EWeek 2014 Highlights Depth, Breadth and Diversity of the Profession

By Chris McManes

IEEE Fellow Dr. Karen Panetta had a brainstorm while listening last year to a speech by Bill Clinton. The former president was describing how valuable mobile apps were during the aftermath of the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Her idea became reality during Engineers Week (16-22 February) with the launch of App-E-Feat, a mobile app development initiative that will connect IEEE members with organizations working to solve local and global problems. Close to 900 members have already volunteered.

App-E-Feat includes a contest  sponsored and coordinated by IEEE-USA designed to stimulate technology development and benefit people. It has two categories: one for 13- to 17-year-olds (who are asked to draw or describe an app online) and one for those 18 and older (who have to submit the actual app code).

Winners will receive an iPad Air tablet and access to an IEEE mentor. Gift cards will go to the second- and third-place finishers. The contest is open through 19 May, and winners will be announced 20 June.

App-E-Feat is IEEE’s contribution to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

App-E-Feat is more than a year in the making and was inspired by President Clinton’s 2013 comments discussing the impact and potential of mobile apps for causes around the world, said Panetta, IEEE-USA vice president for communications & public awareness, in a statement.  IEEE-USA [launched] the App-E-Feat contest during Engineers Week to inspire both engineers and the next generation of STEM professionals to find ways to leverage their expertise to benefit humanity.


Dusty Fisher, co-chair of the IEEE-USA K-12 STEM Literacy Committee, played a key role in App-E-Feat’s development and is pleased with the result.

App-E-Feat is an ideal opportunity for IEEE members to share their knowledge to solve real-world problems, Fisher said. The synergy between IEEE and CGI couldn’t be better to help humanity.

Children Discover Engineering

Discover Engineering Family Day, which started as Family Night in 1993, drew 9,271 visitors to Washington’s National Building Museum on 22 February. It is the fourth year in a row at least 9,000 people have attended the fun-filled engineering festival. Visitors were entertained and enlightened by a record 42 exhibitors.

Sally Otis, museum family programs manager, was happy with the turnout.

With a focus on hands-on activities for kids, Family Day demystifies many common misperceptions about engineering to make it exciting and accessible for the next generation of technology professionals,  Otis said.  The National Building Museum was proud to serve as a resource on the engineering profession to so many visitors and families.

 The festival places a context around the subject matter and connects to real-world people and issues that affect our lives today.


Three staff members from the IEEE Educational Activities Department, along with a volunteer, demonstrated simple circuits through a brushbots activity. Patricia Edwards of the IEEE Computer Society and her niece, Camille, presented Hour of Code modules.

IEEE-USA gave away more than 1,200 Family Day night lights that were manufactured in the United States and 200 breadboard kits Kerry Hartman assembled. Many of his fellow volunteers staffed the IEEE-USA exhibit, which included a presentation about three types of light bulbs, ranging from the traditional incandescent to CFL to the energy-efficient LED.

Two of the biggest Family Day attractions were Design Squad Nation co-host Nate Ball and former Space Shuttle Columbia astronaut Dr. Roger Crouch. Ball, an IEEE member and mechanical engineer, demonstrated his company’s Atlas Powered Ascender.

IEEE-USA and its EWeek corporate partner DuPont were Family Day presenting sponsors.

The event was extremely successful this year, highlighting the depth, breadth and diversity of the engineering profession, Family Day Planning Committee Chair Bruce Cranford said.

Future Engineers Take Center Stage

Marc Apter had never attended the DiscoverE Future City Competition National Finals until he served as a judge this year. The 2013 IEEE-USA president was so impressed that he plans to go again.

The students on the final five teams, as well as the alumni judge, were all smart and articulate, he said, and should succeed in any endeavor they pursue.

Apter represented IEEE-USA on the final judging panel because it is typical for the engineering organization taking the EWeek society lead to appoint a judge for the competition, which began the first time (1993) IEEE-USA served as lead society. This school year, more than 40,000 students participated in the middle school design contest.

Apter and his five fellow judges chose St. John Lutheran School as its grand-prize winner. The Rochester, Minn., school won $7,500 for its STEM program courtesy of Bentley Systems and will receive a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

A team of home-schooled students from Rockwall, Texas, won third prize, sponsored by IEEE-USA. HEAR Rockwall will receive $2,000 for its STEM program. Warwick Middle School, the Central Pennsylvania regional champion, won the IEEE-USA Best Communications System award. All five team members (three students, educator and engineer mentor) received a plaque; the students will also each receive a $100 U.S. Savings Bond.

In addition to being a national sponsor, IEEE-USA also provided financial support to six Future City regions, including a new one in New Mexico. Twenty-three teams competed in its first regional competition on 25 January, won by Albuquerque Academy.

Amy Sun, New Mexico regional coordinator, explained in the competition program why Future City is so important to the Land of Enchantment.

Our local critical infrastructure is designed, built and maintained everyday by dedicated engineers and technicians, she said. New Mexico’s ecosystem and climate are unique. [Developing] the next generation of innovative engineers requires not only creative minds, but also teamwork, planning and communication skills.

Additional EWeek 2014 Highlights

Dusty Fisher (left) and former astronaut Sandy Magnus at the 4th Annual
National Engineers Week Honors & Awards Banquet in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Dusty received the Engineers’ Council Distinguished STEM Educator
Award for her commitment to STEM and the arts.

  • Dusty Fisher received an Engineers’ Council Distinguished STEM Educator Award in West Palm Beach, Fla., on 21 February. The honor cited her commitment to STEM and the arts.

    A former astronaut, Sandy Magnus, was the keynote speaker, and IEEE-USA President Dr. Gary Blank and his wife Bonnie were among the nearly 300 people at the ceremony. 

  • The Blanks also attended the Asian American Engineer of the Year Awards ceremony with more than 600 other guests in San Francisco on 1 March.

    I’ve never seen so many awards given out in such a short period of time,� Gary Blank said.  It was a wonderful function.

    The day before, events included a tour of the Googleplex � Google’s global headquarters � in Mountain View, Calif.

  • In early February, IEEE Women in Engineering hosted five STEM chats on issues of importance to female engineers. Blank and Kristi Paranjape, chair of the IEEE-USA EWeek 2014 Planning Committee, delivered two of the presentations.

  • On 5-7 March, the Global Marathon For, By & About Women in Engineering & Technology provided advice and encouragement for women engineers in all 10 IEEE regions. The opening session Advice from the Top featured a message from Hewlett-Packard CEO & President Meg Whitman.

    Nita Patel, chair of the IEEE Women in Engineering Committee and a past IEEE-USA VP, organized the 7 March panel, Inspire Yourself. Inspire Others. You can register to watch and listen on demand at

  • Marc Apter was among the distinguished attendees at the 18 February National Academy of Engineering’s 2014 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering awards banquet.

    Dr. John Goodenough, Yoshio Nishi, Dr. Rachid Yazami and Dr. Achira Yoshino were honored for their pioneering work in lithium-ion batteries. The technology powers and enables the mobility of devices such as cell phones, MP3 players, laptop and tablet computers, and electric vehicles.

    Their work not only changed the lives of everyone in this room, NAE President Dr. C.D. Mote said, but that of nearly seven billion people on earth.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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