IEEE-USA in Action

Undergraduate Students ‘Make A World of Difference’ with Winning Videos

By Pender McCarter

IEEE-USA recognized undergraduate students from three U.S. universities for creating inspirational, 90-second, YouTube videos for youngsters 11-to-13-years-old on How Engineers Make a World of Difference, during National Engineers Week, 19-25 February.

In announcing the $5,000 in student awards for IEEE-USA’s fifth annual online engineering video scholarship award competition during Engineers Week in February, Nita Patel, IEEE-USA vice president of communications and public awareness, praised the quality and diversity of the entries:

  • $1,500 to Kristen Ford (and her seven-member National Society of Black Engineers team) at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., for “best in content and message,” reinforcing that engineers and technical professionals are creative people who seek to make life better for all
  • $1,500 to Matthias Mentink, Ana Luz Acvedo-Cabrera, and Lucia Cores Sarria at the University of California-Berkeley for “best production quality and most professional look”
  • $1,500 to Paul Stocklin at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, for the “most-viewed submission” by the competition deadline

In addition, a $50 Amazon gift card was awarded to each of the seven entering team leaders.

2011-12 Video Competition Entries

Kristen Ford, of Tufts, a human factors engineering major, and vice president of the university’s National Society of Black Engineers  (NSBE), observed that the NSBE chapter’s entry should encourage teens “to dream bigger, reach higher and achieve more.”

According to Tufts’ Ford, “Our main objective was to make the video as personal and relatable as possible. What almost kept me from pursuing engineering is thinking that I was so unlike the people who become engineers. When I realized engineers come in all shapes and sizes with different talents and abilities, I said to myself, “Hey, I can do that.'”

UC Berkeley’s video, submitted by IEEE Student Member Matthias Mentink, showed how in earthquake-prone areas such as San Francisco, “engineers make things stronger and better– so that when the next earthquake occurs, we’ll be ready for it.”


And IEEE student member Paul Stocklin of Ohio University noted that his video garnered the most views by the competition deadline through his early entry and use of social media with family and friends, including friends gathered from gaming and online forums.

In the 2011-12 online video scholarship competition, entries were also received from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University in Petersburg, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

For the fifth consecutive year, IEEE-USA’s judging panel included:  Andrew Quecan, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Stanford University and J.D. candidate at the University of Texas; Suzette Aguilar, a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin; and Nate Ball, mechanical engineer and former host of PBS’ Design Squad.

To view this year’s winning entries, and entries from four previous years, see

YouTube Online Video Competition Launch in 2007-08

IEEE-USA launched its first How Engineers Make a World of Difference online video scholarship award competition for undergraduates in the 2007-2008 school year. The competition is one of IEEE-USA’s major public awareness projects to enhance the public understanding of engineering and to promote technological literacy and engineering diversity.

IEEE-USA’s online video competition took root in the spring of 2007, with a meeting of volunteer leaders and staff from the organization’s communications committee, chaired by IEEE-USA volunteer Abby Vogel Robinson.  Brainstorming on an idea for a film festival, two 30-something IEEE-USA volunteer members proposed a YouTube online video competition to spark a creative spirit and an interest in math and science among precollege students.


Since the launch of the competition, judges have focused on 90-second video entries deemed most effective in reinforcing for an 11-13-year-old audience one of four top National Academy of Engineering tested messages: Engineers Make a World of Difference.


In the first five years of the competition, IEEE-USA has awarded $25,000 in scholarship awards to 15 undergraduate U.S. engineering students, including women and minorities.  In two consecutive years, 2010 and 2011, Zachary Phillips, an electrical engineering undergraduate student at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas, won the second- and first-place scholarship awards, for a total of $4,000 in awards.

In the 2009-2010 competition, IEEE-USA gave a special award for the most innovative and effective presentation of a video entry to the “tweener” target audience. The award was presented to a Pensacola Junior College student, Carrie Hunter, who arranged for a special showing of her video to a junior high school audience, and even featured a member of the “tweener” target group, her brother.

Two students from Louisiana Tech University were repeat winners in the competition. One undergraduate went on to apply to the University of New Orleans department of film, theatre and communication arts.  One of the repeat LTU winners told IEEE-USA:  “I wanted the target audiences to realize that they have the ability to choose a career that can improve the world they live in.”

In 2010, the awards were part of the Engineers Week Blast live webcast from Howard University with Washington Fox 5’s Holly Morris, and PBS Design Squad’s Nate Ball. The winning entries have also been featured on the Design Squad website, reaching the 11-13-year-old target audience.

Additionally, the 2007-2008 competition winners were highlighted in a special report.

On 30 November 2010, IEEE-USA Communications and Public Awareness Vice President Nita Patel presented a case study on the competition for a National Academy of Engineering Workshop on Engineering Messaging: Changing the Conversation ” From Research to Action. Several dozen engineering leaders from government, industry and academia applauded the showing of the 2010 winning entry from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

The sixth, 2012-13 competition is scheduled to be launched this September.

Pender M. McCarter, APR, Fellow PRSA, retired as IEEE-USA’s director of public relations in 2006, after 25 years, and has been IEEE-USA’s senior public relations counselor since 2007.

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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