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ECE students establish first IEEE graduate student branch

While most graduate students find little time for anything outside of research and classwork, a group of dedicated electrical and computer engineering graduate students worked together to establish the first graduate student branch of IEEE—the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology—at The Ohio State University. The new organization, named the IEEE Graduate Student Body at Ohio State, is the first branch worldwide that is dedicated to addressing the specific concerns of graduate students pursuing degrees within the IEEE disciplines. Paul Berger, professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the group's faculty advisor.

Pat Wensing, president of the IEEE GSB and a second year PhD student in electrical and computer engineering, and John Hu, a fall 2010 PhD graduate in electrical and computer engineering, first had the idea to start the IEEE Graduate Student Body in spring 2010.

“We both felt that graduate students would be well served by an organization that would help facilitate social, professional and technical exchanges between graduate students,” explains Wensing. “This was important because I felt that the graduate student population was missing out on the benefits that could be provided from the diverse backgrounds, technically and otherwise, found across our department.”

While Ohio State already has a long-established IEEE student branch that serves undergraduate ECE students, graduate students “are a completely different beast,” according to Wensing.

 “While the undergraduates are largely focused on selecting their ECE specialization and preparing for an industrial career, the graduate student population is more focused on their research and preparing for a wide range of academic, industrial, and research oriented careers,” says Wensing.

The IEEE Graduate Student Body aims to increase collaboration and networking among graduate students within the disciplines of electrical and computer engineering, computer science engineering, and the greater academic and professional community.

“The GSB has three main goals: to promote a sense of community among graduate students, to support graduate students’ research, and to help graduate students find a career,” explains Anisha Ramesh, secretary of the GSB and a fifth year PhD student in electrical and computer engineering.

The group has already hosted several informational events, which are open to all, and has established a network of contacts to assist new graduates students. Available peer contacts speak a variety of languages, from Chinese to Turkish, and specialize in various research areas. A full slate of upcoming spring quarter events, including academic career advice (May 18) and entrepreneurship for engineers (May 25), is available online. Events are also posted on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering online events calendar.

“We hope to support graduate students’ research by exposing them to each other’s work. Today a lot of research is interdisciplinary, yet our work often becomes narrowly focused and there is often a lack of understanding and appreciation for other areas of research,” says Ramesh.

The group is actively seeking additional members, as well as increased participation from graduate students in electrical and computer engineering and computer science and engineering.

“Graduate students should get involved with the GSB to get connected into the graduate student community and to help to set directions for events that will benefit fellow students and our departments as a whole,” says Wensing.

Membership in the IEEE Graduate Student Body is open to all Ohio State graduate students who are IEEE members. There is no formal process to join; prospective members may attend the weekly meetings, held on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. in 277 Caldwell; or contact the officers via-mail at

“We’re always open to ideas and suggestions on future events or services that would be of benefit to the graduate student population,” says Wensing.