Many Firsts for Region 10 Student Congress

This year’s Region 10 Student Congress had the largest turnout ever

7 May 2008

This year’s Region 10 Student Congress was one for the history books: the largest turnout ever, a joint meeting held in conjunction with two other IEEE groups, and a new program that celebrated the region’s various cultures. And it was the first student congress held in India and the first time filmed such an event.

More than 300 students attended “IEEE for Youth—Leveraging Social Networking for Professional Development,” held from 27 to 30 January in Chennai at the Sri Sivasubramaniya Nadar College of Engineering. The congress was designed to bring together students from branches across the region to network, meet region and section leaders, share strategies for boosting membership, and get an update on new IEEE programs. And, of course, to have some fun.

The IEEE Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) and IEEE Women in Engineering groups also held their congresses in conjunction with the student event, and on 28 January all three groups met together for the first time.

The first day started off with networking activities including basketball, squash, and chess. The next day the meeting got down to business.

In his first address to an IEEE conference since becoming 2008 President and CEO, Lewis M. Terman talked about the importance of students retaining their IEEE membership after graduation. Several IEEE officers and staff members gave the students updates on the organization’s various programs, including new initiatives, plans for attracting new members, an overview of IEEE’s technical activities, and the process for applying for IEEE Foundation grants.

The region’s student activities coordinator, Mini Thomas, a professor of electrical engineering at the National Islamic University, in New Delhi, covered activities the sections were organizing to attract new members, such as the Global Integrated Network of IEEE project. GINI is aimed at reinvigorating and promoting existing student branches, and identifying schools that are candidates for new branches. Other speakers reported on membership development drives that aim to inform students about the benefits of membership. Students also learned about the GOLD Academic Professional Portal Project, which lets members search for jobs posted by academic institutions and find information on doctorate programs and scholarships.

Branch counselors discussed ways to motivate student members to volunteer and ways to explain activities in an engaging manner. Jaya Indiresan, a consultant to India’s national and international agencies, conducted a leadership training workshop, which focused on the skills students need to be effective leaders.

Students were divided into groups for team-building exercises that tested their creativity and ability to work as a unit. One of the activities was building a replica of the Taj Mahal from newspaper.

Nithin Sha, an IEEE student member from MES College of Engineering, in Kerala, says the contacts he made through networking at the congress were invaluable.

There were 10 exhibition booths that featured posters, banners, and pamphlets about each branch. Four branches won awards for their exhibitions: Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology; the National Institute of Technology, in Warangal, India; Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology, in Kerala; and the Indira Ghandi Institute of Technology, in New Delhi.

CULTURAL CELEBRATION To highlight the various backgrounds of those attending, the student organizers put on a multicultural show that featured Chinese songs, the Haka dance from New Zealand, and traditional Indian folk dances.

That was the highlight of the congress for George Gordon, chair of the IEEE student branch at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. “India and Asia are worlds apart from New Zealand in terms of culture,” Gordon says. “It was interesting to see the different ways in which IEEE appeals to people from different cultures.”

Adam Ruxton a student member earning his doctorate from James Cook University, in Townsville, Australia, says he enjoyed meeting students from all over the world. “It was fantastic to see how different cultures could still have a common goal and message–in this case, the promotion of technology for the benefit of mankind,” Ruxton says.

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