April 25, 2023

When I speak with young and early career professionals, I am always gratified to discover just how excited they are to work on climate change and sustainability issues. 

Young people are engaged. They are paying attention. And they are uniquely positioned to address a challenge that is greater than anything humanity has ever faced. 

Solving the challenge of climate change has the potential to transform nearly every industry on the planet, from transportation to information processing and everything in between. As such, there is a growing demand for those with a wide range of skills and research interests. 

IEEE is uniquely positioned to assist. 

As the world’s largest organization of technical professionals, we help our members make vital connections, sharing knowledge across borders and oceans. In fact, over the past two years, we have sent delegations to UN meetings on climate change to help provide the engineering perspective for global change and have plans to participate again in 2023 and beyond.  

IEEE equips our members with the ability to speak to both technologists and a general audience on these issues.  Recently, we launched a new website, climate-change.ieee.org, to highlight technology news and resources focused on climate change. And through the IEEE Xplore® Digital Library, we’ve also launched the IEEE Climate Change Collection, a repository of highly cited scholarly publications, conference proceedings, and other materials to help foster the exchange of technical knowledge.

To a young professional I would suggest continually evolving and learning the new impacts that your area of discipline has on the world. My own career might serve as an example of the sweeping changes the technology community may experience.  

I completed my PhD work on the optimum refueling of atomic reactors for electricity generation during the late 1970s, when nuclear power generation was growing in many countries. The growth of nuclear power in the US stalled in the 1980s, just as commercial interest began to grow around renewable energy. I started work on solar and wind energy along with other low-carbon electricity generation methods, such as fuel cells. Later,  I began research into smart grid and the future of smart cities. 

The evolution of my career has also helped me understand the impact that the growth of decarbonization technologies will have around the world, and taught me that there are so many ways that young professionals can contribute to making the world a better place. We need young professionals to understand the nature of the challenge of climate change so they can serve as leaders in their own communities.  

I hope IEEE and its climate initiatives can do that for you. 

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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