The Perks of Becoming a Senior Member

What you need to know to move up to this next level of membership

2 October 2015

Elevation to IEEE senior member can lead to opportunities within IEEE that you wouldn’t otherwise have. These include holding high-level volunteer positions like vice president of a major IEEE board or being nominated for IEEE Fellow. Fellow status is reserved for those who have made extraordinary accomplishments in their fields; all nominees must be senior members.

To be eligible for senior member status, members must have worked in a professional capacity in a technical field for at least 10 years. Educational experience leading to bachelor’s or advanced degrees is partially credited toward that time. Members must also show “significant performance” over a period of at least five of those years. This could include managing a team of engineers or publishing research papers. Nominees must also have professional references from three IEEE senior members, Fellows, or honorary members. And if you’re interested in elevation, you don’t have to wait to be nominated—you can nominate yourself.

IEEE Senior Member Don Wright is chair of the IEEE Admission and Advancement (A&A) Committee, which reviews nominations for senior and life senior member elevations. Panels of senior members then decide which nominations to approve. Not all members are aware of the requirements for elevation, Wright says, so this year his committee has made efforts to better inform members of the eligibility requirements and has his staff help shepherd them through the nomination process. So far this year, elevation approvals are up about 10 percent from 2014.

“Being elevated to senior member recognizes people who have moved beyond entry-level work in their careers,” Wright says. “It also encourages them to engage more broadly with engineers and other technical professionals in companies and universities outside their own.”

Senior members eligible to climb the ranks of IEEE volunteers can run for IEEE’s highest volunteer office, IEEE president-elect. They can also provide references to help elevate other senior member candidates and serve on review panels to determine who should hold this membership grade.

SPREADING THE WORD

This year, the committee has made presentations and distributed brochures at IEEE conferences to inform members of the advantages of being elevated, and how to apply or nominate others. The committee set a goal of having more elevations than last year’s 2,514, and this number could be surpassed. Wright estimates that as of 1 September about 10 percent more members had been elevated than by this point in 2014. At the end of last year, 8 percent, or 37,100, of IEEE’s total members were senior members.

Those elevated will have letters of commendation sent to their employers highlighting their achievements. Announcements are also made in their IEEE section and society newsletters, and they receive plaques for display in their offices or homes.

The committee has also sought to connect potential applicants with senior members so they can form relationships and be able to solicit the recommendations they need when they apply. It has also been engaging region directors and section chairs to spread the word to members in their communities.

THE SELECTION PROCESS

Applications can be filled out online. Just upload a résumé and provide the names of three people as references (or two if someone else nominated you); references will then receive e-mails asking them to provide recommendations. There is no deadline by which to apply; applications can be submitted at any time. Once received, an application is reviewed by the committee made up of representatives, one from each of the 10 IEEE regions. It also includes Wright and the A&A committee’s past chair, IEEE Senior Member Francisco Martinez.

Senior member panels meet about 10 times a year in different IEEE regions. Senior members from local sections are invited to help review applications. A panel typically reviews between 200 and 500 applications, according to Wright. There is no limit, he notes, to how many members can be elevated at any one meeting or for the year.

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