The IEEE Bahia Section, which has 13 student branches at universities in northeastern Brazil, expects to have the largest increase in student membership since the section was established in 1974. The section currently has nearly 490 members.
“We’re predicting that, before the year’s end, we’ll be beating our student membership record from last year—which was 508,” says IEEE Member Reiron Lopes, chair of the section’s student activities committee (SAC). As chair, he works on increasing membership and helps to launch student branches.
“I believe the unity we have as a section and the support we give each other motivates people to join,” Lopes says.
Not every IEEE student branch succeeds. Lopes says that in his section, a community of student leaders and volunteers helps new branches as much as possible. In areas that are too far for the SAC to travel to, they call on closer student branches to make presentations on how to start a branch and how to increase membership.
Eight universities in the section want to start an IEEE student branch, he says, and volunteers are ready to help make that happen.
“Everyone understands,” he says, “that if we help each other, we can grow as a section.”
One of the section’s major efforts this year is to go on a road show. Lopes and other volunteers plan to visit universities that don’t have IEEE student branches, and explain the benefits of starting a branch, he says.
Increasing student membership isn’t the Bahia Section’s only success. Last year alone, it received 20 IEEE awards that recognized local and global efforts.
It won eight awards from the IEEE Brazil Council, including an Outstanding Volunteer Award. It also received eight awards from IEEE Region 9 (Latin America). They included three Darrel Chong Student Activity Awards, one for best website, another one for best IEEE Day banner, and one from the local IEEE Robotics and Automation Society chapter for innovative activities held by a student branch.
Several of the section’s student groups received IEEE global recognitions. One achieved first place in last year’s IEEE Maker Project contest for Bubu Digital, an electronic pacifier that alerts parents via a smartphone app when their baby’s temperature rises. Another placed third in the mobile app development contest known as IEEEmadC. The CleanSea app delivers information on ocean quality. A team of students were first place in Region 9 and 12th place worldwide in last year’s IEEEXtreme contest, a 24-hour programming competition.