IEEE-USA Leaders

IEEE-USA President’s Column: Goals for 2019

By Tom Coughlin

First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve as 2019 IEEE-USA President. Over the course of my term, I intend to write a few columns sharing my thoughts and plans on issues of interest to U.S. IEEE members. A year isn’t a long time and there is much to do. During the election, I ran on a commitment to increase awareness of IEEE-USA’s programs, products and services, and to highlight the value of IEEE membership for the technical professional.

We want all technical professionals to think of IEEE as their professional home, their technical community. I believe that raising awareness of IEEE and developing a community-based membership program are critical to achieving this vision.

As IEEE-USA president, two of my major goals are:

  1. to increase general awareness of what IEEE and IEEE-USA do
  2. to develop a campaign to increase membership in Regions 1-6 (the six U.S. regions)

To raise awareness of IEEE, we will create a series of short, professionally produced videos that highlight the value of IEEE and IEEE-USA. Produced in partnership with some of the larger IEEE Societies (and perhaps affinity groups like IEEE Young Professionals), these videos will highlight the value of IEEE membership and concepts like transitioning from student to full IEEE membership. We hope to create three to four videos in 2019 to post to sites like YouTube and, and share them with other IEEE organizational units for use in their membership promotion efforts. We also plan to launch an extensive social media campaign using this material.

The other part of this initiative is to work with IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA) to generate useful content (presentations, articles, training, webinars, etc.) on best practices for membership recruitment and retention, as well as training plans utilizing these materials at region meetings in Regions 1-6. Our goal is to help IEEE Sections recruit, engage and retain their members.

Doing a better job promoting the value of IEEE in combination with promoting good community practices at the local Section level will help us motivate more technical professionals to join our inclusive and diverse “tribe.” The content we produce will help local IEEE leadership create stronger local IEEE communities. Ultimately, we hope that these efforts can help reverse the trend of declining IEEE membership in the United States.


I hope that you will join us in our quest to bring more people into our IEEE. Growing our tribe will benefit us all, but we can’t do it without your help. In the meantime, I will be working diligently to ensure that IEEE-USA provides the value and representation that IEEE members in Regions 1-6 need and deserve. Thank you for lending me your attention.

Engineering for the pursuit of happiness,

Tom Coughlin
IEEE-USA President, 2019

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.

Related Articles


  1. So you say, “We want all technical professionals to think of IEEE as their professional home, their technical community.” But what are you going to do to attract all people who are eligible to be IEEE Members (Membership in IEEE is open to individuals who by education or experience give evidence of competence in an IEEE designated field. The designated fields are: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy.)?

  2. On September 27th, 2018 Region 5 held the first Presidents Forum where members submitted questions and comments to top IEEE Leadership. Go to for all details. Jim Jefferies asked to have the major membership comments summarized in one slide for the Board of Directors. Below is a copy of that slide.

    2018 Presidents Forum

    ▸ “IEEE needs to deliver direct value to its members”
    – This is especially true for the practicing engineer.
    – Members believe IEEE might need re-invention or reorganization.

    ▸ “Focus on member development rather than membership development”
    – Members believe this would create membership growth and improve member retention.
    – Members believe IEEE does a poor job promoting the profession.

    ▸ “Members joined IEEE as a professional organization, not a social service organization”
    – Members believe IEEE has shifted too far toward social service and do not think this is appropriate.
    – The recent Summary Annual Report only re-enforced this opinion.

    ▸ “Focus more on members not just all the various IEEE products”
    – Speak more directly to members
    – Listen more, sell less. IEEE communications tend to be about selling IEEE, rather than addressing members needs.
    – Continue holding President Forums on an annual basis.

    These are great inputs as you think about how to better serve members.

  3. I was happy to read Tom Coughlin’s column – until his last sentence. If you want US membership to continue to shrink, keep talking about IEEE being an organization of engineers.
    Marc Apter is right. “Engineering” is just one of IEEE’s six designated fields. In addition, surveys of the members of our largest society have shown that the majority of Computer Society members don’t consider themselves to be engineers, and only 15% are EEs. Another survey, of all members, asked, in what degrees the members held degrees. Only 66% held EE degrees while 68% held other than EE degrees (some hold more than one degree).
    Recognizing that IEEE is about a great deal more than just engineering, the 1997 Board of Directors passed a resolution that the name of the organization shall be just the four letters, I-E-E-E. Wise decision but, unfortunately, few know this because, for some crazy reason, resolutions of the Board are a secret.

  4. Thanks Richard for your comments and suggestions. This sort of presendential forum sounds like a great idea for getting some member input on the IEEE and how we can better serve our members.


  5. Thanks Richard for your comments and suggestions. This sort of presendential forum sounds like a great idea for getting some member input on the IEEE and how we can better serve our members.

    John and Marc, I thought I had sent you responses before, but I don’t see them here. We are more than engineers and particular more than ECEs. My original degress was in physics and I got into the IEEE through the IEEE Magnetics Society. We need to provide greater value to the wider technological community to get them to want to become one of us.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button