Florida West Coast Section History
For more details of this history read on:
- First Organized February 1, 1952 as the AIEE Tampa Section
- The IRE Chartered its Florida West Coast Section on November 14, 1956
- When joined together January 1, 1963 by the merger of AIEE and IRE into the IEEE, the Section retained
the Florida West Coast name.
50 Years And Moving On
First Chairs AIEE and IRE Sections
50 Years And Moving On
Two important things happened in February 1952. On the 1st, the Tampa Section of the American Institute of Electrical
Engineers, AIEE, was formed. On the 6th, Elizabeth became Queen of England. There were probably more but this is enough.
The yearbooks at IEEE Headquarters show that the Tampa Section of AIEE was formed Feb. 1, 1952. The first Chair
was Benjamin Nicholson Darlington. He was a Transmission Engineer for Peninsular Telephone Company, later to become
GTE and now Verizon. The Secretary was Charles John Ellis. He was the Manager of the Tampa Office of the General
In 1952 there were 122 members in the section. Today there are in excess of 2300. There were 381 AIEE members in
the entire state of Florida.
There were three sections then, Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa. Members in the pan handle were part of the
Alabama Section. Today there are 12 Florida sections with over 9700 members.
We covered more geography in 1952 than we do now. At the time of organization the section territory included the following
cities: Arcadia, Bartow, Bradenton, Clearwater, Clermont, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Eustis, Fort Myers, Haines City, Kissimmee,
Lakeland, Lake Wales, Largo, Melbourne Beach, Mulberry, Orlando, Plant City, St. Petersburg, Sanford, Sarasota, Tampa,
Winter Haven and Winter Park across the center of Florida to the East coast and from Tampa down to Fort Myers. Today
it runs from Ocala down to Fort Myers and east to Lakeland.
The Florida West Coast Section of the Institute of Radio Engineers,IRE, was Chartered on November 14,
1956. Its first Chair was Edwin Lee White. He was a Fellow of both AIEE and IRE with separate citations.
Then, members worked for the utilities and other companies such as: Tampa Armature Works, including its President, Raybo
Electric Supplies, Engineering firms, General Electric and Westinghouse. One was an inspector for the Tax Assessor and a
number were in the Air Force.
In the merger of AIEE and IRE into IEEE in 1963 the two sections became one, using the Florida West Coast name.
At least four of the sections past chairs went on to be the Region 3 Director and a member of the IEEE Board of
Directors. Five served as Chair of the Florida Council One of the chairs was a Congressional Fellow. Five past chairs
served on the Southcon Board of Directors.
First Chairs AIEE and IRE Sections
Benjamin Nicholson Darlington
Ben Darlington was the first Chair of the Tampa Section of AIEE formed in 1952. In 1963, AIEE and the Institute of Radio
Engineers (IRE) merged to form the IEEE. The merged section, used the Florida West Coast name.
Ben Darlington graduated from Tarpon Springs High School in the late 1920’s and attended the University of Florida in
Gainesville, Florida. He pursued courses toward a degree in Electrical Engineering. Returning home to Tarpon Springs,
Florida, he acquired employment as a mechanic in the Western Auto store. Among his duties was doing machine work and
rewinding electric motors. His interest in communication led him to taking a job with the Peninsular Telephone Company
and moving to Tampa, Florida. He had advanced to a position of General Plant Manager when a merger with General Telephone
Company occurred. He was the first Section Chairman of AIEE in 1952.
In a Dennis R. Cooper article titled "the People machine", an illustrated history of the telephone on the Central West
Coast of Florida, it was reported that the General Telephone Company of Florida Employee Chorus was organized in 1962. It
was led and directed by Ben. He was married to the former Doris Reed and together raised three sons.
Col. Edwin Lee White
Col. White was the first Chair of the IRE Florida West Coast Section Chartered in 1956. Before coming to Tampa
he had retired from the Federal Civil Service in Washington DC., in the spring of 1956. He served during both World Wars.
He was recalled to active duty in 1941. During W.W.II he rose to the rank of Col. in the USAF.
He had been active with the Washington DC Section of the IRE and in coming to Tampa he took the lead in organizing
the new section. At that time the closest section was in Miami
His Fellow bio reads: (note he was a fellow of both the AIEE and IRE)
WHITE, EDWIN LEE, AIEE Fellow 1947, IRE Fellow 1955. Born: July 5, 1896, Valley City, ND.
Degrees: A.B., 1922, M.S., 1925, George Washington University.
IRE Fellow Award: "For his leadership in advancing the use of radio in the interest of safety and efficiency in industry."
No citations were given to Fellows by the AIEE prior to 1952.
Other IEEE Awards:
- IEEE Centennial Medal, 1984.
- Bronze Star, 1943;
- Presidential Unit Citation, 1944;
- China-Burma-India Theater Citation, 1944;
- Alumni Service Award, George Washington University, 1973.
IEEE Centennial Medals
The IEEE, in 1984, in Honor of the 100th birthday of the Institute, awarded a total of 1984 Centennial Medals.
Florida West Coast Section Medal recipents were:
The presentation was made at the January 1984 Section meeting by Section Chair Richard Beatie.
- Glendel W. Cock
- Oscar Garcia
- Rudolf Henning
- Vernon B. Powers
- Robert Scarborough
- Richard Stephens
- Edwin White
The following were chosen by their society. Their medals were presented elsewhere:
- J. Robert Ashley ASSP (also chosen by FWCS)
- Eugene Boehne PES
- Charles Concordia PES
- Vijay Jain ASSP
Third Millennium Medals
As part of its celebration of the Third Millennium, IEEE awarded Millennium Medals to individuals for outstanding
contributions in their area of activity in support of IEEE. Florida West Coast Section Medal Recipients were:
Another Florida West Coast Section member, James H. Beall, received his Millennium Medal from the
Industry Applications Society.
- Richard E. Beatie
- Joey A. Duvall
- Betty M. Fritz
- James M. Howard
- Jules Joslow
- John W. Luce
- Mark McKeage
- Albert D. Rosenheck
- Arthur D. Snider
- Quang C. Tang
- John R. Twitchell
Congratulations to these medal recipients. We thank them for their efforts on behalf of the Institute of
Electrical & Electronics Engineers.
History of Meetings & Conferences
A Historical View of meetings held by other than the Section and its Chapters, since about 1975.
FWCS, the Florida West Coast Section (Tampa Bay) has been host to many IEEE meetings over the years.
The Board of Directors met here in the fall of 1989 at Innisbrook, in Tarpon Springs and its Major Organizational
Units met at the Hyatt Westshore November 15-18, 2000. Different committees of the board such as IB&SC have met
here at least 3 times, as has the Admissions and Advancement Committee. IEEE USA and its predecessor USAB have met
here as OpCom and various committees over the years. The IEEE USA PACE conference was held here Labor Day weekend at
the Vinoy in 1997.
The Region 3 Conference, "SoutheastCon," a major event of Students, Professionals and the Region Committee, met
here in 1987 and 1996. The IEEE Florida Council has met here many times.
The PES Winter Meeting was held in Tampa January and February 1998 with the Hyatt Westshore as Headquarters.
Prior to that the PES ExCom met in St. Pete Beach at the Don Cesar. The PES Insulated Conductors Committee has met
at the Don Cesar 21 times starting in 1978 through 2000 and will be back in 2002. The Substations Committee met in
Tampa in 2001.
In 1984 The Vehicular Technology Society Annual Meeting was held in Tampa, organized by Dr. Alan Gondeck. The
Instrumentation and Measurement Society held its annual Conference here in March of 1985. The President Elect of
the Institute, Bruno Weinschel was present at that meeting, as was your historian, then the Division II Director.
Our Dr. Robert Ashley served as chairman of the steering committee and helped run that meeting. Dr. Ashley also
succeeded in bringing the 1985 International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing to Tampa and
served as local arrangements chairman.
The Industry Applications Society, IAS, Industrial and Commercial Power Systems Department, I&CPS, met in St.
Petersburg at the Hilton in 1993. It returned for a second conference in Clearwater Beach at the Sheraton Sand Key in
2000. I&CPS will be returning to Clearwater Beach for its 2004 meeting. The IAS Cement Industry Committee held a very
successful meeting at Innisbrook in May, 1990. The Conference Secretary was our Bob Harwell.
Other societies have held meetings here. The National Safety Council Committee, Z244, on Lockout/Tagout of Energy
Sources has held many meetings in Tampa Bay starting in 1974 continuing through 2000.
Looking ahead, Southcon™ a Major Conference and Exposition, half owned by IEEE, was held in Tampa in the Spring of
2003. The IEEE Sections Congress met here in October 2005 and the IEEE, Industry Applications Society Annual
Meeting was here in October 2006, both at the Tampa Marriott Waterside.
We know that there have been IEEE meetings held here by some of the IEEE Societies that we have been unaware of.
If you know of any please contact James Beall, Section Historian.