All Fun and No Work Bring Members Together

IEEE groups are bringing their members together for fun social events, including a rock climb, entertainment, and free food

6 June 2008

Cyndi Lauper said it best: “Girls just wanna have fun.” But lately it looks like our members are the ones trying to have the fun, making sure that belonging to IEEE is not all work and no play. A number of IEEE groups showed their playful side by bringing their members together for fun social events, including a rock climb, entertainment, and free food.

More than 300 IEEE Central Texas Section members and their guests rocked to Patrice Pike—the singer and rhythm guitarist from Austin, Texas, who has played with the jam band Sister Seven—on 8 May at a party held outdoors in Austin. The large turnout, notes Kenny Rice, senior member and treasurer of the section, was due to the party coinciding with the annual Austin Conference on Integrated Systems and Circuits (ACISC), sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin’s engineering department and the Austin chapter of the IEEE Circuits and Systems and Solid-State Circuits societies.

The IEEE student branch at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa hosted a picnic, also in May, at Fort De Soto Park. More than 60 students turned out to explore the park’s beaches, nature trails, and marina. Branch chair Kosol Son called the event a graduation celebration for seniors, but it was also geared to recruit students to IEEE.

And each year when February rolls around, the Florida West Coast Section has been using Engineers Week as the time to hold a banquet and awards ceremony. Held for the eighth year, the event attracted 300 engineers and their guests, who learned something about the workings of Tampa. Richard Wainio, director and CEO of the Port of Tampa, discussed the port’s impact, both now and in the future, on the city’s local economy.

“Breaking bread with other members, listening to a great speaker, and honoring members for their achievements truly makes everyone feel connected for at least that one evening,” says Jim Anderson, senior member and section chair.

The Huntsville (Ala.) Section and its GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) group paired a holiday networking event last December with lessons on entrepreneurship. Local business owners made brief presentations about what it takes to start one’s own dream company. They covered the basics of owning a business and offered marketing tips and advice on personnel issues and going on to make business acquisitions.

“Every once in a while, it’s nice to treat our members to a little food, and it’s always fun to meet others with similar interests,” says Courtney Spivey, the section’s vice chair.

SOCIAL CLIMBERS The Boston GOLD group and those belonging to the IEEE-USA Professional Activities Committee for Engineers went rock climbing at the MetroRock Indoor Climbing Center in Everett, Mass. The December event attracted 22 members and guests, and no one got hurt.

For Robert Vice, the vice chair of both groups, the day was geared to getting recent graduates to stick with IEEE.

“There is a shared feeling that we’re ‘teched out,’ meaning we may not want to participate in a technical society right after graduation,” he says. “To counteract this, GOLD organizes events that are fun, offer networking opportunities, and increase the value of membership to our recent graduates.”

The event not only helped recruit more Boston GOLD members but also garnered two volunteers. According to Vice, the measure of an event’s success is not how many people attend but whether “you gain a volunteer, because new volunteers are our future. He calls the event “one of our most successful.” He also was pleased that the rock climb and socializing gained name recognition for the group in his area.

“Now that attendees know what GOLD is about, we hope people will be encouraged to join,” he says.

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