A Life Changing Experience with IEEE

A Life Changing Experience with IEEE

The IEEE Region 10 Student/GOLD/WIE Congress is biennial event of IEEE Region 10, which provides an opportunity for young IEEE professionals from Asia-Pacific to network with like-minded volunteers, learn from IEEE experienced volunteers and enhance their technical knowledge. The 2013 congress was hosted by the IEEE Hyderabad Section at Hyderabad, India on 11 – 14 July, focused on empowering Student, Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD), and Women in Engineering (WIE) entities of IEEE. The Congress theme was “Empowering Women and Youth to Create a Better Tomorrow”. The Congress in itself rests upon the theme of leadership from a broader perspective and will cater to several other needs of the congress audience including Emerging Technologies, deep dive about IEEE, its structure and operations, and an amazing networking opportunity with peer volunteers from over 25 distinct nationalities and the principal entities of IEEE including WIE, Student and GOLD.

Peter Staecker, Roberto de Marca, Moshe Kam, Toshio Fukuda along with Ramakrishna, John Day, Darrel Chong, Takako Hashimoto, Lauren Hassall, Karuna Gopal and Nita Patel were present as the keynote speaker during the congress. The names mentioned were the most respectable IEEE members. The lucky Indonesian delegates to experience the whole congress came from different student branches, including Agnes from Bina Nusantara University, Fanni Irsanti from Gadjah Mada University, and Wibyan from Telkom Institute of Technology. There was one SIGHT delegate from Bandung Institute of Technology, Prof. Dr. Soegijardjo Soegijoko.


During the Ice Breaking Session

The 1st day was nothing but the day for building network. Starting from the registration and check in session, the R10 delegates had their moves already. The real networking session was the Ice Breaking Session. The committee divided us into several groups, mixed in one condition; no members with the same nationality get into one same group. They assigned us with 10 tasks, frankly to speak, 10 aimless tasks, but it was very fun and able to break the ice wall between the delegates. The tasks were such as collecting a 1999 coin, business cards, and asking for autographs. But in the end, we have no idea who is the winning team.

The very next session was dinner. It was our first dinner in India though. They served us with Indian traditional dishes. Since it was a buffet dinner, it makes us easier to go around and build network. The network we were building at the 1st day will determine the person who is going to stick around and share their stories until the end of the congress. Sometimes you might get the chance to know a lot people, but not everybody is going to stick around you. Some people might be not that going good with you because of some subjective and personal view along with the bad first impression, some other might be great to talk to because maybe they have something in common with you. Or maybe you just want to be friends with them because of their nationality, interests, background, and experience? That is totally fine.


Agnes with the Pakistan and Japanese Delegates

The 1st day networking result leaved me with the Australian, Bangladesh, Malaysian, Japanese, and Indian delegates to stick around until the rest of the congress. On the 2nd day, the committee provides us with the open parallel forum session for student, GOLD, and WIE members. But just right before it started, Prof. Michael R. Lightner was having a little survey session about education and our concerns. He made us into several groups and each group will vote for a definite choice made based on the spokesperson analysis. It was a really good session and indirectly become an open and guided sharing session between the delegates.

The questions are related to what we are doing in the university, our concerns about the curriculum and education both from university and student role perspective, the importance and effectiveness of external dependencies. Questions like, “Does your institution internationally accredited? Do you think it is important?”, “Do you think completion and certification of technical courses is important for you?”, “Do you ever heard of coursera and any other similar thing?”, “How often do you utilize external courses?”, “Are you required to accomplish working hour to graduate?”, and so on. Each delegate has different answer and different reason. Their nationality, their country’s perspective on education, their preferences might be the causing factor.

Most of the delegates came from an internationally accredited institution and teach the courses in English as the domain language. The institution itself acquires the students to accomplish an internship for an estimated working hour as the graduation requirement besides final project. Surprisingly, most of them don’t think that technical courses is important because in fact when they work, the company they are working for never asked for it. The company itself will train you specifically according to the competency you need to acquire. When working on homework, project, or even self study they usually look after the topic on the internet or text books. Less of them know about online courses such as video tutorials from MIT, free online courses by coursera, paper editing software such as LATEX, free unbanned complete text book server, and etc. That is the forum I am talking about. We get to know a lot of things from other people, a lot of important and helpful information.

The parallel session was divided into three separate rooms as for student, GOLD, and WIE. The 1st student session was about student branch reports. Selected representative from each country were asked to share their student branch activity to everyone. The lucky one from Indonesia was Wibyan from Telkom Institute of Technology. Overall, the most active branches come from India, proportional to the number of student branch established in India. They’re so enthusiastic and hyped about IEEE and the chances they could possibly reach with the current membership. We certainly need to learn more about how student branches are working from them.

The next session for student is about how to make people attracted to be a volunteer in IEEE. This non-profit organization is depending on the number of active volunteers, meanwhile lots of the current member paid for the membership, but do not feel belong to IEEE or just don’t feel like to do volunteering activities. A lot of student branches are facing this problem, and this will affect the regeneration process in the branches. The current active volunteers need to address the desired thing. Personally, I tried to be an open minded, but solutions they gave us sometimes might not be relevant with the branch current situation. The best conclusion is to feel the benefits of IEEE membership as much as possible, and then we can brag it out so people will feel like to have the same experience and get the benefits.

The third session is the most exciting session of the day. Darrel Chong was giving a session about what being a leader is. There are 4 types of leader; authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire, and paternalistic leadership. Being an authoritarian is not always a bad option, he said. We need to be a flexible leader, means we can be authoritarian, democratic, laissez-faire, and paternalistic, depending on the current situation we are facing. As for example, being an authoritarian might be a good choice as for brand new established organization which members have no idea what to do since they’re new to it. But, as a leader, you’ll need to know your personality which will bring you to a certain tendency that might not apply for the situation. Darrel Chong told us about Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. It will define your personality based on 4 areas; extrovert/introvert, sensing/intuitive, thinking/feeling, judging/perceiving. The actual assessment is based on a questionnaire, but Darrel Chong told us to assess based on our judgment. The MBTI will help us to evaluate our self and know our tendency. We can use it to avoid a certain habit of tendency when leading.


The Traditional Indian Dance during the Gala Dinner

The very next session was Gala Dinner. Everyone dressed up in formal since the dinner will start after the whole ceremonial and award session. The SAC announced the paper contest winner for 2012 and 2013 period. University of Indonesia got the 2nd place on 2012 contest. Bina Nusantara University submitted 2 papers for the 2013 submission, but we might need to work even more. 2013 winners were dominated by the Singaporean. After that, the committee served us with traditional Indian dance. The dance took a long time to finish since the dance itself is based on a story.

The 3rd day of the congress was the most nerve killing moment. It was the DEMO IT Poster and Prototype Competition, conducted in cooperation with Lab-X Foundation which is based in USA. There were 30 finalists from all around Asia-Pacific with various research areas. Some of them are students with their final project; some of the others are graduates and freshmen with high hopes. I was lack of confidence since their projects are unbelievably amazing. It helps people with disability, interactive user interface, and the idea was really fresh.


Agnes Presenting the Poster and Prototype to the Audience

All of the finalists have to prepare the exhibition from the early morning and standby on the booth to explain the poster and demo the prototype. I and Fanni Irsanti were the lucky two finalists from Indonesia. Fanni brought her “Integrated Green Design” long term project which is going to be implemented in the Gadjah Mada University. Meanwhile, I brought one of the conducted projects in Bina Nusantara University which is “Low Cost Vision-Based Real-Time Lane Recognition and Lateral Pose Estimation”. The judges were Dr. Peter Staecker the 2013 IEEE President and CEO, Prof. Michael R. Lightner the Director of IEEE Educational Activities, and Dr. Atul Negi the IEEE Hyderabad Section Chair. The judges were walking around the exhibition hall and randomly picking the next presenter.


Dr. Peter Staecker and Prof. Michael R. Lightner

Dr. Atul Negi was the first judge to visit my booth. He read the poster and then kept silent until I asked him whether he prefers me to explain or wait until he came up with a question. Then, I got the chance to explain the poster to him. I am not that proficient in English language, but I tried to make the explanation as brief as possible, emphasize the important points, and of course make some impressions to the judges. We all know the judges are people who come from high educational background in engineering, so it is a high chance that they won’t need us to explain in details. Dr. Atul Negi was pretty much cold and critical, but he is a nice person. He gave me a suggestion to revise a sentence that he found unclear on the poster. He even offers me to consider a graduate study in University of Hyderabad which he works at.

The 2nd judge was Prof. Michael R. Lightner. He has a long hair, a really long hair. His appearance was very friendly and extinguished all the nerve pain from the previous judge. It was not taking too much time. He asked me a question, a critical one. “Why would we need a low calculation cost since people won’t concern about power consumption while driving on a car?” is what I can recall. That is obvious; this research is not for vehicle running on fossil power, but small vehicle running on battery power such as industrial cars. I was about to explain in details, but he cut it. “That’s it, we got your point.” he said. He convinced me using an analogy of buyer and seller to present a good presentation. When a buyer wants a product, the duty of the seller is to give the buyer the exact product until it gets him satisfied. When he is satisfied, that’s it, don’t give excessive explanation since the audience will get bored with it.

Dr. Peter Staecker came as the last one to judge. Nothing much to say, he prefers to read the poster by himself. I showed him the prototype and “What can I do with all these data of position and angle error estimation?” he asked. Then I explained that this project is a continuous ongoing research to aim a definite goal in the future.

As the judging session has over, I ignored the rest of the ongoing session and went back to the room and get ready for the Student Branch Exhibition and Multi-Cultural Performance. I was pretty much disappointed with the result of the competition, the judging criteria, and the final decision to decide the winner. The committee announced the result and I ranked on the top ten for overall performance. It was a good result for a beginner like me, though it was very slight since there are 5 winners. To think about it, to be able to present in front of the most respectable IEEE members are one of the greatest chance you can have as a student. I have to be proud of it.


Indonesian Student Branch Booth

The Indonesian delegates were not ready to participate in the Student Branch Exhibition, but Prof. Dr. Soegijardjo Soegijoko motivated us to join in. So we gathered our Indonesian souvenirs such as Wayang, Ikat Sunda, and Suling Bambu. We also displayed some posters of activity. All of us were in our Batik outfit and waited on our booth. It was fun because lots of people came to our booth and interacted with us. I was able to demonstrate how to play Suling Bambu pretty good to the audience. The Indian delegates played the “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” theme song using our Suling Bambu. Then, I realized that Indonesia Suling Bambu is technically difficult to be played since it needs a very soft and solid blow or the produced sound will be ruined.


Malaysian Student Branch Booth

The other delegates were doing stage performances, from dancing to singing. The Indian delegates were very active. They love to dance, and every girl in India is able to dance. The Japanese are displaying the anime, manga, and food culture, some of them were acting as a Samurai, and the others were doing calligraphy. The Sri Lankan were giving away free sweets. I have to admit it, their traditional sweets are delicious. I think the most eye-catching booth was from the Malaysian. Kartik from New Delhi turned out to be a good friend of mine and he gave me the Indian traditional sweets called Burfi. It was mind-blowing and made me desperately addicted to it. Burfi is the second best Indian dish in my opinion.

The Multi-Cultural night was our last event in the congress. The very next day, we were gathered in the ballroom and the committee announced that they will be giving a tablet away for each student delegates. Aakash tablet is a local production tablet made for educational purpose since they are offering it in a very low price. The manufacturer hopes that we will be able to conduct a research and develop a useful application. The tablet itself has to be returned to the educational institution which the student was related to when they are graduating to ensure the research will be sustained.


Group Photo at the Chowmahalla Palace

The last day was filled with a city sight-seeing tour. We went to Chowmahalla Palace but not all of us. Some of the delegates have already left to the airport to catch their flight. So, we switched gifts as a memorandum right before they left. We had delegates from Indonesia, Japan, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India in the tour. The Chowmahalla Palace was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty where the Nizams entertained their official guests and royal visitors. Both the interior and the exterior architecture were deeply influenced by the Islam religion, though the royal family might looked more like English rather than Indian.


Agnes, Wibyan, and Fanni during the Gardens by the Bay Tour

Chowmahalla Palace ended the whole congress. We went back to the hotel and got ready to go to the airport. I managed to get some Burfi for souvenirs before we were heading to the airport. A delegate from the Philippines had the same flight with us, the student delegates, heading to Singapore. Meanwhile Prof. Dr. Soegijardjo Soegijoko took the other flight along with the Japanese delegates. We were having a long transit time, so we went to the city of Singapore for sight-seeing. We talked a lot and decided that the three of us will someday meet again in another country to attend a conference. This sight-seeing activity made us the delegates of Indonesian student member even closer, prospectively building a better network between the student branches.

In the end, to resume the whole activity I would like to say thank you very much for the unforgettable and life changing experience ever to the faculty and lab members, IEEE Indonesia Section, IEEE Hyderabad Section, the Indian delegates and the committee, and the whole R10 delegates. All of you made things happened. I would like to say that this congress gave me a lot of new friends, new way of thinking, new experience, new network, new chances and new ability. Never let financial issue get you in the way of experiencing new things. As long as you have a strong determination, make it into action and you will get what you are aiming. See you at the IEEE R10 Congress 2015.