Growing IET membership in the Caribbean

16 October 2012
By Keri Allan
Trinidad and Tobago IET Local Network

During a visit to Trinidad and Tobago this summer, then IET president Dr Mike Short applauded the Caribbean Local Network for its work in promoting the IET.

The IET’s Community Committee – Americas (CCA) June 2012 meeting was held in Trinidad and Tobago. Attended by then IET president Dr Mike Short, this visit gave the Caribbean Local Network a chance to improve on its ties with industry and academia as well as show off the many achievements it has already made.

The Trinidad and Tobago Network as it was known, really began to come into its own when current chair Deoraj Beephan stepped up to the role in 2009. Officially approved as the Caribbean Local Network this summer, Deoraj’s work to develop the Network has been a great success.

A new committee

An active volunteer eager to take on leadership roles in the region, Deoraj was invited to an IET meeting in 2009 and, even though he was not an IET member at the time, he volunteered to chair the new group in Trinidad and Tobago.

He joined the IET and asked other leaders in the area to become members or affiliates and to assist him on the executive committee. His first aim was to improve awareness of the IET across the region.

“I set up an interim committee in order to grow membership figures and also to attract members who were already registered to become more active,” he explains. “They were there, but they were just maintaining membership, there was no coming together of members, promoting of education or knowledge sharing.

“First we wanted to improve awareness of the IET and promote science and technology across the region. We were also very enthusiastic about improving professional registration uptake and supporting continued professional development,” he adds.

Introducing young engineers to the IET

Deoraj discovered early on that the region’s membership was very much made up of older, experienced engineers in their 50s, 60s and even 80s. He felt it was important to bring fresh blood on board and began focusing on recruiting more engineers in the early stages of their career.

“I looked at the (region’s) young professionals and started to encourage them to become members and become involved with the committee itself. Together we’ve worked on awareness meetings and events,” he says.

Successes so far

Since the formation of the Local Network, the committee has run two successful Present Around the World (PATW) competitions at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of the Southern Caribbean and held several technical meetings.

It has also developed successful partnerships with the government in Trinidad and Tobago and is working to establish IET-accredited courses at local universities as well as promote professional development and registration.

Biggest achievements

“[I’m most proud of] achieving improved local and national awareness,” enthuses Deoraj. “We've had meetings with the current government and its education representatives, run competitions and now even been able to host the president at the CCA’s meeting.

“The IET is now recognised by the region’s major education institutes and we’re there promoting professional development and letting students know all about the network.”

Dr Short’s visit

Then IET president Dr Short’s visit was arranged to coincide with the CCA meeting and also the regional PATW finals, and the Network committee worked closely with staff to arrange some great meetings to promote the IET and its work during this time. The CCA members also highlighted how impressed they were with the Network’s committee and the work they had achieved.

“We visited the University of the West Indies and the company Angostura Bitters,” highlights Deoraj. “We met with representatives of industry to look at opportunities for membership growth and professional development, plus we held a discussion with the Provost of the University of Trinidad and Tobago on accreditation and collaborative partnership with the IET.

“We then held the PATW finals, which was fantastic and the Network’s executive members were recognised for their valued contribution and volunteerism in establishing the LN,” Deoraj enthuses.

Now that it has officially been classed as an IET Local Network, Deoraj is keen to continue its growth and we can expect to see his committee continue their successful work moving forward.

“What I’d like to see is improved development of the young professionals section and growth in student membership. That’s what we’re currently looking into, as well as looking to properly define and expand some of the sub committees, so as to properly integrate IET members from across the Caribbean,” he concludes.

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