The IEEE Sections Congress is a triennial event hosted by IEEE Member and Geographic Activities for volunteers across the organization from all 10 regions. This year’s congress, held from 11 to 13 August at the International Convention Centre, in Sydney, assembled about 1,200 attendees from 165 countries. There were more than 200 speakers and 50 exhibit booths.
Among the diverse group of attendees and speakers were several members of the IEEE Young Professionals. This year making improvements to the Young Professionals program has been a priority for the organization. Therefore, members of the Young Professionals committee held sessions related to young engineers, including new projects, industry panels, how to maintain the affinity group’s membership, and training for its volunteers.
In addition, the day before the congress, Young Professionals members, IEEE student members, IEEE Women in Engineering coordinators, and IEEE leaders met. This gathering was organized in conjunction with the IEEE Australia and New Zealand Students and Young Professionals Congress and gave local members the opportunity to network with influential leaders of the organization in an informal and friendly setting.
At the opening ceremony, IEEE leaders welcomed everyone to the event. Later that afternoon, a 15-minute session gave younger volunteers the opportunity to share their best practices and highlighted major issues they face.
On 12 August, the Young Professionals group opened its exhibit booth. In addition to traditional informative materials, the booth offered interactive activities. During the Challenge Gravity With Young Professionals competition, for example, attendees used slingshots to launch Angry Birds toys at pig targets stationed in and around various structures with the goal of destroying all the pigs on the playing field.
That same day, several of the group’s committee members gave presentations that covered various aspects of the Young Professionals program. For example, in the afternoon, Rafal Sliz, IEEE Young Professionals chair, led a panel discussion, “The Future of Young Professionals in IEEE.” Former IEEE presidents got a chance to provide their vision of the organization and spoke about the group’s important role.
Also that afternoon, Sara Barros, Region 8’s Young Professionals coordinator, presented the “Engaging Young People—Listening to Their Needs” session. It was targeted at section chairs to help them understand young professionals. One of the key issues raised by the chairs was that young professionals tend to change jobs and locations frequently—which makes it difficult to organize activities. Several chairs and young professionals shared their success stories and sparked an informative discussion.
There were several short sessions on upcoming projects and tools available for Young Professionals volunteers. The “Micro Volunteering: Answering the Needs of Young IEEE Volunteers” session garnered much interest from the audience. It focused on the concept of a platform whereby IEEE members could find volunteering opportunities that match their schedule. Many attendees provided valuable input, and many region and section leaders pledged their support for the project.
The “How to Establish and Maintain a Vibrant and Engaged Community of Young Professionals” session shared best practices on using social media platforms to interact with young members. Information was given about tools and funding opportunities available for organizing events for young members.
On the last day of the congress, IEEE Member Eddie Custovic moderated the “Industry Young Professionals: Challenges and Needs” panel discussion, which featured Young Professionals volunteers. The discussion covered problems faced by young professionals working in industry and how IEEE could address these issues.
To increase its visibility, the Young Professionals group set up a photo booth in its exhibit area on the last day of the congress so attendees could share pictures. And the group performed interviews to be used in upcoming Young Professionals publicity campaigns.
IEEE Member Shashank Gaur is vice chair of internal partnerships for IEEE Young Professionals. He also is a member of The Institute’s editorial advisory board.