Letter from the President

Dear IEEE-USA Colleagues and Friends:

As 2014 IEEE-USA President I took as my personal charge the challenges of four areas, (1) reversal of the recent decline in membership, (2) the need to stay within our planned decreasing budget and possibly underspend, (3) step up public visibility for the benefit of our members and our profession, and (4) to refresh and renew our efforts to benefit women and young professionals in engineering.

Working with colleagues on the IEEE-USA Board, our highly skilled professional staff, and more than 750 active volunteers throughout the organization, we collectively delivered on these promises making very strong progress on all fronts in 2014.

 

First, membership:  Addressing IEEE USA recent membership decline was not only a question of raising awareness and working to enhance the value of our programs and offerings to our members.  It was also about directly engaging members through personal interaction and direct outreach, to break through the static of modern electronic communications.  Through an aggressive schedule of speaking engagements around the U.S.A. and by personal communications with all U.S. IEEE Sections, we saw dramatic changes.

 

Second, finances:  It is difficult to stay within an operational budget when the income from dues is declining and expenses are rising.  We monitored expenses very closely and increased income through a record number of conferences.  This led to the highest surplus (underspending) in the history of IEEE-USA.

 

Third, public visibility:  With respect to our programs, 2014 was a year for new approaches, fresh looks and innovation.  In 2014, we developed the publishing platform for IEEE-USA’s new flagship publication IEEE-USA Insight.  With it, comes a new IEEE-USA E-Commerce store, integrated with IEEE Xplore.  We expanded our presence in social media, and experimented with new tools, such as Flipboard.  We increased our outreach activities, made our members more aware of the many benefits of membership, launched new networks and programs, and created more visibility by expressing our ideas and communicating with governmental bodies and corporations.

 

Fourth, Women in Engineering and Young Professionals:  We also began planning for the first-ever, IEEE U.S. Student/Young Professionals Conference, to be held in July 2016.  IEEE-USA re-engineered its Student Professional Activities program, now dubbed SPAx, giving students more flexibility in developing professional learning experiences, and doubling reported student events.  IEEE-USA sponsored the “Global Marathon of Women in Engineering and Technology”.

 

I take pride in what IEEE-USA was able to accomplish in 2014, and hope that you also find value and inspiration in the highlights that are summarized in the following pages.

 

Sincerely,

Gary L. Blank Ph.D.

2014 IEEE-USA President

 

 

2014 . . . A YEAR OF CHANGE AND VITALITY

Section 1.  THE IEEE-USA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

 

I.E.E.E. (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) is the largest professional technical organization in the world with over 400,000 members. There are 200,000 members in the USA. The election of the 2014 President was very unusual. Geographically, there are six  I.E.E.E.  Regions in the U.S.A., each including several states, and each one having a membership-elected Region Director. The six Region Directors form the core of the IEEE-USA Board of Directors, and the elected President was always a past Region Director. That changed this year. Gary Blank is a member of a Section of less than 200 members (one of the smallest) in the smallest of the 6 Regions. Gary Blank became the first candidate who had never been a Region Director to be elected President by the entire membership, winning all 6 Regions by large margins (approximately 2 to 1) in the election.

Section 2.  PRESIDENT BLANK’S STRATEGIC FOCUS FOR 2014

President Blank’s objectives for 2014 included:

  1. A strong improved  financial year with income substantially exceeding expenses instead of a recent series of losses or light underspending, by utilizing fundamental financial management  strategies.

  2.  A reversal of the consistent negative membership trend of the last several years by increasing member involvement, and the utilization and awareness of the IEEE-USA’s products and services.

  3. Increasing public visibility, public relations, shaping public policy, and building and supporting the careers of the members.

  4. Emphasizing the importance and relevance of young professionals, women members, and student members, and re-directing many existing programs and creating new ones to achieve these goals.

 

Section 3. END-OF-THE-YEAR REPORT

  • FINANCIAL

The operational budget for 2014 was a little less than in previous years, just over $5 million for the year. Prior to this, there had been a few years where the budgeted expenses exceeded the income, and sometimes a small underspending resulted. By carefully watching expenses and maximizing income, a new record was established in 2014 when the underspending was over a half million dollars (left over at the end of the year) providing seed money for new career and professional programs and services. This extraordinary financial year facilitated the purchase of a special expensive asset. This asset will be described later in this report.

  • MEMBERSHIP

Sections and Regions.  Four times during the year, President Blank personally contacted the chairs of the 170 Sections within all 6 Regions about this subject, helping, sharing ideas, and encouraging them. He created a 29-minute DVD video “Leading The Way With IEEE-USA” emphasizing the dozens of services, products, and discounts available to members. He sent copies to every Section chair to be used to interest prospects to become members, to remind current members to renew, and to inspire past members to return. By the end of August two Regions were well ahead of the previous year and the others were almost there too.

Membership Development  President Blank successfully urged the Board to elevate the IEEE-USA Membership Development Committee from an ad hoc committee to a standing committee. This emphasizes the importance of membership development.

Recognition At the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting in Rhode Island, President Blank recognized individuals who made successful membership referrals, and also Sections achieving positive net growth, and he invited them to share their success stories with an audience composed of IEEE-USA volunteer leaders.

Strategic Discussions   President Blank changed the format of the Board of Directors meetings. Two hours of the meeting time were planned at each meeting, deviating from the customary agenda, to have a strategic discussion. Leaving the open meeting room, retiring to a closed room and inviting certain experienced members to join the Board members, groups met at small tables to discuss topics chosen by President Blank. At the end of the two-hour session each table reported on its high points of the designated topic. At the first strategic session at the first meeting the subject was “IEEE-USA in 2024”. At the other Board meetings the topics for the strategic session were “What can IEEE-USA do to engage Young Professionals” and “What changes should IEEE-USA make to increase the value of membership”. The answers and ideas collected from these strategic discussions are being used to format plans designed to enhance membership value and relevance.

  • PUBLIC VISIBILITY

 

Outreach Following an IEEE Board Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, President Blank led a group of Board members on outreach visits to engineering universities and companies in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The group met with faculty members and company executives.

Ethics   IEEE-USA co-sponsored the first IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology. President Blank was the keynote speaker on “Ethics”.

Engineering Management   The IEEE International Technology Management Conference was held in June in Chicago. President Gary Blank was the keynote speaker on the subject “Management in Science and Engineering”.

Google and Microsoft   IEEE-USA President Blank was invited as a guest to visit both Google and Microsoft in Seattle.

Sections Congress Amsterdam   President Blank presented a one-hour tutorial session on consulting at the IEEE Sections Congress.

 

Publications   IEEE-USA in ACTION was the quarterly interactive e-zine (2010 to 2014) distributed to 200,000+ members, focused on member issues, news, products, and services. In 2014, it received an APEX 2014 Grand Award in the Electronic Media (non-profit) category, one of only 100 Grand Awards given out of 2075 entries. In 2014 IEEE-USA phased out both IEEE-USA in ACTION and IEEE-USA TODAY’S ENGINEER and announced that the new flagship publication IEEE-USA INSIGHT will be launched late 2014 or early 2015. The new publication combines and replaces some of the features of the two previous publications, streamlines focus, improves mobile, current web, and e-commerce capabilities, responding to new trends in the profession.

 

New E-Commerce Store   The changes were made in 2014 to allow IEEE-USA products to be listed and sold in Xplore. For the first time IEEE-USA is actively featuring, promoting, selling, and discounting E-Books, now having a broader reach and exposure to IEEE members.

New IEEE-USA Website In 2014, immediately following the launch of IEEE-USA INSIGHT, work was begun on the new website. This will continue for some time.

E-Books   In 2014, IEEE-USA added 17 new titles to the E-Book Library, distributed 60,000 e-books, free and sold. During this year IEEE-USA launched the first four books of IEEE-USA’s Women in Engineering e-book series. This series provides a global view of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as first-hand accounts of the professional journeys of notable contemporary female engineers.

National Engineers Week 2014   IEEE-USA undertook the responsibility of being the lead society sponsor of all engineering and technology organizations. IEEE-USA President Gary Blank joined in a live webcast at the University of Delaware (UD) to kick off National Engineers Week. The webcast included discussion by President Blank, UD President Patrick Harker, UD Provost Domenico Grosso, UD College of Engineering Dean Ogunnaike, DuPont Chief Engineer and Vice-President-Engineering Karen Fletcher.

Discover Engineering Family Day   A capacity crowd of more than 9200 visitors participated in the 2014 Discover Engineering Family Day at the National Building Museum. It was sponsored jointly by IEEE-USA and DuPont. The event featured (among others) former Space Shuttle astronaut Dr. Robert Crouch. Promotional coverage was provided by the local FOX TV affiliate.

 

Hill Event on Minorities in Engineering IEEE-USA co-sponsored a STEM Salon on Capitol Hill for “Change the Equation” to help familiarize Congress with the results of a recent report “Engineering Emergency: African Americans and Hispanics Still Lack Pathways in Engineering”.

U.S. Science and Engineering Festival  IEEE-USA President Gary Blank joined more than 20 volunteers in staffing the IEEE-USA booth and exhibit at the 3rd U.S. Science and Engineering Festival (3 days) held in Washington, D.C. in April 2014. The largest STEM event held in the United States, this festival drew over 1200 exhibitors, offering hands-on experience to a crowd of more than 325,000 students, parents, and teachers.

IEEE-USA and Electric Vehicles  IEEE-USA featured a booth at the International Conference on Connected Vehicles in Vienna, Austria. Participants came from many countries including China. President Gary Blank was the keynote speaker.

 

Asian American Engineers of the Year Awards  In March, President Gary Blank was invited to attend and participate in the Asian American Engineers of the Year Awards Ceremony in San Francisco, California, honoring Asian Americans with outstanding achievements in STEM. Award winners of the past 12 years included seven Nobel Laureates, as well as many corporate executives, managers, engineers, and researchers.

Support for Special Anniversaries   In 2014, IEEE-USA showed support for entities celebrating special anniversaries. President Gary Blank was invited, attended and spoke at the following celebrations: IEEE San Diego Section’s 75th Anniversary; IEEE Rochester, New York Section’s 100th Anniversary; IEEE Seattle Section’s 110th Anniversary; UCLA Student Chapter’s 50th Anniversary.

App-E-Feat Competition   As a Special Project for 2014, this competition challenged students, aged 13-18, and IEEE Student Members, to propose or design mobile applications to help solve global problems. App-E-Feat fulfills IEEE’s service commitment as a participant in the Clinton Global Initiative.

IEEE-USA  2014 Salary Survey  IEEE-USA completed its 2014 Salary & Benefits Survey in May, receiving almost 17, 000 responses (a possible record) from Higher Grade Members. The results were published in September. In November five specialty reports were released highlighting data derived from the survey focusing on salary trends for computing, communications, circuits and devices, power and energy, and systems and controls.

IEEE-USA Webinars   In 2014, IEEE-USA delivered 20 webinars on career and professional topics. In addition to legislative updates, IEEE-USA offered such topics as Business Models & Value Propositions, Finding the Right People Using Linked-In, The Power of Presentations, So you want to be An Entrepreneur, The Software Engineering PE Exam, Starting Your Start-Up, Consulting 101 and 102 (by President Blank). All webinars have been archived for future viewing.

IEEE Consultants Networks   Managed by IEEE-USA, the Consultants Network of all consultants world-wide has grown to a new high of 1845 members (including President Blank) in 2014. And there has been an increase of 48% over last year of the number of consultants publishing their resumes in the IEEE-USA on-line Directory to be found by potential clients. IEEE-USA published its 2014 Consultants Fee Survey Report in November.

IEEE-USA Consultants Workshops  IEEE-USA President Gary Blank, along with volunteers and staff, conducted 3 consultants training workshops: April 12, Los Angeles/Orange County Networks in Pomona, CA; September 13, Central Texas Section Network, in Austin, TX; November 15, Canaveral and Melbourne Sections in Cocoa, FL.

 

Launched   President Blank created and formally launched both IEEE-USA’s Employment Networks, designed to provide help for unemployed members, and IEEE-USA’s Entrepreneur Networks, intended to help members interested in starting independent businesses.

Entrepreneurial Activities   In June 2014, IEEE-USA partnered with the Small Business Administration on a webinar, introducing IEEE members to SBA’s Online Training Programs. In December, IEEE-USA convened its Small Technology Business Symposium, to discuss technology entrepreneurs’ needs. This event was held in the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee Hearing Room with representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of State, the Export/Import Bank, the U.S. Sm all Business Administration, and the Senate Small Business Committee Staff attending.

STEM National Leadership Conference   IEEE-USA participated as a supporting organization in the STEM Solutions National Leadership Conference, convened by U.S. News and World Report, in April in Washington, D.C. The focus of the conference was to discuss ways to advance the national STEM agenda.

Federal Travel Restrictions and STEM Conferences  On July 25, President Gary Blank represented IEEE-USA and joined other societies in a meeting with representatives of federal departments and agencies, hosted by the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, MD, to discuss the impact of federal government restrictions on scientific and technical conference attendance.

Public Policy Priority Issues   1.  Intelligent Transportation  On October 20, IEEE-USA submitted a letter to the Department of Transportation, signed by President Blank, with comments pertaining to the development of federal regulations concerning vehicle-to-vehicle communication; 2.  Innovation Policy  On September 23, IEEE-USA  submitted comments to the President’s Office of Science and Technology, as input to a proposed U.S. Strategy for American Innovation, on ways the Administration could help small technology companies prosper;   3.  Patent Reform  On March 14, President Blank sent a letter on behalf of IEEE-USA  to the Senate, stating IEEE-USA’s opposition to the Transparency in Assertion of Patents Act;  4.  K-12 STEM Education  On October 16, President Blank, on behalf of IEEE-USA, endorsed a Dear Colleague letter from Reps.Kilmer and Buchon of the House Science Committee to other members of Congress, calling for support of the National Science Foundation’s efforts to develop AP Engineering and Computer Science Principles course curricula for use in high schools;  5.  Skilled Immigration Reform  The Comprehensive Immigration Act that the Senate ultimately passed contained a number of provisions in an IEEE-USA letter from President Blank, including language to prevent outsourcing companies from using H1-B visas, and to create new green cards for international graduate students. IEEE-USA also worked to influence the White House’s executive proposals on immigration;

Quadrennial Energy Review   As a result of a joint effort between IEEE-USA and the IEEE Power and Energy Society, a letter was submitted by IEEE-USA President Blank with preliminary comments to the U.S. Department of Energy as input to the 1st Quadrennial Energy Review. The working group followed up with a meeting and its final report to the DOE. Melanie Kenderdine, director of the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis commended our efforts and described our contributions as “very, very helpful”.

Position Statements  In 2014, on behalf of IEEE-USA with the help of staff, President Blank released 10 new or updated position statements on:  Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Cybersecurity, Low Cost Access to Space, Space-Borne Synthetic Aperture Radar, Energy Efficiency, Small Business Innovation Research, High-Value Job Growth through Manufacturing Innovation, Digital Millennium Copyright Act Encryption Research, Digital Rights Management, and Disclosure of Intellectual Property Assignment Agreements.

Policy Statements   IEEE-USA released 40 policy communications to Congress and the Executive Branch on an array of topics in 2014, including: federal conferencing and travel spending; relocation of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research; federal R&D appropriations for FY2014 and FY2015; renewal of the R&D tax credit; funding for advancing computing programs; patent reform; reauthorization of FY2014 civilian S&T programs; and U.S. spectrum policy.

Congressional Visits Day   The 2014 Science, Engineering and Technology Congressional Visits Day, a multi-society event, drew more than 200 scientists and engineers as advocates for strong federal investments in R&D. 38 IEEE-USA members participated in 67 congressional visits.

Air Force Office of Scientific Research  In a letter from President Blank, IEEE-USA successfully advocated against an Air Force proposal to relocate its Office of Scientific Research. IEEE-USA expressed concern about the impact of the move on AFOSR’s ability to sustain its basic research mission. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James confirmed a final decision to not relocate in both a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and in a subsequent response to IEEE-USA.

State Department Science and Technology Advisor  IEEE-USA President Gary Blank was invited to the U.S. State Department to participate in a meeting to discuss the role of the Science & Technology Advisor at State, and the primary considerations for selecting the next Advisor.

Presidential Citation to U.S. Senator and Washington Governor   IEEE-USA President Gary Blank presented a Presidential Citation to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in conjunction with her keynote address at the IEEE Seattle Section 110th Anniversary Gala. The citation recognized her efforts to create jobs and expand educational opportunities in STEM. The Senator later invited President Blank to visit her in her office on Capitol Hill. President Blank also presented a Citation to Washington Governor Jay Inslee for his efforts in creating jobs in STEM.

Engineering Societies Public Policy Symposium   IEEE-USA co-sponsored the symposium held in conjunction with the American Association of Engineering Convocation. President Gary Blank met with and introduced the keynote speaker—the Honorable Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy.  Poneman highlighted the Department of Energy’s priority initiatives including the President’s Climate Action Plan.

The MOVE Project   An initiative was introduced at one of the Board meetings in early 2014. The cost would be about $60,000 to purchase a special vehicle. The IEEE-USA’s Community Outreach Initiative will provide a mobile emergency relief program committed to assisting victims of natural disasters with short-term communications, computer, and power solutions. These temporary emergency relief services will help people stay connected and make sure they can access the help they need. Services included will cell phone charging, communications support, and lighting to disaster victims. When it is not being used for emergency services the mobile vehicle will provide a learning opportunity for the general public in the area of STEM. The money for the vehicle was not available in the operational budget, so the effort met with resistance from the Board. President Blank encouraged the Board to table the motion and review it later in the year. As the year progressed and the record-setting financial savings from IEEE-USA’s annual budget became a reality, the IEEE Foundation agreed to fund the project.

Ignite   Ignite is a presentation format in which a speaker has exactly 5 minutes and must use 20 slides with each slide automatically advancing after 15 seconds, forcing the speaker to present his point effectively and quickly. President Blank was the first speaker to experiment with this technique at the IEEE Sections Congress in Amsterdam. His subject was Consultants Networks.

 

Patents and Standards  During the year IEEE-USA President Blank was contacted by phone and email by several members of the Department of Justice and by dozens of company executives in the USA and overseas about various aspects of patents and standards.

 

IEEE-USA Sponsored Conferences    A full schedule (a record high of 15 conferences) were sponsored and supported by IEEE-USA in 2014.

  • YOUNG MEMBERS, WOMEN MEMBERS, AND STUDENT MEMBERS

Young Professional Board Member  The IEEE-USA Board has always included a representative from the Young Professionals. According to IEEE Rules, only Senior Members are allowed to vote on a Board. Since most Young Professionals are not yet Senior Members, the representative on the IEEE-USA Board had never been allowed to vote on any issue. President Blank personally approached and discussed this subject with IEEE Legal Staff, requesting that an exception be made to allow this representative to have a vote on this Board at all Board meetings. His request was granted and the YP is now a voting member.

New Direction for Student Professional Awareness Events   In 2014, there were 60 Events, the highest number on record for any year.  On this, its 35th anniversary, there were many improvements made. The new program changed its name from SPAC (Student Awareness Professional Conferences) to SPAx where x (for experience) would allow the students more flexibility as they choose to have workshops, ventures, and similar events, in addition to conferences. A new event was launched in October 2014.

Student/YP Conference Planned   In 2014, President Blank encouraged the Board to consider creating an annual brand-new Student/YP conference in July 2016 at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was approved.

Global Marathon for Women in Engineering and Technology   As part of IEEE-USA sponsored National Engineers Week, the Global Marathon featured 30 speakers from 9 countries on such topics as “Advice from the Top,” ”Women and Engineering Technology,” ”Building Confidence,” ”High Performance Teams,” and “Inspiring Yourself and Others”.

Initiating Electrical Engineering Entrepreneurs   President Blank published a paper in the IEEE Student Potentials, Volume 32, Issue 5, pages 28-29, as an advisory to prepare graduating students on how to start and how to conduct an independent business.

 

UNESCO   President Blank was invited to a UNESCO meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss the role of IEEE-USA in the furthering of international scientific pre-college education.