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World Bytes: Olympics Wrap-Up

By Terrance Malkinson and Chuan He

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games hosted by the Russian Federation city of Sochi followed by the 2014 Para-Olympic Games in the same location provided an opportunity for athletes from all nations to come together in friendly competition, learn about each other, and establish long-term international friendships. Engineers designed and built innovative venues for the athletes. Through the marvels of technology developed and managed by engineers, people world-wide were able to witness real-time, dazzling athletic performances.  The athletes, their coaches and people everywhere, including non-athletes are the beneficiaries of the creativity and innovation of sports and engineering professionals from whose work emerge on a daily basis new knowledge.

The benefits extend well beyond Sochi and engineering marvels. Activity is necessary for our physical and emotional well-being. As we become more and more technologically sophisticated we have an even greater need for physical activity. This facilitates a meaningful personal life and career success. Participation at any level facilitates both self-understanding and an understanding of people of other cultures and ideologies. Athletics promote global citizenship; provide role models for our youth, and inspiration for all. The venue builders, product and service providers, the trainers, coaches, and athletes, and the spectators  form a global family of people of all nationalities, race, age, gender, ability, and circumstance who work together daily in an interconnected world  for the common purpose of promoting the attitudes and skills necessary for a peaceful, diverse, tolerant and understanding world. For many of the athletes the Olympics are the pinnacle of their athletic career.  Afterward they transition to leadership roles in enterprises throughout the world employing the strength of character that emerges from athletic discipline.

Is it not better to settle differences on the athletic field and end with understanding, acceptance, and a handshake among competitors than on the battlefield ending with a bullet and generations of bitterness?

Other Bytes

Here are some of the things going on in and around the community:

  • Karl Albrecht provides his perspectives on "The Information Revolution’s Broken Promises" [The Futurist, 48(2): March-April 2014, www.wfs.org].  The development of digital products and services is exponential in growth and a generation has grown up knowing no different. Albrecht reviews eight of the �grand promises� of the information technology revolution, what really happened, and suggests new predictions for the future.  In his conclusion, Albrecht muses on updating Toffler’s term future shock with the term digital shock and how the human impact of digital information technologies is likely to become a dominant theme in social and political discussion. He ends with four crucial questions that will require us to find answers.

  • Today we all function under similar time constraints.  Learning how to effectively manage your time is a skill necessary for success. Boris Groysberg and Robin Abrahams discuss in their article, �Manage Your Work, Manage Your Life� [Harvard Business Review, March 2014, www.hbr.org], the results of their research based upon interviews with 4,000 executives world-wide, from which emerged five themes on strategies they used to manage their time.  The themes include: 1) defining success for yourself; 2) managing technology; 3)  building support networks at work and at home; 4) traveling or relocating selectively; and 5) collaborating with your partner. The authors conclude with three simple truths on the future of the workplace-family relationship.

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  • Success in life requires a willingness to trust others.  This is challenging in today’s networked world where co-workers change frequently and may be virtual (i.e., never meeting face-to-face).  David DeSteno, in Who Can You Trust? [Harvard Business Review, March 2014, www.hbr.org], draws on emerging research on trustworthiness and provides four principles to consider before putting faith in others.  Interestingly, one of these includes the value of your own intuition and feelings.

  • We all know the classic story of David and Goliath, a battle between an underdog and a giant. Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants [ISBN 978-0-316-20436] asks readers to examine how they think about obstacles and disadvantages and the meaning of discrimination, coping with a disability or any number of other types of challenges that are perceived to be setbacks. The author provides many examples of historical figures who achieved success by using their  status to their advantage. One of many interesting discussions is that admission to a prestigious school can have its disadvantages, suggesting that a smaller school can provide a better educational experience. Gladwell explores the notion that people who are faced with a significant disadvantage can use it to their benefit, allowing them to succeed beyond what they thought was possible for them to achieve.

  • The results from an online survey conducted 20 August  – 6 September 2013 by McKinsey & Company [www.mckinsey.com] of 1,421 diverse men and women executives are provided in their article Moving Mind-Sets on Gender Diversity, published online in January 2014. Many interesting insights emerge from the article, concluding that companies need to develop a more inclusive, and holistic diversity agenda. Links are provided to other related articles by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm and a trusted advisor to business, governments, and institutions world-wide. IEEE is a strong advocate of diversity in the workplace.

  • Today, many post-secondary students gain experience through internships.  Many large and small companies offer this opportunity and manage the process, resulting in a mutually beneficial experience for both the students and the employers.  Regrettably, some companies view internships as an opportunity to exploit the skills of a student, providing no compensation, benefits or recognition. Interns who complain risk being and seriously damaging their future employment prospects.  As discussed in several articles published online by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Unpaid Internships Focus of Growing Backlash [2 March 2014] and Unpaid Internships Exploit Vulnerable Generation [2 July 2013]  among others report that state and federal authorities in both the United States and Canada are cracking down on unpaid internships. Currently there is little legislation or regulation governing the practice. Internships should be a mutually beneficial experience where both parties respect each other.

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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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