The Journey Shall Continue

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles”

For all those who know me. Hi buddy. And for those who don’t, Hey! I am IEEE Kerala Section Young Professionals AG. I am an affinity group of IEEE, the world’s largest technical organization. I know my name is a little too long, but let’s not do what we usually do! Please don’t find an abbreviation for me. Born in 2001 in Kerala, I am turning 15. I am young, vibrant and full of positive energy. I race through time and leap across hurdles. It was not the same till I was 10. In the initial days I existed but was not counted. I had dreams to achieve big, but lacked helping hands to support me. My reach was limited, as were my friends. I was living, but not alive.

It was a week past my tenth birthday when I met a group of youngsters who were like minded. They had immense talent.  They were exuberant but were short of opportunities and lacked direction. Some say it was destiny, but I differ. Yes because, destiny is an excuse for the weak. We were folks with strong attitude and charismatic persona. There was nothing to hold us back as we launched ourselves towards the boundless sky in the hope of reaching the zenith one day.

So our journey started with an aim to gather more people who could add value to our initiatives. We started with a GOLD Congress. GOLD!!! Graduates of Last Decade. That’s my old name. That is when we discovered that we had a huge support from the professional community in Kerala. The entire Congress was centered on the theme ‘Bridging gaps, Expanding networks.’ The thirst to expand our network made us reach out to GOLD affinity groups all across India. PIIGOM-11, the Pan India IEEE GOLD officers meet 2011 became a milestone in the history of IEEE Region 10 GOLD activities. Having announced our arrival on a global arena we focused our efforts towards spreading awareness about IEEE to all sections of society. The idea of Continuing Education Congress (CEC) was one such effort to attract members of the academia towards the ‘GOLD’en opportunities in IEEE. A very strong contingent attended the Teacher in Service Program (TISP) Roll-Out at Hyderabad, and it was decided to take the initiative forward in Kerala. We successfully conducted the first ever TISP workshop in Kerala on 16th July 2011 in association with IEEE TKMCE Student Branch, Kerala. The event was a proclaimed success with participation of 52 school teachers across South Kerala. We even reached out to the student community through the Student Transition and Elevation Partnership (STEP) program. Volunteer Leadership Training (VOLT) was conducted to enhance the leadership and managerial skills among the professionals and to identify the leaders for future. Our sincere efforts were recognized as Mr. Rayees Amar Nishad (Chair, IEEE Kerala GOLD, 2011) was bestowed with the “2011 IEEE R1O GOLD Award”.  As somebody very rightly said “As you sow, so shall you reap”.

The year 2012 was focused more towards strengthening our roots, by channeling most of our resources to improve and enhance our 2011 initiatives. Continuing Education Congress, TISP, STEP and VOLT were the follow up events from the previous year, helping us establish a stronger collaboration among different technical groups of society. This was also the time when Entrepreneurship was a buzz among the youth. We felt a need to make the budding Engineers and young professionals aware about the various aspects involved in initiating a start-up and to sustain it. The Entrepreneurship Meet 2012 focused on addressing the challenges faced by the entrepreneurs in the global market and pitfalls to avoid in their journey ahead. This event was a confluence of aspiring entrepreneurs, like-minded students and experienced personnel from the industry who had already jumped the band-wagon. For our continued efforts and the positive impact we created among all sections of society, we were honored with the prestigious ‘MGA IEEE GOLD Hall of Fame Award’ for the year 2012. This is the highest honor given out annually by IEEE MGA to the best GOLD Affinity group globally. IEEE Kerala Section GOLD Advisor, Prof. V.K. Damodaran was awarded the prestigious “2012 Historical Achievement & Academia-Industry Partnership Award- IEEE R10 – Industry Relations”. We were digging out gold.

The year 2013 was a golden period for us in terms of the activities we conducted and the recognitions we received. IEEE Kerala Section past GOLD Chair, Mr. Rayees Amar Nishad was appointed as the 2013 IEEE R1O GOLD Coordinator” and IEEE Kerala Section GOLD Secretary, Mr. Ajin Baby was appointed as the “2013 IEEE R1O GOLD Webmaster”. We were planning to fly higher.

The Early Career Faculty Development Program (ECFDP) was initiated, which was to become a milestone in the history of IEEE Kerala Young Professionals. The unique initiative was to serve its own members and non-members, who are in the early days of their teaching profession. The ECFDP workshop held at Vidya Academy of Science and Technology, Thrissur, was a huge success. The focus was on providing guidance on Pedagogy, Adolescent psychology etc., which would help the teachers gain confidence and the much needed acumen. In addition to it a Community Engagement Workshop on Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT), Engineering Projects on Community Service (EPICS) and TISP was jointly organized by IEEE Kerala SIGHT and IEEE Kerala GOLD SIGHT with support from IEEE SIGHT, to address the needs of the society and provide expert solutions for the same and to share the experience of volunteers who have already provided solutions for demanding humanitarian issues. In continuation to our humanitarian activities, an Eyes Free Science Camp was conducted in association with Chakshumathi Assistive Technology Centre (NGO working to uplift the standard of technical education for the blind in Kerala), for the visually challenged students to encourage them towards pursuing technical stream for their higher education and to imbibe in them an interest towards science and technology. The annual STEP event was held to make the Graduating students and professionals aware regarding the member benefits of GOLD, thus encouraging them to join us. Some value added events for the Professionals included a hands-on workshop on Drupal Content Management System which was organized by the IEEE Kerala GOLD along with the FOSS Young Professional Meet 2013. The event was supported by ICFOSS, Chennai Drupal Community, IEEE Kerala Section and IEEE Region 10 GOLD. As part of the IEEE Day 2013, an International Blogging Contest was initiated and received active participation from IEEE volunteers all across the globe. Mr. Ranjit R Nair brought laurels to IEEE Kerala GOLD by bagging both “2012 IEEE R10 GOLD Volunteer Award” and “2012 IEEE MGA GOLD Achievement Award”, thus ending the year on a high note.

We started the year 2014 with a blast by conducting the second series of ECFDP at TKM College of Engineering, Kollam, followed by the third series in MES College of Engineering, Kuttipuram. Altogether, a total of 150 early career faculty professionals were trained, which indirectly benefitted thousands of engineering students. IEEE E-Scientia was expanded to the Cochin University of Science and Technology, Center for Science in Society (CSiS) in Kerala, India by the IEEE Kerala Section, IEEE Kochi Subsection and IEEE Kerala Young Professionals in collaboration with the IEEE Educational Activities Board. More than 3000 students have visited the scientific miracle till date. The Eyes Free Science Camp became our flagship event, with yet another camp being organized in association with Chakshumathi Assistive Technology Centre. IEEE Kerala section and IEEE Kerala Young Professional Special Interest Group for Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) joined hands together for the All Kerala SIGHT Camp 2014. A strong contingent comprising of senior IEEE members, IEEE Kerala Young Professional volunteers and IEEE student volunteers visited the people living in a small tribal area near Kunjipara, Kerala, gaining an insight on their standard of living and the lack of basic amenities like electricity, drinking water and healthcare facilities. A report was prepared and was recommended to the Government of Kerala to provide further support to the underprivileged people. “IEEE R10 EA award for Continuing Education 2014” and “IEEE EAB Meritorious Achievement award for Continuing Education 2014” was received by Prof. VK Damodaran and Mr. Ranjit R Nair for their exemplary volunteering efforts towards making the ECFDP a grand success. This was also the time when my name was changed from IEEE GOLD AG to IEEE Young Professionals AG.

Our activities were getting bigger and better each year. 2015 started with multiple micro meet-ups in various geographical locations across Kerala to get all the volunteers in sync with our annual plans and maximize our volunteer resources. The annual VOLT program was a great success in terms of identifying the budding leaders for the future. In addition to the Eyes Free Science Camp 2015, IEEE Kerala Young Professionals SIGHT team came up with the idea to help the school going kids residing in Government shelter homes. “Shasthra Vismaya” was a joint venture in association with IEEE Kerala Section WIE AG and Department of Social Welfare, Govt. of Kerala. The kids were given hands on experience on different scientific innovations encouraging them to pursue education in technical stream. Three series of workshops were conducted under this initiative benefitting more than 150 students. JyotIEEE was yet another initiative by IEEE Kerala Section SIGHT and IEEE Kerala Young Professional SIGHT Group, wherein, Solar Lanterns were sent to Earthquake hit Nepal. This year was also special because of the mentoring provided by the Young Professional volunteers to the IEEE Kerala Section Student community. The Young Professionals track in All Kerala Students Congress 2015 proved to be a great experience for the students in terms of learning and for the Young Professionals team in identifying some promising student volunteers who could be a part of our team in the days to come. We were also instrumental in hosting the All India Student and Young Professionals Congress, the first of its kind where we had a Young Professionals track in parallel. Delegates of Young Professionals Affinity groups from six different sections across India attended the event. A wide range of talks and brainstorming sessions were the main highlights of the confluence. The first anniversary of E-Scientia project was celebrated and further expansion plans have been initiated. Last year too, we had awards galore as we were awarded the “2015 R10 Outstanding Young Professionals Affinity Group”. Mr. Vijay S Paul received the “2015 IEEE R10 Best Young Professional Affinity Group Award (Industry Practitioner)” and Mr. Nandakumar R received the “2015 IEEE R10 Best Young Professional Affinity Group Award (Academician)”. We had a strong representation at R10 SYW Congress 2015 (Srilanka), R10 HTC 2015 (Philippines) and TENCON (Macau).

Stepping into 2016, we are on the verge of tremendous expansion, both in terms of volunteer count and activities. The days passed by were full of ups and downs. We faced each situation with strong determination, finding solutions for every problem coming our way.  It was, and will be all about enjoying each other’s success and complimenting each other’s shortcomings. With many more dreams to achieve and aspirations to help the community we are gearing up for a yet another eventful year. It’s not about me neither about you, it’s all about our journey which shall forever continue.

“Heights by great men were not achieved in a single flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling hard in the night”