New Jersey Coast Section Hosts WIE Affinity Group of the Year

Group has shown outstanding leadership and initiative in organizing activities for members

2 August 2010

A job-shadowing program and career days for students, as well as a full calendar of other events, earned the IEEE New Jersey Coast Section Women in Engineering (WIE) affinity group the IEEE 2009 WIE Affinity Group of the Year Award.

The award, which includes a certificate of recognition and US $250 to support future activities, is given to a WIE affinity group that has shown outstanding leadership and initiative in organizing activities for its members during the year. The recipient is determined based on criteria such as outreach efforts to students, membership growth, communication to members, and Web site presence.

"Our affinity group is very special," says IEEE Member Paula Muller, its chair. "We have a dedicated team that wants to make a difference in our community."

Established in 2009, the New Jersey Coast WIE group implemented a job-shadowing and meet-the-engineer program for students at Neptune High School. The group's volunteers arranged for students to meet with local engineers, learn about their jobs, and tour the companies they work for, including Blackhawk Engineering, CACI, Net-Scale, and the U.S. Army research and development facility at Fort Monmouth.

The group organized a series of career day events at the school, where 10 female engineers, including several WIE members, delivered talks about their careers and reasons for entering the field. The group also gave the students a tour of Fort Monmouth's Tactical Networks Branch, where they learned about Internet protocol addressing and subnetting.

The group kept busy organizing events for its members. It participated in the 2009 Region 1 WIE Professional Development Seminar, in White Plains, N.Y. The seminar included networking opportunities.

At the group's annual banquet, it distributed IEEE 125th anniversary T-shirts to high school students who had been recognized for their projects at a regional science fair.

"We didn't reach out to the students because we were looking for an [IEEE] award," Muller says. "We did it, and continue doing it, because we feel this helps our community. It's needed, and the feedback we get from the high school students, teachers, and principals reinforces our belief."

The IEEE South Africa and Singapore sections' WIE affinity groups each received an honorable mention for the annual award. Both groups receive a certificate and US $100.

The IEEE South Africa Section WIE group organized a number of activities, including the Student Teacher and Researcher/Scientist (STAR) program, an educational outreach effort whereby IEEE members work with students from junior high and high schools to instill a positive image of engineers. The affinity group helped students from the Phateng Comprehensive School, in Pretoria, conduct scientific demonstrations, and group members gave motivational speeches about engineering and the benefits of pursuing a career in the field. The group also organized the section's first IEEE WIE annual general meeting and awards ceremony, which honored female scientists and engineers who have contributed to the development of the profession in South Africa.

The IEEE Singapore Section WIE affinity group was recognized for its outreach events and increasing its membership by 20 percent. One of the ways it promoted membership was to set up a booth at the joint conference of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing. The group sponsored public lectures on topics such as fellowships, the world's fastest satellite Internet connection, and how to get research articles published. It organized a team-building activity involving dragon boats, which are long, wooden, oar-powered racing craft. The group also ran a networking event to celebrate the 2009 International Women's Day, on 8 March, and scheduled technical talks by locally and internationally prominent female engineers.

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