IEEE President’s Note: Amplifying IEEE's Reach

Exploring diverse and unique opportunities to raise our name recognition

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In my March column, I discussed the need for IEEE to increase its retention of younger members and its engagement with industry. Another one of my priorities is to increase the organization’s outreach to the broader public. I want people to know who we are and what we do.

To tell the story of IEEE is to share the impact our members, products, and services make around the globe. Did you know the top 50 patenting organizations worldwide cite IEEE publications three times more than those of any other publisher? And that IEEE publishes three of the top five publications on artificial intelligence, automation and control systems, and computer hardware and software? And that IEEE has an active portfolio of more than 1,100 standards in areas including the Internet, the metaverse, blockchain, sustainable and ethical design, and age-appropriate design for children’s digital services? I bet you didn’t know that IEEE members file more than 140,000 patents yearly and have won 21 Nobel Prizes thus far.

Our volunteers write, review, and publish much of the world’s technical literature and convene conferences on every conceivable technical topic. We also establish future directions communities on emerging technologies, pursue technical megatrends, provide opportunities for continued professional development, and develop and publish technology road maps on semiconductors and other important technologies.

Here are some of the ways IEEE is working to amplify its reach.

A powerful voice

As we navigate a new era in technology—one driven by AI and other disruptive technologies—the role of IEEE in advocating for pivotal policy issues in science and technology and engaging with policymakers and stakeholders cannot be understated.

As the world’s largest technical professional organization, IEEE is uniquely positioned to be the bridge among the experts who work in areas across IEEE’s organic technical breadth, including communications, computer science, power and energy, management, reliability, and ethics. IEEE can engage with the policymakers who devise the regulatory environment, and with the public who have varying levels of interaction and acceptance of emerging technologies. That includes collaborating with local technical communities worldwide, promoting outreach and educational activities to the public, and connecting with other organizations that are actively working in these spaces.

For example, in April I participated in the annual IEEE-USA Congressional Visits Day, which provides volunteers with the opportunity to interact with their senators and representatives. The event, a cornerstone in the technology and engineering community, serves as a platform to elevate the voices of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, researchers, educators, and technology executives. It plays a vital role in driving dialogue among engineering and technology professionals and policymakers to advocate for issues pertinent to IEEE members in the United States. It’s a unique opportunity for participants to engage directly with elected officials, fostering discussions on legislation and policies that shape the country’s technology landscape.

By empowering our voice in assisting with global public policymaking, we can reinforce IEEE’s position as the world’s trusted source for information and insights on emerging technology and trends in the marketplace. Each one of us can be an ambassador for the IEEE, telling people about how IEEE has helped us in our careers and benefits humanity.

Thinking outside the box

Other ways IEEE is expanding its reach is by participating at events one might not normally associate with the organization, as well as a new series of videos about members. One such event is the 2024 World Science Fiction Convention to be held in August in Glasgow. Many IEEE members, myself included, were inspired to become involved in technology by science fiction movies, TV shows, and books. As a young man, I dreamed of going into outer space to explore new worlds and discover new things. My interest in science fiction inspired me to want to understand the physical sciences and to learn how to use natural laws and logic to make things. My hope is that IEEE’s presence at such events can inspire the next generation to see the myriad of potential career and professional opportunities available to those interested in science, technology, and engineering.

I am also excited about a new series of videos being distributed to broadcast TV and cable stations, social media platforms, and news media outlets worldwide, targeting early career technology professionals, existing IEEE members, and the general public.

The international “IEEE Is Your Competitive Edge” videos tell stories of IEEE members and how their membership gave them a competitive edge. We selected individuals with diverse backgrounds for the videos, which are being shot on location around the globe. The goal of the videos is to encourage technologists to recognize IEEE as a vital part of their profession and career, as well as to see the advantages of membership and participating in IEEE activities. The benefits of this campaign are wide ranging and include raising IEEE’s public visibility and growing its membership. It is a way to tell our story and increase awareness of a great organization. These videos will also be available to IEEE organizational units, regions, and sections for their promotional efforts to use.

By celebrating the pride and prestige of our professions, we can help increase the public’s understanding of the contributions electrical, electronics, and computer engineers make to society. IEEE consistently and proudly demonstrates how its members improve the global community and have helped to build today’s technologically advanced world.

2024 IEEE President’s Award

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Gladys West

At the IEEE Vision, Innovation, and Challenges Summit and Honors Ceremony, Dr. Gladys B. West was recognized as the recipient of the 2024 IEEE President’s Award for her trailblazing career in mathematics and her vital contributions to modern technology. Dr. West is known for her contributions to the mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth. While working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., she conducted seminal work on satellite geodesy models that was pivotal in the development of the GPS. She worked at the center for 42 years, retiring in 1998.

As IEEE continues to enhance its reach, relevance, and value to an inclusive and global community, it was my honor to recognize such a technology giant who serves as a role model and inspiration for early career and young engineers and technologists, as well as those from underrepresented communities, to innovate to solve grand world challenges.

—Tom Coughlin

IEEE president and CEO

This article appears in the June 2024 print issue as “Amplifying IEEE’s Reach.”

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