Community Development Opportunity Through IEEE ComSoc Workshops in New Zealand

By Nurul I Sarkar - Chair of the IEEE Joint NZ North, South and Central ComSoc Chapter

The IEEE New Zealand (NZ) Communications Society (Com- Soc) Chapter is a joint chapter of IEEE NZ North, South, and Central Sections. Last year (2015) was very productive for us in terms of professional development of members in the wider community. We hosted several professional development programs, including an IEEE Distinguished Lecture (DL), invited speakers, and several workshops and seminars. While these programs were very effective for professional development of staff, tertiary students, engineers, and industry practitioners, we have not had a chance to work with local community schools in New Zealand. ComSoc chapter chair, Associate Professor Nurul Sarkar, took the initiative to organize IEEE workshops in the community schools around Auckland. One such event was held at the IQRA ( Community School on Saturday 12 December 2015. This article highlights the motivation/background and the overall effectiveness of the IEEE workshops for the development of the local community schools.

IQRA is a distinct Auckland-based community school/academy, run by a group of dedicated volunteers/teachers. It aims to provide students ages 6 to 15 with a solid foundation of Islamic knowledge and ethics through technology enabled methodologies supplementing religious education to the traditional primary, intermediate, and high schools. The classes are held once a week mostly on weekends at the Mount Albert community complex (Rocket Park), Auckland. We worked with IQRA Academy and introduced IEEE activities to students and parents through seminars/workshops. The children are very talented here and are highly motivated to learn and find a link between Quran and science/technology. The IEEE workshop was very effective in meeting their requirements.

ComSoc Chapter Chair with IQRA teachers and students.

Another motivation for holding this workshop at IQRA was to meet and greet highly educated teachers and parents. The idea was to introduce IEEE to young minds (in terms of technological development and standardization on science and technology) who will be the future members of IEEE, especially when they enter the tertiary institutions.

The workshop began with a short PowerPoint presentation highlighting the IEEE activities in New Zealand and worldwide. An overview of IEEE was presented along with the role it plays in the professional development of the members of the wider community. The potential benefits of joining IEEE were highlighted. A short video was presented highlighting the significant contribution made by IEEE in the field of science and technology. The students enjoyed the video presentation and were excited to learn more about IEEE’s contributions worldwide. Finally, a number of quizzes were given to the students to test their knowledge and understanding of various aspects of IEEE. The students did very well with the quizzes, indicating they had learned about IEEE effectively.

Approximately 35 students and parents attended the event. With ample opportunity for discussion, people enjoyed talking and networking during lunch/refreshment break. The event was co-sponsored by IEEE ComSoc and the IEEE NZ North section. Organizing chair Associate Professor Nurul Sarkar received positive feedback from the teachers and parents, indicating that the event was successful.

In conclusion, IEEE NZ ComSoc workshops were very effective last year in terms of community development. We are hoping to offer more workshops of this kind to various community schools this year. We thank IEEE ComSoc and the IEEE NZ North Section for their support. We also thank Mr. Ataur Rahman (principal of IQRA Academy) for providing logistical support for the workshop.