Miriam P. Sanders, IEEE Division VII Director

What’s your membership level?

How long have you been in your career? Is it more than 10 years with demonstrated 5 years of significant performance? So why haven’t you applied to become a Senior Member of the IEEE? This is a self-nominated evaluation in membership grade. I recently participated in a regional roundup for Senior Members. I was surprised at the experience some of these individuals had (20, 30, 40 years) and had yet to become a senior grade member. When I inquired about it, they said they were not aware of grade or its benefits but were very enthusiast about becoming a Senior Member. Personally, I was nominated for the senior grade just at the point I made the 10-year career mark, by a wonderful colleague. Little did I know how much this would afford me. At the time, to be an officer in a technical committee within PES, you needed to be a Senior Member. And if you are at all interested in participating at any board level in IEEE, you need to be a Senior Member.  You are also able to act as a reference for others wishing to obtain the senior grade. This is a way to “pay it forward” to your career choice.  This is actually a very rewarding experience to help your colleagues obtain this recognition. In recent years I have had the pleasure to offer references for an executive in a major utility, an R&D manager for a global manufacturer, competitors in my field, as well as coworkers as well as a couple of engineers I did not know. That is where the “roundup” comes into play. This was a great experience as well.  As a Senior Member, you commit to acting as a reference for several candidates, then you are assigned a few candidates to review by the organizers of the roundup. Through a link to the IEEE membership web page, you are given their CV or resume as well as the application they have filled out. Then through a series of “zoom” type meetings, you can talk to the individuals and ask them about their career. This is really interesting, particularly if they are from a different industry than your experience, you get to hear what they find exciting.  After you talk with the candidate, you finish filling out the online form. The whole package then goes before the Admission and Advancement Senior Member Review Panel for final review and determination. And I am happy to say my two interviewees in the recent round-up were successful in the elevation.

Check out this link for the application.

Check out your local region to see if they too have a Senior Member round-up event.

Another benefit of being a Senior Member is that you can nominate a deserving individual for Fellow Member. This is the highest grade in IEEE, bestowed only to 1/10 of 1% of the total membership. This is the best of the best!  I have also had the pleasure of nominating some colleagues for the fellow grade. This is a very rigorous process that requires an extensive write-up by the nominator as well as Fellow Members to act as references for them as well as other professionals as endorsers. Once the nomination package is complete, it then goes to the society’s Fellow Evaluation Committee for review and then on to the Fellow Committee. The window for this to happen is limited. The nominations open in October and are due March 1st of each year. This is a very prestigious award and sought after by many. Are you interested in becoming a Fellow? Then become a Senior Member, as this is the first step to becoming a Fellow Member.


Soar (lock)” by Brett Jordan is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

PES falls behind the other IEEE societies in the number of successful Fellow candidates and has for some time. There is debate on the actual reason(s), but we need to up the ante to get more candidates in the pipeline for elevation to this honor. So, if you are already a Senior member, look around and encourage other IEEE members to apply for Senior Membership. I’ve been bugging my boss and several others of late. Also, look around for candidates to nominate for Fellow.  From the IEEE Constitution and By-Laws: “The grade of Fellow recognizes unusual distinction in the profession and shall be conferred by the Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest (Bylaw I-104.11). The accomplishments that are being honored shall have contributed importantly to the advancement or application of engineering, science and technology, bringing the realization of significant value to society. The nominee shall hold Senior Member grade at the time the nomination is submitted and shall have been a member in good standing in any grade for a period of five years or more preceding 1 January of the year of elevation.”

As I said, nominating a member for Fellow is pretty rigorous. But there are resources available to help you in the process.  There is a PES Fellows Nomination Resource Committee, currently led by Dr. Sakis Meliopoulos. Additional information can be found here. On this page you will find webinars and PowerPoint files to help you.

So become a Senior Member, as this is the first step to becoming a Fellow Member. Maybe someone will be so kind as to nominate you for Fellow.