IEEE Foundation Receives a Record-Breaking Amount of Donations in One Day

Students and underserved communities are among those who benefit from its programs

9 January 2017

Companies and members gave approximately US $3.8 million last year in donations to the IEEE Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm. And on just one day, 29 November, the organization raised $43,500. This was accomplished on Giving Tuesday, an annual worldwide event that encourages people to donate to charities. The donations included $5,000 from Karen Galuchie, the executive director of the IEEE Foundation, who received the money as part of her 2016 IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award.

The Foundation supports educational and humanitarian programs around the world, particularly its priority initiatives: IEEE Smart Village, Engineering Projects in Community Service in IEEE (EPICS in IEEE), the IEEE Power & Energy Society Scholarship Plus Initiative, and REACH (Raising Engineering Awareness Through the Conduit of History).

The Foundation also works with the IEEE Life Members Committee. Its Life Members Fund supports a number of initiatives including the joint IEEE Foundation grants program and the IEEE Fellowship in the History of Electrical and Computing Technology.

Here are some of the programs and people and programs that have benefited from donations to the IEEE Foundation.


The PES Scholarship Plus Initiative, administered by the IEEE Power & Energy Society, provides financial support as well as work experience to undergraduate engineering students around the world. Four companies—members of the IEEE Circle of Honor—have donated $100,000 or more to the IEEE Foundation in support of the Scholarship Plus Initiative: Doble Engineering Co., G&W Electric, S&C Electrical Co., and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

Scholarship recipients can receive up to $7,000 over the course of three years. They also have access to the PES Careers database, which helps match students with companies looking for interns and employees. The students don’t have to be IEEE members.

For IEEE Member Matthew Cato, who received the scholarship in 2014 and 2015, the program had, as he puts it, “a tremendous effect.” He received bachelor’s degrees in 2016 in electrical and power engineering from Washington State University, in Pullman.

“The scholarship reduced my financial strain, allowing me to focus on my studies,” Cato says. He also was able to network with professionals at Schweitzer, an electrical equipment manufacturer in Pullman, where he worked as an intern in 2014. Last year when an associate protection engineer position opened at the company, he jumped at the opportunity and applied for the job.

“With the experience gained while interning, I was able to get the position,” Cato says. “I now have a dream job with an outstanding company, and I could not be more thankful.”

Receiving support from Boeing, EPICS in IEEE matches volunteers and IEEE student members with high school students. They work in collaboration with community-based organizations on engineering-related projects. Nineteen projects received a total of $146,000 in grants last year from EPICS in IEEE. For example, the IEEE Delhi Section and the IEEE student branch at Northern India Engineering College, in New Delhi, received a $9,840 grant to design a voice-operated wheelchair for paralyzed people. And the IEEE Ottawa Section and the IEEE student branch at Carleton University were given a total of $22,000 to design and build a solar-powered water heater for Christie Lake Kids, a program in Ottawa for underprivileged children.


Some retirees might want to spend their days relaxing at the beach, but not IEEE Life Member Aleksandar Szabo. A life of leisure, he says, is not for him. Szabo, retired from the University of Zagreb, in Croatia, chairs the IEEE Life Members Committee—a joint panel of the IEEE Foundation and IEEE Member and Geographic Activities. The “life” status is automatically bestowed on IEEE members who are at least 65 years old and whose age plus years of membership equals or exceeds 100.

The committee oversees, among other things, the Life Members Fund, a Foundation effort that supports a number of IEEE philanthropic programs. It partially supports IEEE grants, which last year gave $325,000 to IEEE organizational units whose philanthropic activities raise the public’s awareness and understanding of technology and its impact on society. The deadline to apply for a grant is 15 July.

In November 2015, the Life Members Committee approved three requests for grants. The IEEE Eastern North Carolina Section received $36,430 to continue work on its android robot. The money was used to train engineering students to operate the robot and to cover the costs of transporting it to schools and community events where it was used to teach people about robotics.

The Life Members Fund also provides money for the IEEE Fellowship in the History of Electrical and Computing Technology, which supports one year of full-time graduate or postdoctoral work. Fellows receive a $17,000 stipend for living expenses and up to $3,000 for research.

One recipient, Mary Ann Hellrigel, is now an institutional historian and archivist at the IEEE History Center, in Hoboken, N.J. She received the fellowship in 1993 while pursuing a Ph.D. in the history of technology at Case Western University, in Cleveland. The award allowed her to work full time on her dissertation, “The Quest to Be Modern: The Adoption of Electric Light, Heat, and Power Technology in Small-Town America.” The fund also paid her travel expenses to carry on research at the Hagley Museum and Library, in Delaware; the National Museum of American History, in Washington; the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, in Harrisburg; and other institutions.

“The IEEE Fellowship helped me finish graduate school and launch a career as a professional historian,” Hellrigel says.

To find out more about Foundation programs, or to make a donation, visit its website.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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