James M. (Jim) Conrad, Ph.D., PE, PMP
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UNC Charlotte

2013

2003

1993

Office:  EPIC 2164, Labs:  EPIC 2124 (research), EPIC 2130 (teaching).
Phone: 704-687-8597, Fax: 704-687-4762
Snail Mail:  UNC Charlotte, ECE Department, EPIC 2254, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
UNCC email:  jmconrad@uncc.edu
YouTube Channel:  stiquitojmconrad
Twitter: profconrad

Fall 2014 office hours:  Tuesday/Thursday 11 am to 12 pm and by appointment

James M. Conrad received his bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and his master's and doctorate degrees in computer engineering from North Carolina State University. He is currently a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has served as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas and as an instructor at North Carolina State University. He has also worked at IBM, Ericsson/Sony Ericsson, and BPM Technology.  Dr. Conrad is a Professional Engineer, a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP).  He is also a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the Project Management Institute, and the American Society of Engineering Education.  He has been elected to serve on the IEEE Board of Directors as Region 3 director for 2016-2017.  He is the author of numerous books, book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers in the areas of embedded systems, robotics, parallel processing, and engineering education.

IEEE Region 3 Director-Elect 2014-2015, Director 2016-2017

Many thanks to the membership of IEEE Region 3 who voted for me for the position of Director-Elect.  I believe I won the election based on my view that IEEE is a great organization but needs to do a better job of providing value to the members.  The material listed below remain my visions of IEEE for the next six years as progress through the leadership positions of Director-Elect, Director, and Past-Director.

The statement that represents my goals as a Board Member: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Charles Dickens. Does this quote represent the IEEE and its goals to engage members?  I belong to another professional organization that is increasing in membership by 8 to 11% a year. They offer fantastic opportunities for professional development via seemingly daily webinars offered by "Communities of Practice." Local chapters have 100-200 members attend their meeting every month. My local chapter has even created satellite meetings to better reach its members. This organization never talks about membership retention because it is not a problem. 

Now compare this organization with the IEEE. Why must we constantly convince our members to renew each year? Is the benefit not inherently obvious? Are we REALLY providing our members the opportunities they need to be successful? Do we really encourage our member to take part in all of the professional development activities available?  As Director of R3 I will strive to examine these larger, systemic problems of the IEEE and work towards revolutionary changes to better serve members.  I believe there are three major issues facing IEEE:

  1. Young engineers are not convinced of the value of membership, and hence do not join.
  2. Older engineers sometimes no longer see the value of membership, and hence do not renew.
  3. Employer are not convinced of the value of membership to their employees, and hence do not support their involvement in activities.
In many cases, this is nothing more than a marketing issue - we need to show the MONETARY value of the products members use. For example, if the local IEEE section offers a free meeting on a technical topic, it should be shown that this education offered by a for-profit organization would cost $n, a substantial cost savings to the member and his/her employer.

The number one goal for IEEE Leadership is to remain relevant to the members in a financially sustainable way.  In my work as an industry project manager and university department associate chair, I have learned that continual "firefighting" - in this case the efforts to retain members - is indicative a larger, systemic problem.  The problem is that relevance is highly dependent on age in the field, specific industry, and region of the world. I will push to have the IEEE predict the needs that members will have in five years and start building products now for deployment in the future, rather than worrying only about "catching up."


This page maintained by James Conrad - last modified 2014-09-09.
Copyright 1994-2014 James M. Conrad. All rights reserved.