Kettering grad makes impact

Jul 13, 2010

William Sommerville '05, member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), is the chair of IEEE's Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) program, an honor that speaks highly to the achievements he has made in his young career.

William Sommerville, a senior electrical engineer at United Solar Ovonic in Rochester Hills, Mich., earned an appointment as chair of IEEE’s Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) Committee in 2010. This committee focuses its efforts on creating programs and activities that support young, highly skilled engineers in IEEE while encouraging them to become active as members in the growing society.

This is a significant appointment for Sommerville, one that could extend into 2012. The IEEE is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. IEEE and more than 390,000 members worldwide inspire a global community through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities.

Sommerville joined IEEE in 2007 and works hard to promote the organization’s goals and objectives through active participation in many IEEE events and activities. He earned selection by the Board of Governors of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society (VTS) to serve as the GOLD Liaison in 2008 and immediately began outreach efforts on behalf of younger members of the IEEE.

Sommerville said that the board members of the VTS—which focuses on the theoretical, experimental and operational aspects of electrical and electronics engineering in mobile radio, motor vehicles and land transportation—are “very welcoming and it is extremely interesting to learn about how the organization is run.” One of the international conferences sponsored by the VTS that is of particular interest to Kettering University students and graduates is the Vehicular Power and Propulsion Conference (VPPC), the world's leading meeting on electric and hybrid vehicles.  Two other international conferences sponsored by VTS are focused on vehicular communications.  VTS conferences are of particular interest to companies in southeastern Michigan and address topics highly relevant to the economic future of Michigan.

As the 2010 GOLD Chair, Sommerville leads a group of 17 volunteers living in eight countries working on the following initiatives: 

  • execution of major events in IEEE for GOLD, including a GOLD Summit in San Francisco in August 2011 and humanitarian workshops;
  • supporting the GOLD webinar team to present monthly web-based seminars and develop the next generation strategy;
  • execution of STEP programs, which are funded graduation receptions for graduating undergraduate engineering students;
  • developing promotional materials for GOLD, such as brochures and videos;
  • supporting the GOLDRush newsletter team in efforts to increase relevance and readership;
  • developing inter-organizational relationships with other IEEE groups, and increase GOLD representation on  IEEE boards and other groups; and
  • developing training and tools for GOLD volunteers, and helping to build succession plans for key positions.

Although this is quite a large undertaking, Sommerville believes that his Kettering education prepared him well for this and other career opportunities.

“Kettering is a fantastic school for growing leadership skills. I learned how to create and give presentations, navigate political issues by working collaboratively and within complex organizations, create clear and concise reports and generally solve big and complex problems,” he explained.

Sommerville and his wife, Corie, were overjoyed with their first child born June 17, 2010. They live in Auburn Hills. To learn more about IEEE, visit the website at  

Contact: Gary Erwin