Section Community Service and Generating Public Awareness for IEEE

David Bower,
Region 3 PIO

There are many IEEE section activities, but one of the most rewarding involves local community service. It is through this effort that we, as IEEE members, can be of great value to our community while promoting the image of our organization and engineering in general. It is a good way to give back, and at the same time, demonstrate to a community the many resources provided by the engineering profession. Let's cover just a few of the many such community projects provided by sections in Region 3.

The Winston-Salem Section got involved in the "Egg Drop Contest" back in April to promote engineering and science in grades K-12. The primary objective for the young participants was to design a device that would protect an uncooked, raw egg from breaking when dropped from a height of 21 feet. Competitive efforts like this bring together subjects such as mathematics, science, engineering, creativity, and imagination in a "fun" environment and help encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering and science. Further, such projects help demonstrate to high tech businesses that organizations such as IEEE are working to help educate and stimulate more young people to pursue careers in engineering and science---an area with a shortage of technically qualified people. On the day of the contest, 45 volunteers from local schools, universities, professional societies (including IEEE) and local businesses participated. Approximately 500 people were attracted to witness and participate in this event; certainly a great way to provide community service while promoting the image of engineering to youth and the community.

Further to the west, the Central Tennessee Section teamed-up with the Local power Quality Group to organize a high quality seminar on lightning and surge protection. The group worked to locate and bring in an expert to conduct the seminar. But first, the group prepared a list of objectives to help define and organize the event. This included selecting a suitable expert to present the seminar, determining the associated cost factors and a break-even point for attendees. For a project of this type, the importance of good public relations was paramount. This included sending seminar flyers to section members and others with a possible interest in the topic. And it didn't stop here. Organizers of the event personally contacted people by telephone, and placed a notice in the Nashville area newspapers and the Nashville Business Journal. The original attendance was projected at 26, but the final number was over 52. As a result, good exposure and public relations were generated for the section to various business organizations and individuals in the Nashville area.

The East Tennessee Section worked with the local Red Cross and a volunteer amateur radio organization to design and sponsor the installation of an emergency two-way radio station in Knoxville, for the Red Cross. The facility is staffed by volunteers to support and provide emergency communication during natural disasters such as tornados. As a result, the Red Cross center can communicate with other emergency service agencies when traditional communications such as wired and cell telephone fail. The project was promoted at several local events and an engraved plaque was presented to be displayed at the Red Cross building, recognizing the Section. It was featured in the IEEE June 2004 issue of the Institute.

These local projects are examples of just a few of the many community service projects being provided by sections in Region 3. As a by-product, the IEEE sections and the engineering profession have generated good "PR" through their community service.

IEEE Region 3 eNewsletter Volume 19 No. 4, August 2004, © 2004 IEEE
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