Finding Fulfillment Through Volunteering and Giving Back to Fellow Life Members

Peter Silverberg

Peter M. Silverberg, PE, is an IEEE Life Senior Member who supported the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) program in 2023. His gift to the SIGHT program, a global network of IEEE volunteers that work with underserved communities, is his most recent philanthropic donation in a long history of support of the IEEE Foundation.

“I am on the steering committee of the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technical Conference (GHTC) 2023,” shares Peter. “Many of the papers are about SIGHT, which focuses on sustainable solutions that make a long-term difference in the lives of people. This mission is so commendable that I feel it deserves my support.”

Peter earned his BS and MS in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He has had a varied career, starting with Air Products before moving on to Pratt & Whitney. Peter then landed at GE, working on conditioning fuel oils and solving problems with the generator insulation. This led to a position at a small motor-generator company in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1975. 

“One part of the job requirement was to join IEEE and do something. I also had two years to get a P.E. License. My special activity was to design the insulation parts. I needed the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society to access the information that could be useful,” explains Peter. “I went to conferences and self-trained. I also had my own little lab and did small-scale research. 

The company made stand-by generators for nuclear plants, so I was sent for IEEE Standards training. Eventually, I ended up joining the group and developing a standard.”

Peter’s career has gone through many evolutions, and after his work with a nuclear construction company, he turned to technical editing. He served as associate editor of Chemical Engineering and BioPharm International. During his many career evolutions, IEEE has always been there. He even relied on IEEE’s insurance during a period of unemployment.

“When I retired, I lost all my workplace friends. But IEEE does not retire,” states Peter. “I have a social-technical group of buddies. Through these connections I am continuously learning about ways technical information is being imparted to underdeveloped communities.”

A committed volunteer in addition to a generous donor, Peter has been active in the IEEE Philadelphia Section, serving as Vice Chair and Chair. In 2009, he was instrumental in the IEEE Milestone Projects, dedicating a plaque in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Benjamin Franklin for his experiments with electricity.

Peter mentioned that as an older member, feeling obsolete could be easy. However, his IEEE Life membership helps him keep learning all the time.

“The dues for Life Members are free,” explains Peter. “I calculate what the amount would be and send that to the Foundation. It is tax-deductible and does good too.” One way Peter gives is through his Individual Retirement Account (IRA). This allows him to make qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) without having to count the transfers as income for federal tax purposes, and it is eligible to be counted toward his minimum required distribution.

Consider joining Peter as part of the charitable force behind the IEEE Life Senior Members. Calculating your fees to give back helps sustain many of IEEE’s essential programs. Every member’s contribution adds up, creating significant leverage for the IEEE Foundation to support so many. If you’d like to make a lasting difference, please visit IEEE Foundation’s donation page, and to learn more about a tax-wise way to give, visit IRA Charitable Rollover.

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