Observations from the PES Immediate Past-President: Saifur Rahman


IEEE, the largest technical professional society in the world, has a very broad footprint while specializing in depth in most areas of electrical engineering. With almost 2,000 conferences, 150 magazines and journals, global standards activities and with five million articles in the IEEE Xplore digital library, the IEEE is a very complex organization. Members, and technology professionals in general, benefit from IEEE in many different ways. At the same time volunteers give their time and effort to keep the IEEE engine running. However, many other volunteers do not find the IEEE relevant to their work, or cannot benefit from what IEEE has to offer.

As the President of the IEEE Power & Energy Society for the past two years, I have had many discussions at the grassroots level with our members and others who are potential members. The general sense is that, there is a need to address our challenges through a sharp focus on the following which will ensure that IEEE becomes more global and more relevant to technology professionals worldwide.

First, demonstration of relevance. There is a perceived lack of relevance of the IEEE membership to an engineer’s professional work. Through proactive outreach and by highlighting the benefits of IEEE membership – from unparalleled networking opportunities at alimennmost 2000 international IEEE conferences (both face-to-face and virtual), access to the finest technological literature, massive resourcees for up-skilling, innovative collaboration facilities with like-minded colleagues worldwide, we can powerfully demonstrate IEEE’s immense value to current and prospective members.

Second, deeper engagement with technologists at the grassroots level. For IEEE societies, chapter members are our key resource. To provide a direct link between chapter leadership and the society governing board, I set up the highly effective IEEE Power & Energy Society Chapters’ Councils in China, India, Africa and Latin America that engage members, organize local events and reach out to local industry. This model can be expanded throughout IEEE.

Third, enhanced lifelong learning opportunities. One of the high-value opportunities IEEE members and non-members have expressed to me is lifelong learning, which IEEE can provide. I helped establish the very successful online PES University. This “university” offers tutorials, webinars and plain-talk courses in the Power & Energy Society’s field of interest. We need to work on expanding this to the IEEE level encompassing all of IEEE’s fields of interest to support career development of practicing technologists.

Fourth, giving life to our motto, Advancing Technology for Humanity. The global events of the past several months have shown us that technologists have a role to play for humanity. The COVID-19 outbreak is bound to change our outlook, our focus, our future planning and the delivery of services. On another front – slightly longer term – IEEE members can help to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our lives and livelihood. Let us employ the matchless facilities IEEE offers, to address the post-COVID ‘new normal’ supporting remote working, international collaboration, continuing professional development, ambitious technology development, promote renewable energy, expedite Sustainability, and build a resilient future.