IEEE had achieved a couple of significant milestones in membership by the end of last year. For the first time in its history, it had more than 400 000 members, and student membership alone reached 100 000.
On average, total membership has been growing by about 2 percent annually for the past seven years. And after several years of decline, total society membership increased last year, with the Communications, Computer, and Power & Energy societies leading the way.
There has been growth around the world, particularly in Canada, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. And despite the sour economic environment, from 2008 through 2010, total IEEE membership increased 7 percent and student membership grew 21 percent. Student membership grew the most in Australia, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
WHY THEY JOIN
The Institute asked members to tell us why they joined IEEE and why they stay.
Graduate Student Member Dody Ismoyo listed several reasons for signing up: the IEEE's many seminars, webinars, continuing training programs, and e-books, as well as the opportunity he has to meet senior engineers from industry. Dody became a student member in Malaysia at Universiti Teknologi Petronas, where he earned a bachelor's degree in power systems engineering. After a year, however, he dropped his membership because, he says, he "failed to see the benefit." But he rejoined last year when he began pursuing a master's degree in power engineering at the University of Sydney, in Australia, and he is glad he did.
"Joining IEEE has changed my life so much, especially in post-university life," he says. "I've found people who really understand what I'm talking about, since we generally have the same engineering-education background."
He also was introduced to Engineers Australia, an institution that holds joint activities with IEEE, including seminars and technical presentations, many of which Dody attends.
"Many classmates ask how I know about so many engineering-related events, and I tell them, 'Because I'm an IEEE member,'" he says. "I will renew my membership as long as I can!"
Mohammed Al-Donbok became a student member because he "wanted to become familiar with IEEE standards and get access to technical papers," he says. "IEEE also gives me the opportunity to take continuing education courses." Al-Donbok is an electrical engineering student at An-Najah National University, in Nablus on the West Bank, and is a student member of the IEEE Communications and Power & Energy societies. He says he has had many great experiences with the student branch.
"I hope to make changes to my country's communications system, and IEEE will help me carry out my vision," he says. "To me, IEEE means being a hard-working, ambitious, and knowledgeable member."
Wilber Hernandez joined because his undergrad senior project professor recommended it. Hernandez is pursuing a graduate degree in technology management at Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, N.J. "From the very first moment I got access to the IEEE Xplore digital library at my school, I haven't been able to stay away from its journals, with their rich stories, research papers, and references," he says. "It has become a great source of ideas for me."
Student Member Suyong Vyawahare learned of IEEE in high school after reading an IEEE Spectrum article about energy. Later, Vyawahare began exploring technical magazines, which exposed him to IEEE standards. When he entered Atharva College of Engineering, in Mumbai, he joined the IEEE student branch and got involved in its activities. He has served as the branch's assistant secretary and its events coordinator. "As I learn more about IEEE's programs and offerings, I'm even more proud to be a member," he says. "I also want to continue my membership because IEEE offers continuing education programs and professional certification programs."
MANY OTHER REASONS
Survey after survey conducted over the years by IEEE has shown that people join, and stay, because they want to remain technically current, obtain access to publications, and boost their career opportunities. Several members who responded directly to The Institute confirmed those reasons and echoed other survey findings, such as the value of networking and publishing opportunities, discounts on conference registrations, and the life insurance offered through the IEEE Member Discounts Program, formerly known as the IEEE Financial Advantage Program.
Paul DeAndrea of Franklin, N.Y., has been a member since he was an undergrad in 1974. Now he belongs to the IEEE Power & Energy and Industry Applications societies. "Papers published in the societies' transactions have helped expand my understanding of these areas, and have kept me current," DeAndrea says. "IEEE publications were excellent sources in my successful pursuit of a graduate degree in electrical engineering rather late in my career. I have also networked with other practicing engineers and was fortunate to have coauthored a paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications."
Peter Tobias, a member from Minneapolis, says he stays "to support IEEE as my professional organization because of the many things it does." He listed the publication of scientific and technical journals, job-related assistance, local chapters, and IEEE-USA's representation of members' public policy interests.
"The consistent pattern of membership growth that IEEE has experienced lately is a testament to how valuable our publications, services, and membership benefits are for advancing the careers of current and future technical professionals," says Howard Michel, vice president, IEEE Member and Geographic Activities.
"As our membership grows," Michel says, "our peer-to-peer network expands, too, bringing more scope and depth to our already very diverse membership. I expect this membership growth to accelerate worldwide as IEEE continues to develop new products and services and as our members continue to spread the word to their professional colleagues."