Published: 31 Jan 2023
Like many other engineering areas, the communications engineering community needs to be investigating how to inspire and engage the next generation of engineers. So when the ComSoc Educational Service Board (ESB) first endeavored to develop an approach to creating a Pre-University STEM Education Program within ComSoc, one of the first steps was to gain an understanding of the general scope of Pre-University activities across IEEE. It turns out that there is a lot of work being done in this area. We began with taking a look at what has been reported in the IEEE volunteer resource called vTools in which information about various IEEE events and meetings are shared. The below chart shows the number of Pre-University STEM activities that took place in each IEEE Region in 2021.
We found this information to be great news, since the 264 events labeled as Pre-University STEM are distributed globally and this leads us to believe there is widespread awareness of the terminology of Pre-University / STEM education and shows the importance of educational opportunities in this area in many countries. It is likely that much of this awareness within IEEE can be attributed to the efforts of the TryEngineering Program that is spearheaded by the IEEE Educational Activities Board (EAB). In digging deeper into this data, we found that more than half of the events were hosted by Student Branches. Thus, our intuition seemed confirmed, that University students have one of the closest connections to the younger students following in their footsteps and they have greater interest and motivation to create learning opportunities for these younger students.
Now that we know some more about Pre-University STEM Education within IEEE, next, we need to find out more about what is happening within ComSoc and how we can support those activities and impact more students. Gratefully, there are already groups of members in ComSoc that stand out for the work that they are doing in this area. One such group of members are a team of students at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain. According to Victor Gil Jimenez, one of the members of the team leading these activities at the university, they are organizing events such as escape rooms, technological camp, and talks at high schools just to name a few. Their activities are designed for students of various ages, from 7-17 years of age. In fact their “Digital Escape Room” activity was a winner in the 14-18 age group for the recent Pre-University STEM Hands-On Activity Contest.
It’s not only university students who are connecting with Pre-University students, local ComSoc Chapters are busy with their outreach as well. The IEEE Pune Section in India and the IEEE Italy Section were featured in ComSoc News in late 2022 for their unique workshops organized for Pre-University teachers and students. Also notably, the 2022 IEEE ComSoc Chapter of the Year Award Winner, the Panama Chapter, has organized several Pre-University Education Activities including camps for younger students.
Now on to the really fun, stuff….how YOU can get involved and share your experiences with the ComSoc community! ComSoc has been working to identify and create resources to help you plan and implement activities for Pre-University level students in your local area. Check out the Pre-University Education Resources page on the ComSoc website. Get inspired! View some samples of activity ideas from the winners of the recent Pre-University STEM Hands-On Activity Contest. Search for programs you can adapt for use in your local area in the TryEngineering.org Volunteer Portal. Find local IEEE events with a Pre-University focus by searching for events in vTools. Just remember when you are planning your event to follow these important guidelines for working with children.
Finally, and most important, share information about your event with the ComSoc community! Gathering data on the frequency and types of events created or supported by ComSoc volunteers helps justify continued support by ESB. Let others know about the great work that you are doing in Pre-University / STEM education to inspire even more participation! Please add your event / activity information to vTools. When you are creating an event, be sure to choose Pre-U STEM Program in the Event Category and COM19 in the Society/Affinity Group section as shown here:
You can also tag your event to make it easier for others to find. In the “DETAILS” section of the create event form, there is a field called “Tags/Keywords”. vTools automatically suggests some tags for you, but you can also enter custom tags for your event, e.g. #ComSoc or #communications. The more tags you add, the easier it will be for others to search for and find your event. It’s important that you record the event with COM19 in the Society/Affinity group and Pre-U STEM Program in the event category so that your event will appear in the calendar feed on the ComSoc website that will be coming soon. This way our community can be aware of your upcoming event. We want to promote the great work that you are doing, so help us to help you! We look forward to learning more about the wonderful activities that you are organizing to inspire the next generation of communication engineers!