Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Interview with The IET

The organising committee recently caught up with Karla Smith from The IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology), a Gold Sponsor of NZCSRSC for an interview.

NZCSRSC: What did you study when you were at university?

Karla: I did Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Canterbury. I've completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), a Postgraduate Diploma and a PhD.

NZCSRSC: What are you doing now?

Karla: At present I am self-employed and still based in Christchurch. I'm currently contracting to Rodgers Hulston and White Ltd (a consulting firm specialising in telecommunications engineering).

NZCSRSC: How did you get involved with The IET?

Karla: I got involved with the IET through the Present Around the World Competition; I won the Christchurch Event in 2007, and went to Melbourne for the next level of the competition (the South Pacific Present Around the World Competition). Shortly after I returned the Young Professionals AGM was held, and I thought it would be good to be more involved. I am currently Treasurer of the Christchurch Young Professionals, and an IET Council member (Council advises the Board of Trustees, which is the IET's main governing body).

NZCSRSC: Who is The IET?

Karla: The IET is one of the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community, with more than 150,000 members in 127 countries and offices in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. The IET provides a global knowledge network to facilitate the exchange of ideas and promote the positive role of science, engineering and technology in the world.

NZCSRSC: What does The IET do?

Karla: The IET aims to share and advance knowledge in Science, Engineering and Technology to enhance people's lives. Some examples of the way it does this are: running seminars, workshops and conferences, publishing magazines, creating materials for schools to use and providing career development tools for engineers.

NZCSRSC: What role does The IET play in the NZ ICT industry?

Karla: The IET runs seminars and lectures in the subject area. Plus the IET offers the professional registration ICTTech for ICT Technicians.

NZCSRSC: How can I get involved with The IET?

Karla: There are lots of ways to be involved with the IET. Membership is the first step most people take, but many of our events are open to non-members as well as members. If you see advertising for an IET event, come along! Your Local Network's Present Around the World Competition is a great way to get started as well, since you don't need to be a member to enter. All you have to do is a ten minute presentation on a topic of interest to the IET, and most of the marks are given for presentation skills. An entrant from New Zealand has won the Global Competition (held in London) for the past two years!

NZCSRSC: How can I become a student member of The IET?

Karla: If you email membership.auckland@theiet.org, membership.wellington@theiet.org or membership.christchurch@theiet.org (as appropriate), we can answer any queries about becoming a member. We subsidise the first year of membership for student members, so it only costs $25.

NZCSRSC: What are the benefits of being a student IET member?

Karla: You get informed of any events that are being run in your area, you get a fortnightly magazine full of articles about new advances in engineering and technology, you get free or reduced entry to certain events, and it looks good on your CV! I've found that you get out what you put in - especially if you volunteer your time to help govern the IET. As a Council member I talk to engineers from all over the world, get to experience meetings with 60+ people, and influence the direction the IET takes. It's an amazing opportunity for me to network and gain experience. At the Local Network level I've honed my organisational skills, learnt some PR skills, and done more networking!

NZCSRSC: What scholarships and awards are there that students can apply for?

Karla: The main award that the IET offers in NZ is the NZ postgraduate award. This is open to any member of the IET who is going to undertake postgraduate study (entries close at the end of September each year for the following year of study). There are also a number of awards and scholarships open at all members of the IET. These can be found at http://www.theiet.org/about/scholarships-awards. As an example, a New Zealander won the Sir Henry Royce Award in 2009.

NZCSRSC: Where can I find out more about The IET in my area?

Karla: You can take a look at the website: http://www.theiet.org/nz, which has information about the IET in New Zealand, and also has links to the three Local Networks (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch). The Auckland Local Network covers the top half of the North Island, the Wellington one the bottom half of the North Island, and the Christchurch one covers the whole South Island. Alternatively, go along to any event that you see advertised and talk to a committee member.

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