Bridging the Technological Gap Between Generations

IEEE student members launch a contest to help overcome communication barriers

17 July 2015

Photo: iStockphoto

While some might get frustrated with today’s students and recent graduates for being glued to their smartphones, the younger generation is just as irritated with older relatives or seasoned peers who don’t understand how to use social media and online tools.

To help the two groups overcome these technological barriers, IEEE Region 8 Student Activities Committee recently launched Mind the Gap, a contest that invites teams of up to five participants to come up with a proposal that will bring people of different ages together using technology. “People who don’t know how to use technology can become isolated, especially if their family and friends don’t live nearby. Young people can help them become more technologically literate,” says Member Mona Ghassemian, chair of the committee. This might include teaching them how to use Skype or other video chat programs as well as social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

The younger generation has grown up during a time where everything they need to know—or want to know—is at their fingertips thanks to technology, which gives them the natural ability to learn technology more rapidly and use it more efficiently. But what they lack is what their predecessors have plenty of: professional experience.

The committee is looking for 10-page proposals that include a description of the challenges faced by both sides, research on how to help resolve these challenges, milestones that should be met along the way, and a budget. The committee is hoping to secure enough funding to commission three winners to carry out their proposals. Members may submit proposals on an ongoing basis. 

“We’re looking for very simple ideas,” Ghassemian says. “Something that might encourage people who were either intimidated or didn’t have the resources or opportunity before to take an interest in technology.”

To submit your proposal or to discuss potential partnership opportunities, e-mail

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