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Learn How the President-Elect Candidates Plan to Improve IEEE

The 4 members have issued their position statements

8 min read

The four candidates share their plans for increasing student membership; expanding science, technology, engineering, and math education programs; and attracting more members from industry.

The annual IEEE election process begins in August, so be sure to check your mailbox for your ballot. To help you choose the 2022 IEEE president-elect, The Institute is publishing the official biographies and position statements of the four candidates, as approved by the IEEE Board of Directors. The candidates are Life Fellow Thomas M. Coughlin, Life Senior Member Francis Grosz, Life Fellow Saifur Rahman, and Fellow S.K. Ramesh.

Photo of Thomas M. Coughlin Thomas M. Coughlin

Life Fellow Thomas M. Coughlin

Nominated by Petition

Coughlin is founder and president of Coughlin Associates in San Jose, Calif., which provides market and technology analysis as well as data storage, memory technology, and business consulting services. This IEEE Life Fellow has more than 40 years of experience in the data storage industry and has been a consultant for 20 years.

Before starting his own company, Coughlin held leadership positions in companies such as Micropolis, Syquest Technology, and Ampex.

Coughlin publishes several industry reports including the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, and the Emerging Non-Volatile Memory Report. He is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide, which is now in its second edition. Coughlin is a regular contributor on digital storage for the Forbes blog and other news outlets.

He has held several leadership positions in IEEE including 2019 IEEE-USA president as well as chair of the IEEE New Initiatives Committee, the IEEE Public Visibility Committee, and IEEE Region 6. He is also an active member of the IEEE Santa Clara Valley Section and has been active with several societies, standards, and the Future Directions Committee.

Coughlin, who is an IEEE-HKN member, is the recipient of the 2020 IEEE Member and Geographic Activities Leadership Award.

He is on the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers' Conference Program Committee and has published articles in several of the organization's journals. Coughlin is also the founder of the Storage Networking Industry Association's Solid State Storage Initiative, the Storage Visions Conference, and the Creative Storage Conference. The events highlight the latest trends in digital storage and their applications.

He was the general chair of the annual Flash Memory Summit Conference and Exhibition for 10 years. The event brings together storage industry engineers to network, learn about upcoming technologies, and meet with various organizations in the industry.


The COVID-19 pandemic impacted our members and IEEE operations. The lessons learned can help us improve IEEE's reach, relevance, and value. I believe that IEEE is a community that must engage our members. This should start at the section level, but the idea of community should pervade IEEE, helping us be inclusive, efficient, and effective.

I feel strongly that IEEE should advance and promote its members, increase student membership and Young Professional retention, make senior member advancement easier, and find more ways to recognize our heroes.

As IEEE president,

  • I will work to increase our value to industry, encourage STEM careers and sustainable technologies, support lifelong learning, improve diversity, and promote IEEE membership.
  • I will encourage collaboration and innovation across the organization, while working to increase our external impact and general public awareness, and advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.
  • I support a member-led organization, open discussion and transparency within the IEEE, and believe that we must be a representative global organization.
  • I believe that IEEE should be open to all technologists and that we should create a safe environment that supports our members to be their best selves.
  • My leadership experience inside and outside of IEEE and my connections with multiple IEEE organizational units enables me to facilitate linking, partnering, and communicating across boundaries.

I feel that IEEE should be at the forefront of advancing new technologies, creating timely standards, and influencing public policies that demonstrate the value of technology professionals to the world.

Photo of Francis Grosz Francis Grosz

Life Senior Member Francis Grosz

Nominated by the IEEE Board of Directors

Grosz, who retired in 2012, designed systems for defense contractors Litton Data Systems, Omni Technologies, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He was granted two U.S. patents—one for a method of transmitting data through a ship's bulkhead, and the second for a NASA fiber-optic communication system for rocket engine testing.

He was an assistant professor of engineering at the University of New Orleans for six years and an adjunct professor for two years. Grosz was also an adjunct engineering professor at Tulane University, also in New Orleans, for two years.

Grosz has been an IEEE volunteer for more than 35 years, serving at the section, region, and institute levels. He has held almost all offices at the section level, including chair, secretary, and vice chair of the IEEE New Orleans Section. Grosz also has been a member of the IEEE Region 5 executive committee for 18 years.

He served on the IEEE Board of Directors as the 2016–2017 Region 5 director and the 2019 vice president of IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA). He was the 2017 chair of the audit committee and cochair of the 2019 ad hoc committee on member engagement, which included three subcommittees that examined member value and led MGA's efforts in realigning IEEE's regions.

Grosz, a member of IEEE-HKN, has received several recognitions including an IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the 2008 IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Member Award, and a 1999 NASA Space Act Award, which recognizes a technical innovation of significant value to the agency's activities.

An amateur radio operator, his call sign is K5FBG.


IEEE does many things well, and we must continue to support them. Should I become a Board member and president, I would focus on increasing support for local Organizational Units (OUs)—sections, chapters, affinity groups, and student branches—and on increasing industry engagement. I think there is a natural synergy here, and our greatest opportunity.

I believe that the current Local Groups pilot program offers an opportunity for sections and chapters to simultaneously provide increased service and value to members, prospective members, and the public while further engaging local industry, especially smaller and mid-sized companies. The Technical Activities/MGA Ad Hoc Committee on Chapter Support is looking at ways to increase support for chapters, which is where many of our members find their value in IEEE, and we should support this. We also need to provide better tools to help local OUs provide more service and value to their members with less work. One particular need, especially for the smaller OUs, is a way to help them more efficiently arrange interesting meetings with engaging speakers.

We have been working on industry engagement for some time. We have made progress with programs such as IEEE Collabratec and the IEEE Mobile App, and the Local Groups program should really help, but we need to do more. We must convince industry to value their engineers and their work more highly, and show them that partnering with IEEE can help both the companies and their employees. Finally, we must make the public more aware of the contributions of engineering to society.

Photo of Saifur RahmanSaifur Rahman

Life Fellow Saifur Rahman

Nominated by Petition

Rahman is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech. He is the founding director of the Advanced Research Institute at the university, which provides faculty members access to research funding, government laboratories, and industry research centers. Rahman is also the founder and chairman of BEM Controls in McLean, Va., a software company that provides buildings with energy efficiency solutions.

He served as chair of the U.S. National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering from 2010 to 2013.

Rahman is the founding editor in chief of the IEEE Electrification Magazine and the IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy.

He served as the 2018–2019 president of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (IEEE PES). While president, Rahman established the IEEE PES Corporate Engagement Program, which allows employers to receive IEEE benefits by paying their employees' IEEE membership dues.

Rahman set up IEEE PES Chapters' Councils in Africa, China, India, and Latin America. These councils have empowered local leaders to initiate local programs. He also led the effort to establish the PES University, which offers courses, tutorials, and webinars to members.

Rahman was also the 2006 chair of IEEE Publication Services and Products Board and a member of the IEEE Board of Directors.

He is a Distinguished Lecturer for IEEE PES, and has given lectures in more than 30 countries on topics such as the smart grid, energy-efficient buildings, and sensor integration.

Rahman has received several IEEE awards including the 2000 IEEE Millennium Medal for outstanding achievements and contributions to IEEE, the 2011 IEEE-USA Professional Achievement Award, the 2012 IEEE PES Meritorious Service Award, and the 2013 IEEE PES Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award.


Over the past 40 plus years, IEEE has been an integral part of my pursuit of excellence in professional life. While speaking at more than 200 IEEE events, I have come across academics, young professionals, and mid-career engineers in industry and government including women and under-represented minorities. Such engagements at the grassroots level gives me better insights into understanding the community's needs and help advance their professional careers.

I pledge to:

Global Community Building:

  • Highlight networking opportunities at IEEE events.
  • Reach out proactively to women and underrepresented minorities.
  • Ensure financial transparency, stability, and broader member benefits.

Encourage and Recognize Member Engagement:

  • Encourage technology professionals without a college degree to join IEEE.
  • Recognize contributions our volunteers make through committee work and reviews.
  • Provide resources to help members elevate to IEEE Senior Members and IEEE Fellows.

Growth and Nurturing:

  • Provide access to IEEE resources for up-skilling worldwide.
  • Evolve PES University best practices as IEEE University Online.
  • Focus on Industry Certification courses.

Service to Humanity and Smart Engineering:

  • Develop closer and purposeful ties with Industry.
  • Engage Sustainable Development thought leaders to address global challenges.
  • Work with policymakers to help with Smart Engineering.

Intellectual Property Rights:

  • Build IPR awareness
  • Build an IEEE IPR skills framework
  • Develop KPIs for IEEE sections on local IPR activities

Partnership to Support Entrepreneurship:

  • Work with Startup Incubators to harness Entrepreneurial potentials.
  • Incubate Innovation Centers to nurture Maker competencies.
  • Design IEEE Startup Show to highlight regional and local Innovations.

Together we will make IEEE a more successful and resilient global technical organization.

Photo of S.K. Ramesh S.K. Ramesh

Fellow S.K. Ramesh

Nominated by the IEEE Board of Directors

Ramesh is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at California State University Northridge's college of engineering and computer science, where he served as dean from 2006 to 2017. While dean, he established centers on renewable energy, entrepreneurship, and advanced manufacturing. He created an interdisciplinary master's degree program in assistive technology engineering to meet emerging workforce needs.

Ramesh is the founding director of the university's nationally recognized Attract, Inspire, Mentor, and Support Students program, which advances the graduation of underrepresented minorities in engineering and computer science.

He has been an IEEE volunteer for almost 40 years and has served on the IEEE Board of Directors, Awards Board, Educational Activities Board, Publication Services and Products Board, and Fellows Committee.

As the 2016–2017 vice president of IEEE Educational Activities, he championed several successful programs including the IEEE Learning Network and the IEEE TryEngineering Summer Institute.

He expanded chapters of IEEE's honor society, Eta Kappa Nu ( IEEE-HKN), globally to serve all 10 regions, and he increased industry support as the society's 2016 president.

Ramesh was elevated to IEEE Fellow in 2015 for "contributions to entrepreneurship in engineering education."

He serves on the board of ABET, the global accrediting organization for academic programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology, and was elected as 2021 president elect.

Ramesh has served IEEE Region 6 at the section, chapter, and area levels. He currently serves on the IEEE Buenaventura (California) Section member development team, which received a 2020 Gold Award for its work.

His many recognitions include the 2004 IEEE Region 6 Community Service Award and the 2012 John J. Guarrera Engineering Educator of the Year Award from the Engineers' Council.


IEEE has been an integral part of my life for almost four decades—from student member to an engaged volunteer today. My IEEE experiences have taught me some timeless values: To be Inclusive, Collaborative, Accountable, Resilient, and Ethical. Simply put, "I CARE." These values and IEEE's mission are especially relevant today, as we adapt and change to serve our members globally, and overcome the challenges from the pandemic.

My top priority is to deliver an exceptional experience to every member.

If elected, I will focus on three strategic areas:

Member Engagement:

  • Expand and offer affordable and accessible continuing education programs through the IEEE Learning Network (ILN), and the IEEE Academy.
  • Strengthen participation of Women in Engineering (WIE), Young Professionals (YPs), Students, Life Members, and Entrepreneurs.

Volunteer Engagement:

  • Nurture and support IEEE's volunteer leaders to transform IEEE globally through a volunteer academy program that strengthens collaboration and inclusion.
  • Establish strong relationships between IEEE volunteers and key industry sector leaders to increase awareness of IEEE.

Industry Engagement:

  • Increase the value of conferences, publications, and standards to make them more relevant to practicing engineers.
  • Focus on innovation and sustainable development as we look ahead to hybrid/virtual conferences and open access publications.

I will empower the IEEE leadership team to lower costs and increase the value of membership.

Our members create enormous value for IEEE through their contributions. Let us "Engineer the Future," and create an IEEE "Of the Members," "By the Members," and "For the Members." Thank you for your vote and support.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

The Conversation (1)
Ashok Deobhakta
Ashok Deobhakta16 Aug, 2021

Great candidates!