December 2019 OES Beacon


Jim Collins, OES VP for Professional Activities

The IEEE and its thirty-nine technical societies offer a comprehensive variety of technical and professional resources to members.  How is it possible for a small society like the Oceanic Engineering Society (OES) to offer its 1744 members the quantity and quality of benefits of a large society like the Computer Society with 42,285 members?

According to the October 2019 IEEE Membership Development Report the IEEE is the host organization of 39 technical societies ranging in size from 563 members to 42,285, respectively the Professional Communication Society and the Computer Society.  With a total of 312,527 society memberships this gives an average of 8013 memberships per society.  The median number of memberships is about 4800. With 1744 members the Oceanic Engineering Society is the 6th from the low end of society memberships.

In terms of annual technical activity, OES offers:

  • Two major OCEANS Conferences
  • Two Offshore Technical Conferences
  • Four issues of the OES Journal
  • Several workshops and symposia
  • Student autonomous marine vehicle competitions
  • Student paper competitions at OCEANS conferences
  • A Distinguished Lecturer (DL) program

None of these activities depend on the existence of significant membership in a specific location.  We have meetings at many locations where there may or may not be Chapters or even many members.  DL’s can deliver presentations to Sections or other groups and do not need to depend on Chapters for their audience.  Attendees may typically be from many of the world’s developed countries or perhaps a local area.

In terms of membership and geographic activity, the IEEE offers a Region and Section structure around the world to give additional local service to members above that offered through the technical structure described above.   This includes the following activities that do not require a technical focus such as:

  • Women in Engineering
  • Young Professionals
  • Sections
  • Membership and Chapters
  • Student Activities and Student Branch Chapters
  • Web and Social Media
  • The OES Beacon
  • Earthzine
  • eNewsletter
  • Professional Activities Committees for Engineers

I suggest that, as a very active society, the OES may be in danger of over extending its membership resources.  Much larger IEEE societies than OES offer a similar quality and quantity of technical and membership services.  They have a membership quantity better able to support this activity.  So, how does OES do all of the above? Through a lot of effort by its members who are always looking for others to share the load. We appreciate any suggestions and especially additional volunteers?