Saifur Rahman, the Joseph R. Loring Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and founding director of the Advanced Research Institute, was elected president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Rahman, a 1978 Ph.D. graduate from the College of Engineering, is the first Virginia Tech faculty member to assume this position in the university’s 150-year history and the only resident of Virginia to do so in at least 50 years. 

An internationally known researcher in the areas of electrical power, renewable energy, and smart grid, Rahman will begin his tenure as president of the 400,000-member global organization on Jan. 1, 2023. 

The IEEE — the world's largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology — has played an integral part in his pursuit of professional excellence over the past 40-plus years, said Rahman. He became an IEEE student member in 1975 and a higher grade member when he joined Virginia Tech as an assistant professor in 1979. In 1985, he was elected IEEE Virginia Mountain section chair.

“I have slowly climbed many steps in the organization and I really enjoyed the entire experience,” said Rahman. “When you campaign for a leadership role, it is important that people have had an opportunity to get to know you and understand why they should cast their vote for you. That is something that cannot be rushed. It takes time.”

Most recently, Rahman, also an IEEE Life Fellow, served as the 2018–19 president of the IEEE Power & Energy Society (IEEE PES). In this position, he established the IEEE PES Corporate Engagement Program, allowing employers to receive IEEE benefits by paying their employees' IEEE membership dues. He also launched IEEE PES Chapters' Councils in Africa, China, India, and Latin America to empower leaders there to initiate local programs and led the effort to establish PES University, which offers courses, tutorials, and webinars to IEEE members.

As a distinguished lecturer for IEEE PES, Rahman has spoken in more than 30 countries on topics such as the smart grid, energy-efficient buildings, and sensor integration.

Rahman is the founding editor in chief of the IEEE Electrification Magazine and the IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy. In 2006 he served as chair of IEEE Publication Services and Products Board and as a member of the IEEE Board of Directors.

Rahman has received several IEEE awards, including the 2000 IEEE Millennium Medal for outstanding achievements and contributions to IEEE; the 2011 IEEE-USA Professional Achievement Award; the 2012 IEEE PES Meritorious Service Award; and the 2013 IEEE PES Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award.

“I have spoken at more than 200 IEEE events in its 10 worldwide geographic regions and have engaged with academics, young professionals, mid-career engineers in both industry and government, as well as corporate executives, including women and other underrepresented minorities,” said Rahman. “These interactions with members and volunteers, both globally and at the grassroots level, have provided me with better insight into understanding community needs and thinking about what kinds of programs IEEE should develop to help them advance their careers.”

Rahman’s campaign pledge was: “Together we will make IEEE a more successful and resilient global technical organization.”  

To achieve the ultimate goal Rahman said he will initiate improvements in six areas: building global community; encouraging and recognizing member engagement; providing better resources for growth and nurturing; promoting service to humanity and smart engineering; raising awareness of intellectual property protection; and foster partnership to encourage entrepreneurship.

“But, the ‘together’ part of the pledge might be the most important,” Rahman said. “Before making any final decisions, I plan to engage more directly with members so they know they are being heard and that the IEEE is working for them. My hope is that this approach will also encourage members to take a more active role in the organization and steer a greater number of them to future leadership roles.”

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