At the beginning of the 1960s, a large number of organizations under the Department of Defense and NASA were carrying out and supporting R&D on energy conversion devices and systems. Representatives of these organizations held regular meetings under the auspices of the Interservice Group for Flight Vehicle Power (IGFVP). At a meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 7, 1961, the Solar Working Group (SWG) of the IGFVP decided that a broader meeting was needed which should include personnel from industry and the universities active in the photovoltaic device area. Minutes of that SWG meeting comprise seven pages and its report number is PIC-SOL, 3/1, dated March 16, 1961.
The Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) was charged with organizing this broader meeting (The First PVSC) which was held on April 14. 1961. It took place
* June 1996.
Power for the World by W. Palz
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in a basement conference room in Washington, DC. The Power Information Center (PIC) of IGFVP was given responsibilities for information dissemination and resulted in PIC-SOL 209/1, a two-page Report on Findings of Photovoltaic Devices.
In February 1962, the Interagency Advanced Power Group (IAPG) held a Solar Working Group Conference (the second PVSC) in Washington, DC. The topics of discussion were "Radiation damage to semiconductor solar devices", and "Solar power systems calibration and testing". Proceedings of that conference were prepared by the PIC of the IAPG and distributed to all attendees. In April 1963, the 3rd Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, sponsored jointly by IEEE, AIAA, and NASA, was held at the Statler Hilton, Washington DC. Again, the proceedings were prepared and distributed by the IAPG PIC.
In June 1964, the conferences began using a numbering system along with the title Photovoltaic Specialists Conference. The 1964 and 1965 (4th and 5th) conferences were also jointly sponsored by IEEE, AIAA, and NASA; the proceedings were prepared and distributed by the IAPG PIC. Since 1967, (6th PVSC, Cocoa Beach, Florida) the conference has been sponsored solely by IEEE.
At one of the planning meetings for the 1980 conference (14th PVSC), shortly after the death of William R. Cherry, the conference committee agreed to establish the William R. Cherry Award.
Joseph Loferski wrote the following description:
Mature communities — be they nations, professions or groups of people working toward a common objective — identify and honor their heroes, those persons who through their vision, perseverance and commitment helped to launch the community during its delicate early years: Having been born twenty-five years ago, the photovoltaic community is such a mature community. It is time that it, too, should begin to identify and honor its heroes. It is for this reason that the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference Committee has decided to establish an award to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of photovoltaic science and technology, and to name it in the memory of one of the heroes of photovoltaic history, William. R Cherry. It was the intent of the organizing committee that an award be given at each subsequent specialists conference.