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IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows Program
 
Apply for 2015 Program

Become a Paid Intern Next Summer at a Mass Media News Outlet
Report on Today's Sci-Tech News: Become an IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow

(click to view flyer)

IEEE-USA is seeking applications from U.S. IEEE undergraduate and graduate student members to work full-time in the summer of 2015 as reporters, researchers and production assistants in mass media organizations nationwide — including radio and TV stations, newspapers and magazines — both print and electronic.

In addition to receiving a weekly stipend and travel expenses, IEEE-USA engineering mass media fellows gain valuable work experience and sharpen their communication skills as they research, write and report on today's sci-tech news for the general public. Fellows have interned at such media outlets as The Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, The Oregonian and Scientific American.

IEEE-USA is the only engineering organization in the AAAS* Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellows Program, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2014.

To download an application, go to www.aaas.org/programs/education/MassMedia/apply.shtml.

For more information, contact Chris McManes at c.mcmanes@ieee.org.

Deadline for applications: Wednesday, 15 January 2015

* American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Since 2000, IEEE-USA has sponsored 17 engineering students in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellows Program. The fellowship is designed to strengthen the connections among scientists, engineers and journalists by placing advanced science and engineering students in newsrooms across the country. The program, begun in 1974, has placed more than 620 fellows with newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV networks.

Mass Media Fellows
Program in IEEE Media
"Diary of a Mass Media Fellow," Smitha Raghunathan, IEEE-USA in ACTION, Winter 2011
"Diary of a Mass Media Fellow: Computer Scientist in a Newsroom," Nicholas Diakopoulos, IEEE-USA in ACTION, October 2010
"AAAS Mass Media Fellowship," Maddalena Jackson, IEEE-USA Today's Engineer, Nov. 2008
"Mass Media 101: The AAAS Mass Media Fellowship," Sourish Basu, IEEE Potentials, p. 7, Nov./Dec. 2007
"Reflections of an engineer/science writer," Abby Vogel, IEEE Potentials, pgs. 6-7, Nov./Dec. 2007
Full-page ad in Nov./Dec. 2007 issue of IEEE Potentials

The Program

IEEE-USA mass media fellows work for 10 weeks in the summer as reporters, researchers and production assistants in mass media organizations nationwide. Fellows collaborate with media professionals to enhance coverage of science- and engineering- related issues in the media in order to improve public understanding and appreciation of science and technology. 

Through the program, fellows observe and participate in the process by which events and ideas become news; improve their communication skills by learning to describe complex technical subjects in a manner understandable to the lay public; and increase their understanding of editorial decision making and the way in which information is effectively disseminated. Fellowship applicants must be U.S. members of the IEEE and must be enrolled college or university juniors or seniors or graduate or post-graduate students in the natural, physical, health, engineering or social sciences. IEEE-USA underwrites the expenses for the IEEE-USA fellow.

IEEE-USA's Mass Media Fellows

 

2013 Daniel Blustein served as IEEE-USA's engineering mass media fellow by working in the summer of 2013 at The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer. He is completing work on his Ph.D. in biology at Northeastern University in Boston.

Dan earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Kalamazoo (Mich.) College in 2006. While there he founded the Kalamazoo Broadcast Co., which produced programming for campus and local TV outlets. He then worked in the film industry in Los Angeles for a talent agency and several production companies.

Here's a sampling of the stories he wrote for the News & Observer: oyster farming, monitoring black bears, remote-controlled cockroaches, urging employers to use caution when evaluating candidates through social media and how not all happiness is equally healthy.

 
Ian C. Campbell

 

 

2012 2012 IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow Ian C. Campbell reported on science and technology in the summer of 2012 at The Oregonian in Portland, Ore. He was the second IEEE-USA fellow to intern atthe newspaper. Ian was a 2012 Ph.D. student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

During his internship, Ian posted 33 stories for The Oregonian, including a front-page story in the Metro section on Oregon Tech students installing solar panels at schools and hospitals in rural Tanzania. Other articles covered such subjects as the search for water on Mars, harvesting Hawaiian plants to make jet fuel and clean diesel, the probability of a major earthquake by along the southern coast of Oregon in the next 50 years, and zombie bees. To view all of Ian's stories, go to http://connect.oregonlive.com/user/campbe-i/posts.htm.

In his application for the program, the 2012 Mass Media Fellow stated: "As a biomedical engineer, I feel it is my duty not only to conduct high-quality research, but also to act as an ambassador of sci-tech to the general public. I hope to improve the general impression of science and engineering by making them more relatable to the average person. I want to do more than just conduct elegant research in my specialty; I want to help the public understand my field and how it affects it."

Ian had considerable experience communicating with the public, especially elementary and high-school students, on science, engineering and technology. As one example, he volunteered in a third-grade classroom in a public school in Atlanta, helping youngsters understand that "science class can be mean more than worksheets."

In a letter of recommendation, a former chair of the St. Olaf College Physics Department praised Ian as the first author of a manuscript on Antarctic ice streams presented at a fall 2006 meeting of the American Geophysical Union and an article on the same subject published in the Journal of Glaciology in 2008.

As one of Ian's co-advisers at the Emory University School of Medicine wrote: "He is simply the smartest graduate student I have ever worked with and one of the best writers." A second co-adviser cited Ian's undergraduate work at St. Olaf College as greatly contributing to his writing ability. He graduated magna cum laude in 2007, having double majored in physics and math — with a curriculum heavy in writing, philosophy, Latin and the classics.

As one of Ian's writing samples for the program, he considered "Home brewing beer: delicious home science," which "requires no technical background for success but which can scale into a complex project integrating disciplines from cell biology to chemistry to heat transfer and construction."

Brandon Blakeley

 

 

2011 IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow Brandon Blakeley spent his 10-week sci-tech media internship at The Oregonian in Portland, Ore. His first news story appeared on the front page of the Living Section and described how Twitter "has become a trove of human language and interactions unmatched in size, detail and availability." As Brandon explained in his wrap-up report to AAAS/IEEE-USA: "This story contributed to the public by answering the oft-muddled question ‘what exactly is computer science research?' It also contributes to academia by unifying seemingly disparate research contributions under a common theme." www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/06/
tweet_talk_from_the_associatio.html.

Another major front-page Living Section story addressed what Brandon's reported is his main interest: the intersection of science and policy. In this article, he covered national ocean policy from the standpoint of energy, environmental and tribal interests, and included an interview with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco.www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/07/
energy_environmental_recreatio.html

Brandon considered his "best story" a look at "why don't spiders get stuck to their webs," which appeared on the front page of the Saturday Oregonian. As he said: "I explain by analogy how a scientist measured the adhesive force of silk and also how the hairy bristles on spider legs reduce this adhesive force…I was able to explain challenging scientific concepts in an engaging and accessible way."www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/07/
inquiring_minds_want_to_know_w.html

According to one of his letters of recommendation from a distinguished teaching professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at Texas, "Brandon is one of the most naturally gifted communicators to come through my seminar course in over 15 years… I challenged him to consider a career in which he could exploit his communication skills."

Blakeley received two bachelor of science degrees from the University of Texas, one in computer science and one in mathematics.

Where is he now?

Brandon is completing his Ph.D. in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. His work in activity recognition on smartphones seeks to make public transportation more accessible as a part of the OneBusAway project.

Smitha Raghunathan

 

2010  IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow Smitha Raghunathan filed nine science, engineering and technology-related reports for the Voice of America (VOA) worldwide audience on radio and online, as part of her 10-week internship in Washington. Raghunathan has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and is pursuing her master's degree in biomedical engineering from the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

To see the reports prepared by Raghunathan at VOA, go to:

Smitha summarized her VOA internship: "I found my technical skills were best used when researching a piece, helping me understand the subject matter and asking questions of the researchers. I discovered that my personal skills helped me when writing the piece, picturing in my mind how I would tell the story to the people I worked with. And this culminated in voicing a piece, which is an art in itself."

David Lukofsky

 

2009  In June, IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow David Lukofsky spent his 10-week media internships preparing news stories on science, engineering and technology at WOSU-FM, a public radio station in Columbus, Ohio.

David received his Ph.D. in engineering physics from Dartmouth College in June.

In his application to become a 2009 IEEE-USA mass media fellow, David wrote that the internship will "be the perfect springboard to the media and policy experience I need for my dream job — to act as the messenger who informs members of government on sci-tech issues."

To see the reports prepared by David Lukofsky at WOSU-FM, go to:

Where is he now?

David is completing the Mirzayan Policy Fellowship at the National Academies where he works on the Board of Science and Technology for Sustainability on the project U.S.-China Collaboration on Electricity from Renewables. Specifically, that means he researches avenues to implement low-carbon technologies in both countries including potential for manufacturing and financing. "I enjoy the work because achieving significant reductions in carbon emissions requires action on a global scale," David says. "This project is interesting because it addresses both the technological and international components of low-carbon technologies. I often notice how the communication skills I developed as a mass media fellow are helping me in my current position."

Nicholas Diakopoulos

 

2009  Nick Diakopoulos spent his 10-week media internship preparing news stories on science, engineering and technology at The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee.

In his application to become a 2009 IEEE-USA mass media fellow, he said he expected to "garner valuable knowledge of journalism that will help me innovate better technologies for the journalists of the future."

Nick earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Tech.

Here are some of Nick's Sacramento Bee stories:

Where is he now?

In April 2014, Nick was appointed an assistant professor in the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland. He has combined his background in computer science with human-computer interaction to become a computational journalist. Soon after his appointment, he tweeted that the Mass Media Fellows program "was a major turning point in my career path." For more on his role at Maryland, see http://t.co/nh0CFZHaxI.

Wendy Hansen
 
Maddalena Jackson
2008  Two IEEE-USA engineering mass media fellows, Wendy Hansen and Maddalena Jackson, reported news stories on science, engineering and technology as part of their 10-week assignments from June to August at the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee, respectively. In 2008, Hansen received her Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of California-Berkeley; and Jackson is a 2008 engineering graduate of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif.

In her application to join the Mass Media Fellows program, Wendy said she was "seriously considering a career in sci-tech communications — writing, editing or production." In her application, Maddalena noted: "I believe that good communication and access to clear information is the key to fostering a productive and healthy society."

This was the second year IEEE-USA sponsored two mass media fellows.

Where are they now?

Maddalena lives in Los Angeles and has worked as a software systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) since early 2009. She has worked on several projects at JPL, including NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, Human Exploration, and she currently works on the InSight mission (a Mars lander). Outside of work, she spends her time hiking around the mountains of Los Angeles and acquiring new hobbies.

Wendy works at Pacific Science Center, a science museum in Seattle, where she is the project manager for a changing exhibit on current health-related research. She credits her science writing fellowship with opening the door to other science communication careers.

“Writing science articles at the Los Angeles Times during my fellowship taught me to get to the point and carefully consider my audience whenever I write,” Wendy says. “That's something I put to use every day in the museum.”


Sourish Basu
 
2007  Sourish Basu, a Ph.D. candidate in physics at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., described his 10-week reporting assignment at *Scientific American* in New York City as "a brief detour on the mass media freeway."

In a November/December 2007 article that he prepared for IEEE Potentials, Sourish explained his decision to apply for the IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellowship: "We're surrounded by science and technology, from when we wake up to an electronic alarm clock, to when we fall asleep to a CD playing softly; if we're to use science and technology without blundering into either an Orwellian 1984 situation or Terminator territory, we had better understand their ramifications."

In his summer on the mass media freeway, Sourish worked on several news stories for the monthly Scientific American, including the implications of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, cyberstrikes in Estonia, and efforts to mitigate climate change through biochemistry. He also experienced the daily deadlines of newspaper reporting by contributing to the magazine's Web site on such topics as subwavelength focusing, evolutionary adaptation and climate change. Sourish elaborated: "While some topics, like water-walking robots and quantum ferrofluids, were right up my alley as a physicist; for others, like Samoan butterflies and weather patterns, I had to build my background knowledge by talking to the scientists."

The Cornell Ph.D. candidate summed up his experiences: "The fellowship showed me the social side of science — and the questions it raises. How do we make sense of the surfeit of studies in health and medicine that surface every day? How do we reconcile opposing points of view, often on touchy issues...How do we shape science policy...How do we balance free-market profiteering with free and fair use...These are questions that our generation will have to face — and answer — over the next several decades. And scientists, through effective communication of the science involved, need to do their part."

Where is he now?

Sourish graduated with his Ph.D. in physics and is currently working for the Netherlands Space Research Institute (SRON). His research involves working out the surface fluxes of carbon dioxide from satellite observations, which come from a satellite launched in January. Sourish says his career path came as a result of his mass media fellowship. "I wrote an article in Scientific American about oceanic iron fertilization and during the process I talked to a lot of scientists involved and learned about climate modeling. I really enjoyed the subject, so last year I decided to switch fields of study. The article I wrote helped me immensely — it helped me prove to the people in this field (including my present employers) that I had the potential to tackle the subject."
 

Charles Emrich
2006  For the first time, in 2006, IEEE-USA sponsored two Mass Media Fellows, both IEEE Student Members: Charles Emrich, with his doctorate in biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley; and Miriah Meyer, Ph.D. Candidate, Computer Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Emrich and Meyer completed their 10-week summer assignments, respectively, at The Sacramento Bee and The Chicago Tribune.

According to Charles, "Over the course of the Fellowship, I grew to see myself as a crucial cog in the machinery that gets science and engineering news to the public. Newspaper science/engineering has to be pretty simplified, but I relished the hard stories such as the one I wrote about spectroscopy of water, or another about how glowing chickens might be the future of cancer treatment….Almost as important, the Assistant Managing Editor threw me a funny story about the physics of Superman, which led to another about geysers of Diet coke, and culminated with a story pegged to the movie, Snakes on a Plane. They were all 'jokey' stories that brought a levity that I feel is sorely lacking from science/engineering, and allowed me to get my 'voice' into the paper."

According to Miriah, "Each story I worked on brought the surprise that people — smart, interesting, respected people — wanted to talk to me and tell me all about their work. I had the opportunity to interview the U.S. Surgeon General, Greg Louganis, and the 'Hottest Hacker on Earth.' I was invited to tour numerous research labs, and got the inside scoop on suspicions of drug research being used illegally by competitive cyclists. The simple phrase, 'I'm a reporter with The Chicago Tribune, was the best tool a science and engineering 'pickpocket' could ever have…I also learned what truly makes for an interesting story in the scope of the general public, knowledge that I find to be humbling for the scientist within me….I think this perspective will help me to be a more effective advocate of science, whether it is as a researcher or writer."

Where is he now?

Charles finished his Ph.D. at Berkeley in December 2006 and spent a few months backpacking through Southeast Asia, chronicling his travels on a blog and dreaming of becoming a travel writer. Since then, he's worked as an intern in the Science & Innovation Group at the British Consulate in San Francisco, where he has been involved in public policy. He's also been working as a part-time programmer for a bioprocess automation firm in San Francisco, which gives him ample opportunity for technical writing—mostly documentation and manuals. Later, Charles and a few of his Berkeley friends started up a company to make better enzymes for sustainable, cellulosic biofuels production.

"It's a really fun challenge to get a business funded and working, and even more so to know that if we succeed, the world will be a greener place for it," Charles says. "I still find time to do freelance writing, because writing always was and always will be one of my great passions. My hope is that after some time spent trying to save the world, I'll find myself again riding a slow boat up the Mekong, writing about the people and the technology that keep that same world humming."
 

Abby (Vogel) Robinson

2005  In 2005, IEEE student member Abby (Vogel) Robinson completed a 10-week summer assignment at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Abby, IEEE-USA's sixth mass media fellow, was a graduate student at the University of Maryland and eventually earned her doctorate in bioengineering. Read a sampling of her contributions:

In W.Va, the spin on wind farms is positive
Making shuttles safer
Shell tells a tale of survival
Great shakes

Where is she now?

Abby worked as a communications officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology's Research News office (gtresearchnews.gatech.edu) from 2007-12 and was a freelance science writer until 2014, when she became director of communications for the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland. Following her fellowship, Abby became active in IEEE-USA and served as a member and chair of the IEEE-USA Communications Committee and as editor for IEEE-USA Today's Engineer (todaysengineer.org) and IEEE-USA in ACTION (http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ieeeusainaction/default.asp).

"The mass media fellowship changed my career path from biomedical engineer to science writer and I couldn't be happier," Abby says. "Every day I get to learn about a new discovery and communicate the exciting research to the general public through my writing."
 

Sarah Harris

2004  IEEE student member Sarah Harris concluded a 10-week assignment in the summer of 2004 as IEEE-USA's fifth Mass Media Fellow. Sarah, who was pursuing her Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford University, worked at WOSU-AM in Columbus, Ohio, assisting with radio reporting on science, technology, engineering and math. Listen to some of Harris' recorded segments (MP3s):
 
Drunk Bees (3.4 MB) Moth Music (3.5 MB)
E-Voting (1.3 MB) Snake Lady (2.7 MB)
State Fair Chickens (1.7 MB)    

Where is she now?

Sarah became an associate professor in the Depatment of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UNLV in the fall of 2015. Prior to that, she was an assistant professor in engineering at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. In 2007, she and co-author David Harris (no relation) published a textbook, Digital Design and Computer Architecture.

"I've used and built on the skills I learned from my mentors at WOSU, such as Tom Borgerding," Sarah says. "The fellowship experience helped prepare the way for me as a professor to make science and engineering not only more accessible, but also fun and engaging."

Joy Ku

2003  IEEE Member Joy Ku was IEEE-USA's fourth Mass Media Fellow. In 2003, she worked on science, engineering and technology (SET) related stories at WNBC-TV in New York City. Ku was a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at Stanford University, where she researched image processing and visualization of medical images, as well as 3-D ultrasound. Ku received her BSEE from U.C. Berkeley before receiving her MSEE from Stanford.

Where is she now?

Joy is currently the Director of Dissemination for Simbios, an NIH center for biomedical computing at Stanford University (simbios.stanford.edu). Her job is a mix of public relations, journalism and curriculum development/technical writing. She is an associate editor for Simbios' quarterly magazine, Biomedical Computation Review, where she draws on the newswriting and editing skills that she learned during her mass media fellowship.

"My mass media fellows experience has given me an edge when applying for my last couple of jobs, as it highlighted my ability both to write and to gather and synthesize information," Joy says.
 

Robert Barnett

2002  In 2002, IEEE-USA's third mass media fellow, IEEE member Robert Barnett, spent 10 weeks in New York City at Popular Science, the world's largest science and technology magazine, while working on his MSEE at Clemson University. Barnett, who also received his BS in electrical engineering from Clemson, formerly served as managing editor of the university's newspaper, The Tiger. His blend of engineering and editorial experience made him particularly well suited for the job.

Where is he now?

Rob is a senior energy economist at Bloomberg Government in Washington, D.C., specializing in energy sector economics, environmental policy and strategy, and EPA regulations.  Prior to that, he worked at IHS Cambridge (Mass.) Energy Research Associates as associate director of climate change and clean energy. He advised companies on strategies for complying with existing and future environmental policies and was particularly focused on carbon markets and clean energy technologies. He also led the environmental and energy analysis for various studies, including Growth in the Canadian Oil Sands: Finding the New Balance, and Crossing the Divide: The Future of Clean Energy.  

“The mass media fellowship was an exciting opportunity and the communications experience benefited me greatly,” says Rob, who earned a master’s degree in economics from Boston University. “In my current job, I do a significant amount of writing and public speaking — both skills that the IEEE-USA-sponsored mass media fellowship helped to foster.”

2001 IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellow Mariama Orange

Mariama Orange

2001  In 2001, Mariama Orange, a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., was IEEE-USA's second Mass Media Fellow. Orange completed a 10-week assignment with Scientific American in New York City, where she worked as a news intern "trolling" for stories, checking facts, researching and compiling datapoints, and writing occasional briefs and stories.
 

2000 IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellow Elan Ruskin

Elan Ruskin

2000  IEEE-USA's first Mass Media Fellow, Elan Ruskin, was a Junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in computer science engineering when he completed his 10-week assignment at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As a cub reporter, Ruskin wrote news briefs and feature stories covering a broad range of science and technology issues. After receiving his BSEE from Penn, Ruskin earned a Master of Entertainment from Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center.

Where is he now?

After completing his Mass Media fellowship, Elan went to graduate school and then on to a career in the video game industry. He's worked on a variety of titles including the "Jak & Daxter" series with Naughty Dog, Inc.; and he is presently a designer and programmer at Valve Corporation, developers of the popular "Half-Life," "Counterstrike" and "Team Fortress" series.

"The Mass Media fellowship opened my eyes to opportunities in engineering outside the laboratory. To this day, my experiences as a journalist help me communicate with the artists and producers on our projects, and with the press," says Elan.
 

How to Apply

For information on becoming an IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellow, contact AAAS at 202-326-6441 or IEEE-USA Public Relations Manger Chris McManes at 202-530-8356.

 

Last Update:  14 August 2014
Staff Contact: Chris McManes c.mcmanes@ieee.org

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