Saifur Rahman, IEEE PES President

Major Achievements as the IEEE PES President

As my two-year term as the president of the IEEE Power & Energy Society comes to an end, I would like to share with you some of the areas I focused on during the past two years.

Value Proposition for Current and Future Members Working in Industry and Young Professionals

We often get questions from current and prospective professional members asking – what can IEEE PES do for them that they do not get otherwise? As we reach out to engineers across various segments of the industry from markets to software to communications to cybersecurity to power systems, the value proposition for a PES membership will become much broader than what we have offered in the past. We are working within PES so that we can be proactive in identifying our members’ needs, and develop programs which will serve the relevant content that is either not available, or available at a price that is too expensive for many current and potential members. We are doing this by providing the content in a learning environment which meets their various training, education and other self-improvement needs. To address this need, we have launched the online PES University which has the infrastructure to receive and deliver content to and from industry professionals, academics and organizations. The content and programs at the PES University will help to fill the needs for lifelong learning for professionals and provide educational and training resources for all members.

Future Technical Directions of Our Fields of Interest and Convergence of Multi‐Disciplinary Expertise to Solve Grand Challenge Topics

As a member of the IEEE Power & Energy Society Governing Board for several years and now the president, I have helped to set up the Smart Grid, Smart Village and Smart Cities programs within IEEE. All three programs have participation from several IEEE societies. One example of these multi-disciplinary programs is the global electrification project run by the IEEE Smart Village program, which is helping to electrify remote villages in Asia and Africa. This brings in engineers, entrepreneurs, local leaders and ordinary citizens to work together and improve the living conditions of the people served. This is an example of how IEEE PES and other societies can be socially relevant, and be impactful beyond our current services of publications, conferences and standards.

Shared Governance and Value Proposition to Our Members

This is an intrinsic challenge faced by any membership organization which has a global footprint like PES. The leadership in a membership organization has to demonstrate different values to different segments of the membership, as expectations differ from location to location and based on the member’s place in their profession. Currently, to keep these diverse interests in focus, PES resorts to shared governance encompassing both its technical and regional interests, which sometimes seem to diverge. In order to converge these diverse needs, and engage industry and academic leadership with our programs we have launched the IEEE PES Corporate Engagement Program. Under this program an organization can pay for the standard membership dues of 50 or more of its employees and receive some corporate level benefits in addition for these employees getting their standard IEEE PES member benefits. This allows employers to have a stake in their employees’ IEEE PES membership. I signed the first IEEE PES Corporate Engagement MoU with the State Grid Corporation of China in November 2017, followed by 10 more such MOUs with companies and universities in China, India and the US.

PES Chapters Councils

We have over 260 professional member chapters and over 450 student branch chapters serving over 39,000 members globally. These chapter members are our “foot soldiers”. They provide the crucial link to the local industry, academia and other organizations where our members work. In order for these chapters to be more relevant impactful in their countries and regions, I have formed the IEEE PES Chapters Councils in China, India, Africa and Latin America with the help of the PES Governing Board. These Chapters Councils have their own budgets to support their programs. All PES chapter chairs in the respective countries/regions are members of these Chapters Councils. The chairs are appointed by the PES president and work with their PES region reps for program development and support. These Chapters Councils have standing committees on conferences, membership development, technical activities, education and standards. Other committees can be formed as needed. They also serve as a bridge between other power related professional organizations in their respective countries/regions and IEEE PES.

Global Conferences and Workshops

PES organizes several conferences outside north America, but with much higher membership growth in Asia, Middle East, Europe and Latin America I believe there is a need to do more. In responding to this need we organized the Generation, Transmission and Distribution (GTD) Conference in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2019, which was attended by more than 7,000 delegates. It was the first such conference of this size outside the United States. The GTD conference will be a regular biennial event with the 2021 GTD being planned for Istanbul, Turkey. Another new conference I helped to launch in 2019 is the IEEE Sustainable Power and Energy Conference (iSPEC). The first one was held in Beijing, China in November 2019. Given the attention placed on sustainable energy, climate change and the role of the electric power industry in this debate, I expect this conference will attract interest from engineers, environmentalists, policy makers, academics, etc. all over the world. Another member-driven activity I have helped to start in the past year is a series of one or two-day workshops on Smart Cities which attract policy makers, city government leaders, industry leaders and academics. Several such workshops have been held in India and Bangladesh in 2019, and several more are in the pipeline for Malaysia, Singapore, UAE and Turkey in 2020.

My Vision for PES’ Long-Range Future

The primary functions of IEEE PES today are: Publications, Conferences, Standards and some professional development work. In the long term, all will change. There will be a drastic impact on our pubs revenue with the advent of Open Access. With engineers and technical professionals doing more work on online platforms, the level and style of participation in conferences will change. Standards work will be done by many other organizations and countries, reducing IEEE’s impact in the current format. IEEE PES needs to evolve with different business models like the Corporate Engagement Program to engage more directly with the employers of engineers in industry, academia and government. PES has a strong member base and we need to engage better with our sections and chapters worldwide. With the help of recently launched PES Chapters Councils, the field level work will help us to demonstrate our value to working professionals, students and academics alike.