Linking together undergraduate biomedical engineering students, recent graduates seeking employment, established members in their early career, senior members with technical expertise, and lifelong members contributing to the mentorship of the next generation of engineers in 97 countries and countless cities, the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) is the premier technical, international Society applying engineering to medicine and biology to enable, create, and promote health care innovation and engineering translation into medicine. With more than 50 Student Branch Chapters and clubs worldwide, the IEEE EMBS is a community of people, places, and technologies.
By the Students for the Students – Events Featured the United Kingdom and Canada
To better cater to the younger generation and provide a venue for the EMBS student members to hone and exercise their leadership skills, EMBS has recently introduced the International Student Conference (ISC) series. These events are modeled after the successful postgraduate students in biomedical engineering and medical physics (PGBIOMED) series of conferences launched within the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (UKRI) IEEE Section of Region 8. The first PGBIOMED was hosted in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, in 2001 and was followed by six more successful events that took place in several cities around the United Kingdom, including Southampton in 2005, Reading in 2006, Oxford in 2009, Glasgow in 2011, and Surrey in 2013.
Interestingly, while the PGBIOMED series was ongoing and gaining more popularity in the United Kingdom, a group of graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Computing at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, decided to host the first edition of the Canadian Student Conference on Biomedical Computing and Engineering (CSCBCE), without envisioning the event becoming an Ontario highlight and soon to reach across the country to Vancouver, British Columbia. The 2007 edition was hosted by the biomedical engineering and medical biophysics students at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, followed by the University of Toronto in 2008, the University of British Columbia in 2009, the University of Waterloo in 2010, and back to Western in 2011.
Both the PGBIOMED and CSCBCE events have been driven by the same motto, “by the students for the students,” and both have confirmed that given the motivation, dedication, and interest in their profession and their community, students can demonstrate exceptional leadership. While modest administrative oversight has been provided by an academic mentor or advisor, the conference itself, including the program, technical and mentorship sessions, keynote and invited speakers, panels, and all tracks and sessions, was thought out, planned, and organized by the Student Organizing Committee, in addition to all logistical aspects such as venue, catering, and accommodations. In addition, for some of the PGBIOMED and CSCBCE editions, the Student Organizing Committee was also in charge of securing sponsorship from local and regional industry and academic partners.
Going International Under the Mentorship of EMBS
Following these successful models that were both born independently of one another and the EMBS, the IEEE EMBS ISC is driven by the goal of providing undergraduate and postgraduate students with the opportunity to practice, firsthand, the process of scientific research and publication and also fostering leadership skills in students involved in the organization of the conference. Moreover, the conference is intended to be a forum for students to meet each other and exchange experiences at the local, regional, and international level.
The ISC series is envisioned to cover different geographical regions where a suitable population of EMBS student members and young professionals exists and is interested in taking leadership positions to organize the event—with a number of ISCs running regionally each year. To promote a sense of inclusion and community, the ISC is intended to be affordable and accessible to a large (student) audience by covering all technical areas that EMBS supports. Each regional event fosters the spirit of collaboration and kinship and enhances important transferable skills to BME students, not only to the attendees but also to the organizing committee. Every few years, a truly international ISC is envisaged, aimed at bringing together BME students from around the world.
Carving Out a Successful Technical Program
In addition to several sessions aimed at promoting networking and interaction among students, the technical program features oral and poster presentations delivered by the students, a keynote speaker focusing on biomedical research and development or industry in the region and beyond, and one or two sessions aimed to facilitate the students’ careers and professional development. While the ISC itself does not provide a venue for publication of the submitted research papers, the submission of contributed papers exposes students to the peer-review process—again managed and conducted by the students—and ensures the quality of the submitted work that can later be edited and extended for publication in peer-reviewed journals or conference proceedings. Finally, to stimulate collaborative research and teamwork an evening event designed as a “philanthropic pitch” where the attendees have to pitch a team project may also be included as an evening event.
Going Live for the First Time
The first IEEE EMBS ISC 2013 was held at Cairo University in Egypt on 8–10 October 2013 (Figure 1). The conference provided a forum for students to meet and exchange experiences at the local, regional, and international levels, as well as offer both undergraduate and postgraduate students an opportunity to practice the process of scientific research and publication and serve as the organizers, speakers, reviewers, and track chairs for all of the conference activities.
Shaping Up the Future of ISC for 2014
Several regional editions of the EMBS ISC have been planned for 2014, so check and see which one is closest to you and plan to attend. PGBIOMED will be joining forces with EMBS to host the PGBiomed/ISC 2014 at the University of Warwick in Coventry, United Kingdom, 15–17 July 2014.
CSCBCE and EMBS will host the first Canadian ISC at the University of Ontario—Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, 25–26 June 2014. More information can be found by clicking the image below.
The Southeast Asia edition of the ISC will be hosted by the Universiti Teknology Mara—Shah Alam Campus on 5 June 2014 and the Latin America edition by the Universidad de Conception in Chile on 23–24 October 2014. So, if you are in the area and interested in attending, submitting a paper, or getting involved in the organization of the ISC event, check their Web site, connect with the organizers, and join the EMBS ISC team! Enjoy your ISC experience in 2014, and stay tuned for the ISC locations and event coming up in 2015.