August 1, 2023

When I first joined IEEE in 1974 as a graduate student member, I had the opportunity to meet a number of senior engineers in industry and government. They shared their own experiences about how things were done, and why. Their mentorship benefited me through my entire career, helping me to place my own research in the proper context and to avoid false starts. 

I have seen this lesson repeated numerous times throughout my career. Building bridges between people yields tremendous benefits. And I have seen over and over again how collaboration between people of different backgrounds helps push our industry to new frontiers. 

When we build connections between people, we ultimately accelerate the transfer of knowledge. Unfortunately, there are those that continue to be disconnected from the larger technology community – by virtue of where they were born or because of their identity.  

In cutting-edge fields such as AI for example, women make up only about one in five professionals, according to the UN. Women make up about 28% of engineering graduates, and 40% of those in computer science and informatics. 

There are similar boundaries across geographies as well. All across the world, there are brilliant technologists denied the opportunity to work at their full potential because the country they live in is not fully integrated into the global knowledge economy. 

That’s why I believe that as a global organization, IEEE must remain committed to breaking down boundaries, and building connections wherever they may be. 

The scientific and technical communities have made remarkable strides in encouraging diversity and inclusion across the globe. But we still have a long way to go. As such, I encourage you to explore some of the efforts we have made in recent years on diversity, equity and inclusion

But there continues to be a gap in our ability to integrate all of the engineering and leadership talent in our midst to address challenging problems, and to drive our industry forward.

As we continue to strive towards greater diversity and inclusion, the message is clear: everyone is invited. 

As a global organization, IEEE remains committed to embracing all voices. We believe that every individual’s unique perspective can help us solve challenging problems and drive our industry forward. Together, we can create a global knowledge economy where everyone can contribute, thrive, and succeed.

Saifur Rahman is the 2023 IEEE President and CEO, an IEEE Life Fellow, and the founding director of the Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech, where he is a professor of electrical engineering. Over the years, he has served IEEE in a number of capacities, including as president of the IEEE Power and Energy Society, and as the founding editor of IEEE Electrification Magazine and IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy.


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