Chapters and Professional Activities – Part 1

Your chapter members are professionals.  They have needs related to their respective careers and individual professional development.  This sounds like a normal situation for you as a Computer Society Chapter Chair, but…exactly what professional activities can you offer to your members?   If you could interview your chapter members, would they say that your chapter has addressed professional activities?    Would your members confirm that they value these activities?

This is the first in a series of short articles about chapters and professional activities.  In this series we will describe practical ways and ideas for chapter chairs to provide value to their members (and other stakeholders!) related to professional activities.

Supporting Applications for Senior Membership recognition

This activity is related to helping a member obtain recognition as a Senior Member of the IEEE.   Recognition as a Senior Member is professionally very important, however not all eligible members are aware of the Senior Membership designation.   Other members may be aware of the Senior Member designation, but be hesitant to apply because they have difficulty finding Senior Members to act as references.
[Note this article refers to IEEE Senior Membership recognition.  CS members must also be IEEE members in order to apply for recognition as IEEE Senior Members. ] For complete information about the requirements and criteria related to IEEE Senior Membership, please visit:
http://www.ieee.org/membership_services/membership/grade_elevation.html

Your CS Chapter can implement an organized program or initiative which will facilitate applications for Senior Member recognition.  Such a program will help your chapter members apply for Senior Member designation, and gaining professional recognition.  Such a program will also enhance the prestige of your Chapter and your Section by increasing the number of Senior Members.  Increasing the number of Senior Members will have additional benefits for your Section and your Chapter: Section rebates are increased for Senior Members, and Senior Members tend to retain their memberships at a higher rate.

You can establish a Senior Member campaign in your Chapter by doing the following:

1.    Raise awareness about Senior Membership
Publicize the Senior Membership designation; hold information sessions; have existing Senior Members speak at meetings.

2.    Recruit Senior Member volunteers to assist
Establish a roster of current Senior members in your Chapter who are willing to help other Chapter members who wish to apply for Senior Member designation.  Ideally this set of Senior Member volunteers are knowledgeable and experienced, able to evaluate and verify the experience claims of applicants.

3.    Announce your program, encourage applicants for Senior Membership to come forward Make your members aware that they can come forward and obtain assistance.  Note this can also be done within the context of a Section wide Senior Member initiative (see section below).

4.    Assign an applicant to a Senior Member volunteer.
When a potential applicant comes forward, he/she is assigned to a Senior Member volunteer.  The Senior Member volunteer will work with the applicant in private to help prepare the application.  Note the Senior Member volunteer is assisting with the application only, and is not responsible for the approval of any application for Senior Membership.

5.    Volunteer Senior Member Reviews applicant’s experience. The volunteer Senior Member can review and verify that experience criteria are met by the applicant, based on his/her experience in the industry.

6.    Help To Obtain References for the application.
If the applicant does have experience which meets the criteria, the Senior Member volunteer can assist with finding a suitable reference for the Senior Member application form.  In some cases the volunteer may know of another Senior Member who may be able to act as a reference.  In some cases the volunteer may be able to act as a reference directly.

If everything goes well, your Senior Member volunteer will help the applicant successfully find the required references, and complete the Senior Member application form.

Does my Section Have Any such Senior Member Initiative?

Your Section may have a Senior Member application initiative such as this.  If so, there is no conflict and you will be able to integrate your efforts into the Section program.  In order to properly review an applicant’s experience and act as reference for a Senior Member application, the volunteer Senior Member should come from the computing field.  Your chapter is in the best position to reach out and connect both applicants and volunteer Senior Members from the computing field.

Don’t Forget to Celebrate Success

If a Chapter member succeeds in his/her application, IEEE will announce the granting of Senior Member designation.  But you as a Chapter Chair can add to the prestige by announcing and celebrating this award locally.  Why not announce this award in your Chapter newsletter, or at your next Chapter meeting?  Recognition of your members and their professional accomplishments will increase the interest in your Chapter and increase the awareness of the IEEE Senior Member designation.

A series of short articles, one idea per article.  Could stretch at least 5 ideas, perhaps more.

Here are some possible ideas...

 - training, workshops and IEEE CEUs
 - women in computing / engineering
 - Working with your local professional society
 - setting up a mentoring program
 - promotion to senior member status
 - career and professional insight for univ students
 - (high school) teacher in service training
 - international engineers
 - Engineering week and public awareness
 - public policy - science and technology
professional Certification –discussion and study group