IEEE and STC Membership

Subject: IEEE and STC Membership
From: "George F. Hayhoe" <gfhayhoe -at- SCESCAPE -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 11:33:47 -0400

The differing membership requirements for IEEE and STC have evoked some
comment on the list. I'm a senior member of IEEE and a member of its
Professional Communication Society's Administrative Committee (AdCom). I'm
also an associate fellow of STC and a former member of its board of
directors. As a result, I've observed a fair bit about the two
organizations first hand.

Both are excellent professional societies with much to offer technical
communicators.

Admission to membership in IEEE requires either a degree in a discipline
directly related to electrical or electronics engineering or considerable
experience as an allied professional working with EEs. Most technical
communicators in IEEE are admitted to membership through the allied
profession route; the organization does not currently recognize a degree in
technical communication as an automatic qualification for membership.

Admission to membership in STC is essentially automatic--you fill out a
membership application and pay your dues.

Is one organization better than the other because its admission
requirements are more stringent? Is the other inferior because its
admission requirements are more inclusive? I don't think so. They simply
demonstrate different philosophies of membership.

One problem with stringent membership criteria is that they are subject to
divergent interpretations. The IEEE Membership Committee recently declined
to admit a prominent technical communicator to member status (he has been
an associate member) because his application materials did not demonstrate
to their satisfaction that he met the requirements. Ironically, seven years
ago, I was admitted to senior member status in IEEE though my credentials
were not nearly as good as this person's.

Membership in a professional society--even one with fairly stringent
membership requirements--should not be confused with certification. An
electrical engineer member of IEEE who wishes to be certified must pass the
PE exam.

I'm proud to be a member of both of these organizations.

--George Hayhoe (gfhayhoe -at- scescape -dot- net)

George Hayhoe Associates
Voice: 803-642-2156
Fax: 803-6642-9325
http://www.scescape.net/~gfhayhoe/index.htm

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