The theme of the 125th Anniversary Region 10 Student Congress combined two of IEEE’s priorities for 2009: encouraging regions to celebrate the anniversary and helping members find value in the organization. More than 120 student branch delegates attended the congress, held from 16 to 19 July at National University of Singapore. The “Sculpturing Student Leaders to Pioneer Sustainable Development” event also drew IEEE volunteer leaders and senior staff members, as well as representatives from industry and academia. The IEEE student branches at the University of Singapore and the College of Engineering in Chengannur, India, teamed up to organize the event.
The annual congress brings together students from branches across the region to network, meet IEEE’s top volunteers, pick up career tips from seasoned professionals, share strategies for boosting membership, and get an update on IEEE programs.
“IEEE has many responsibilities to its student members—first and foremost to create awareness about their roles and responsibilities in society, and also to enable them to focus on the advancement of humanity through engineering,” says Region 10 Director Yong Jin Park.
The event began with an informal icebreaker session for the students. After getting to know one another, they got down to business with competitions and discussion forums. During the Green Technology and Sustainable Energy Resources competition, students worked in groups to develop a proposal for a sustainable technology they could implement in a rural village. At the World@2020 forum, attendees got an inside view of which high-tech areas might be hiring in the next decade. Representatives from Shell Oil, IBM Asia, Microsoft, and Google named bioengineering, data mining, and green energy as the top fields.
Students got plenty of information and career tips from high-level IEEE volunteers. Lew Terman, 2008 president, gave an overview of IEEE’s contributions to society during the past 125 years, and Park reviewed Region 10’s achievements.
Joseph V. Lillie, director of Member & Geographic Activities, discussed the qualities needed to be a good leader, including strong communication skills, the ability to negotiate, being a team player, project management proficiency, and ethical behavior.
Mini S.Thomas, the region’s Student Activities Committee coordinator, briefed attendees on the committee’s objectives. She pointed out that the region is one of IEEE’s fastest growing; 43 percent of its members are students. In fact, the group accounts for 34 percent of IEEE’s overall student membership. Thomas noted that the region is working on improving its member retention rate and increasing the number of students who become higher-grade members.
Other sessions focused on discussing the problems and opportunities facing student branches in the region. Following group discussions led by senior leaders, the students came away with suggestions and solutions for sustained development of the student community.
A panel of IEEE senior volunteers discussed how IEEE has contributed to their career and personal growth.
Attendees received a briefing on IEEE’s Humanitarian Technology Challenge and got an update on humanitarian projects under way in the region. The program’s goal is to develop and implement technological solutions to the top humanitarian challenges facing developing countries.
The progress of the Global Integrated Network of IEEE project also was covered. GINI aims to reinvigorate student branches, network them and promote their activities, as well as identify schools that are candidates for new branches. And students learned about the IEEE Student Branches Industry Relations (ISBIR) program, an initiative by students in Turkey whose aim is to strengthen the relationships between businesses and student branches around the world. Breakout sessions were held so attendees could learn more about GINI and ISBIR, as well as student member retention, project management, entrepreneurship, and mechatronics.
To highlight the diverse backgrounds of those attending, the organizers put on a multicultural show that included Japanese sumo wrestlers, a reenactment of a Pakistani marriage ceremony, and a Bollywood dance number. A cake-cutting ceremony marked IEEE’s 125th anniversary.
“This was a great chance to meet the young leaders of the future,” one attendee wrote on a feedback form. “The sessions on green technology really provided me with insight.” Said another: “The R10 Student Congress provided a fantastic opportunity to develop my professional network and meet some of the leaders of IEEE in an informal setting.”