The annual IEEE-USA presidential elections are just around the corner! IEEE-USA InSight recently spoke with 2022 IEEE-USA President-Elect candidates Eduardo (Ed) Palacio and Keith Moore to ask where they stand on several key issues. Their responses to these questions may help you decide how you will vote when you receive your ballot later this month.
In addition to this Q&A, you can check out brief recorded video statements from both candidates on the IEEE-USA Elections page. There’s also a live virtual town hall candidates forum coming up on 11 August at 8:00 PM EDT, where the candidates will field your questions — register today!
What can you tell us about yourself and your background, as a person and a professional?
Ed Palacio: I came to this country as a Cuban Refugee when I was eight years old. I grew up in NYC. I was extremely fortunate to be accepted to The Cooper Union School of Engineering. Upon graduation I started my career as a digital design engineer. I progressed through positions of higher responsibility, first through the engineering chain, then through program management, and lastly through senior/executive management. My last position in industry was sector vice president of program management. I have been involved with IEEE since my second year of college. I consider IEEE my professional home. I have been involved in IEEE volunteer positions since the mid 1980s. Today I am the Region 1 Director.
Keith Moore: IEEE-USA represents the interests of engineers and technologists who live and work in the United States. Our background may be that of multi-generational engineers going back to George Washington who was a licensed surveyor, or we may be the first ever of our kin to work with technology for the betterment of humanity such as Nikola Tesla who migrated to these shores and engineered the power solution that the entire world uses today. Like most engineers and technologists, I come from modest beginnings with a desire to learn and work in our chosen profession. Regardless of where we come from, IEEE-USA is proud to serve and support the students, young professionals, careerists, and retirees that abide and work together in the United States for the good of all.
How have you been involved as an IEEE-USA volunteer so far?
Ed: As Region 1 Director, I sit on the Board of IEEE-USA. Over the past few years, I have been involved in the strategic discussion regarding where IEEE-USA needs to position itself to remain a viable organization in the years to come.
Keith: My involvement in IEEE-USA began as a local section officer benefiting from the services that IEEE-USA offers. Consequently, I became the Region 6 PACE Chair to represent members for professional activities funding and planning on the IEEE-USA PACE Board. I have also served as the IEEE Region 6 Director to represent the largest U.S. region on the IEEE Board and on the IEEE-USA Board of Directors.
Why are you running for the position of IEEE-USA President-Elect?
Ed: First of all, I was asked, and one cannot ever underestimate the power of the ask. But I also believe I have the experience and perspective to be able to lead this organization through some of the difficult issues we are currently facing as an organization. Lastly, I believe that as a professional you should give of yourself for the betterment of the profession.
Keith: IEEE-USA holds a place near and dear to my heart. Not only have I been a direct beneficiary of IEEE-USA programs, but I also see great value in IEEE-USA’s efforts in the areas of technical representation to the U.S. Government. As a trusted professional organization, IEEE-USA provides timely and informed position statements to the U.S. Congress and Senate that benefit members, the profession and everyone on key topics of interest.
What measures should IEEE-USA take to increase membership recruitment and retention?
Ed: History has shown we recruit much better than we retain. My view is that we need to understand what the current members, as well as the future members, need from us, and then strive hard to meet that need in a cost-effective way. In the United States, this means focusing hard on the early-career professionals, since they will decide our future, and then focusing on delivering that value in a way that they understand and appreciate.
Keith: I am basically a “build it and they will come” kind of guy, but we must also communicate our successes to existing and potential members. Bottom dollar is that when IEEE-USA provides great services to members, the value that the organization creates will be known and this will contribute to membership recruitment and retention.
What steps will you take to ensure our organization and profession is inclusive and welcoming for all?
Ed: IEEE as a whole is highly focused on inclusivity, and so IEEE-USA needs to follow that lead. On a more personal note, it is to understand that the organization is significantly better in all aspects when we include many different perspectives in the discussion. It also means that you need to work towards elevating traditionally underserved into leadership roles.
Keith: Inclusion continues to be the ideal that IEEE-USA strives toward. I will work to ensure the practice of welcoming all stakeholders regardless of individual differences. The first step of inclusion that an incoming president can take is appointment of persons of varying backgrounds to positions of responsibility in the organization. Additional steps are to provide representation from all demographics in various forums and working groups. Finally, advisement to the U.S. government must emphasize opportunities for engineers and technologists from all backgrounds. I will engage in each of these areas.
How can IEEE-USA help U.S. IEEE members get more engaged with our public policy activities?
Ed: I believe the vehicle for engagement exists within IEEE-USA for members to get involved. The key here is to make sure that members know they can get involved and how they can do that. Communication here is most important.
Keith: Reporting to members the activities and impact of public policy activities will get the word out on IEEE-USA’s successes. Expansion of the congressional intern program is another excellent way to increase the engagement of members. This may be able to be encouraged and enabled with corporate sponsorship.
What public policy priorities would IEEE-USA take on under your leadership, and why?
Ed: I strongly support policies that enhance U.S. competitiveness and innovation. IEEE-USA has been active and vocal on this issue. Policy that allows the United States to maintain leadership through programs that fund research and development, encourage public and private partnerships, enhance critical manufacturing resources and capabilities, protect intellectual property, and protect cyber intrusion are all necessary in this arena.
Keith: Public policy advisement holds a number of highly important priorities in the agenda. Policies in regard to work visas are still far from perfect and we must guard against allowing legalized economic slavery in the land of the free. The right to repair is key to knowledge building and sharing in any population and must be balanced with intellectual property rights equitably to allow for profitable development of ideas as well as sharing of knowledge and capabilities. Broadband to the masses has been stymied by what I would call localized monopolies. We must continue to emphasize the strategic importance of internet for all and press for multiple affordable broadband options for every locale. The continuing fight for research and innovation emphasis in the United States will lay the groundwork for continuing advancements in technologies. The race for space is back on internationally and we must lobby for appropriate international partnerships. Entrepreneurships are the founding basis of our economy and we must continue to provide legal backing that allows for new ideas and inventors from not only corporate labs, but also from small businesses and inventors’ backyards, basements and garages.
How can IEEE-USA improve career development for IEEE’s U.S. members?
Ed: I believe strongly that an individual’s career development rests primarily on that individual. No one else will develop your career for you, so this is an active, contact sport. Having said that, IEEE-USA can certainly help in guiding and partnering with existing centers of excellence where good career development content can be found. And whereas I believe there is some content that can be developed and generated by IEEE-USA and volunteers, the reality is that there are plenty of very competent organizations and tools already in existence that can do the job. So, for me, the answer is to become the resource that guides, points, and partners and negotiates with organizations that can provide that critical training and development content to our membership.
Keith: In this new environment that we have all experienced for over more than a year, new and enhanced models of knowledge sharing must be pursued. One of the upsides of our current distress has been the enhancement and expansion of communications platforms designed to aid remote meeting efforts. This boon in the proliferation of applications for meeting remotely can generate additional opportunities for affordably supporting student engagement, young professional, and distinguished lecturer programs. Each of these phases of career development can benefit from the ubiquitous nature of online communications and I will work to exploit those capabilities in our programs.
If you are elected, what do you want to accomplish by the end of your tenure?
Ed: I would like to move the needle a bit further into becoming a viable, financially sustainable organization. Nothing else can be accomplished if we first do not do this.
Keith: IEEE-USA has felt the effects of the global average trends away from higher membership numbers in professional organizations. I want to ensure that IEEE-USA emerges stronger and more secure in order to provide service and support continuing into the future for those who live and work in the United States.
What will IEEE-USA look like in 10 years, and how will your term in office help the organization get there?
Ed: A lot will be dependent on how we deal with the real issues that confront us. Our reality is that in the United States membership keeps going down, median age is increasing, and we have not been able to make significant inroads in recruiting and maintaining early-career professionals and specialty industry practitioners. As such, our financial model, which depends primarily on member dues, is straining under these pressures. What IEEE-USA will be like in 10 years will be very dependent on what today’s leadership can do to turn these difficult issues around. In large part, that is why my answer to the previous question is what it is.
Keith: The world is ever changing. In 10 years, my hope is that IEEE-USA will continue to be a stalwart companion to each of its members in the pursuit of their personal and professional goals. IEEE-USA must empower our volunteers and provide services that enable them to make the most of their careers and promote the profession in the United States. I will work toward these ends by appointing and working to develop continuing volunteer leaders in the organization.
And finally, is there anything else you’d like voters to know as they cast their ballots?
Ed: Yes, take time to vote. Take time to read what the candidates have to say and make your decisions. The other candidate for this position, Keith Moore, is a colleague, a friend and highly qualified to serve, as I hope I am. So, become familiar with our views and vote.
Keith: I have come to know my running mate Ed Palacio in recent years as a fellow IEEE Director and I count him as a trusted friend and ally in all of these goals and initiatives. Should he win the election, the IEEE-USA membership will be well served by his excellent leadership and he will have my hearty support. If you choose to elect me, I pledge to work to support you the members to the best of my abilities!
Corey Ruth is IEEE-USA’s media relations associate.