TL; DR: With standards governing everything from nuclear weapons software to wifi networks, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) bring a unique blend of computing and engineering expertise to developing the standards governing the advancement of technology. The society boasts roughly 60,000 members and encompasses all aspects of theory, design, practice, and applications of computer science, technology, and information processing. IEEE Computer Society President Roger Fujii shared his IEEE membership experiences and how the networking and educational opportunities provide an invaluable resource to both established professionals and budding tech enthusiasts.
From air traffic control to radiation treatments, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and their Computer Society (IEEE CS) create and share the standards that govern technology and protect lives. The immersion of technology into seemingly every facet of our lives is certainly not a novel concept, but few understand the stakes more than Roger Fujii, IEEE Computer Society President.
One of his first jobs included certifying all the software for the US Air Force and Navy’s strategic nuclear weapons systems. He developed the methodology for providing objective evidence that verifies and validates a program is safe and secure, catching the eyes of IEEE Computer Society leaders who recruited Roger to lead a group developing a formal, industry-wide standard.
The result, IEEE Standard 1012, IEEE Standard for System and Software Verification and Validation, is now used by the military, the power industry, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Drug Administration, and other major government institutions and agencies. Without it, software could have undiscovered errors, resulting in disastrous effects.
In addition to computing standards, IEEE and IEEE CS provide trusted information, networking opportunities, and career-development resources to a global community of tech-minded researchers, academia, professionals, and students.
“What drew me into the IEEE is a unique blend of computing and engineering, along with academia and industry,” Roger said. “Computer Society is a nice marriage of all these important contributors. We’ve created an environment for generating new products and new ideas.”
How IEEE Computer Society Moves Engineering and IT Forward
The IEEE Computer Society traces their origins to the 1946 formation of the Subcommittee on Large-Scale Computing Devices (LCD) of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE).
Five years later, the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) formed the Professional Group on Electronic Computers (PGEC). The principal volunteer officers of both groups were designated chairs. The AIEE and the IRE merged in 1963 to become the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the IEEE.
IEEE now includes more than 430,000 members around the world and publishes a third of the world’s technical literature in electrical engineering, computer science, and electronics.
Crafting and Promoting Industry Computing Standards
Ever wonder why wireless routers have labels with 802.11ac, 802.11n, or something similar? You can thank the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN Standards Committee, which develops and maintains networking standards and practices for Ethernet, wireless, Bluetooth, and many other connections. Related to wireless, the 802.11 refers to the specific working group, while the letters represent the specific standard.
IEEE oversees more than 300 software engineering standards that set the framework for technical processes and practices.
“If you’re into process improvement and all that, standards are the very important ingredient in making sure you have a repeatable and optimal process,” Roger said.
IEEE will take a minimum of three years to develop a standard to allow for emerging technology and practices to mature, as well as finding the right mix of words that balance specificity with room for innovation.
“You try to rework your language such that it is as precise as possible without being overly constraining,” Roger said. “That’s an art form, to be able to say something that can be followed but not so prescriptive that two years from now new technology comes along and makes your standard outdated or obsolete.”
Networking, Conferences, and Events Make Rock Star Tech Speakers Accessible
Computer Society sponsors more than 250 conferences and technical events each year, providing interactive forums for computing professionals to network, collaborate, and innovate.
“There is a conference or event going on some place in the world just about every week for Computer Society,” Roger said. “It’s pretty easy to intersect with people all over the world.”
International Conference for High-Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis, or Supercomputing Conference, as Roger called it, showcases heavy computational work and technologies for sectors such as weather forecasting and genome research.
Computer Society’s flagship conference, COMPSAC, attracts industry professionals, government officials, and academics interested in research and trends in computer and software technologies.
Among their newer opportunities, Computer Society’s TechIgnite is part of their Rock Stars of Technology series of events that bring in well-known industry leaders for forward-thinking panels. The 2017 edition, scheduled for March 12-22 in San Francisco, will feature Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak and IBM’s Chief Scientist of Software Engineering Grady Booch.
Assisting with Educational Accreditation and Curricula
IEEE Computer Society helps develop curricula for collegiate software and computer engineering programs for all levels of expertise, specializing in areas of cybersecurity, Big Data, and Innovation of Things (IoT), to name a few.
For already established professionals, Computer Society offers certification credentials and online courses for continuing education credits, including a new course, Art of Hacking, which provides hands-on experience and teaches the fundamentals of hacking and penetration testing.
“We’re having an impact in a lot of different areas of computing technology,” Roger said. “You can find yourself venturing into our society through any one of these avenues and then you get involved in all sorts of other activities, as well.”
Join 430K IT Professionals — Benefits to Being a Member of IEEE
Roger said he joined IEEE because of the mix of computing and engineering resources applicable to his academics and industry backgrounds. Involvement in the standards groups and leadership positions further “sucked him into the organization,” he said with a laugh.
Access to Publications That Blend Academia and Industry Applications
Perhaps one of the most valuable perks of IEEE CS membership, according to Roger, is access to the Computer Society’s award-winning publications, including Computer magazine and the IEE Software and IEE Security and Privacy journals.
“That’s a treasure trove of information,” he said. “Foreign countries all subscribe to our digital library and magazines because that’s where original content is being written about technology.”
The rigorously vetted and “peer-reviewed” content resonates with both theories developed in academic research and the best applications discovered in industry practice.
“In order to publish, you really have to have a superior-quality paper,” Roger said. “If you can publish with us, that says a lot to people. That means you’ve done some pretty original work.”
Leadership Development and Mentoring
After the software certification standard was adopted, IEEE leadership asked Roger to examine an emerging technology called electronic mail in the early ’80s. His glowing report won an award and a slew of recommendations for elected positions within IEEE and Computer Society.
He continues to pay it forward by appointing others to special projects and assignments, along with encouraging others to do the same.
“If one were not a member of an organization like IEEE and IEEE CS, it would be very difficult to create the influence and impact that you could otherwise,” he said. “IEEE gave me some extra credentials that other people did not have.”
IEEE CS Aims to Appeal to the Next Generation of Engineers
Back in the Sputnik-era “heyday of computing,” as Roger put it, budding technologists were excited to join and grow with professional organizations.
“With the newer generations having access to multiple options, it’s crucial that the IEEE CS stays current with refereed content, curriculum, customer experience, publications, and offerings,” Roger said. “We consider the future of IEEE CS to be an exciting opportunity for all technologists moving into the industries of the future.”
IEEE Computer Society’s challenge moving forward is to show the next generation how the long-lasting relationships formed in IEEE CS can help with job searches and career growth.
“We’re trying to get our message across to this new generation because they think about the world in a different way than we used to think about it maybe 20 years ago,” Roger said. “That itself helps move technology forward.”