IEEE’s Philanthropic Programs Featured as the Heart of the Inaugural Life Members Conference

2024 Life Members Conference Featured Image

From 14 to 16 April 2024, 179 attendees gathered in the Lone Star State, more specifically, Austin, Texas, USA, for the inaugural IEEE Life Members Conference. The conference focused on the evolution of technology, applications, and contributions. Acknowledging that learning never stops, the three-day event was specially curated for technology influencers, innovators and pioneers of all ages.

Donor Recognition

Among the attendees were donors to the IEEE Life Members Fund, which received gifts from more than 3,000 donors in 2023. These donors, who give an average gift of US$91.13, support programs that enhance the activities of Life Members, potential engineers, engineering students, and professionals worldwide. Three presentations were held to recognize “Honored Philanthropists” of the IEEE Heritage Circle and “Forever Generous” donors of the IEEE Goldsmith Legacy League.

The IEEE Heritage Circle presentations honored the philanthropy of Jacob Kulangara, Alexander Graham Bell Level, and Howard & Harriett Wolfman, Nikola Tesla Level. Jacob is the current IEEE Life Members Region 3 Coordinator, and Howard is the Immediate Past Chair of the Life Members Committee. Donors in the IEEE Heritage Circle are honored for their cumulative contributions totaling US$10,000 and above.

Michael (Mike) and Carolyn Andrews were honored as “Forever Generous” donors of the IEEE Goldsmith Legacy League in recognition of the bequest they have included in their estate plans for the benefit of IEEE STEM programs. Mike, a long time IEEE volunteer and member, serves as IEEE Life Members Region 6 Coordinator and not only conceived but served as the Chair for the inaugural Life Members Conference.

IEEE’s Philanthropic Programs

Throughout the conference, a handful of IEEE’s Philanthropic programs were, like a beating heart, central to the attendee experience. 

IEEE History Center Oral History Program

The IEEE History Center, whose mission is to preserve, research, and promote the history of information and electrical technologies, conducts Oral Histories with leading engineers and technologists. The IEEE Oral History Collection is one of the world’s largest oral history collections of electrical engineers and related technologists. Mary Ann Hellrigel, Ph.D., IEEE History Center Institutional Historian, Archivist, and Oral History Program Manager, led a session titled ‘Voices Captured, Memories Saved, and History Preserved ‘. During her talk, attendees were treated to a peek at examples from the Center’s vast Oral History Collection, discovered how to get involved, and learned who among them had previously conducted an interview. The session ended with an open dialogue about the process. Throughout, Hellrigel stressed that with some training, anyone can participate and help capture IEEE’s members’ stories before it’s too late.

IEEE Global Museum

The vision for the IEEE Global Museum, a program of the IEEE History Center, is to promote an understanding of electrotechnology and its impact upon society by bringing museum-quality exhibits to IEEE members and the public, from a single treasured artifact to a full collection. At the conference, a pilot of the first traveling exhibit, Unseen Signals: Edwin H. Armstrong’s Radio Revolution,was shared with attendees. The exhibit aims to make Armstrong’s life and achievements known among the general public and reveal his vital role in creating our wireless age. In July 2024, Unseen Signals will be on display at the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) in San Antonio, Texas, USA. In early 2025, it will travel to the Pavek Museum, St. Louis Park, Minnesota, USA. Following its exhibit at the Pavek Museum, it will travel to other museums across the United States through at least 2027.


IEEE MOVE is an emergency response program committed to assisting natural disaster relief workers with short-term communication and power solutions. Due to the forecast of a busy hurricane season, the MOVE team made the decision to relocate the MOVE-1 truck from San Diego, CA, USA to Dallas, TX, USA. During its relocation the MOVE-1 truck made a stop at the conference. Volunteers shared more information about the program mission and how the truck supports disaster relief and STEM outreach. Attendees were able to tour the truck and see its impact firsthand. While onsite, MOVE was able to recruit a number of new volunteers to assist with their activities expanding within Texas.

HKN 120th Anniversary Reception

IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) is the honor society for IEEE. Its mission is to develop promising young professionals into resilient, collaborative, global citizens. Founded in 1904, HKN is celebrating its 120th anniversary in 2024. As part of the anniversary celebration, HKN Members (and friends) gathered at the conference to celebrate. Attendees cheered as HKN leadership, past and present, cut a special cake!

Directors and Donors Share Their Insights

A key function of the IEEE Foundation Board of Directors is to translate the values of IEEE Foundation donors into social impact. Attendees were able to hear directly from two IEEE Foundation Directors and donors as part of the conference agenda.

IEEE Foundation Director, Karen Panetta, shared insights into AI and its implications with attendees during the Monday morning keynote session. She discussed the critical need for AI education for everyone to help understand its limitations and ethical uses. Karen is an IEEE Fellow, NASA JOVE Fellow, AAIA Fellow, and Dean of Graduate Education for the School of Engineering at Tufts University.

IEEE Foundation Vice President Development, John McDonald, who is known as a technology leader in the power & energy sector, led a session focused on the technological advancements beyond smart grid and a workshop on the importance of mentorship. During both sessions, John shared the importance of building a strong network of monitors and mentees. John is the Founder & CEO of JDM Associates, LLC, and a former Smart Grid Business Development Leader for GE Vernova’s Grid Solutions business.

David Sandhu, an IEEE Foundation donor, shared financial and investment strategies for retirement. Through his experience and practical advice, he guided attendees through specific examples of how they could change their financial strategy to impact their post-retirement lives. He also spoke to attendees about how they can support charitable organizations, like the IEEE Foundation, as part of their financial strategy through opportunities like donor advised funds and the individual retirement account charitable rollover. David has previously worked at Raytheon, SpaceX, and Lockheed Martin. He is currently a Fiduciary Financial Advisor and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor at Wise Wealth.

This inaugural IEEE Life Members Conference was designed to engage Life Members and technologists of all ages by creating new connections, learning from interesting speakers, and traveling to a new location. This conference, and other Life Members Committee initiatives, are funded by donations to the IEEE Life Members Fund. You can learn more about the Fund or make your donation today.

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