Why You Should Vote

What does the future hold for IEEE? You can help guide the way

9 September 2009

The IEEE annual election is here: The ballots were sent last month. But if this year follows recent history, about 85 percent of you won’t vote, which is about in line with other organizations. Perhaps the reason is that you think your vote won’t matter—that it doesn’t affect IEEE’s future. But that’s not true. The people you choose for IEEE president, Standards Association president, and other officers can help make important change.

Expanding IEEE’s efforts on humanitarian projects, increasing IEEE’s public visibility, getting IEEE more involved in sustainability, and launching the development of standards for a smart grid are just some of the programs that IEEE leaders recently voted into office have worked on with the IEEE Board of Directors.

PASSING THE TORCH The Board lays the groundwork for important goals that IEEE presidents and staff help bring to fruition. Thus, credit for many new projects and changes is shared among the Board of Directors, several presidents, other volunteers, and staff.

During her tenure, 2007 President Leah Jamieson worked with the Board to develop a plan for increasing IEEE’s public visibility. That year IEEE launched the Public Visibility Initiative, a five-year-long communications program. Jamieson also chaired the Public Visibility Committee last year and continues to be involved in the program. And both 2008 President Lew Terman and 2009 President John Vig continued work on this initiative, which has seen much progress. IEEE has received media coverage in such publications as Newsweek, The Economist, and the Kuwait Times, as well as NBC’s “The Today Show.”

During his presidency, Terman focused on increasing the organization’s global presence. For example, he championed a Board-initiated effort to expand IEEE’s presence in India by helping the country in such areas as engineering education and standards development. In 2008, Terman, Vig, and a small group of IEEE volunteers and staff went to India to meet with Indian IEEE members and representatives from industry and academia to gauge the needs of the country’s engineering, science, and technology communities. Vig, the Board, and a specially appointed committee continue to move this work forward.

Terman also helped champion another goal of the Board: to get IEEE more involved in humanitarian efforts. He supported IEEE in joining forces with the United Nations Foundation in 2008 to launch the Humanitarian Technology Challenge. The three-year project seeks to identify technical solutions for the most pressing humanitarian needs in impoverished areas of the world. IEEE volunteers and humanitarian workers have met several times and are now working on developing approaches to meeting three key challenges: providing reliable sources of electricity, positively identifying patients so they can be linked to their medical records, and reliably transmitting medical data among rural district health offices.

Humanitarian projects also remained among Vig’s top priorities this year. In conjunction with IEEE’s 125th anniversary, he launched the Presidents’ Change the World Competition, which called for IEEE student members to develop unique solutions to real-world problems using engineering, science, computing, and leadership skills to benefit their communities and/or humanity. More than 200 students and teams from all of IEEE’s regions submitted entries. The top three winners of the challenge were honored at the IEEE’S 2009 annual Honors Ceremony in June in Los Angeles.

Vig is helping to keep IEEE’s Public Visibility Initiative going strong this year by promoting IEEE’s 125th anniversary in celebrations around the world. He has also worked with the Board to expand IEEE’s involvement in sustainable energy projects by launching the President’s Sustainability Initiative which seeks to marshal IEEE’s expertise through its societies’ efforts and capabilities in the field

STANDARDS LEADERS IEEE presidents aren’t the only leaders who have made a difference in IEEE’s future. Jim Carlo, 2004 Standards Association (SA) president, helped open the door to collaboration with China on IEEE standards. He did so by organizing a key meeting in 2004 with Chinese government officials and standards organizations to discuss the country’s involvement in the development of the IEEE 802.16 wireless standard. The meeting led to a closer relationship with Chinese officials and spawned numerous discussions about other IEEE standards and the country’s role in their development.

This year’s IEEE-SA president, Senior Member Chuck Adams, has focused on developing smart-grid standards. He helped launch an initiative to develop standards and write guidelines on how the grid operates for the power engineering, communications, and information technology industries. The IEEE P2030 Guide for Smart Grid Interoperability of Energy Technology and Information Technology Operation with the Electric Power System and End-Use Applications and Loads is designed to define key elements of the modernized grid and tap into IEEE’s existing grid standards.

What does the future hold for IEEE? You can help guide the way by reading the candidates’ stands on IEEE issues, and then casting your vote. Ballots must be received by 12 p.m. Central Time U.S.A. (17:00 UTC) on 1 October.

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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