Among the most interesting and promising organizations developed in the IEEE as a regional organization are the student branches. They provide an opportunity for students to begin networking in their areas of interest and future profession. They also carry out activities related to bringing engineering closer to society. Most of these activities are focused on schools, where they seek to demystify the dark and serious image that most students have of engineering work. Not surprisingly, when pupils realize the wide variety of applications that can be developed with current market technology (mobiles, drones, Arduino, Odroid, etc.), they take their studies a little more seriously.
The youth of their members provides many benefits to the IEEE, including the fact that most of the high quality scientific publications of the IEEE conferences and journals come from the hard work of pre-doctoral students. However, their youth also gives them a touch of inexperience. This may explain why some seem to think they constitute a sort of second-order organization. However, the amount, interest and frequency of their activities reveal rather the contrary.
The Spain section of the IEEE includes all the student branches of every Spanish university. All of them have a well defined regulation that, in short, provides them with the legal framework within which to develop their activities. Recently, however, this framework has changed a little in order to better suit the growth of the student branches. To date there has been one Section Student Representative (SSR) in Spain, who has been in charge of both supervising the activities of the branches and creating new ones. However, to support the SSR in his management tasks, this year all branches have agreed on a less centralized management with the incorporation of four additional coordinators.
One of their main tasks is the organization of the annual congress known as Student Branch, Women in Engineering and Young Professionals (SWYP, formerly Congreso Nacional de Ramas, also known as CNR). The first session of the SWYP was held in Granada, Spain on March 9-11. The SWYP gave members an opportunity to share their expertise, but even more important, a platform to discuss the challenges they face and different ways to deal with them. In addition, there were several presentations on the topics of both Women in Engineering and Young Professionals, which were very interesting in giving a different view on the roles that women are able to play in engineering as well as new future working opportunities. Finally, the SWYP is also in charge of monitoring the activities of all branches. The assessment takes into account indicators such as the number of projects and dissemination activities developed, the quality of the web page of the student branch, and so on. It is not an easy task, since all branches have done good work. This could explain the surprising fact that this year there were two winners in a hard-fought tie: The Universitat de València and the Universidad Miguel Hernández, both of them located in the València region of Spain.
The next SWYP congress will be held in Cartagena, Spain. We all wish the very best for this and future SWYP meetings.