I suppose that one of the more refreshing social attributes and cultural dividends that I have garnered over the almost 24 years that I was once employed as a Technical Editor with The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (The IEEE Inc.) is something I like to call The IEEE Beacon.
And what, pray tell, is that? Well, I can assure you it is neither a steampunk lamp nor a magical glowing orb. To put it as succinctly as I can, it is the often unexpected and probably unearned positive metaphorical illumination I find myself cloaked in during both private and public conversations I am engaged in with real NASA Scientists at sci-fi conventions, mechanical engineers on a conjoining vacation, or even college professors I might bump elbows with at a local burger joint or neighborhood bar. When my former place of work is mentioned, aka IEEE, the tepid scrutiny I might very likely be receiving quickly dissipates. Said situation has nothing to do with me or any impressive amount of authority I once held in my previous occupation (I really didn’t have any). This is simply the very high regard The IEEE Inc. is held in by Scientists, Technicians, and Engineers all across the planet.
When I was employed at The Institute, I often considered myself a rather small cog in the workings of the company, playing an important enough role in the proofreading, typesetting, editing, and publishing of thousands of pages of transactions/journals each year, but always knowing I was just one of dozens of women and men working hard every day to ensure the proper editorial dissemination of important technical literature in a large number of engineering fields.
Then came a time when I started attending conventions on the East Coast on the odd weekend as a science-fiction and horror short story writer. My accomplishments in that arena were never anything to impress the many more experienced and successful writers, but my connection with IEEE opened eyes and engaged smiles with a rapidity that I still find charming to this day.
And so it is that for over two decades I found that my occupation connected me to oh so many people in so many ways. Time and again I have met folks whose fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children, and/or cousins are Members of The IEEE Inc., and how highly their loved ones speak of it. This good will is nothing less than a flame whose warmth spreads without any taint of hypocrisy and cynicism. My former workplace is the International Headquarters for this valued and respected not-for-profit entity, and to be affiliated with it is to bask in radiance emanating from the multitude of forward-thinking activities that IEEE proactively supports and incentivizes every year.
I consider The IEEE Beacon an unofficial service award, one that I can wear at all times, in all places, ready to be activated at a moment’s notice, when introductions are in order, new acquaintances are in abundance, and good will is flowing.