IEEE-USA President's Column
John W. Meredith, P.E.
2007 IEEE-USA President
IEEE-USA's Strategic Focus for 2007
Greetings and best wishes for the New Year to
all from your new IEEE-USA president. I wish to
thank 2006 IEEE-USA President Ralph Wyndrum and
the many volunteers and staff who have given me
so much help and support in picking up my new
responsibilities. It is a pleasure to work with
so many committed volunteers, and a capable and
dedicated IEEE-USA staff. Together we can make a
difference in making IEEE-USA's vision become
reality — a vision that translates into more
productive and enjoyable careers for U.S.
engineers whose endeavors benefit all who use
their products and services. This will happen
through the career resources IEEE-USA provides,
and the public policy decisions that it helps to
shape. I want to share my goals and perspectives
on the coming year.
My greatest concern is globalization and its
impact on U.S. engineers. Our profession within
the United States is in a continuing struggle to
deal with the effects of global competition.
While the U.S. economy has shown improvement
since the infamous dot-com bust of 2000-01, our
national competitiveness in the high-tech sector
is increasingly challenged. Before I continue,
allow me to offer a definition of
competitiveness as it relates to our nation.
Competitiveness can be defined as a concerted
drive to compete with other countries in selling
our goods and services, resulting to maintain or
improve our standard of living. So my highest
priority is to take steps to ensure the
competitiveness of U.S. industry in our fields
of interest. This is a big challenge because
developing countries are now competing in jobs
that are higher up the high-tech "food chain."
We have seen the effects of global competition
in the high-tech world for a number of years.
This competition was initially in manufacturing
but is now moving more and more into design and
development work. Because labor rates are lower
in many countries that compete with the United
States, we are losing high-tech jobs. We must
act strategically as a nation to improve U.S.
competitiveness. This is necessary to preserve
jobs for U.S. engineers and to maintain the
standard of living that Americans have enjoyed
for several generations.
IEEE-USA is addressing the competitiveness
challenge through a long-term, four-pronged
strategic focus that was initiated by my
predecessor, President Wyndrum. I will continue
on this path with a goal of ensuring that the
United States maintains its place as a global
competitor in the technology sector. Elements of
this plan fall in line with a study concluded in
late 2005 by the National Academies. The study
is summarized in the executive summary of the
report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.
Our first focus is to urge Congress to enact
comprehensive legislation that promotes U.S.
innovation and competitiveness. In addition we
will be launching the IEEE-USA Innovation
Institute in 2007. The Institute will promote
innovation through training and mentoring
tomorrow's technology leaders. IEEE-USA will
also continue to promote immigration reforms
that will enable our country to admit technical
talent as new Americans rather than as "guest
workers." Part of this thrust in immigration
reform will be aimed at correcting significant
flaws that exist in the H-1B visa program. You
can read more about our Innovation Initiative at
A parallel thrust is to provide practicing
engineers with tools and resources that support
their career endeavors. We will support and
enhance tools such as the IEEE-USA Employment
, with its several million job listings, resume
tools and other career resources. IEEE-USA will
continue to host career enhancement workshops
and will encourage engineers to make use of such
resources as the IEEE-USA Consultants Network (www.ieeeusa.org/business/startnetwork.asp),
Salary Service (salaryapp.ieeeusa.org/rt/salary_database/about/salaryservice)
and Entrepreneurs Village (www.ieeeusa.org/careers/entrepreneurs/).
An area of particular importance is the
mid-career engineer and late-career engineers.
This area is often overlooked as a career
enhancement opportunity. I'm hopeful that we can
find innovative ways to assist those in this
stage of their careers.
The third focus is continuing education. The
IEEE is collaborating with the IEEE Educational
Activities Board (EAB) to provide the best of
IEEE's educational content through one-hour
online learning modules, and to access some
6,000 courses from more than a dozen providers.
IEEE-USA also offers 29 so-called "soft-skills"
courses. Further, we are adding a one-day
tutorial program to our annual IEEE-USA meeting
that provides opportunities for engineers to
learn about emerging technologies in a
face-to-face setting. We will also identify and
promote resources that enable practitioners to
maintain their technical vitality. One
outstanding resource I invite all readers to
investigate is Mike Stanley's Web site,
www.eehomepage.com. This site contains
technical information and tutorials on a wide
range of topics, as well as career development
information. These educational resources are
important for engineers at any career stage.
Finally, we are focusing on precollege education
to ensure that America has an ample supply of
the best and brightest practitioners to follow
us. IEEE-USA will continue to work with EAB in
building stronger science and mathematics
programs in precollege curricula throughout the
country. We are also promoting many excellent
programs that will inspire our youth to study
engineering, math and science. One such program
is PBS' new engineering reality show Design
Squad, a TV program that will be launched
during Engineers Week (18-24 February).
Design Squad (http://pbskids.org/designsquad/)
is a program where youth compete against each
other in solving an engineering challenge.
Another resource is the IEEE-supported Web site
designed for youth who are exploring engineering
as a career.
As IEEE-USA implements the programs and
initiatives that I have highlighted, I urge
grassroots activities focused on improving
competitiveness. Countless initiatives and
programs can have an impact on competitiveness.
For starters, I recommend that you read the
Rising Above the Gathering Storm executive
summary, which makes 20 recommendations for
improving U.S. competitiveness. From there, I
challenge all to action in one of the following
Contact your state and national legislators
and urge them to take action to improve
Organize activities for local youth and
teachers aimed at improving math and science
programs for youth. Get the word out on
resources such as TryEngineering and
Organize town hall meetings to promote the
Provide easily accessible workshops,
tutorials and other resources for local
engineers on technical and career
Finally, I urge all readers to take personal
responsibility for their own competitiveness.
Constantly seek new knowledge and tools to help
you be a better engineer. Ensure that your
contributions are valuable to your employer and
support your colleagues and fellow employees in
their endeavors. That way, the force of
everyone's efforts is multiplied.
Please feel free to contact me (email@example.com)
or other members of our volunteer leadership,
and I look forward to working with all of you in
the coming year.
29 September 2011
Contact: Pender M. McCarter,