Prepared by Cleo Alexander of IMS2009
Our goal was to engage as many students as possible to participate in the 2009 IMS. To this end we recruited student volunteers to support several 2009 initiatives; virtual participation, feedback, print on demand and of course as monitors for all of the technical sessions and workshops. Each student was required to serve a minimum of 10 hours or one full day and in return received free admission to the IMS along with meals, lodging at a reduced rate, shirts and entry into a raffle for the laptops used for recording the virtual participation sessions.
As chair, I also took on responsibility for applying for an NSF grant (which was awarded) to help student volunteers as well as student paper finalists with travel expenses. This required a review of over 80 applications. A combination of NSF and IEEE funds allowed us to award some assistance to 70 students.
I had 3 students who were crucial to our success last year, Nora Dianne Bull, Suzette Aguilar and Bojana Zivanovic. They functioned as peer leaders and managers during the IMS and helped with recruitment and assignments. Nora Dianne Bull volunteered early in the process and pulled together the entire volunteer schedule which was a daunting task (more about this later). Bojana and Suzette initiated a facebook group for the students, which was a great recruiting tool.
Their and my recommendation is that they reprise their roles this year as they have the experience and that the next chair identify at least one other “Super Student” to join their team. It was more demanding than they or I had hoped to manage the onsite logistics as we had over 90 students involved as volunteers during the symposium.
Recruitment should commence by late January. This works out well as students are typically back from their semester break and have a good idea of their schedule and availability. We used a combination of letters to key professors and IEEE society leaders at many schools along with advertising directly on the IMS website. Also, as noted above, we recruited through facebook. All of these methods proved successful and no single method seemed superior to the others.
Travel Grant awards were sent out by 1 May. Scheduling the volunteers should have been completed at this time but was weeks later, primarily as we did not receive requirements from some chairs until quite late in the game. I would urge this year’s chair to insist that all requests be submitted by a date that allows for earlier communication of assignments and training. Had I to do this again, I would be much firmer on this than I was.
Local arrangements did a great job of finding affordable housing for students at a local campus. This is a great idea but we did not get the details nailed down until quite late in the schedule which caused some confusion. I would strongly recommend working with a local school to see if dorm rooms are available and strongly recommend that this be done very early so that information can go out with the grant notifications.
Volunteers were responsible for:
Recording all virtual participation sessions
Monitoring print on demand kiosks
Distributing, collecting and returning all feedback forms
Scanning badges and passing out materials at all Short Courses and Workshops
Monitoring all technical, panel and poster sessions
No problems were encountered that could not be resolved with the benefit of experience. See Suggestions and Recommendations.
Specifically, I would recommend all committee chairs submit
their volunteer requests 2 to 3 months ahead of the event. Additionally, any training required should be
scheduled well ahead of the IMS. This
did not work well last year for a couple of reasons; the first being that
virtual participation was a brand new endeavor much was being developed as to
process and requirements up to the actual event. This resulted in training being offered the
day before IMS which did not accommodate the majority of volunteers. Since
Again, I cannot stress enough how valuable the three Super Students were to me and the success of the event. However, it was tremendously consuming for us to manage 90 volunteers with staggered arrival dates and times and we had little time to attend the sessions. Identifying at least one other Super Student to join the leadership team would allow more balance during the event.
I believe we had a very successful IMS 2009 and that the students who volunteered greatly contributed to this success. Many shared that they truly enjoyed the experience and benefited from their involvement. Our experience last year was quite different (at least that is what I am told) from year’s past in that we had a very large number of volunteers and that the vast majority of the students were not locally based. That is why I have suggested planning for earlier communication of assignments and earlier training sessions.
If I can be of further assistance feel free to ask. I had offered to work with this year’s chair in an ex-officio capacity and my offer still stands.