Who will you vote for when you get your ballot for 2013 IEEE-USA President-Elect?
Learn about this year’s candidates based on the following excerpts from the Candidates’ Forum, held at the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio.
This year’s candidates for IEEE-USA President-Elect are Gary Blank and Lee Stogner. In his opening remarks, Blank highlighted that he has a broad background-- having worked in industry, having taught at several universities as a professor of electrical engineering, and as an active consultant working with over 40 different clients. Blank also stated that he wanted to magnify his contributions to the organization, after many years of receiving the benefits of being a volunteer.
In his opening remarks, Stogner highlighted his 38 years of service within the IEEE, through all levels of the organization. In addition, Stogner asked voters to take a quick look back at the contributions of IEEE engineers. He provided a challenge for the future: To create a profession that will last for decades--and inspire the world.
Following are some of the questions posed to, and answered by these candidates for 2013 IEEE-USA President-Elect:
Since both of you have served extensively in IEEE-USA roles, what does the average member not understand about IEEE-USA and its operations?
Stogner: Easy question, but makes me a bit sad. Most members don’t realize the great depth of resources in terms of education, training, and other support infrastructure that can help you be the best back at work, or inspire and train you for the career you want.
Blank: IEEE-USA covers the six regions in the continental states focusing on members of this part of the IEEE world. IEEE-USA tries to help members at their work, in their business, in their education and in their careers.
If you have to prioritize IEEE-USA’s government relations, career, PACE, and professional awareness programs, which would be the highest priority and which would be the lowest priority?
Blank: Tough question because all of them are very important. If had to choose, careers would be highest priority with a weight of 40%, 30%, 30%.
Stogner: Careers come first. Must focus on jobs first and the tools and mechanisms to make sure that everyone who wants a long career has the opportunity and a network they can tap. Least priority would be professional awareness.
If your members were beers, what type of beer would they be?
Stogner: American beer, of course.
Blank: Very flavorful, exciting and pleasant in the eyes of the rest of the world.
If elected IEEE-USA President, what would be your first priority on taking office?
Blank: Important to have continuity. Spend lots of time with outgoing president and past presidents to maintain continuity.
Stogner: We cannot have 1-year plans. We have to have 2-, 3- and 4-year plans. We need to make sure we don’t drop the ball between presidents and president-elects.
Recent membership data indicates that more than half of U.S. members are over 50 years old. What would you do to lower the age median?
Stogner: From my own perspective, I am glad that engineers who are 50 years and older have an advantage. It’s an advantage we need to share with people behind us because we can’t be an engineer by ourselves. We need to build the team and pipeline. We need to share our experience with other members.
Blank: Part of the reason we are seeing this trend, is the fact that a lot of things we are doing in IEEE and IEEE-USA are getting older, too. We need to take a fresh look at what we are doing. Some of the things we are doing, we were doing before the invention of the cellphone. Good to have tradition, but at the same time, we need to take a fresh look at what we are doing. There is room for change and improvement.
IEEE membership costs too much and you get too little for what you pay. What will you do as IEEE-USA President, and as a member of the Board of Directors, to reduce the costs and increase the value?
Blank: We don’t have much control over membership fees. We have to give more value. Provide new, modern services.
Stogner: Reality is that our dues are low, compared to other professional and scientific organizations. You get out of it what you put into it.
Would you consider creating a political activities committee? Our lobbying has little effect without one.
Stogner: We have been told to not be political but rather experts on whom the politicians can rely on. Stay away from the politics but connected with politicians.
Blank: I am in favor of taking a more aggressive role to work within our existing system to tell our story.
Are membership associations relevant anymore?
Stogner: Absolutely. We need to be part of an organization that thinks like you, has the same needs as you. and can support you throughout your career.
Blank: I’m in favor of membership in organizations worthy of my time and effort, and the money that I spend with them. Evaluate what they have to offer you.
IEEE-USA does a very poor job of building our public image externally, what is your strategy to improve this?
Blank: We’re not doing a poor job--but not doing as good job as we can. What we do is good, but we need to do more of that.
Stogner: We do a pretty good job, but need to change our tools constantly to get the message out. IEEE-USA can help local sections with PR, and with making sure tools are up to date, and shared across all regions.
Is your wife going to support you if elected?
Stogner: Absolutely. She’s helped me with every event, publication and website. She truly is a partner.
Blank: Yes, she has done more work than I have, as part of my membership.
What is the main reason for declining membership in Regions 1 through 6, and how are you going to address the problem in your term.
Stogner: Too many members who have not taken the time to see IEEE beyond a magazine called Spectrum. We need to educate members that there are lots of things they can do.
Blank: We are going through a period of metamorphosis. We are seeing change in our economy, our workplace and the universities. Past members are members, and we should make an effort to bring them back, but we also need to go after new members, and bring them in.
What will you do if elected IEEE-USA president to improve employment opportunities in the United States?
Stogner: Take an idea from Region 3 to a national scale--the idea of a “local jobs board.” This effort is localized—we collect these opportunities, and share them with IEEE members first.
Blank: In my Section, we created an employment network with an interesting format. We invited an HR manager from a nearby company who talked about how to write resumes and how to interview. Several members got jobs. HR managers were coming to these meetings unsolicited.
Should IEEE-USA hand over the PACE activities to MGA and retain licensure? Why or why not?
Blank: I’m strongly in favor of PACE staying with IEEE-USA, because IEEE-USA is in a better position to understand the needs of the U.S. members.
Stogner: I am a former VP of PACE. We’ve got ownership, because we created these courses. If we hand them over to another organization, they will sit on a shelf and not get used. PACE should remain here in its home, so we can improve these courses, and use them in Regions 1-6.
Nita Patel is IEEE-USA VP of Communications & Public Awareness