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The Next 50 Years of IEEE-USA

By Paige Kassalen

In 1973, IEEE created the organizational unit IEEE-USA (originally IEEE-USAB) to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. That means that this year marks the 50th anniversary of IEEE-USA! (If you missed it, we recently celebrated that significant milestone with the IEEE-USA 50th Anniversary Cruise, which sailed from Port Canaveral, Florida, on a four-night cruise to the Bahamas.)

When you hit a milestone year, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the evolution of the organization,  and what was going on 50 years ago. In the 1970s, some of the greatest inventions that came to market were email, the digital camera, the floppy disk, and the first cell phone.

We think technology is innovating at a rapid pace today, but it is hard to imagine being a technology professional 50 years ago, witnessing the novel ideas above being introduced. The invention of these technologies disrupted their respective industries and laid the foundation for the innovations we see today.

Here are my hopes for the next 50 years of IEEE-USA:

Continue to Serve as a Network for all Generations of Technology Professionals

With new generations of professionals entering the workforce, we have seen a lot of transformation away from traditional corporate culture. That, paired with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are creating a workforce that matches the requirements of modern-day life.

Over the next 50 years, I hope that IEEE-USA has representation from all generations of technology professionals, because as society changes, so must IEEE-USA.

Being a part of the world’s largest technology professional organization has a lot of power. The next Grace Hopper, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates could be you, and you can be propelled forward with the support of IEEE-USA.

Continue to Drive Change on Capitol Hill

I’ve realized more and more that if you are not in an emerging tech industry, it is nearly impossible to stay up to date on what is going on, because doing the research feels like a full-time job. It is extremely difficult for someone not fully immersed in the industry to know the in-depth details of emerging technology at a level to drive smart policy. This is why IEEE-USA is so important.

Having a dedicated division of IEEE supporting and educating U.S. policy-makers on the latest and greatest technology is immensely important. Technology and policy go hand in hand, so for the United States to properly regulate these technologies, and even leverage them for national security, I hope in 50 years that IEEE-USA is on the forefront of helping bridge the gap between the tech industry and policy-makers.

Continue to Drive Diversity and Inclusion in the Tech Industry

IEEE has many affinity groups committed to creating gender and racial parity in the tech industry. I hope this work only continues to grow over the next 50 years, because these initiatives are more than about just reaching parity.

Having diverse voices at the forefront of technology innovation will ensure we are solving problems that benefit all of society, and the technologies we develop aren’t embedded with biases.

I believe it’s important to always have specific affinity groups advocating and creating a support system for U.S. IEEE members, but in 50 years, I hope that the demographics of IEEE-USA are representative of society, and the affinity groups can continue to serve as additional communities for members

At IEEE-USA, we are a family, and all have a responsibility to create the future we want to see. 50 years seems far away, but we need to start planning now so we can look back and know that we have moved the needle in tech innovation, professionalism and public policy.

As we craft this future, it is time to get involved to make sure your voice gets heard. I hope to be around in 50 years, and I want to make sure I get to look back and know that as a U.S. IEEE member, I had an impact on what this amazing organization achieves.


Paige Kassalen

Paige Kassalen has an electrical engineering degree from Virginia Tech and a Master of Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon. Kassalen began her career as the only American engineer working with Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered airplane to circumnavigate the globe. This role landed Kassalen a spot on the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list along with feature articles in Glamour, Teen Vogue, and Fast Company. Since Solar Impulse, Kassalen worked in the manufacturing and finance industries to create implementation strategies for a range of emerging technology trends from autonomous vehicles to machine learning. She was the Chief Operating Officer at CrowdAI, a start-up named by Forbes as one of the most promising AI companies in 2021. CrowdAI was acquired by Saab, Inc. in 2023, and Kassalen now serves as the Chief of Staff for the strategy division.

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