vice-President of the Non-Ionizing Radiation Program Area. He also chaired the American National Standards Institute Accredited Standards Committee for the Safe use of Lasers (ANSI/ASC Z136) and chaired ANSI Z136.2 Safety of Optical Fiber and Free Space Optical Telecommunications Systems.
Ron received a number of awards including the IEEE SA Standards Medallion, the IEEE-SA International Award, IEEE SA Distinguished Service Award, the American National Standards Institute Finnegan Standards Medal, and the IEC Thomas A Edison Award. He was an IEEE Life Fellow and a Fellow of the Laser Institute of America.
A number of fellow committee members interacted with Ron over the years on the topic of radiofrequency safety through joint participation in meetings and hearings on the subject and collaboration on publications.
Ron’s passing represents a great loss for IEEE, and especially for ICES. His constant attention to the workings of the committee and the development of standards documents formed the glue that insured the continued cohesiveness and success of ICES. He was a giant—and will be greatly missed. We will all miss Ron in our meetings. Ron lives forever in our memories.