World’s largest technical professionals’ body kick starts works to set important benchmarks for electronics manufacture to ensure protection of the environment.

IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, announced today that its working groups will immediately kick off the development process to create standards for the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool ( EPEAT®) registry.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) defines EPEAT as an easy-to-use resource for purchasers, manufacturers, resellers and others wanting to find out the electronic products positive environmental attributes. “ EPEAT registers products that meet the IEEE 1680 family of Environmental Assessment Standards which includes the IEEE 1680.1 product standard for specific environmental performance criteria for computer desktops, laptops and monitors, IEEE P1680.2 standards for imaging equipment  and IEEE P1680.3 product standard for televisions,”  USEPA says on its website site.

The development is likely to resonate well with standards bodies and environmental protection authorities in East Africa that have been seeking universal systems to qualify standards of products being shipped into the continent.

In July, IEEE announced its plan to move the IEEE 1680 standards forward. Since then, working groups have been established for IEEE P1680.1, Standard for Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products, and the IEEE P1680.4, Standard for Environmental Assessment of Servers. Deeply rooted in a broad consensus from organizations of all sizes and across all technologies, the IEEE standards process is globally respected and accepted as an established framework for driving environmentally friendly innovations across the globe.

“Developing standards for the EPEAT registry for greener electronics needs to remain an open and inclusive process that involves all key stakeholders continuing to transform how technology products are manufactured and that the process is highly environmentally conscious,” said Chuck Walrad, Vice President of Standards, and Computer Society.  “We are looking forward to driving that process to develop standards that may be used to qualify products for the EPEAT registry and that will continue to benefit humanity throughout the world.”

IEEE has over 430,000 members; is one of the world’s largest developers of standards with over 900 standards in its catalog. Some of its well known standards include Wi-Fi <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi> under the IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless networks, Bluetooth (IEEE 802.15.1<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth>) and WiMAX <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX> (IEEE 802.16).  IEEE publishes approximately 150 technical journals and research papers, which are available electronically to technologists around the world. Its sponsors about 1300 expert level conferences each year and each month about 8 million articles are downloaded from the IEEE electronic library. Today most engineers around the world are its members.

Africa has had a low number of engineer members of the IEEE due to a limited extent in engineering collaborations, opportunities and knowledge sharing. But this is expected to change with IEEE adopting a new strategy in Africa that will involve direct participation. The strategy is being pursued by the IEEE global administration led by President and CEO Dr. Peter Staecker which is due to make its second mission in Africa this November to find out how it can be better involved in deepening engineering education in the continent. Kenya will be one of the countries the IEEE mission will tour a second time.

In April this year, in the first mission in Kenya, Dr Staecker held meetings with senior government officials including cabinet and principal secretaries in the ICT, Industrialization and Education ministries. IEEE members said that this first mission had a great impact on the IEEE strategy in Africa and that major projects had already been initiated by the body as part of its ground work for wider participation locally.

“As a result of the first mission in April, IEEE identified lack of access to online libraries and digital engineering resources by engineering educators and students as a major challenge in engineering education in East Africa. It is already facilitating the formation of a consortium of East African universities to subsidize the access to the IEEE Electronic Library that is used worldwide by learning and practicing engineers,” says Prof. Robert Gateru, Principal of Nairobi campus at the Kenya Methodist University (KeMU).

According to Vincent Kaabunga, the IEEE Kenya Section Chairman, IEEE is further supporting efforts to set up pilot Education Advisory boards in universities for Engineering and Computing Technologies (ECT) that will provide a mechanism for industry to provide feedback to universities on the quality and content of their programs and graduates. “We are also supporting Information Security East Africa, a high level expert’s meet to review of the state of information security in East Africa,” he added.

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