Uganda: Community Projects for Economic Growth

Today we are highlighting some very exciting Young Professional activity in Uganda with Mr. Ezabo Baron who has been driving the Engineering Projects in Community Service program (EPICS).

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Can you please briefly describe the IEEE community in Uganda?

The IEEE Uganda Subsection was formed in 2013. In the last 2 years the section has worked closely with the IEEE Kenya Section. As engineers we had to realize that we have big roles to play in our community development. We needed to get our people involved as a way of addressing the needs of the society.  There was also a need for us to unite our engineers and to take part in standards development for our country’s engineering products.

We have over 40 active members abd are continuously working to recruit more. Our members meet at the beginning of each year to set activity strategies. We are actively engaging them in the Teacher In-Service Program (TISP) and Engineering Projects in Community Service program (EPICS). Some of our student members have participated in the Mobile Application Development Contests (MadC). A large portion of our effort is in raising IEEE awareness in universities, government bodies, schools and industry.

The IEEE culture in Uganda is alive. From our observations, a vast proportion of the professional community is aware of the IEEE and our subsection has been able to  help them learn more about its benefits and how working with the IEEE can be beneficial. We are yet to form student branches, the effort is to recruit more students in major academic institutions and help them establish their own branches. This is amongst the top priorities.

IEEE Members at the TISP Training, Nairobi 2014

IEEE Members at the TISP Training, Nairobi 2014

Tell us about your personal IEEE journey and what has been your major achievements to date

I got to know about the IEEE in 2008 through a friend who gave me one of the magazines to read. I was fascinated by the diversity within IEEE. Upon joining the IEEE, I was elected as publicity secretary for the Uganda Subsection. Recently, the IEEE Ad Hoc Committee for Activities in Africa appointed me to serve as the Community Moderator for IEEE Collabratec Kampala Uganda Community. I publicize IEEE activities in Uganda, mobilize members for meetings and events. I am also active in the creation of promotional materials for our local subsection. I have participated numerous times in IEEE trainings in East Africa and am one of the Subsection TISP Champions currently working with members in Uganda to develop a web-based solution for technology innovation management. This has been possible with generous support from EPICS in the IEEE Committee.

What are goals of IEEE EPICS for 2015-2016? 

In 2012 the government of Uganda developed a new framework for Science, Technology and Innovation development, empowering various stakeholder organizations to take active roles in implementing the STI development plan. In line with this, we have engaged university and high school students from Makerere, Kyambogo University and Entebbe Secondary School to work with Humanitarian Innovation Technical Institute (not-for-profit innovation structure) and IEEE Uganda Subsection members to develop a web-based solution for Science, Technology and Innovation Management. This will be used  to collaboratively generate, identify and select innovative community projects for further development as a way of uplifting the population from absolute poverty.

High School Students Make Robots During National Robitcs Challange Cup at Makerere University

High School Students Make Robots During National Robotics Challenge Cup at Makerere University

How will the EPICS projects really impact and change the overall condition of Uganda?

The EPICS projects will help to strengthen Uganda’s invention, innovation and entrepreneurship base by:

  • Enhancing research activities in science and technology
  • Improving awareness of community inventions and innovations
  • Providing an environment for intellectual property protection
  • Leading to the achievement of financial stability through arrangement of partnership with investors, donors
  • Creating employment opportunities and promoting industrial development

How can the overall IEEE community assist the IEEE Uganda and the EPICS project during this time?

IEEE Uganda recognizes that there are a number of communities out there who need similar platforms. We look forward to partnering with various organizations and technologists in establishing more of these innovation platforms in various IEEE countries. Visibility of such a valuable solution is possible through various publications and we are looking for organizations that can help in raising awareness of what we are doing.

Ezabo Baron and Lwanga Herbert Introducing IEEE to Students in Makerere University

Ezabo Baron and Lwanga Herbert Introducing IEEE to Students in Makerere University

We have also scheduled entrepreneurship training for scientists and engineers in Uganda where members will be trained in the processes of innovation and inventions.

Interview conducted by Sarang Shaikh, Senior Assistant Editor, GOLDRush

Article edited by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief, GOLDRush

Getting SOCIAL with Muhammad Rabeet Sagri

Who is Muhammad Rabeet Sagri?

Muhammad is Young Professionals Chair of Karachi Section and a software engineer at Wavetec.

Mr Muhammad Rabeet Sagri

Mr Muhammad Rabeet Sagri

Suggestion – Do you have any suggestions for the IEEE? 

IEEE Educational Activities Board (EAB) is undertaking really exciting projects such as EPICS-In-IEEE, TISP, SIGHT and many more. Yet, most of the IEEE humanitarian activities and its services are executed at Section level. My suggestion is to let the IEEE Student Branches and High Schools (Pre-University) experience the humanitarian challenges more closely and encourage them to participate by providing possible solutions for these challenges. These projects will not only help the students to get involved in humanitarian activities but also become aware of the challenges faced by our local community.

Opinion – Provide an opinion on any IEEE related topic. 

In my opinion, IEEE doesn’t emphasize career development and leadership building sufficiently amongst the membership. As a results of that, IEEE faces a challenge in retaining IEEE Student membership upon graduation. IEEE should focus on developing IEEE Young Professionals, providing services such as career counseling, assisting in getting the right job, conducting more leadership and entrepreneurship workshops etc. These activities help not only to retain IEEE Student members but will provide IEEE members opportunities  to pursue a successful career.

Concern – Express a major concern related to IEEE 

I have a concern that apart from the interaction within the IEEE Section, IEEE is not providing any local benefits to its members which could be materialized. All benefits provided by IEEE are in electronic form, which cannot provide much value to its members in the local area.

Idea – Do you have any great idea for the IEEE? 

IEEE could consider providing some local benefits to its members. This idea emerged from one of the active IEEE student members. The idea of providing local benefits is to provide value to its members. I started working on this idea (named as ‘IEEE Local Benefits’ project) at the platform of IEEE YP Karachi, in which we have corporate partners in the local area joining to provide benefits to our IEEE Karachi Section members, such as discounts on travel and food. This is just an idea to value our IEEE members and this idea can be reflected in other IEEE Sections also.

Advice – What advice can you provide to IEEE or IEEE members? 

IEEE Sections and IEEE Young Professionals groups should provide a platform in bridging the IEEE student branches with corporate organizations. This bridge can be developed in several ways; organizing various study and field trips by students to different companies, arranging tech-talks of professionals at IEEE student branches where they can share their experiences with students and train them, conducting job hunting and other activities that can make the universities interact with the organizations etc. These activities will successfully create a better industry–academia relationship.

Lesson – Describe a lesson you have learnt as a result of the IEEE 

IEEE is always providing me life changing experiences. After joining the IEEE, I was able to interact with other IEEE student branch members. I started sharing ideas, building a great ‘technology’ network with the people having the same passion, striving towards the same goal. IEEE is always helpful when building my professional network. I started making friends within the IEEE Karachi Section and now I have IEEE friends from all over the IEEE Region 10 (Asia Pacific). Thank you IEEE for helping me out in growing my network with professional executives of corporate organizations.

Article edited by Nadee Seneviratne, Junior Assistant Editor, GOLDRush 

Getting SOCIAL with Kavinga Ekanayake

Who is Kavinga Ekanayake?

Kavinga Ekanayake is the Chair of the Sri Lanka Young Professionals Affinity Group and a research assistant at University of Moratuwa.

Kavinga

 

Suggestion – Do you have any suggestions for the IEEE? 

IEEE is a great platform to utilize the skills of bright minds across the world for the betterment of humanity. However, due to lack of awareness, I feel that sometimes these brilliant skills of IEEE volunteers are not fully optimized. If IEEE can devise an effective plan to create awareness about the vast number of opportunities available in the career path from the student branch member level to the IEEE President, both parties will benefit through increased motivation towards IEEE and optimal contribution attracted from the skilled volunteers, while helping their professional development.

Opinion – Provide an opinion on any IEEE related topic. 

IEEE is currently more focused on academia, whereas organizations like IET have more industrial relations. IEEE should focus more on getting the industrial personnel involved to their activities and committees. People should be able to use IEEE as a great platform to bridge the gap between industry and academia which are a bit more separated at the moment, especially in region 10. Academic researches should reach the public through industry in order to advance humanity through technology.

Concern – Express a major concern related to IEEE 

Huge percentage of student members and volunteers of IEEE are not retaining their membership after the graduation and this is a major concern. IEEE should concentrate more on this issue through the entities like Young Professionals groups to retain the members and volunteers with a clear motivation. IEEE Young Professionals is a great platform to bridge the gap between student members and sectional level.

Idea – Do you have any great idea for the IEEE 

Media can play a major role in shaping attitudes of people in any part of the world. I suggest that IEEE should invest more time into IEEE TV and bring it to the level of a satellite channel to reach out to every corner of the world, capturing a wider audience. Investments could be obtained from industrial partnerships, especially from Multinational organizations, allowing their brand to be promoted through this. It will showcase the all the IEEE activities, adding more value to IEEE and volunteers and members could easily learn from each other improving effectiveness of all IEEE activities.

Advice – What advice can you provide to IEEE or IEEE members? 

All IEEE members should try to hold an effective volunteer position as long as they can. IEEE is the greatest platform to develop interpersonal skills such as leadership, management etc. through volunteering. It’s a rare opportunity to create local as well as international connections with a community of higher caliber. Sharing experiences among the people of different regions will help to make the world a much better place to the humanity.

Kavinga 2

Lesson – Describe a lesson you have learnt as a result of the IEEE 

I was attracted to IEEE because of its tagline – “Advancing technology for Humanity”. It helps me to use my skills towards the betterment of humanity, which has been my very own ambition since childhood. I was lagging behind in leadership and public communication skills in earlier days. IEEE helped me a lot to improve leadership  and communication skills through a variety of volunteer positions. One of the greatest aspects is the opportunity to create an international network of friends. I learnt how to deal with different people and different situations. I owe all of this to the IEEE since it has unveiled my true potential.

What is SOCIAL?

Suggestion, Opinion, Concern, Idea, Advice, Lesson (SOCIAL) is a new initiative of the IEEE GOLDRush publication team to connect with Young Professional volunteers world-wide. The SOCIAL questionnaire provides members with a “voice” that can be shared with our entire membership by answering a few simple questions.

Article edited by Nadee Seneviratne, Junior Assistant Editor, GOLDRush 

An IEEE beacon of light in Iraq

Today’s story is a very sad one, but also one filled with a sense of pride and hope. The once beautiful country of Iraq has experienced much hardship in recent times, going from one conflict to another. Following the withdraws of foreign troops in 2011, the country has plunged into unrest which has led to deep division. With the current difficulties in Iraq, we have had the pleasure of speaking with one of the beacons of hope, a dedicated IEEE volunteer, Saad Jasim, the IEEE Young Professional Chair of Iraq. Saad and his IEEE volunteers see no division and no barriers in educating others, even in the hardest of times. Currently there are over 3 million displaced people in Iraq as a result of the attack of terrorism forces (ISIS), amongst them many IEEE members and their loved ones. These families are distributed in many cities and the IEEE Iraq Section is continuously visiting these families to offer them any kind of support possible.

Dr. Sattar with student and local volunteers

Dr. Sattar with student and local volunteers

An overview of IEEE Young Professional activity in Iraq

IEEE has been in operation in Iraq since 2008 and since then has taken major steps in expanded IEEE offerings from conferences, workshops, specific lessons, and many social activities. This has been highly beneficial to the entire Iraqi society and in particular to educational bodies such as universities and colleges. The IEEE Iraqi volunteers support the educational bodies by introducing the core values and objectives of the IEEE and the scientific activities which assist in promoting the engineering profession. Iraq has 18 cities and many rural regions which are not easy to access. As such, a major effort is required to distribute the activities throughout the country. The dedication of the IEEE volunteers has made this possible. The IEEE in Iraq have an active Communication and Computer society as well as enthusiastic YP and WIE affinity groups.  Since 2012, the IEEE Young Professionals of Iraq have run many valuable events supported in many instances financially by volunteers in times of hardship. Some of their activities are listed below:

  • Social gatherings to introduce the vast interests of IEEE to students, professionals and communities
  • Lessons on wireless communications (2G,3G and evolution of 4G) for many companies.
  • Robotic lessons supported by professional experts
  • IEEE day celebrations on an annual basis with other volunteers and share it with non-members like children.
  • Dinner meetings and discussing for future direction
  • Management of IEEE Iraq section elections

In the words of Saad Jasim

Before the ISIS conflicts, the education in Iraq was normal but the internal conflicts heavily impeded on the progress of education. For example the road between Baghdad and the northern cities has been extremely dangerous, preventing students from travelling freely. As a result of the country status, permission for thousands of students to complete higher education outside of the country was given and this has complicated the lives for the families due to displacements, cost of living and education is high and the economy and salaries not sufficient. I can say that in Iraq we have the ability to live through the hardest of times because hard times such as this turn your heart to “iron”.

Dr. Sattar encouraging students to think positively

Dr. Sattar encouraging students to think positively

 

When ISIS occupied some cities of Iraq and applied their rules on the citizens there, the link with the central education system was destroyed. ISIS authorities insisted in radically altering the teaching methodology and content for primary and secondary schools because of their views and objections on existing techniques. The Iraqi students in these regions have become extremely confused and the current situation does not support them in their learning requirements. Many of these students have lost family members, their homes and their freedom.  Their history and their future being destroyed in front of their eyes. It is the most dearest wish of all of the IEEE Young Professionals and ordinary citizens that we live in peace and prosperity.

Dr. Sattar helping students

Dr. Sattar helping students

 

Lastly, I would like to share the details of a small IEEE event during the times of conflict. Dr. Sattar, an active IEEE member, recently visited one of schools that is assigned for displaced students from Mosul, Anbar and Tal’afer in (Babil City – Zuhair School). He spent much of his day listening to their hardship, educating them and providing them with words of inspiration that this will all pass and that they have a bright future ahead of the.  “They are our little angles, and all of our wishes are directed at providing them with shelter and security. To give them the happiness and so that they can go back to their homes which they see only in dreams.” says Dr. Sattar.

Last words

“I do apologise that I can not share any more with your readers and that we are not able to document every effort to help others. Please accept this simple report as a means of telling our fellow IEEE members that we are experiencing difficulties and that your support means the world to us. I am sure I’ll be in touch with you in the future since we are all part of the greater IEEE family” says Saad Jasim.

“I have visited many places in and around Babylon offering any assistance I areas between. In all these areas, we have thousands of families who have been expelled or left in fear their homes in northern and western Iraq. The Iraq section has attempted to visit these areas on a regular basis to provide a good picture about the status of these families. We have also made big efforts to visit schools as the pictures show. The last IEEE day was solely dedicated to all the students who are displaced from their homes.  Many of our IEEE Iraq Section members and their families have been collecting “financial support” to help these students. This is our “Social and Human ” responsibility as IEEE members inside our country.” says Dr. Sattar.

Dr. Sattar with future IEEE engineers

Dr. Sattar with future IEEE engineers

Article contributed by Saad Jasim, Chair of the Iraqi IEEE Young Professionals in correspondence with Dr. Eddie Custovic, GOLDRush Editor-in-Chief 

Professional Awareness Conference: Smart Cities

“Smart Cities” is a buzz phrase that is often heard, so it makes sense that IEEE Young Professionals are engaged at the core of this theme. Today’s report comes from Nigeria, where the Young Professionals and Students have put together a two day awareness conference in Nigeria themed around Smart Cities on the 19th and 20th of March 2015.

Smart Cities utilise readily available and emerging digital technologies to improve  performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. There is a myriad of  ‘smart’ sectors which include energy, transport, health care, waste management, water. 

The conference was made of up of exciting technological exhibitions and keynote presentations. Day one featured exhibitions from special guests Prof. M. O Omoigui and representatives from the Great FM Radio Station, Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and EEESS Officials.

A total of 17 project were showcased, including; Yellow foot – a piezo electrically powered smart shoe for the blind, Artifind – an application to help visitors to a city where art can be viewed, Voissapp – an application designed to network students and teachers within the campus, Security systems for home appliances and many others.

Day two featured industry guest speakers and exhibitors including; Mr. Adeyinka Aderombi (Konga.com), Mr. Ifeayin Odoh (Schneider Electric), Mr. Samuel Enoch-Oghene (TAHMO), Mr. Oloma Ibrahim (Center4tech), Mr. Richards Boyewa (Sanwo), Mr. Femi Omoniyi  (Topupextra) and Mr. Harry Enahoro (Mettalloids).

Students and Young Professionals at the Smart Cities Conference

Students and Young Professionals at the Smart Cities Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few key highlights include the presentation/demonstrations from Mr. Aderombi who highlighted the importance of e-commerce and smart cities, Mr. Boyewa Richards who demonstrated “Sanwo.me” an offline payment system and Mr. Odoh from Schneider Electric who presented on innovations in Smart Grid Networks.

TopUpExtra – TopUpExtra is a web and mobile application that avails you the opportunity to recharge your mobile phone with vouchers accessed via a very intuitive, simple to use and innovative system to make the process seamless. Mr Enoch Enoch-Oghene from TAHMO examined Green Energy and Renewables for Smart Cities while Mr Oloma Ibrahim from Center4tech delved into the Transportation and Environmental Health.

Over 200 students, staff and industry personnel attended the two day event. The organisers, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) hope that this event will serve as a platform for students and Young Professionals of Nigeria to consider how they can make their city a smarter city. 

Article contributed by Tobi Taiwo, IEEE OAUSB Chair  and Abdullateef Aliyu, Chair of the Nigerian IEEE Young Professionals

IEEE Adventures in Croatia

Today’s story comes to us from a small country situated on the beautiful Adriatic Coast, Croatia. While this may be one of the smaller sections in the IEEE world, it is very passionate with volunteers who strive for perfection. On another note, you may recall that Nikola Tesla, arguably the world’s greatest thinker was also born in Croatia.

IEEE Day 2014, annual Croatian Student Branch and Young Professionals Congress

IEEE Day 2014, annual Croatian Student Branch and Young Professionals Congress

As IEEE Young Professionals Croatia team is preparing to host the Central European Student and Young Professionals Congress (IEEE CEuSYP), organized together with Student Branch Zagreb University, they are taking a moment to reflect on 2014 which was a huge success for the group.

In 2014 the IEEE Young Professionals Croatia Affinity Group organized four events as part of IEEE Elevate, a program that was initiated in 2013 as a series of lectures gathering young engineers, students, professionals and scientists. It was started by Young Professionals Croatia with the intention to instigate networking between young enthusiasts and visionaries in the ambiance of attractive innovation and emerging technology lectures. They have hosted seven such events to date and brought together a mixture of technology, entrepreneurship and networking. Topics of recent Elevate events include: electronic money, online games industry, fusion of art and science, developing software for space industry, etc.

Step event - Career skills

Step event – Career skills

Furthermore, the YP Croatia group organised and hosted a STEP event in October. Fran Mikulicic (MBA, Vanderbilt University), one of the best public speech coaches in the region, presented on the art of public speaking, job hunting, verbal persuasion and business negotiations – skills crucial for career development. The event was intended to raise the awareness of attendees on the important of self-presentation for their future career. They were expected to learn how to get rid of the usual jitters when standing in front of the audience, focus on the participants, their attention, needs and expectation, how to accomplish the individual communication approach with each one of them and finally achieve best possible outcomes.

One of the year’s highlight was the celebration of the IEEE Day in the form of an annual Croatian Student Branch and Young Professionals Congress. Last year, 4th in a row, it was held in the city of Rijeka, Croatia, on 4-5th of October, hosted by the University of Rijeka student branch in cooperation with IEEE Croatia Section and Young Professionals Croatia. The event was attended by 25 representatives from all Croatian student branches. The program focus was based around workshops on  technical and administrative nature, presentations about organized activities, and lots of team building. The congress enabled exchange of ideas, knowledge transfer to the new volunteers, and finally, enabling the students’ transition to active Young Professionals volunteers.

Meeting with Region 8 Young Professionals Subcommittee

Meeting with Region 8 Young Professionals Subcommittee

The year was rounded up with the Region 8 Young Professionals Subcommittee meeting that took place in Zagreb, Croatia on December 13-14, 2015. The Young Professionals Croatia Affinity Group officials had the chance to participate in the meeting by contributing to the preparation of the SYP Congress Organization Manual with their experience from previous congress attendances and filed application for organization of SYP Congress in 2014. During the meeting, the Outstanding Volunteer Award was given to Young Professionals Croatia Affinity Group Vice-Chair Ivana Stupar.

If you would like to find out more check out the Young Professionals Croatia activities at www.ieee.hr/ieeesection/yp and www.facebook.com/IEEEYPCroatia, and meet them at the Central European Student and Young Professionals Congress in Zagreb, on May 8-10, 2015. To find out more about the Congress please visit http://www.ceusyp2015.org/

Central European Student and Young Professionals Congress, Zagreb, May 8-10 2015

Central European Student and Young Professionals Congress,
Zagreb, May 8-10 2015

The editorial team thanks the Croatian Young Professionals and wish them the best of luck in 2015.

Article contributed by Vinko Lesic, Young Professionals Chair of Croatia.