IEEE Potentials Gets a Redesign and Digital Rollout

Student magazine’s face-lift marked by bright colors

15 August 2014

IEEE Potentials, the bimonthly magazine for student and graduate student members, has gotten a makeover and plans to launch a new digital edition to better attract the attention of its nearly 120,000 young readers around the world. The first major redesign in years, it offers modern touches with a cleaner design and bolder colors. The new look was unveiled with the July/August issue, its cover sure to appeal with the help of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man character [below] from the film The Avengers. The image helps illustrate a story about engineers who consulted for several blockbuster movies including Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon and the Thor series.

The 32-year-old award-winning magazine is mailed to student members in the United States and Canada. Student members outside North America can access it from the IEEE Xplore Digital Library. The digital edition available to all students is scheduled to debut this year.

Photo: IEEE

Besides stories about interesting engineering jobs, IEEE Potentials—which is aimed at students and young engineers and scientists—has articles on career guidance and technical projects, as well as close-ups of student branches. The content is always evolving to keep up with changes in technology and in the professional landscape, and the layouts are now more consistent and eye-catching. There are themed issues planned on elemental engineering (or the four states of matter: fire, wind, water, and earth), and biomimicry (which studies nature’s models and then uses those designs and processes to address human problems).

“Our style will now be more consistent from issue to issue so that readers would be able to pick Potentials out from the crowd of other publications,” says David Tian, the editor in chief. Tian is an IEEE graduate student member pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. He has a long history with the magazine, having served first as a student editor and then as an associate editor.

 “We want the new cover and format to draw students in,” he says, “so they are exposed to the benefits and resources IEEE offers.”

After all, he says, the content of IEEE Potentials persuaded him to join as a student member; he says he hopes it will do the same for others.


He realizes that print publications have a hard time competing for the attention of today’s students, who are sometimes glued to their mobile devices. But print publications still have a place, he says.

“For me, the ability to have a paper version that is sent to me and that I can casually browse is different from having a tablet, where I have to click on something,” he says. “The most important aspect of reading a print publication is what I call ‘casual discovery.’”

He says he realizes many readers might not set out to read IEEE Potentials until they find it in their mailbox or on a coffee table in their advisor’s office and “casually thumb through it, discovering ideas, perspectives, and opportunities they previously weren’t aware of.”

As an example, Tian points to a recent Potentials article written by Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google. “Dr. Cerf is someone I deeply respect and admire,” Tian says, “but yet in the ‘My First Job’ column, he shared that not long ago he faced the same challenges as today’s young people: balancing schoolwork with internships and job interviews while also making important career decisions.”

A column written by the so-called “Father of the Internet” dishing out career advice to students is just one example of how the IEEE Potentials editorial board has worked to bring the wisdom and knowledge of the top minds in the field to IEEE student members, Tian says, adding, “We were honored and humbled that he chose Potentials to share such a personal story.”


Later this year, the new digital version of Potentials will be offered to all student members, Tian says, similar to the digital versions of IEEE Spectrum and The Institute. Subscribers will receive e-mail alerts that provide links to Web browser–based or PDF-downloadable versions of the print issue.

“The digital edition is a way for us to reach more student members outside of North America,” Tian says. “I hope students will see the digital edition as an investment IEEE is making in them to help them get more value out of their membership during the university years and beyond.”

If you would like to submit an article for publication in Potentials, send it to or visit its website for more information. Also check out its Facebook page.

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