June 21, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
The titans of telecommunications converge on Chicago this
morning for Supercomm 2004, the world's top telecommunications
trade show. Behind the scenes, a little-known Chicago organization
is playing a pivotal role in this global event.
An estimated 30,000 technology professionals from around the
world will be here to learn about the latest industry trends, the
newest communications equipment and state-of-the-art services.
The roster of speakers includes: Ned Barnholt, CEO, Agilent
Technologies; Serge Tchuruk, CEO, Alcatel; Ed Whitacre Jr., CEO,
SBC Communications; Michael Powell, chairman, Federal
Communications Commission, and Don Logan, chairman, Media and
Communications Group, Time Warner.
Over 400 hands-on telco experts will share their knowledge at
McCormick Place podiums throughout the week.
Pulling together this industry expertise is the responsibility
of the not-for-profit International Engineering Consortium (IEC).
Located at 549 W. Randolph, the IEC plans the programs and
recruits the speakers for this week's digital-age hoedown at
"The IEC is tremendously important to the communications
industry," says Mike Quigley, senior executive vice president
with $15 billion Paris-based supplier Alcatel. "As an
educational force in the industry, IEC shapes the knowledge base
and skills sets of our talent pool. They influence the quality and
innovative of our entire industry."
The IEC is a uniquely Chicago institution dedicated to
technology transfer and technical education. According to IEC
Senior Director John Janowiak, it was created in 1944 on the back
page of an envelope in a bar at the Chicago Hilton. Motorola
founder Paul Galvin, the leaders of Western Electric and the heads
of the top Midwestern universities convened to create the IEC. The
group's aim: to capitalize on the pace of wartime electronics
research to assure continued peacetime progress.
Sixty years later, the IEC has bloomed into a global
organization that provides technology education to over 400,000
engineering students, professors and commercial workers around the
world. The IEC forms a network that links leaders in business and
academia to assure tomorrow's engineers have easy access to
real-world research initiatives and commercial applications.
IEC executives also played an important role stimulating
Supercomm's three-year return to Chicago. The show is jointly
owned by the Telecommunications Industry Association and the
United States Telecom Association.
If you're a Chicago taxi driver or a restaurant worker and
business is good this week; if the hotels are just a little
fuller, and the shops on Michigan Avenue seem to bustle just a bit
more, remember to thank the International Engineering Consortium.
Can we talk?
The Cook County Board approved a $12.8 million Phase 1
urban-area security initiative that will improve first responders'
ability to communicate in an emergency.
The project was competitively bid and IBM will serve as the
prime contractor. The initiative is funded as part of a $34
million grant the county received from the Federal Department of
Homeland Security's Office of Domestic Preparedness.
The aim, according to Cook County CIO Catherine Maras O'Leary,
is to put in place "an interoperable mobile voice, video and
data network for first responders. The first responders -- fire,
paramedics and police --have to be able to talk together to
In addition to integrating voice communication over a private
wireless network, O'Leary's program includes the addition of
infrared video cameras to remotely observe sensitive sites. A data
component enables first responders to use existing technology to
access critical information in an emergency. First responders will
be able to access records at the Centers for Disease Control, says
She describes the effort as a "collaborative multi-county
initiative involving the city and suburban municipalities."
Bits & bytes
A speedy recovery to Maura O'Hara, executive director,
Illinois Venture Capital Association, following surgery. ...
University of Chicago's Robert Rosenberg reconvenes his
Chicago Technology Forum highlighting our region's medical device
technology Friday at the Gleacher Center. ... B2B magazine Editor Ellis
Booker appears at Thursday's B2B Marketing Symposium organized
by the Technology Executives Club.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and