Benefits of Volunteering: Being IEEE EMBS Student Mentoring Program Ambassadors

Benefits of Volunteering: Being IEEE EMBS Student Mentoring Program Ambassadors

Benefits of Volunteering: Being IEEE EMBS Student Mentoring Program Ambassadors 789 444 IEEE Pulse
Author(s): Nyi Nyi Tun, Antony M. Gitau, and Tony Adel Fawzy

Why should you get involved in volunteering activities at the IEEE EMBS Student Activities Committee (SAC)?

For an IEEE society, the IEEE EMBS SAC mainly functions with five main portfolios according to the new organized organogram of Team 2023 [1]. They are the Student Representation Portfolio, the Technical Activities Portfolio, the Professional Development Portfolio, the Public Relations Portfolio, and the Administrative Portfolio. Under five main portfolios, the team is now shaping five main initiatives, such as the Student Mentoring Program (SMP), International Student Conference (ISC), Student Leadership Programs, Student Professional Development, and Summer Camps, respectively [2], [3]. Among them, the SMP is one of the flagship programs of the EMBS SAC under the Professional Development Portfolio and has been successfully running since 2021 [4]. It is organized and run by a chairperson, who is supported by a team of ambassadors. The chairperson is usually a member of the SAC lead team.

The goals of the program are to harness the skills and experience of experts in EMBS and make it accessible to students and young professionals; to offer a support network for those through connections with experienced professionals that align with their interests all over the world; and finally, to foster life-long learning, relationships, and partnerships beyond the program duration. These goals are achieved by pairing a mentee(s) with a mentor who shares a common interest for six months by working together towards a common goal that could be an academic project, research work collaboration, personal branding, or any career capital activity. The prominent style of the program is that it is a virtual one, and it can easily be participated in by all IEEE EMBS members. As a virtual-based program, the participants can readily participate from different parts of the IEEE geographical regions.

IEEE EMBS SAC keeps asking new questions aimed at improving the quality of its programs. In this article, we interview the program chairman and the two ambassadors who continuously organized and ran the program of SMP 2022 to appreciate their experience and draw lessons that could be useful to coming teams in the future. We probe to find out the motivation for getting involved in the mentoring program, the personal and professional growth experienced as a result of involvement in SMP 2022, the challenges experienced, and how they overcome those challenges. Furthermore, we record a tangible story of the benefits of getting involved as volunteers in such meaningful activities as the SMP 2022.

Meet the chairman: Dr. Nyi Nyi Tun

My desire to be the chairman of the mentoring program is to contribute to society through wisdom. In today’s society, along with material development, mental and intellectual development are also essential. I would like to create a society that fulfills both material and intellectual development. Thus, my motivation for SMP is to devote my precious time to philanthropic education for global youth and to volunteer to develop BME for society.


As the chairman of the program, I am mainly responsible for the smooth running of the whole program. My role is to ensure the smooth coordination of all the SMP activities, working together with the program’s ambassadors in tackling the matters of the program’s mentees and mentors, and finally, running the program on time according to IEEE norms and standards.

This SMP was motioned in the SAC as an initiative of John Alejandro Hernandez Mora in 2021, when he was appointed as chairman of the first edition of the program. The first edition was initiated with 29 mentees and 28 mentors who are IEEE EMBS members, from May to the end of October 2021. The ratio of males to females is 60% male and 40% female for mentees and 81.5% male and 18.5% female for mentors. All mentors and mentees came from different technical backgrounds and different IEEE regions. They were from the clinical environment, academia, and industry. However, most of the participants were from the academic field, which had the highest number of statistical data among the three major fields. As an outcome of the first edition, the 20 mentoring partners accomplished their goals. Among them, some of the mentee-mentor pairs published papers in international journals and conferences [4].

In 2022, I assumed the position of SMP chairman after serving as an ambassador and mentee in the first edition. In this second edition of the IEEE EMBS SMP 2022, there were 23 mentees and 10 mentors, with the assignment of 10 pairs total for clinical environments, academies, and industrial fields. Likewise, in 2021, they are all from different IEEE regions, with 56.5% males and 43.5% females for mentees and 70% males and 30% females for mentors, respectively. In SMP 2022, all mentor and mentee pairs reached their goals for the program [5].

I am proud of working with the exciting team at the IEEE EMBS SAC. Through this experience, personally, I have built myself up in communication skills and accepted diversity in terms of global networking. Creating a positive working environment is a factor in successfully leading a program. Professionally, I have increased my network of friends and potential collaborators in all kinds of layers, such as the clinical environment, industry, and academic fields. Furthermore, I am also proud that my mentee during the SMP 2022 ended up joining the IEEE EMBS SAC volunteering team and has been a great resource for the committee.


I am pleased with the supportive team at the EMBS SAC. The main challenges of the program are the program duration, time zone differences between mentor-mentee pairs, and inadequate data and a lack of research apparatus in some mentees’ schools. Though we aimed for a long-term partnership between the paired mentors and mentees, as the program is a six-month-long program, it made for a tight schedule for the participants who would like to publish their works at conferences to accomplish their goals on time. The next challenge for participants is the time zone differences, as most of the mentors and mentees were paired based on the same mentoring areas of interest (AOI). However, nearly all pairs reached their initial goals in spite of having different time zones for some pairs in SMP 2022. In addition, some mentors and mentees would like to collaborate in person rather than online in order to perform the experiment and achieve more productive outcomes, although the program was a virtual-based platform. To solve the above problems, matching the pairs based on the same IEEE geographical area is one of the solutions that needs to be considered along with the other challenges for the upcoming year’s initiatives, but we still need to consider the applicants’ ratio and status of both mentors and mentees for each year.

Meet the ambassadors

Antony M. Gitau says, “I initially got involved in a SAC initiative as a mentee in the first SMP edition. I was impressed by the initiative students like myself were able to take to organize and run successfully, which inspired me to get involved. In 2022, I decided to contribute to organizing the second SMP edition, a choice I’m proud of.”

Tony Adel Fawzy states, “I joined SMP with the aim of gaining fresh experiences, acquiring new skills, and exploring innovative ideas related to volunteering. This experience helped me to develop my own thoughts in college and now in my work about how to mentor and support younger generations in their careers. These factors motivated my involvement with SAC, and it was a privilege.”


The ambassador’s main duties are to assist the chairman in running the program successfully. Ambassadors have the incredible opportunity to meet amazing people from all over the globe and support them in achieving their mentorship goals. This is done by checking up on mentor-mentee pairs, organizing monthly meetings for progress updates, and supporting the program with virtual logistics and useful materials to ensure smooth running.

As an ambassador,  Antony M. Gitau says, “I absolutely loved meeting people during the monthly meetings and getting inspired by the amazing work of other mentorship pairs. I have grown in my presentation skills, and I am now more comfortable speaking in front of people from different parts of the world. Doubling as a mentee, my mentorship objectives came to exciting success, including participating in a heart murmur classification challenge [6] with my mentor, and ending up with a conference paper [7] on our deep learning implementation.”

Tony Adel Fawzy says that “the experience challenged me to appreciate the different cultures and interests of mentees and mentors and offered me an opportunity to make friends from other parts of the world. I have grown in my ability to lead a meeting, communicate with different people, and use collaborative tools, which have proved useful even in my day-to-day activities.”


There is incredible support from the IEEE EMBS SAC team, which makes it possible to go beyond challenges. Given that we have mentors and mentees from different time zones, we have to look for an appropriate time and sometimes have to carry out the same meetings on different days and times. Also, we sometimes fail to hear from some mentees, and some mentors cannot make it; although rare, when it happens, it’s not happy.

SMP 2022 was successfully launched for IEEE EMBS students and professional members. The fruitful outcomes are evidence of the continued participation of all mentors and mentees and collaboration among SAC volunteers and ambassadors. In addition, promoting society through a volunteer spirit is good for human beings. We, SMP ambassadors, had an incredible volunteer experience, and that is a huge part of the reason we are still contributing. There is a lot of value, both professional and personal, in getting involved in the organization and planning of SMP’s activities. There is certainly a great return on investment in actively taking part in volunteer activities with IEEE EMBS SAC programs.

How to join?

We need you. Write to us through expressing your interest in joining us, and it might turn out to be among your best decisions! Together, we can contribute to the growth of engineering, medicine, and biology societies and foster more collaboration and preparedness for the challenges and opportunities of the future.


  1. Student Activities Committee. (Jan. 1, 2023). IEEE EMBS Student Activities Committee. IEEE Eng. Med. Biol. Soc. Accessed: Nov. 23, 2023. [Online]. Available:
  2. B. Aleman, “Empowering Student leaders: The new initiative to establish regional student activities committees and Student regional representatives in the IEEE EMBS,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 35–36, Mar./Apr. 2023, doi: /MPULS.2023.3269760.
  3. A. L. Cakici, B. Aleman, and E. Grooby, “IEEE EMBS international Student conferences—Insights from 2022 editions,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 13, no. 6, pp. 29–32, Nov. 2022, doi: 10.1109/MPULS.2022.3227855.
  4. N. N. Tun and B. Aleman, “Fostering future professionals: A review of the IEEE EMBS Student mentoring program,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 29–34, Mar. 2023, doi: 10.1109/mpuls.2023.3269783.
  5. N. N. Tun, B. Aleman, and S. Huacre, “From mentorship to success: A tapestry of experiences in the IEEE EMBS Student mentoring program,” IEEE Pulse, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 31–33, May 2023, doi: 10.1109/mpuls.2023.3294104.
  6. M. A. Reyna et al., “Heart murmur detection from phonocardiogram recordings: The George B. Moody PhysioNet challenge 2022,” PLOS Digit. Health, vol. 2, no. 9, Sep. 2023, Art. no. e0000324, doi: 10.1371/journal.pdig.0000324.
  7. B.-J. Singstad et al., “Phonocardiogram classification using 1-dimensional inception time convolutional neural networks,” in Proc. Comput. Cardiol. (CinC), vol. 498, Tampere, Finland, Sep. 2022, pp. 1–4, doi: 10.22489/CinC.2022.108.