London is among the world’s most multicultural cities. One in three of its residents were born abroad, according to the country’s Office for National Statistics. So it’s no surprise that the IEEE Region 8 Student Branch and GOLD Congress held from 28 August to 1 September at Queen Mary University of London showcased the multiculturalism of the attendees.
“Region 8 is big—it goes all the way from Iceland to South Africa, and from Western Europe to Russia, and that is precisely what makes it one of the most culturally varied IEEE regions,” says Anthony Davies, a member of the IEEE United Kingdom/Republic of Ireland Section Committee and former director of Region 8.
Every other year the region’s student branch leaders and GOLD coordinators gather to update their skill set, exchange ideas about how to improve their organizations, and network and socialize with IEEE leaders. More than 200 members attended the congress, representing 31 sections across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The Queen Mary University’s IEEE student branch, which organized the event, is itself composed of students from 11 countries.
“It took one year for 15 motivated members to prepare and organize such a successful congress, and it benefited every one of us by helping to develop our planning, organizing, and communication skills," says Zhijia Huang, chair of the IEEE QMUL student branch and of the congress’s organizing committee.
THE NITTY GRITTY The congress kicked off with a series of talks by IEEE groups including Educational Activities, Standards Association, and Professional Activities. Ten workshops, run mostly by student and GOLD members, covered how to recruit new members, fund-raising programs for student branches, networking activities between student groups, leadership skills, time management, and ways to balance job and family responsibilities.
To highlight the diversity of the region, a multicultural night was held in which each country was represented through its cuisine, photos, tourism materials, traditional clothing, and dances. Activities included a quiz about British pubs and dancing to Turkish music.
Enjoying the numerous exhibits, Marko Delimar of Croatia, Region 8 vice chair of membership activities, said, “This is Region 8 in all its variety!”
Invited speakers from Regions 2, 3, 6, and 10 further demonstrated the multiculturalism of the congress.
There was an insightful talk by Karen Panetta, chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering Committee, who spoke about her efforts to encourage females to enter the profession. A WIE-led panel discussion followed. “My Career as an Engineer” featured speakers from industry and academia who triggered many passionate questions from the audience, especially from students eager to know more about career strategies and opportunities.
According to Mohamed A. Shabat, the student representative from the IEEE Egypt Section, what’s best about the congress is that you get a different flavor each time you go. “This is my second one, and the organizers were definitely successful in adding a lot of unforgettable details,” he says.
The first 15 participants to register online for the congress won a visit to the construction site of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, in London, to check out the engineering projects already begun. They learned how industrial buildings on the site were carefully demolished, the process used to recycle contaminated soil, and the “green” policies that are being employed in constructing the venues for the games.
—Anglade was vice chair of communication and publications for the Region 8 Student Branch and GOLD Congress 2008.