As 2023 president, one of my goals was to work with all members—particularly our students, young professionals, and affinity community members—to make IEEE a more successful and resilient global technical organization and for it to be globally recognized as a force for change. It was equally important to me that technologists at the local level view IEEE membership as a vehicle for professional growth and are aware of the tremendous benefits that come with membership. These offerings include unparalleled networking opportunities at more than 2,000 international conferences—both in person and virtual—as well as access to the finest technical literature, resources for continuing education, and innovative collaboration opportunities with colleagues worldwide.
I believe IEEE’s impact starts at the local level. IEEE’s global presence—through its 344 sections and more than 2,700 chapters—allows volunteers to actively improve the lives of others. Local engineers, technologists, and computer scientists are essential to delivering technical solutions for the challenges their communities face. The challenges include a shortage of food, clean water, health care, and affordable energy. In my discussions with members at region, section, and chapter meetings, I found tremendous interest among them to do good in their communities.
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Promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education among young women and men in local schools also can be a vehicle whereby local IEEE members can demonstrate the organization’s relevance in their communities through programs such as IEEE TryEngineering and REACH.
A force for change
When I speak with young and early-career professionals, I am always gratified to discover just how excited they are to work on climate change and sustainability issues. Young people are engaged, paying attention to these issues, and are genuinely interested in addressing them. Climate change is a challenge greater than anything humanity has ever faced. Finding technology solutions has the potential to transform nearly every industry on the planet—from transportation to information processing, and everything in between. That’s why there is a growing demand for workers with a wide range of skills and research interests.
There are so many ways that students and young professionals can help make the world a better place. We need young professionals to understand the nature of the challenge of climate change so they can serve as leaders in their own communities. One way to do so is by becoming involved through IEEE Climate Change Program. It provides the organization an opportunity to be seen as a solution provider for climate sustainability and resilience. Everyone can participate and contribute.
My advice to young professionals is to continually evolve and learn the impact that your area of discipline has on the world. The evolution of my own career can serve as an example of the sweeping changes young professionals in the technological community may experience. My experiences helped me understand the impact that the growth of decarbonization technologies have around the world.
Our young professionals can also serve as the conduit between IEEE and the industries where a large number of our current and prospective members work. I encourage IEEE members working as midlevel managers in industry to interact with their young colleagues: invite them to local IEEE section-organized events and highlight the benefits of membership. IEEE membership should be viewed by early-career practitioners as a bridge to a successful career and an opportunity to expand their network, collaborate on projects, and explore pathways for leadership development through volunteer opportunities.
When I first joined IEEE in 1974 as a graduate student member, I had the opportunity to meet senior engineers in industry and government. They shared their experiences about how things were done, and why. Their mentorship benefited me throughout my entire career, for example by helping me to place my own research in the proper context and to avoid false starts. I have seen this lesson repeated numerous times throughout my career.
Building bridges between people yields tremendous benefits. I have seen over and over again how collaboration helps push our industries and professions to new frontiers. When we build connections between people, we ultimately accelerate the transfer of knowledge.
IEEE president and CEO
This article appears in the March 2023 print issue as “IEEE Is Where Careers Grow.”