Year in Review: Anniversary Celebrations Span the Globe

More than 200 celebrations were held around the world

7 December 2009

What a year it has been for IEEE as it marked its 125th anniversary! More than 200 celebrations were held around the world in Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, and dozens of other countries.

“The 125th anniversary celebration activities have been highly successful and have helped make 2009 an especially great year for IEEE,” says IEEE President John Vig. “Thousands of members, student members, customers, and friends have taken part. They’ve shared their pride in our history and celebrated the impact IEEE and its members have had on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. The anniversary also helped to increase IEEE’s public visibility.”

During the first six months of the year, more than 120 events organized by IEEE sections, student branches, and conferences commemorated the occasion in various ways, including talks by technical experts and historians, job fairs, career seminars, concerts, banquets, and barbecues. “Global events” sponsored by the IEEE Board of Directors and held in Munich, Boston, and Austin, Texas, drew 1400 people in all. More than 50 journalists attended a media event in New York City, where members described their work on such world-changing technologies as early cancer detection and brain-machine interfaces.

Several parties were held on IEEE’s official anniversary date, 13 May, including one at the IEEE Operations Center in Piscataway, N.J. At IEEE offices, staff members raised more than US $1800 for the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Fund, a project launched in conjunction with the anniversary. Thanks to the efforts of IEEE-USA, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that day, supporting the goals and ideals of IEEE Engineering the Future Day.

The second half of the year was also chock-full of celebrations—especially for students. In June, two Stanford University doctoral students who designed a handheld diagnostic lab shared the top prize of $10 000 in the inaugural IEEE Presidents’ Change the World Competition. Other awards went to students from India, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom. The contest challenged students to develop unique solutions to real-world problems using engineering, science, computing, and leadership skills to benefit their local community or society as a whole. In the process, the competition helped promote the IEEE and its anniversary.

Another student contest, the IEEE Engineering Your World video competition, recognized videos that documented innovative and creative uses of science, engineering, and technology to enhance everyday life. In September, IEEE Student Member Michael Robbins, who just completed his masters at MIT, was awarded the top prize of $500 for a video featuring his invention, a meat thermometer that relies on signal processing to tell temperature.

Three student congresses, including the first Iberian Student Branch Congress, held in October in Lisbon, incorporated commemorations of IEEE’s anniversary in their activities. Such meetings bring together IEEE student volunteers to network and share ideas on improving their student branches.

Various dignitaries and renowned tech experts joined the party at five other global events organized by the Board of Directors. Three were held in August and September. Former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam attended the party in Bangalore—which attracted more than 700 guests. He praised IEEE’s work in furthering the engineering and technology professions.

IEEE Fellow Vinton Cerf, widely known as a “father of the Internet,” spoke to 350 attendees at an anniversary event that featured the dedication of an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing for the ARPANET at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Cerf is vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google. He talked about the need to move all Internet Protocol Version 4 addresses to the new IP Version 6 because by the end of 2011, he predicts, the available IPv4 addresses will be used up. Also at the gathering, Howard Charney, senior vice president of Cisco Systems, shared his vision of future technology.

A party in Beijing recognized the winners of the first China Student Paper Contest, sponsored jointly by the China Academy of Sciences and Microsoft Asia Research. The students were judged on the quality of the technical information in their research papers, as well as their oral presentation in English. More than 300 attendees heard keynote addresses by IEEE Fellow Tan Tieniu, vice secretary general of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Feng Zhao, assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia.

In October at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London, more than 250 people heard Chris Toumazou’s talk “Towards Disposable Healthcare Devices: A Paradigm Shift,” in which he described the progress made in helping the hearing and visually impaired regain their abilities. Toumazou is a professor of circuit design and executive director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College in London. Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton, gave her perspective on the past and future of the Internet in her keynote address, “Research Sans Frontières.”

The final global event was held in October in Tokyo, where more than 200 attendees heard from a pair of National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation principals. The museum’s chief executive director, Mamoru Mohri, Japan’s first astronaut, talked about his career, including his two trips on the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992 and 2000. Akihiko Shirai, the museum’s science communicator, discussed his work in conceiving and creating exhibits for the museum.

The celebrations come to an end this month during the INDICON conference in Gujarat, India, at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology.

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