Spreading the Word About IEEE Among Young Professionals

The secretary of the IEEE Dallas Section talks about how he helped boost membership and the connections he made along the way

4 min read
Photo of Jay Shah
Photo: The Linux Foundation

THE INSTITUTE Unlike many student members who lose interest in IEEE after leaving school, Jay Shah has become more active in the organization. In the nearly three years since he became a full dues-paying member, he has been appointed secretary for both the IEEE Dallas Section and the section’s IEEE Young Professionals chapter. He is also the chapter’s director of communications.

The YP group is for IEEE members who graduated with their first professional degree within the past 15 years.

Shah has helped the Dallas YP group grow its membership, increase collaboration with local universities, and hold more events.

“Today there are lot of young and fellow engineers joining IEEE. Most of them are international candidates,” he says. “It’s good to see their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and grow.”

In recognition of all its efforts, the IEEE Dallas Section’s YP group was named best chapter last year and again this year.

As busy as Shah is with IEEE, he holds down a full-time job. He is a DevOps and cloud consultant in Dallas for Cyber Group, an IT and technology management consulting company. He is also a guest lecturer at Southern Methodist University’s Lyle School of Engineering, also in Dallas.

As much as he has given to IEEE, he says he’s gotten more in return.

“IEEE has improved me in a lot of ways, not only in my personal growth,” he says. “I’m able to connect [with] a lot of people around the globe and share what I’ve researched. I attend conferences, publish my papers, and connect with those students who are new to this IEEE world.”

ENGAGED STUDENT

Shah joined the IEEE student branch at the K.J. Somaiya Institute of Engineering and Information Technology, in Mumbai, in 2011, when he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronics, and communications engineering. After he graduated in 2015, he attended Southern Methodist in 2017 and 2018 as he was working on his master’s degree in computer systems networking and telecommunications. He became active in the university’s IEEE student branch and worked as a liaison for IEEE between SMU and other universities in the area. He organized orientation seminars and networking events, and he collaborated with different clubs and organization.

“I got to learn a lot of things about different universities: what they are doing, which programs they are establishing, what their research was on,” Shah says. “I had good conversations with a lot of IEEE young professionals. From there, my interest and engagement with IEEE increased. IEEE has really touched my heart.”

INCREASING MEMBERSHIP

After graduating from SMU, Shah joined the IEEE Dallas Section’s Young Professionals group. He got busy working with the chapter to increase membership through a variety of activities. It held social events, meetups, and happy hours, both on the SMU campus and at other nearby colleges including the University of Texas at both Dallas and Arlington and the University of North Texas.

“We collaborated with their student branches and faculty members to hold the events,” Shah says.

Dallas YP now holds monthly happy hours and social hours virtually due to the pandemic.

Within the first few months, Shah says, the YP group’s membership grew. It has increased its membership by approximately 10 percent, he says, with a lot of new international students and working professionals showing interest in research-related activities. The YP group is planning to conduct an event at UT-Dallas later this year.

Shah says the group attended this year’s IEEE Rising Stars Conference in Las Vegas, a forum for students to network, learn about IEEE, and attend workshops and keynote addresses.

Last year Shah gave a seminar at UT-Dallas for graduate students about the importance of writing research papers and getting them published in IEEE publications. Several of his technical papers have been published in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library, including ones he cowrote on cloud computing, DevOps and NetDevOps.

“If you are writing a thesis,” Shah told the grad students, “why don’t you just directly write a paper for IEEE? [Doing so] is both beneficial academically as well as professionally. You not only grow academically through that but personally as well. You will come to know which format your paper has to be in, how many authors [you need], and [the number of] references and citations.”

His work also has been published in the International Journal for Research in Applied Science and Engineering Technology and the International Journal of Research in Advent Technology.

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Shah says his involvement with IEEE has led to new opportunities for him.

“Being an IEEE member, I get all these resources, which have [helped me gain] more knowledge about technology and got me interested in writing white papers and blogs,” he says. “Now I write technical papers for my company such as blog articles on current IT and cloud topics and speak on those in meetups and help my professors at SMU to write their white papers.”

He is supporting his company’s program to encourage more youngsters to pursue a STEM career. He also attends DFW Alliance of Technology and Women events to support STEM and women in tech.

He says he feels it’s important for all students, especially underprivileged ones, to understand the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, since “basically everything revolves around” the STEM subjects. He plans to make use of IEEE STEM programs such as TryEngineering, which offers free lesson plans to educators working with preuniversity students.

After he presented a paper on using cloud computing for open-source projects at the IEEE Ubiquitous Computing, Electronics, and Mobile Communication Conference, held last year at Columbia, a professor from the Institute of Management Sciences, in Hayatabad, Pakistan, approached him and asked him to conduct a webinar for his students about the topic. He did so a few months ago.

“This kind of stuff only comes [through meeting people] at conferences,” Shah says, adding that IEEE is about making connections and bonding with others.

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