Each year, IEEE recognizes student branches and their leaders with awards for programs and events they developed to get more students involved and grow membership. This year, an unprecedented 439 nominations were submitted for five awards. The winners received certificates or plaques and, in some cases, grants of up to US $1,500.
Organized by the IEEE Member and Geographic Activities Student Activities Committee, the awards show an appreciation for the work of tireless volunteers and encourage them to continue their efforts, says IEEE Member Arjun Pillai, chair of the SAC awards committee.
“Having received such an award myself, I understand the importance of being recognized as a student volunteer,” he says. “It has motivated me to continue my involvement with IEEE. That is what an award can do.” Pillai received the 2010 Asia Pacific Larry K. Wilson Regional Student Activities Award, which recognizes student members for organizing successful student activities.
The panel of judges for the student branch awards was a mix of IEEE volunteers and staff. Although each award has its own set of criteria, Pillai notes that overall, judges look for the impact, scale, and support each nominee brings to the organization.
AND THE AWARDS GO TO
With 109 nominations, the most for any of the awards, the Darrel Chong Student Activity Award recognized 28 volunteers who improved the quality of their branch activities and encouraged the sharing of technical and career-related skills. They received certificates for their efforts. One recipient, IEEE Member Rishisingh Solanki, helped organize the 15th national intercollegiate technical festival at Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, in Mumbai, where he is the student branch chair. More than 1,000 people attended the three-day IEEE-TSEC Student Activities and Conferences festival, better known as ISAAC—the largest yet. It consisted of conferences, workshops, contests, and exhibitions on a variety of topics, including ways to transform health care in India, artificial intelligence, and the future of mobile phones.
The Larry K. Wilson Regional Student Activities Award recognizes a particular event, program, or product developed at a student branch. Recipients of the award received a plaque and three years of free IEEE dues. Four students received the award, including IEEE Member Josip Balen, student branch vice chair at the University of Osijek, in Croatia. He organized IEEEmadC, a 19-week contest to develop mobile apps. Balen raised funds for the contest on his own, created promotional T-shirts, and was able to get sponsors to donate prizes for the winners, including a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and an Apple iPad.
Of 28 entries, nine students received the IEEE Student Enterprise Award for developing an idea for a project that qualifies “as a cutting-edge, humanitarian, or community-service technology.” Projects entered included a solar-powered water-purification system and robotics for earthquake detection. They received from $400 to $1,500 to pursue their ideas.
The IEEE Outstanding Branch Counselor and Branch Chapter Advisor Award is given to those who have helped carry out programs that improved their student branches significantly. The nine recipients received $150 for themselves and $150 for their branches. One of the recipients was IEEE Senior Member Rajesh B. Ingle, student branch counselor of the Pune Institute of Computer Technology, in India. Last year, with Ingle’s efforts, the student branch nearly doubled its membership, from 200 members to 360. He helped organize membership drives, held computing coding contests, formed special interest groups, and participated in IEEE Day celebrations.
IEEE student branches at Cairo University, Georgia Tech, Istanbul Technical University, the University of Malta, University of California, Los Angeles, and 15 others received the IEEE Regional Exemplary Student Branch Award, which recognizes outstanding student branch operations. The schools each received a certificate.
IEEE Senior Member Pablo Herrero, 2015 chair of the IEEE Student Activities Committee, points out that receiving an IEEE award helps when it comes to getting a job. He should know. As a hiring manager in the Munich office of Intel, he admits that he tends to think more highly of those who have garnered awards or volunteered with an organization like IEEE.
“These awards show me that the candidate has the soft skills necessary to succeed,” he says. “I take more time looking at résumés that come from an IEEE volunteer or have an IEEE award listed on them, even if the candidate never had a job before. I know other colleagues who feel the same.”
After holding nearly every student volunteer position himself, Herrero understands that these roles teach skills that can be harder to learn on the job than technical skills.
“I want to know, as a manager, how a potential employee will function in my workplace and how he or she will perform in the field,” he says. Recent grads can be trained to apply their technical knowledge to the job in about three to six months, he notes. But learning how to effectively communicate with industry leaders or deliver an effective presentation to clients can take years.