Students join IEEE for a number of reasons. It might be for the IEEE’s wide range of quality publications, or for being part of the world’s largest technical professional organization–or perhaps, they were encouraged by their faculty advisors. Whether it is global networking, professional development, or access to the world’s most advanced technical innovations, IEEE offers all its members a wide spectrum of benefits. However, students were facing challenges in finding or learning about all the benefits they were entitled to as members. They had difficulties accessing the benefit information. And not knowing about the great benefits discouraged has discouraged many students from continuing their IEEE membership. IEEE Region 1 recognized how important it was to help students that IEEE could help them during their life as a student — and could even do more for them after their graduation.
In recognizing this opportunity, Region 1 developed a new initiative–Integrated Student Transition to Engineering / Technology Professional (iSTEP). The Region 1 iSTEP initiative was approved as one of the IEEE MGA (Member and Geographic Activities) Geographic GEO unit revitalization projects. The program’s main goals were to provide students, industry professionals and IEEE leaders the opportunity to share career and membership experiences, while facilitating awareness of what IEEE could offer students after they graduated. The hoped was that iSTEP would further engage graduating student members to continue their IEEE membership, and motivate them to be more active when they elevated to GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) or GSM (Graduate Student Member) members.
Region 1 organized and piloted four iSTEP events at four different areas, on four Saturdays, in October and November 2011. The steering committee included the Chairs of Region 1 Membership, GOLD, Student Activities, PACE (Professional Activities), WIE (Women in Engineering), and Life Member committees; the four Region 1 Area Chairs; and the Region 1 Director and Director-Elect. ISTEP was inaugurated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. (Region 1’s Central Area, Schenectady Section). Then, the other three iSTEP events were held at Syracuse University, in Syracuse N.Y. (Region 1’s Western Area, Syracuse Section); New Jersey Institute of Technology, in Newark N.J. (Region 1’s Southern Area, North Jersey Section); and at the Southeastern Regional Educational Service Center, in Bedford, N.H. (Region 1’s Northeastern Area, New Hampshire Section).
The first parts of each iSTEP program were dedicated to introducing the IEEE organization, and giving the students an opportunity to understand the scalability of their membership (using an IEEE-USA S-PAC presentation, created by Region 1 Director Charles Rubenstein). The program followed with the introduction of IEEE’s Mentoring Connection, and a live panel session on mentoring (which later became a career path overview panel). Although most students had mentors or faculty advisors at school, the goal was that meeting a mentor from industry, or a young professional (GOLD), added value to their IEEE Student membership. And the hope for the mentor-mentee relationship to engage the mentors to get more involved with IEEE activities, as well as encourage the students to continue their membership– once they recognized IEEE could help shape their working lives–from students through their professional careers. The program concluded with a mentoring game and networking reception.
Survey results have shown that the student attendees were very satisfied with the new iSTEP programs. Most importantly, all survey participants commented that they would continue their membership after graduating.
IEEE MGA and Region 1 invested more than $20,000 to create and sponsor this new initiative. An action plan is underway to expand the Region 1 iSTEP program to two additional Sections, in each of the Region 1’s four areas in 2012, and possibly in 2013. For additional information on this program, and how you might introduce it in your Region or Section, please contact: Charles Rubenstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) ” Principal Investigator; or iSTEP Program Co-Chairs Soon Wan (email@example.com) or Ravi Todi (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Soon Wan is a co-chair of the iStep program in Region 1’s Boston Section.