Broadening the Horizons of Student Involvement

Transcending boundaries and creating new opportunities

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biological Society (EMBS) student activities have evolved over time, gaining new heights as years pass. The year 2013 was very important for us as we reached out more effectively into new geographical regions and also enhanced our scientific endeavors. The primary highlights of 2013 were the increased student activities in the Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Middle-Eastern zones, transcending geographical boundaries and hurdles of linguistic differences. We also conducted the highly successful International Student Conference at Cairo, Egypt, amid significant political turmoil [1]. This highlights the true spirit and dedication of our members and volunteers, which helped to further technology’s progress for humanity’s benefit.

The past year started with a preconference meeting on “Developing a Biomedical Innovation Forum in India and IEEE’s Role” at IEEE’s newly established India Operations Center at Bangalore. This meeting addressed general issues regarding the proliferation of biomedical engineering, leadership skills, and volunteerism in the Indian subcontinent. This was followed up with a Best Paper Contest at the 2013 Special Topic Conference on Point of Care Technologies (POCHT), in Bangalore, in which we saw student participation from across the world. The Student Chapter meeting was one of the key student activities organized in conjunction with POCHT 2013. This forum provided an opportunity for both students and IEEE Young Professional members to communicate directly with IEEE EMBS leaders and IEEE staff members. This meeting was attended by a number of key EMBS figures, including the president of IEEE EMBS as well as conference chairs. Additionally, nine Student Chapters and clubs were represented by their student members and officers. This was the first of such forums to be organized outside the IEEE EMBS annual international conferences, and it was a grand success. The ideas and concerns shared openly by the students in this meeting were helpful in understanding the dynamics of the membership in Region 10 (R10) and will be guiding our vision for better student engagement in the times to come.

Next up, our biggest conference, the 35th Annual International Conference of the IEEE EMBS (EMBC 2013), was held in July 2013 in Osaka, Japan. This conference served to cohost elaborate student/IEEE Young Professionals [formerly IEEE Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD)]/IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) events, ranging from tutorials and the well-attended Lunch with Leaders to a variety of social tours. These events drew more than 1,000 participants. They all brought us up close and personal with the fast-increasing membership base in R10 and the community as a whole.

One of the winners crowned with the Best New Student Chapter/Club Award at the IEEE EMBC was the Student Chapter at Hashemite University, Jordan. The Chapter has shown exceptional initiative in its formative year, and we look forward to its constant growth. In a related vein, the Club de Ingeniería Civil Biomédica de Concepción, Chile, won the Outstanding Student Chapter/Club Award, demonstrating tremendous consistency in its endeavors. These accomplishments reveal the tremendous diversity of IEEE EMBS students and confirm the IEEE EMBS as the biggest and the best global confluence of the minds of tomorrow in biomedical engineering. We must not forget our finalists and winners of the Student Paper Competition, who came from every corner of the world and enlightened us all with their awe-inspiring research. Although all of them were winners in their own right, the judges’ decision declared Pavitra Krishnaswamy (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as the winner of the Best Student Paper Award 2013 for her paper, “A Reference-Free Harmonic Regression Technique to Remove EEG-fMRI Ballistocardiogram Artifacts” [2].

FIGURE 1: The (a) IEEE EMBS staff and volunteers and (b) EMBS volunteers with former IEEE President Moshe Kam at the R10 Student/GOLD/WIE ­Congress, Hyderabad, India.

FIGURE 1: The (a) IEEE EMBS staff and volunteers and (b) EMBS volunteers with former IEEE President Moshe Kam at the R10 Student/GOLD/WIE ­Congress, Hyderabad, India.

We always aim to reach out to more students to help make them aware of the vast research and career opportunities that lie in biomedical engineering and related fields. As a part of our efforts, we participated in the IEEE R10 Student/GOLD/WIE Congress 2013 in Hyderabad, India (Figure 1). The forum offered a key networking opportunity for students and young professionals from R10. The EMBS presentation highlighted the importance of biomedical technologies and their positioning within the IEEE portfolio. There was a heightened interest in EMBS and its activities, and a large number of queries were received. This event was attended by four IEEE presidents (past/present/elect) and student leaders from more than 100 Student Branches, Chapters, and affinity groups. Former IEEE President Moshe Kam explained to the diverse audience the vitality of engineering in medicine and biology in the changing world. He portrayed IEEE’s growing involvement in life science as one of the seven primary reasons that Members should want to be a part of the IEEE. This was indeed heartwarming, and I hope more young IEEE Members will be encouraged to take up or contribute to the growth and evolution of the biomedical profession and IEEE EMBS [3].

Finally, I would like to invite all my fellow students to join the wonderful student programs that we have planned for 2014. We have started to organize the student activities in our major conferences—including but not limited to the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, Beijing, China; IEEE-EMBS International Conferences on Biomedical and Health Informatics, Valencia, Spain; 2014 IEEE EMBS Special Topic Conference on Healthcare Innovation & Point-of-Care Technologies, Seattle, Washington; and EMBC 2014, Chicago, Illinois, United States. In the coming months, we will update you with more details of the student programs at EMBC and other conferences, so stay tuned to this column and the EMBS student Web site [4]. The year 2013 was a year of exploring the new and charting unexplored territories—but as we grow more confident, we are expanding our outreach to more students across continents in 2014. We have conferences and student activities planned in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. So we invite you all to join us in the journey—and be a part of it all. Don’t forget, most surveys put BME as the most valuable college major for 2013. The value lies in the community and its wonderful innovations that make the lives of teeming millions better each day [5] and the noble profession even more treasured.

References

  1. A. Abdelhadi, “IEEE EMBS International Student Conference,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 84–85, 2014.
  2. J. Rutherford, “Land of the rising stars: JSMBE Hosts EMBC 2013,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 16–19, May 2013.
  3. P. Venkatasubban and P. Kovvali, “Fine arts and four presidents at the R10 SGW congress,” IEEE GOLDRush, Jan. 12, 2014 (Blog).
  4. EMBS Student Web site. [Online].
  5. S. Mandal, “Frugal innovations for global health: Perspectives for students [Student’s Corner],” IEEE Pulse, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 11–13, Jan./Feb. 2014.