IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow Files Nine Sci-Tech Reports for Worldwide VOA Audiences

WASHINGTON (30 August 2010) — IEEE-USA   Engineering Mass Media Fellow Smitha Raghunathan filed nine science, engineering and technology-related reports for the Voice of America (VOA) worldwide audience on radio and online, as part of her 10-week internship this summer in Washington. VOA is an international multimedia broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government with an estimated global audience of 125 million.

Raghunathan’s reports included:

1) Computer model helps minimize water pollution–99958364.html

2) Severely disabled use sniffing to control wheelchairs and computers

3) Artificial intelligence may soon control robots performing routine medical procedures

4) Science journalism is increasingly important in a technology driven world

5) Eating white rice increases diabetes risk, while brown rice could reduce it  
IEEE-USA’s Engineering Mass Media Fellow summarized her VOA internship: “I found my technical skills were best used when researching a piece, helping me understand the subject matter and asking questions of the researchers,” Raghunathan said. “I discovered that my personal skills helped me when writing the piece, picturing in my mind how I would tell the story to the people I worked with. And this culminated in voicing a piece, which is an art in itself.

“This was the best part of working at the VOA: the story was not only written, it was told.”  

Raghunathan has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and is pursuing her master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

Since 2000, 13 U.S. IEEE undergraduate and graduate students have served as IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows, helping print and broadcast journalists communicate authoritatively to the public about science, engineering and technology. IEEE-USA is the only engineering organization in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mass Media Fellows program.

IEEE-USA Cites Five Engineering Breakthroughs in Local TV News Reports, Also Online

WASHINGTON (19 August 2010) —  Five new 90-second reports on IEEE-related technologies and engineering breakthroughs were distributed in June, July and August to 83 subscribing U.S. television stations for broadcast on local television news, with support from IEEE-USA.

The engineering breakthroughs ranged from restoring a degree of eyesight to developing a new treatment for sudden cardiac arrest and performing 3-D jaw surgery. These reports can also be viewed on IEEE-USA’s dedicated Web site at

Since 2005, IEEE-USA has (in partnership with the American Institute of Physics and other professional organizations) helped to underwrite more than 800 local TV news reports on engineering and science in English and Spanish. The latest reports have been carried on TV stations in the United States from Atlanta (WUVG) to West Palm Beach, Fla.(WPTV); and from Chicago (WFXT and WGBO) to Seattle (KING and KONG). The five engineering achievements are:

1. “Breakthroughs for Blindness,” in which ophthalmologists have restored a degree of sight to blind patients by creating an artificial retina that receives a wireless signal from a camera worn by the patient

2. “Shock to the Heart,” in which electrophysiologists have implanted a new kind of defibrillator for the treatment of sudden cardiac arrest that decreases the risks of complications associated with wires connecting the device to the heart

3. “Operating in 3-D,” in which plastic surgeons are using specialized software to visualize a patient’s surgical jaw alignment before they begin surgery — allowing surgeons to be more precise in the procedure and obtain more predictable outcomes

4. “Computer Coaches for Shutter Bugs,” in which computer scientists have developed a photo-rating program that identifies photos deemed most appealing to Internet users — comparing uploaded images with thousands of photos individuals have rated using photo-sharing Web sites

5. “Green Wheel for Eco-Cyclists,” in which architects and civil engineers have designed a bicycle wheel equipped with a battery and motor to replace the rear wheel of a standard bike — providing eco-friendly assistance to the rider

Vetted by technology professionals, including U.S. IEEE members, these television reports are aimed at a high school-educated public that receives most of its sci-tech news through local TV news broadcasts. National Science Foundation-sponsored research has documented that viewers of these reports are more sensitive to engineering and science issues than non-viewers.

Pender M. McCarter, Senior Public Relations Counselor, IEEE-USA
2001 L Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036-4109, USA  
202-530-8353 <>

2009 Online Annual Report Highlights Increased Efforts in Expanding Career-Related Products & Services & Anticipating Public Policy Opportunities

WASHINGTON (9 August 2010) —  In an introductory letter to IEEE-USA’s newly unveiled 2009 online annual report, 2009 IEEE-USA President Gordon Day observed that “the year began with serious concerns about employment,” and IEEE-USA “scrambled to meet the needs and concerns of U.S. IEEE  members by expanding our career-related products and services — and making them easier to access.”

Day added that the organization “had already anticipated new challenges and opportunities in public policy” with the Obama administration arriving in January, especially with energy, communications and patent reform issues. And he noted that IEEE-USA’s “efforts in both career support and public policy provided  more than the usual number of opportunities to engage in public discussions on the issues.”

The online annual report includes detailed sections on addressing IEEE-USA’s 2009 strategic goals and priorities in support of members’ careers and shaping public policy, as well as in increasing the public visibility of IEEE and engineering, and advancing the globalization of IEEE’s professional activities.

For an overview of IEEE-USA’s 2009 activities, see For a look at all IEEE-USA online reports from 2004 through 2009, go to

IEEE-USA Receives Award for Publication Excellence

WASHINGTON (13 July 2010) —  IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer Digest was recently honored with a 2010 APEX Award for Publication Excellence.

The Digest was one of eight publications selected out of 76 entries in the Magapapers & Newspaper-Print category. It was headed by Editor-in-Chief Terrance J. Malkinson and Managing Editor Georgia C. Stelluto.

Recognition is based on “excellence in graphic design, editorial content, and the success of the entry in achieving overall communications effectiveness and excellence.”

Published in March 2009, IEEE-USA’s winning entry was the final issue of Today’s Engineer Digest. The magapaper has been replaced by IEEE-USA in Action, an interactive publication that debuted in April. See
IEEE-USA also continues to publish a monthly webzine, IEEE-USA Today’s Engineer (

The APEX Awards for Publication Excellence are for professionals who write, edit and manage business communications for a living. They are sponsored by Communications Concepts, Inc., publishers of business communication reports.

Income of Electrotechnology, IT Professionals Shows Twofold Percentage Increase, IEEE-USA Salary Survey Reveals

WASHINGTON (8 July 2010) —  Median income for electrotechnology and information technology professionals showed a twofold percentage increase from the previous year, according to the latest IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey.

Median incomes from primary sources — base pay plus commissions, bonuses and net self-employment income — for U.S. IEEE members working full-time in their primary area of technical competence went from $110,610 in the 2007 tax year to $116,000 in 2008. The 4.9 percent increase more than doubled the 2.4 percent rise from the previous survey.

Of the 12,119 U.S. IEEE members who participated in the Internet-based survey, 10,177 were employed full-time in their primary area of technical competence, or job specialty. The five largest job specialties were — in descending order — computers, energy and power engineering, circuits and devices, communications technology and systems and control.

The IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey, 2009 Edition, is the 22nd compensation survey the organization has conducted since the first one in 1972. The results are valuable to employers seeking to know what type of compensation package they should put together to attract and retain electrotechnology and IT professionals, and to employees seeking to benchmark their salary and benefits.

The 82-page survey is available electronically at

IEEE members who responded to the salary survey receive five free uses of the IEEE-USA Salary Calculator, which uses data from the report. Go to , log in and select the salary calculator tab.

IEEE-USA just completed its 2010 survey with a record 14,724 responses. That report will be released in September.

FOX 5 Reporter, NAE Program Officer to Receive IEEE-USA Engineering Journalism Awards

WASHINGTON (6 July 2010) —  IEEE-USA will honor two Washington journalists who have added to greater public understanding of the contributions of engineers and computer professionals to society Wednesday.

Holly Morris, a live reporter for Washington’s FOX 5 Morning News; and Randy Atkins, senior program officer for media/public relations at the National Academy of Engineering, will share the IEEE-USA Award for Literary Contributions Furthering Public Understanding of the Profession. Their awards include a $1,500 honorarium.

Morris, who has a degree in civil and environmental engineering, will be recognized for her live coverage of last year’s National Engineers Week Future City Competition National Finals. Morris has served as co-emcee of the February 2009 and 2010 events and provided reports for FOX 5 television and Internet viewers.

To see Morris’ reports highlighting Discover Engineering Family Day, go to

Atkins is being honored for his “Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series” on Washington’s WTOP FM and Federal News Radio, WFED AM. These one-minute weekly radio features highlight engineering innovations and stories that add technical context to issues in the news.

Atkins’ stories, archived to 2003, are accessible at

IEEE-USA Pleased that Supreme Court’s Ruling Preserves Software Patents

WASHINGTON (29 June 2010) —  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that a new method of doing business can be patented, and that the ability to patent software should not be limited.

In Bilski v. Kappos, the high court ruled that passing the “machine or transformation” test is not the sole test for determining whether a business process is patentable. Abstract ideas, however, cannot be patented.

IEEE-USA was party to an amici curiae brief filed with the court.

“We are generally pleased that the Supreme Court did not introduce rules that would limit the scope of ideas available for patent protection in our current information age,” IEEE-USA Intellectual Property Committee Chair Keith Grzelak said. “We are disappointed, however, that the court’s decision did not provide a clearer standard for determination of patentability. The court cited a trilogy of cases that basically say patents should not be granted for abstract ideas. By ruling that Bilski’s business method was too abstract, the Supreme Court essentially provided lower federal courts a you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it legal standard to follow.

“Applicants attempting to protect business methods will now be left to guess what is and is not abstract. Inconsistent determination by patent examiners and courts could lead to years of costly litigation, something we warned against in our brief.”

Bernard Bilksi and Rand Warsaw, petitioners in the case, attempted in 1997 to patent a hedging system to protect consumers and utilities from major swings in energy prices and demand. The U.S. Patent Office denied the application and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision. Associate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, called Bilski and Warsaw’s system an “unpatentable abstract idea.”

IEEE-USA seeks to ensure that U.S. patent and copyright law promotes the progress of science and the useful arts consistent with the principles set forth by our nation’s founders.

To see the amici curiae brief that University of Utah Professor of Computer Science Lee Hollaar and IEEE-USA and filed in this case, see

IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE.