IEEE Needs to Establish Itself as the Voice of the Global Technical Community

President Karen Bartleson says it’s up to all members to be part of the effort to fulfill its mission

2 March 2017

As president of IEEE, I have the responsibility and privilege to help guide the organization in fulfilling its mission of fostering technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. Relationships, especially among volunteer leaders, are fundamental to the realization of this mission and are crucial to our ability to work together to ensure continuity in IEEE’s strategic direction from year to year. This momentum, particularly from one president to the next, helps IEEE continue to reach its goals. Thus, it is an honor for me to continue building on the work of IEEE’s past presidents.

Like all successful organizations, IEEE has a long-term strategic plan that is a vital part of its ongoing evolution. The plan provides a clear picture of IEEE as an organization, the goals our community is pursuing, and the initiatives that will move us forward in coming years.


IEEE continues to expand worldwide. This globalization, the process of understanding, integrating, and influencing international economies and cultures, has led to valuable, cross-national understanding and the productive exchange of ideas as IEEE works to address diverse needs at local levels.

The opening of an IEEE office in Vienna will provide enduring local support to the European technical community and allow increased engagement for influencing public policies important to it.

Success continues to be made in building a sustainable community of IEEE members and volunteers in Africa by supporting engineering education and workforce development there. We are also working to develop strategies for holistic organizational growth within China and India, actively looking across units, people, and cultures to empower collaboration and best meet the local and regional needs of these areas of the world.

IEEE also strives to serve our members working on challenges such as global climate change and sustainable development and on emerging technology issues on an international scale, including Internet governance and the ethical design and implementation of intelligent technologies.

IEEE has a tremendous platform across technical communities—from computers and communications to aerospace and biometrics—to explore these issues and apply technology to solve the world’s most challenging problems. IEEE’s expertise is bringing together the experts within IEEE who understand these emerging technologies, the policymakers who develop the regulatory environment, and the public that has varying levels of interaction and acceptance of potential disruptive innovations. This convergence creates numerous opportunities for collaboration, economic growth, and future innovation, which is not confined to any single country but exists globally.


As a large and complex organization supporting the technical and professional needs of our members, our professions, and the public, IEEE recognizes both the acceleration of technological innovation and the challenges this brings. After all, IEEE members are responsible for the world’s greatest technological advances and are behind much of today’s scientific and industrial growth.

I am proud of the collective technical prowess of our membership. I appreciate the rich diversity of the engineering and scientific branches in which our members excel and the global makeup of IEEE. We will continue to look for opportunities to provide more value and services to professionals working in industry, academia, and public service, while paying attention to women and entrepreneurs. And to be sure, the needs of our practitioners today are equally as important as those of our students and young professionals, who are our future technologists. We must make IEEE attractive to this next generation so they remain active members of our community as they navigate their professional careers. Their enthusiasm and sense of camaraderie will bolster our efforts to build strong partnerships and cooperation with industry and other external bodies worldwide.

Let’s continue to work together to ensure that IEEE is universally recognized as the voice of the global technical community and an essential contributor not just to traditional technologies but also to the development and implementation of emerging and disruptive innovations.

I encourage all our members to be engaged, be involved, and be part of the drive toward fulfilling our mission of advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.

Please share your thoughts with me at

This article appears in the March 2016 print issue as “IEEE: The Voice of the Global Technical Community.

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