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IEEE Illumination 2019: A bridge between academic and industry knowledge

By in News

University students from across the Prairies will soon be gathering in Saskatoon to learn how to break into the electronics sector. Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Illumination 2019 is a two-day student-run conference designed for students from engineering, business and computer-science backgrounds.

IEEE Illumination is an annual conference that has been ongoing for over 15 years, and this year, it will be held at the Saskatoon Inn on Feb. 8 and 9. The University of Saskatchewan’s student branch of IEEE had the idea of gathering electrical and computer engineering students to present an opportunity for them to speak with industry professionals.

There are multiple sponsors of IEEE Illumination 2019 including SaskTel, SaskPower, Valard, SED Systems and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan, to name a few. This year, the U of S IEEE student branch has a budget of up to $20,000 from sponsors as more join in the conference.

Maisha Nasim, fourth-year electrical engineering student and Illumination 2019 co-ordinator, says that it is an opportunity for students to understand the electrical and electronics industry that they will be entering after university.

“We thought that, just because the provinces are so close to each other, … it would be a great opportunity for them to be able to network [with] some of the companies here and [for] us to be able to get to know them, get to know what they are doing and how their programs are conducted,” Nasim said.

On the second day of the conference, eight speakers will talk about their respective professions. Although the speakers have not yet been announced, Nasim shares that Dena Burnett, a U of S PhD graduate in biomedical engineering, will be speaking at the conference.

“From my understanding, [Burnett] is planning to focus on how to reach [a] non-technical audience with technical information using proper methods of communication,” Nasim said.

Reynier Leyeza, fourthyear electrical engineering student and Illumination 2019 assistant co-ordinator, says that the event serves a dual purpose, providing an opportunity for young engineers to meet professionals from the electrical and electronics industry and to learn more about science and technology in general.

“One of the objectives of Illumination is just so that people in this industry will get to meet prospective young engineers, and the young engineers will also get news about the latest technologies that the companies … are presenting. And it’s a networking opportunity for everybody,” Leyeza said.

Although Illumination has been around for years, it is often under attended. Students may think it is only offered to engineering students. Leyeza says that the academic workload around the time of the conference also contributes to the lower turnout.

“We’re inviting a lot of engineers, and most of the midterms are during February, … so they underestimate [the value of] two days’ worth of networking opportunities and learning more about the industry,” Leyeza said.

Nasim says that this is a chance for students to take in industry knowledge not offered during their university experiences, which can inform their career-path choices in the future.

“When we are in university and we are in a certain discipline or we are a student of a certain college, we don’t know what our future is going to look like. We don’t know, when we enter into some company, what kind of job we would be doing or what that company necessarily does,” Nasim said.

“[Illumination] gives all our speakers and all the presenters a chance to come out and tell all these students … what their company is all about, what they do [and] what their focuses are.

J.C. Balicanta Narag / Outreach Director

Photo: IEEE Illumination / Supplied

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