IEEE-USA 2015 Annual Meeting In Milwaukee
The IEEE-USA Annual meeting was held at the Hilton City Center in downtown Milwaukee. There were a number of interesting talks and panel discussions, some of which are reviewed here.
What Makes Engineering Great: The Female Perspective — The Saturday portion of the Annual Meeting started with a talk and panel about issues women face in engineering. Most of the women who spoke had a parent who encouraged them to go into engineering. Panelist Karen Pedersen said, “Give your 6 year-old daughter an erector set rather than a doll.”
Future Jobs: Solving the STEM Worker Shortage — Edward Gordon gave the keynote talk about the future of labor market. Automation is shaking up the labor market. It is eliminating many jobs, but it is creating a need for more people with good science, math, and communications skills. Automation has amazing potential, but according to Mr. Gordon, we do not have enough people trained in STEM to put the technology to full use. He also mentioned that simplfying the H1B Visa process would not solve the problem bcause all regions of the world will see the same shortage of engineers and technicians.
Building Online Communities — There was an afternoon session on building online communities led by Nick Lehotzky. The focus was on building local IEEE communities, such as those in the new IEEE Collabratec (see here), but much of it applies to anyone using the Internet to get the word out about something. Networking is always important, Nick says, when it’s real, and it’s never important when it’s fake. The Internet makes fake networking seductive because it’s so easy to keep track of how many people follow on various social networking systems. None of that means anything, though, if there is not a real connection behind it. Think of any page you manage as a magazine. All content should be relevant to your niche. It’s okay to include content not directly related to the subject of the webpage, but you must somehow make it relevant by pointing how its relationship to the focus of the webpage. It’s important to use analytics to see how many people click on posts. As long as you don’t do it too often, there is no harm in trying something and watching analytics to see how well it does. A measure of how it does is Virality, which is Total Engagements / Total Reach. Engagements are “likes”, comments, shares, etc). A good target is 1.5%. Sort posts according to above average, average, and below average virality. Look for elements associated with above average virality. Little things about a post to a site like Facebook can make a big difference. Many people don’t check Facebook at work, at least according to Mr. Lehotzky, so it’s better to post content there outside of normal business hours. People tend to respond to a post with a picture and a small amount of text. It’s best if the text has “pull”, which means it is phrased in a way to stimulate an emotional response. In the article itself, audiences are drawn to infographics. The goal is for the feed to provide an experience people only get from that feed.
Building SectionVitality — This session discussed ways to build the Section’s vitality, suggesting that the important thing is to plan events not for the section, but rather by the section. Encouraging members to participate through a variety of ways was more important than providing events. One suggestion was to recruit micro-volunteers, who, for example, call a limited number of IEEE members who have forgotten to renew their membership. Several ways were suggested to convert Student Members into full-time professional members. Another way to increase participation was to make personal contact with members by calling or writing a personal email. Attendees of the session also looked up the Section’s member profiles and statistics using the SAMIEEE on line tools.
Review of May’s Events
Life Member Affinity Group Meeting (Write-up by Chuck Cowie and Chuck Kime) — David Nelson, UW Professor and President of the Madison Science Museum and Olga Trubetskoy, Research Scientist and Board Member of the Madison Science Museum spoke to our new group on the Madison Science Museum. The museum is being created to celebrate Wisconsin contributions in science and engineering. David initially provided the rationale for establishing a museum. Among reasons he gave were the presence of science museums in other cities, the lack of a science museum to complement other museums in Madison, pragmatic shortcomings of the museums at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and lack of public recognition of the many highly-distinguished UW faculty in the STEM fields. He then outlined some of the envisioned guiding concepts for the museum, including a focus on modern touch-screen displays, a large display on imaging, hands-on use of past-century instruments, laboratory space, and loaned/traveling exhibits. One initial exhibit will be a “powers of ten” room that illustrates the range of the size and time dimensions encountered in scientific research. The exhibit progresses from subatomic particles and molecules through cells and bacteria to human scale things and geographic features and on to the planets, solar system and galaxies. Also, there will be a Wisconsin science and engineering hall of fame including notable scientists and engineers. The Museum is being constructed in the Madison College building at 211 N. Carroll Street. David reported on the initial financial support for the museum totally $300,000 in donations and matching funds and indicated that Madison Science Museum is a 501(c) 3 organization. Individual and corporate contributions are welcome. David also expressed a strong interest in gifts-in-kind such as artifacts, instruments, documents and letters, photos, etc. Needs for volunteers are wide-ranging from acting as docents to designing and preparing exhibits and conducting archival research. Potential sources of volunteers include Madison academics and students and organizations such as IEEE. Olga briefly presented her past experience with the science museum in Boston and outlined potential exhibit ideas in which IEEE members ranging from the LMAG to Student Chapter members might be interested in participating. Examples include a thermal-imaging camera exhibit, LED-based infinity mirror, and a “Wood’s light” exhibit (Robert Wood, UW professor from 1897-1901). More information on the Science Museum is available here. If you missed the talk but are interested in hearing more, the Wednesday Night at the Lab presentation on the Science Museum has been recorded here: WN@TL.
Chris Meyer will speak on and demonstrate 3D printing and rapid prototyping on June 4th for the ECN Meeting at Sector67. The June eLearning event is on the TBD topic. The June Section meeting will feature Clark Johnson who has been working on archival storage technology that can last centuries. The full title of the talk is “Write Once, Read Forever: A Truly Archival Data Storage System Based On An Old Technology”. The technology was first described in 1891 by George Lippman to record full-color images on black and white silver halide photographic film. Clark is Senior Scientist at Creative Technology, LLC, which is commercializing WORF technology.
There will be no IEEE-Madison Section Meeting in July and August. For the September Section Meeting, Anton Kapela from 5Nines will talk about the challenges of providing high-availability network and server infrastructure. The talk will be on Wednesday, September 16th at noon at the downtown Madison Library followed by a tour of 5Nines facilities at 222 West Washington Avenue.