We are so very lucky to belong to a vibrant ecosystem of technologist in New England. The IEEE Boston Section (that’s us), publishes a monthly magazine to IEEE members and makes a copy available to anyone interested in the events organized by more than 30 specialty groups. There isn’t a week that goes by that doesn’t involve something from our almost 10,000 members. Below is the May 2018 Editorial on Voluntering published in the Digital Reflector, our magazine, that can be found on issuu.com, or by clicking the link (https://issuu.com/ieeeboston/docs/may2018dr)
What is Wrong with the IEEE Boston Section
By Kevin Flavin
We have an editorial calendar. It describes a schedule of topics for the 2018 calendar year. At times, we don’t stick to it, most notably because of a current event, like GDPR last month, is more critical and timely. By the time you read this, GDPR will probably be in effect, even for you regardless if you are a European citizen or not. We will return to regularly scheduled programming soon at a day in the future.
But today is not that day.
Let me take this time to tell you what is wrong with the IEEE Boston Section.
Sure, we have thousands of members, geographically, we are responsible for the members living or working within the 495 belt, generally.
Yes, we have more than 30 special interest groups, called chapters and affinity groups in IEEE parlance.
Also, we organize a couple of conferences, attracting an international audience.
The remarkable thing, is that 99% of all of this is just a bunch of us simply doing it. For the sake of doing it, and it’s important to us.
There are opportunities to publish research, if that’s your thing, at the conferences.
There are opportunities to speak or to attend a speaking event with the chapters. In fact, chapters is where 90% of the activity happens. Local groups of Societies are called chapters – it took me a few weeks to put that one together.
Here is a list of Societies, they cover a very wide range of topics.
Chapters are like Meetups, if you are familiar with those. The difference is that the IEEE chapters happen all around the world, and they have regional, national, and international conferences on the topics organized by IEEE. And awards for those volunteers that have gone above and beyond the call to duty.
Chapters, arguably, are the life-blood of the IEEE. Through the chapters, members can share their own experiences, mistakes made, successes, and collaboration with their teams.
Members provide the technical information that the Societies publish, to advance knowledge of society. In addition, members organize, plan, and produce all of the periodicals and publications of the Societies. Also, conferences and technical standards are development and managed by members.
While at university, many of our members join as students, gaining very valuable connections and mentorships and internships to other members already out in the industry or vertical that they are interested in.
Through the IEEE, members can develop professionally immediately upon graduation from university by joining a young professionals group for networking and continuing to build on their knowledge through technical presentations and speakers.
My own personal journey involved jumping out of the technical world into the financial one, and after about a decade, I worked my way back through the software side of financial services.
I can tell you from my own experience, I would have loved to have an IEEE type of organization available to me over there. Yes, there are Series 6,7, 63, etc. or becoming a CPA or CFA. I have sat for those exams and let my licenses lapse when I returned to the software side, but it’s not the same.
The IEEE Societies are groups of like-minded engineers, and scientists, that are on the cutting edge of technology. Whether the society’s chapter is focused on Power, or Microwave, or Robotics, even Reliability which cuts across all disciplines, the people that come to the meetings learn something new, or to teach something new.
Where else can you do that, in person, at the level of detail and nuance than at a chapter meeting?
If you aren’t a member of a society, then browse the listing of Technical Societies included in this article, or go to https://www.ieee.org/communities/societies/index.html. Then look up your local chapter. If you can’t find it on ieee.org, take a look at the Active Technical Chapter lists on http://www.ieeeboston.org.
If you aren’t a member of the IEEE, why not? With the cost of an annual membership – which most employers will cover – you will have instant access to all society and chapter information, monthly periodicals, and some of the research that was just published! If that isn’t cutting edge information, I don’t know what is.
And don’t forget, once you join a society, come to a meeting, and raise your hand to volunteer – I promise that you’ll get more out of it than you’ll ever put into it, just like I do.
So what’s wrong with the IEEE Boston Section?
There’s a huge opportunity for knowledgable people to ‘lean in’ and help others, most likely your colleagues in your industry.
If you want to really lean in, and I’m picturing Michael Jackson leaning in Smooth Criminal, join the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) to lead the conversation and direction of our society in the new technological world. You can start here to learn more: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6187687/.
Do you see the problem, yet? It’s easy to solve, too. Solving it begins by taking advantage of this opportunity – to learn, to teach, to lead, to follow, to do some light lifting, or heavy lifting, to lean in, or lean way over the problems and smother them with intelligence, patience, perseverance, and guile.