10 Years of Innovation for the IEEE in the SF Bay Area

Dear local IEEE volunteers --                   August 15, 2014

    I started this assignment as your SF Bay Area Council's GRID editor and webmaster in spring, 2004, so I've been your publicist and supported your chapter's efforts for a full decade now. I feel that this is a good time for a recap of our achievements together. You know me as an energetic and innovative entrepreneur, phasing in new internet-based services on a regular basis. I have always been involved with volunteer groups: 20 years as Cubmaster and Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts (a Troop of 60 to 100 boys); an IEEE Society officer (22 years as VP-Pubs for a Society, where my individual efforts produced $8 million in extra revenue over that period); a local chapter volunteer for 40 years (CPMT chapter; annual revenue in excess of $80,000); and other positions in my church and community.

    The GRID magazine was started back in 1954 (see early issue, at right) to serve the IEEE members in the SF Bay Area; we are now in volume 61 (for 2014). Some statistics about your Council's GRID system since I took over as communications director:

  • In 2004, when I started, we had 37 units: 33 chapters and 4 "other" units.
  • In August 2014, we have 48 units: 40 chapters and 8 "other".
    • I started two of these new chapters, and assisted with at least 2 others.
  • I am always looking for ways to strengthen existing chapters and address new areas of the technology that we're not covering:
    • I engineered the "take-over" of a moribund SCV Section CS chapter and (with John Swan) moved existing officers to a sub-team and brought in new officers
    • The local (non-IEEE) Photovoltaics group wanted to associate with IEEE:
        -- I pioneered (through TAB and MGA) the creation of joint chapters for specific new technologies underserved in the Bay Area
        -- This became our Photovoltaics Chapter, a joint chapter of CPMT, PELS and Photonics (which already had existing chapters/programs here)

  • I pioneered the advertising outreach for the Council:
    • In 2004, advertising revenue was $22,840 (raised exclusively by me)
    • In 2013, advertising revenue was $65,000 (again, my exclusive efforts)
    • Of this income, about half is used to pay my fee and expenses as editor/publicist/webmaster (I'm an independent contractor) and the commissions I earn on advertising revenue.
    • The rest (about $30,000/year) funds joint activities of the three Sections:
        -- Annual Officer Training (about $8,000/year)
        -- Volunteer Appreciation Events: (from $0 to $5,000/year)
        -- This year's event was the IEEE Days at the S.F. Exploratorium (which I set up)
    • After setting aside a reserve of a half-year's expenses, the Council returns the rest to the Sections, to help fund their programs.

  • I started what I called the "e-GRID" (at right): a 2X/month email to all of our local engineers/managers who could be reached by email:
    • We have three versions: one for IEEE members; a second for non-members; and a third that is a short text-only version
    • Initially our distribution was to about 19,000 locally
    • The e-GRID now goes to over 33,000 local engineers/developers/managers
    • We get about 2,500 new subscribers each year:
        -- IEEE's Membership Development is pleased when IEEE membership in our Region drops at less than 1% each year
        -- e-GRID is rapidly expanding our clients at a CAGR of 5.14%
        -- We have a "product" that is valuable to the local technical community, helping to keep Silicon Valley vital and enhance our careers here
        -- As a result, the IEEE has become much more influential in the Bay Area while its membership here (and elsewhere) is dropping

  • In 2008 I started our Google Calendar:
    • This gives month-at-a-glance views of all of the chapter meetings, the advertised conferences, seminars, and other events
    • Those with their own Google calendars can integrate ours, so that events can be transferred from the IEEE calendar to their own, for reminders, etc.

  • In 2009 I started our "BayAreaTech" blog and RSS feed:
    • I post all upcoming meeting details to this blog, as well as seminars and conferences
    • Google monitors this blog, and usually sends out our posting to those monitoring any keywords within 30 minutes
  • In 2013 I developed a "mobile" page for the GRID website, directing any tablet/phone with a width of <800 pixels to an App-like version, for ease of use
  • In 2013, under the handle @ITripMan, I began tweeting all local IEEE meetings and seminars

  • In 2014 I released Apps for the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store that use our RSS data and add extra features:
    • With this new tool, an engineer can choose to view only those upcoming events in her/his specialty area (9 subdivisions of the technology)
    • Scanning upcoming meetings is quick and easy
    • Events can be added directly to a person's tablet/smartphone Calendar, or forwarded via social media or email

    Summary: Over the past decade I've expanded the programs and coverage of the IEEE in the SF Bay Area, enhancing the efforts of our local IEEE volunteers, and have enjoyed working with what is now a 500-strong group of local technologist-volunteers who run our Sections and Chapters. I have appreciated the work you do, and your support and confidence in me.

    If you know of other contributions over the years by your Council or through my efforts, or have other stories about how our Council has worked with you and your chapter, please send me a note -- also ideas for future enhancements; I enjoy reading your recollections and thoughts.

    Best regards,


Paul Wesling, IEEE Life Fellow     IEEE SF Bay Area Council Communications Director
editor@e-grid.net                  Webmaster, San Francisco Bay Area Council
www.e-GRID.net                     Editor, GRID Magazine
Phone: +1-408-320-1105             @ITripMan