A Toast to Bodo: Celebrating 70 Years
As Bodo Arlt, founder of Bodo's Power Systems, celebrates his 70th birthday, we pay tribute to his accomplishments and impact on the power electronics industry.
Few in the industry don’t know Bodo’s Power Systems Magazine (with whom EE Power has an exclusive digital content partnership), and many know Bodo Arlt, the man behind it all. Here, we draw back the curtain on Bodo himself and pay tribute to his accomplishments and impact on the power electronics industry on his 70th birthday.
Bodo Arlt. Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems Magazine
EE Power: How did you end up in the industry? Was this always where you saw yourself, or did you have a different plan when you were young? How did you end up launching Bodo’s?
Bodo: It all started in my childhood. As a 5-year-old boy, I had the electric Märklin toy train from my older brother. I got continued support from my parents for growing the amount of trains and tracks.
After school, I started at a leading electronic company in Kiel (my professional education). Afterward, I attended the University of Applied Science and became a “Dipl. Ing” in electronics.
I continued to work in R&D for about 12 years in electronic systems. Afterward, I spent another 12 years in applications and marketing for RCA. In 1986, GE acquired RCA and became GE-RCA Solid State. In November 1988, GE Solid State was sold to Harris Semiconductor.
During this time, I introduced IGBTs and MOSFETs to the European market. In 1999, Harris decided to get out of power.
That was the starting point of PCIM and doing their magazine. PCIM sold the magazine to Reed, and I contributed as a freelancer. Reed closed the magazine, and I finally started my own publication after some learning curve with partners that did not go in the right direction.
Bodo has been part of my family for decades. He was friends with my father, Eric Lidow, and now I feel honored to call him my friend. He started Bodo’s Power Systems at a time when print media was atrophying and power electronics were out of favor. He made it work, and now it is the premiere journal for the latest information on the latest trends in power electronics. My memories of Bodo are filled with tales of the past, the execution challenges of the present, and his continual optimism about the future.
– Alex Lidow, CEO, Efficient Power Conversion
EE Power: What is the most memorable thing that has happened during your history with Bodo’s? What is your favorite part of running Bodo’s?
Bodo: Having the first volume IGBT project in the world for a household machine. It was day-to-day work with the engineers at Braun Kronenberg near Frankfurt. It was the variable speed motor drive for the kitchen equipment powered by an IGBT and a diode. Both components have been selected to minimize switching and conduction losses to minimize the heat sink.
Bodo has immense curiosity for all things power electronics – the technology, the people, and the stories behind all of it. Back in 2012, when my company, GeneSiC Semiconductor, was a small start-up, he was kind enough to spend the time and effort to learn about my company, its technology, and the story behind my technical origins. In the most non-judgmental way, he listened carefully and made a friend for life. He gave me the opportunity to publish articles that helped us get known in the wider community of power electronics.
– Ranbir Singh, PhD, Executive Vice President, GeneSiC (now Navitas)
EE Power: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with you at PCIM, and it is clear that you are well-respected and revered by so many in the industry. How have you achieved that, and what are your sentiments on building relationships in the industry?
Bodo: I spent more than a decade helping companies design IGBTs and MOSFETs. That builds strong relationships with engineers in R&D.
EE Power: To what do you attribute your success in the industry?
Bodo: Being able to listen to technical problems and develop solutions to solve them.
It has been a tremendous privilege to work with Bodo Arlt. Bodo is, of course, first and foremost known as the leading power electronics editor. However, before that, he worked on the development of the IGBT, and he has brought this technical comprehension to his writing, which shows in the success of his publication, Bodo’s Power Systems.
It certainly makes interviews with Bodo among the most enjoyable. Whether in person —perhaps at a trade show—or via video call, discussions with Bodo are thorough, professional, and insightful…but they are also always fun. Bodo always has time to share an anecdote or show pictures of his grandchildren and the large and detailed model railway he created for them.
Bodo’s contribution to the world of power electronics has been immense. Bodo’s Power Systems is an authority, and the many conferences and panels he organizes and hosts play a vital role in building the power semiconductor ecosystem. He was also the first journalist to regularly focus on green power issues, many years before it became ubiquitous.
But on a major birthday, I would like to share a fun moment. Bodo likes to givelittle presents to his colleagues and associates. While most people would be satisfied with a branded pen or a t-shirt, Bodo, of course, looks for the unusual. And surely nothing could be more unusual than the dill pickle in a can that he gave away at one PCIM show! There were some very surprised faces that year. Priceless.
So thanks, Bodo, and have a very happy 70th birthday. I look forward to many more interesting discussions and happy times, and I will celebrate in person with you soon.
– Doug Bailey, Vice President of Marketing and Applications Engineering, Power Integrations
EE Power: What are some of the different jobs you have held over the years that led you to where you are today?
Bodo: Designing a scanning head for all four colors for a rotogravure system and bringing it to Chicago Rotoprint and Donnelly in 1978 in Chicago. That was 45 years ago.
EE Power: What are your thoughts on building a business centered on family/working with family?
Bodo: The understanding that my travel was no vacation. Be patient and give time to learn. Short ways to communicate are great. The drawback is that the family is not big enough to cover all the needs of our publication.
The first time I met Bodo was in August 1998, 25 years ago. It was only a few days after we founded Danfoss Silicon Power. Bodo was working for Harris Corporation. Soon after, we were on a business trip to Melbourne, Florida. This is when I, for the first time, was introduced to the fabulous world of power semiconductors. From there on, there was no escape. Bodo became my (as everybody else’s) Wikipedia for Power Semiconductors. Bodo knew everyone in the business and had a personal story with every person, every technology, and every product; very amazing, and also, at times, overwhelming.
We were all incredibly happy when Bodo started writing about power electronics, and even more so when he took it into his own hands and created Bodo’s Power Systems. We get relevant news from all the main players in power electronics, deep dives into recent technologies, inspiring application stories, and all other relevant news from the world of power electronics. There are many who every month look forward to the next issue of Bodo’s.
Thank you, Bodo, for keeping us all up to date, for the many inspiring talks, very often with salmon fresh from Laboe on the table and for the “good company person” you have always been.
Happy birthday, Bodo.
– Claus A. Petersen, President, Semikron Danfoss
EE Power: Looking back, what, if anything, might you do differently?
Bodo: I would do it again—my way. Having the financial backbone built during my work in the industry gave me an easy way to start without asking the bank for a loan.
EE Power: What is the most impactful development you have seen in the power electronics industry over the years?
Bodo: Reducing losses. First in the 1980s, with IGBTs and MOSFETs, and nowadays with wide bandgap devices, SiC and GaN.
Bodo was good friends with my first supervisor, Don Burke, in my first job after I got my Ph.D.. They always had great stories to share about the old days and various challenges every time new technologies were introduced to the market.
I appreciated a lot the chance that Bodo’s magazine gave our small company, UnitedSiC, to get noticed by the power community, through our technical articles, and the same with participation in the PCIM and December Munich forum. It is clear that Bodo’s has really become a trusted institution in power.
I wish him all the best. He is a good friend.
– Anup Bhalla, Chief Engineer, Power Devices, Qorvo Inc.
EE Power: What is the most surprising development (something you didn’t see coming) you have seen in the power electronics industry?
Bodo: Alternative energy generation by wind and solar replacing nuclear power plants. A great move.
EE Power: Can you tell me a little about your upcoming wide bandgap event December 12th and 13th in Munich?
Bodo: I remember going around in the mid-80s, getting the designs for IGBTs and overcoming barriers in the design at R&D in the companies. The conference for SiC and GaN brings engineers from the industry right in front of the experts from the semiconductor manufacturers. That is the way to solve technical problems and get a boost forward to a successful new design.
EE Power: Is there anything I haven’t touched on that you’d like to mention?
Bodo: I feel great having had a successful life and being able to have the family continuing it and, for me, still spending time in my office. My Märklin HO-size trains are still here, and it is fun to work on them and have a display set up.
There are many ways to describe Bodo. In my experience, he is thoughtful and kind. I met Bodo at PCIM Europe in 2023. After a late-night press dinner, I knew I had a likely 30 to 40-minute cab ride ahead of me, not including the wait for the cab. Knowing it had been a long day of meetings, Bodo made sure I was taken care of and drove me back to my hotel himself, ensuring I was safe and sound, even though my hotel was miles out of his way.
– Barbara Vergetis Lundin, Editor-in-Chief, EE Power