IEEE-USA in Action

Innovation Takes Flight at IEEE-USA’s 2012 Annual Meeting

By Patrick E. Meyer

The 2012 IEEE-USA Annual Meeting was held in Cincinnati, Ohio, 3-6May, with the theme:  Innovation Taking Flight. As with previous years, the 2012 IEEE-USA Annual Meeting provided an unparalleled training opportunity for IEEE’s U.S. volunteers and members. The primary focus of technical sessions was on fostering innovation in autonomous systems to dramatically advance aerospace technologies in cost-effective ways. These sessions included discussions of pressing social, economic and political issues surrounding aerospace technologies, as well as training in how to take outreach programs and ideas home to local IEEE Sections.

The presentation topics were very diverse–ranging from discussions on next generation air traffic control systems; recent and future developments at NASA; lessons for a work-life balance; improving engagement with industry; and how-to tutorials for getting involved in social media. The conference also featured undergraduate and graduate student papers, covering a wide range of topics–from developing wideband planar antennae–to designing autonomous lawnmowers, and covering solar panel installation in India.

The Annual Meeting kicked off with a welcome dinner, followed by the IEEE-USA President-Elect Candidates Forum. The current IEEE-USA President, James Howard, served as moderator for a lively question-and-answer session with the two 2013 President-Elect Candidates, Dr. Gary Blank and Clarence (Lee) Stogner.  Each of the candidates has a strong platform.  Dr. Blank provides a unique combination of experience in industry and academia, and has served on the IEEE-USA Board of Directors since 2002. He is currently creating and advancing member benefits, networks for consultants, entrepreneurs, employment, licensure/registration, STEM literacy, and emphasizing innovation and engagement.

Lee Stogner, the second Candidate for 2013 IEEE-USA President Elect, is also well-versed, with 30 years of success developing and selling engineered products and services, possessing an extensive international network of industry, government, and academic contacts, and active in the use of marketing and sales tools and social media. Video coverage of the Candidates Forum is available here:

The first day wrapped up with an open forum on aerospace, moderated by Barry Tilton, P.E. Tilton is the Director of NSG Programs at Integrity Applications Incorporated, and has more than 350 hours of flight experience as a flight test engineer in special model research aircraft. In this session, audience members contributed to the discussion of all things aerospace, providing a superb overview for attendees that were not aerospace experts.

Keynote speaker Deborah Anderson provided a compelling presentation on the Dayton Codebreakers.  Anderson told the story of the many people, including her father, who worked at the United States Naval Computing Machine Laboratory, a top secret project in Dayton during World War II.  Discussing the U.S. Navy’s efforts to use NCR’s Electrical Research Laboratory to design and manufacture the advanced machine needed for the ability to read the encrypted communications of the German Navy’s Enigma machine, Anderson’s monologue provided an engaging tale of engineering success. Video coverage of Anderson’s presentation is available here:


Saturday’s lunch plenary session was a change of pace from the typical technical engineering presentations common at the Annual Meeting.  Joyce Tucker, Vice President, Global Diversity and Employee Rights at Boeing, Inc., provided an overview of Boeing’s efforts to diversify their workplace, where the company strives for an integration of diversity, equity, and fairness into all their practices and processes. Tucker wrapped up her presentation by showing Boeing’s We are Diversity at Boeing video. You can watch the video here:

Russell Harrison, IEEE-USA’s senior legislative representative for grass roots affairs, provided a compelling presentation for how IEEE-USA volunteers and staff continually serve U.S. IEEE members by representing IEEE-USA on Capitol Hill.  Harrison urged U.S. IEEE members to contact him to engage Members of Congress on issues they are passionate about.

Charles Rubenstein, chair of IEEE-USA’s Conference Committee, delivered a presentation on Networking Your Future, emphasizing that engineers, in particular, need to ramp up their networking efforts.  Rubenstein said there is no replacement for meeting someone face-to-face, and hand-delivering business cards to new contacts. However, he dismissed the value of online networking tools, such as LinkedIn, outright–and he even advised session attendees to not send him a LinkedIn invitation.  Rubenstein  indicated he would not respond to it, if they did. While the value of in-person networking cannot be understated, it was clear that audience members disagreed with Rubenstein’s dismissal of online networking as a valuable tool.

Dr. Sherry Gillespie and Dr. Thomas Tierney provided an overview of IEEE-USA’s Government Fellows programs.  Each year, IEEE-USA sponsors government fellowships for IEEE members to serve as advisers to the U.S. Congress and key U.S. Department of State decision-makers.  Dr. Gillespie was the 2008 IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow, and she had the opportunity to apply her extensive background in the semiconductor industry to drafting a key legislative provision for the Defense Authorization Act of FY 2009 (S.3001). Dr. Tierney is a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where he supports national security programs– including counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, export controls, and laboratory astrophysics. In 2009, as the IEEE-USA Engineering & Diplomacy Fellow, Tierney served as a science advisor to the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism Technical Programs.

This session, also covered the Washington Internship for Students of Engineering (WISE) program.  WISE is a summer internship program in engineering and public policy. Third-fourth year engineering and computer science students and graduates pursuing policy-related graduate studies are selected in a nationwide competition to spend 9 weeks during the summer in Washington, DC, learning how engineers contribute to public policy decisions on complex technology issues.  Each year, IEEE sponsors 2-3 IEEE U.S. student members in the WISE Program.   Levi Lyons spoke at this session about his experiences as an IEEE-USA sponsored WISE intern in 2010.  Lyons researched methods to expedite interstate transmission siting.

From tips on member engagement to how to navigate IEEE vTools; from career advancement lessons to how engineers can take advantage of social networking; IEEE-USA’s 2012Annual Meeting thoroughly covered everything a U.S. IEEE member needs to know to survive in the engineering profession. The 2013 IEEE-USA Annual Meeting will be in Portland, Oregon.  Looking forward to seeing you there!


Patrick E. Meyer, PH.D., is a 2012 IEEE-USA State Department Fellow, working in the Bureau of Energy Resources, Office of Electricity and Energy Efficiency.  Meyer was also a 2011 Congressional Fellow, working in the office of Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.)

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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