My name is Saurabh Sinha. I serve as an Associate Professor and Director of the Carl & Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronics, or CEFIM. CEFIM is an institute of the Department of Electrical, Electronic & Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Other than my scholarly work, in the field of mm-Wave integrated circuit research, I also do consulting work. Both my works for the university and consultancy requires writing research grant proposals or business proposals. I have gotten used to writing proposals, and I hope that I can share some thoughts towards the EPICS-in-IEEE application or proposal with you today. I also volunteer for the IEEE in various capacities. Primary roles include my service to IEEE Region 8, which includes Europe, Middle-East and Africa. I serve Region 8 as Vice-Chair for Technical Activities. I also serve the IEEE through Educational Activities, and my role for this presentation relates in this regard. Kapil Dandekar and I took forward the concept of Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), founded by Purdue University, and expanded the initiative globally through the IEEE.
The word “Proposal” takes it’s origin from marriages. The word got coupled with projects, which could be a plan, draft, or a scheme. Perhaps the sound of “jet,” gives us that mental image that we need to move forward an idea to implementation. We see a proposal as a concept, programme, and expenses.
For many academics, researchers, and students, the word “proposal” appears to be daunting, and often feared.
As we however start to write (or type) the proposal, it fortunately gets better!
As initial steps, browse/read the page(s) relating to the initiative, study example projects and their associated impacts. For EPICS-in-IEEE, there’s a template for the proposal. Download that!
There’s also a “Frequently asked questions” page, please review. Here you’ll also see that proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. No deadlines, but start working now anyway!
Let us review the initiative. EPICS-in-IEEE is one of the enablers to IEEE’s tagline “Advancing Technology for Humanity.” The tagline showcases the organization’s basic tenet that IEEE and its members across the engineering, computing and technology community worldwide advance innovation and technological excellence for humankind. There exist several non-profit organizations or non-govt. organizations, such NPOs or NGOs strive to contribute to humanity in various ways. If you’re stuck, the organization “World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, or WANGO” provides a listing of various NPOs or NGOs in your area. You may also be at a university which already maintains relations with NPOs or NGOs. Such NPOs or NGOs may however lack the “technology” component, which remains at the heart of our professional society, IEEE. Through your local geographical unit, or geo-unit, the IEEE student branch, GOLD entity and others could partner with the NGO or NPO to deliver to the benefit of community or society-at-large. In the process, IEEE Educational Activities also envisages cooperation with preuniversity or secondary/high school learners. This early partnership develops multiple partners, at times a challenge for an IEEE geo-unit. For many student branches, this is less a problem, after all they have recently come from a secondary school, so some links with their previous schooling may already exist. Another approach is to work with a university or college’s marketing dept., they may frequently work with schools or even at the level of individual academic departments. After all, universities and colleges do recruit as well, and frequently from secondary schools! For EPICS-in-IEEE, it is intended that the community or society-at-large serves as the eventual recipient or beneficiary, through the support of the NPO or NGO. The NPO or NGO partnership is also envisioned to sustain the project, and with active cooperation with the university student branch, the hope is to also achieve project maintenance.
As the project commences, or even at project proposal level, there may also be some external sponsors. Examples of external sponsors include companies who are keen to engage through their social corporate responsibility programme, and the partnership with universities may make sense. Many companies may recruit from universities. In this way, there is vertical and branching integration of various kinds.
Let us review the template, which is accessible through the EPICS-in-IEEE website. A PDF and a Microsoft Word document is available. The PDF is also editable, and an option is made to submit the application by e-mail. I will go through the template, as we’ll need the data gathered through discussions, which will be held next. On the first page, we need to provide the “Title of Project.” This will be a concise description of the project, often 8-10 words. Contact, and an alternate contact, is required. It may be that the alternate contact be a faculty member, a student branch advisor or counsellor. It could also be a member of the student branch leadership or another project volunteer. IEEE is geographically organized as ten regions. In case you are less familiar, the chart on the next slide will be helpful. IEEE geographically works through sections. We ask this information as finances will be coordinated through the section. We also see the section as the entity responsible. If there is no section in your area, then the region could take responsibility, or if that is less convenient, then IEEE educational activities may enter into an agreement with your geographical entity or supporting organization. The student branch, which is a registered entity of the IEEE is also required, but once again if unavailable, then IEEE volunteers can discuss this with IEEE educational activities. We have seen EPICS-in-IEEE project applications leading to student branch creation!
I had promised the chart for IEEE regions. Look where you are, and the map, and you’ll now the IEEE region that you belong to.
The second part of page 1 requests contact information of partners, but keep the question on roles in mind. I will read it: For the NPO: “What is the mission of non-profit/NGO and how does the proposed project advance this mission?” We are seeking alignment of the goals of the NPO, and the IEEE, ultimately both have the humanity quest. IEEE could help from the technology perspective. The second question: In what way will the high school students participating in this effort learn and apply the principles of engineering and engineering design? How many students will be involved in the project?
The last part of page 1 requests the project time-line, budget sum, and an agreement to provide reporting. On page 2, the title is repeated for convenience of reviewers. The project category or categories should next be identified. A short project description, usually a page or two, is expected. The description describes the concept, supported by the individual roles of the parties involved. A budget can be included as part of the description or separately as a XLS spreadsheet. All documents are to be submitted to EPICS-in-IEEE through e-mail. The PDF also makes provision for such a submission. We see this at the bottom of page 2.
We have now identified some of the players. We have reviewed the template. Holding discussions with various may be a good idea. Remember to take notes during discussions. Why not use copies of the project application template to capture your notes?
In this image, David Oyedokun of the University of Cape Town in South Africa discusses with a community in Emasithandane, on a project partnership between UCT and the community. In this case, the NPO was a children’s orphanage. The NPO requested assistance with a review of their electricity costs, and possible cost-offsetting through solar-power.
IEEE is a transnational organization, and our world is interesting too! In this example, we illustrate the interest of a student branch based in Portugal, with an interest to work with a NPO in Angola (a Portuguese speaking country). Such links are quite possible, and perhaps also manageable today with technologies such as Skype, Google Phone, etc. Languages and colonial ties in this case brokered the link.
While holding discussions with the community, it would be a good to manage the expectations around the concept, but also discuss timelines. Some negotiation may be involved, as EPICS-in-IEEE involves various parties, secondary schools, university students, and others – varying schedules should be expected. The project time should be proposed or negotiated to accommodate the volunteer nature of the engagement.
Take notes during your discussion, write or type telephone numbers, contact details, etc. Do this at your discussion, avoid awaiting commitments of e-mails, etc afterwards. At times this helps to reduce delay. Keep the emphasis of doing things NOW. If you have a mobile phone or another way to record the conversation, do this! At times listening to conversations afterwards helps for memory, but also for reflecting on the conversation. It’s also great for a giggle a few years later!
The student branch, at times together with the NGO or NPO, may arrange a meeting with a local secondary or high-school. For the purpose of this presentation, and to distinguish from university or college students, I’ll refer to preuniversity students as learners. Upon an engagement with the school, often through the Head of Department for the Science(s), one may be able to identify an “interested” educator or teacher. In some areas, the engagement may require a formal memorandum of understanding (MoU), which could be established between the IEEE geo-unit or at times through a MoU or reachout programme that a given university may already have.
The educator may identify a small group of learners from his or her school. The university student branch chair, perhaps supported by a project counsellor or another faculty member, may hold a briefing discussion with scholars. At times this may be after regular school hours or via a school club. On the right hand side of the project board, an EPICS-in-IEEE project on air-quality monitoring is being discussed. In this example, the University of Pretoria in South Africa, presents to St Alban’s College, also in Pretoria. The interest here is to monitor air-quality through the use of air-quality microsensors. The university student, as part of his capstone final year undergraduate project, undertakes a first-principle development of an air-quality microsystem for a mobile platform. A part of the project is simplified for secondary school learners. Secondary school learners and their educator decide on an off-the-shelf approach, where a smartphone will be coupled with an Android Input/Output device, connected to air-quality sensors. The secondary school student will use specialised sensors for SO 2 and NO 2 , whereas the scholars will be detecting smoke! After all, this is a boys only school, and boarding is involved, perhaps thus relevant! A mobile phone will be used, and data captured through Google Documents/Drive as a spreadsheet for ease of distribution through the Google cloud. A secondary outcome would be to use the secondary school solution to illustrate the components of a new air-quality act in South Africa to areas surrounding Pretoria which are disadvantaged.
It may be a good idea to get a feel for the school calendar
Did you take notes?!
By putting notes together, you may now be ready to draft your proposal. A technical block diagram of the project, as a whole, could be helpful. Identify the roles to be played or facilitated by the NPO/NGO, secondary school learners, and university students.
It’s time to handle the second page of the proposal. The title, project category and description is needed. The description is supported by a timeline or programme and budget.
There may be a piece of the proposal that you have to do on your own as the project leader. Discipline yourself for an afternoon, avoid the distractions, and let the distractions avoid you. Get the paperwork done. A quiet afternoon or an evening (or even an early morning, if that’s what you prefer), a calendar and calculator/spreadsheet.
Here’s a typical project timeline. Remember to add some project slack. Remember different schedules could apply for the secondary school and the University. Keep the project timeline expectation from the community and the NPO or NGO in mind.
Here’s a sample of a budget. There’s no typical budget for EPICS-in-IEEE. The committee has approved budgets from US $1,000 to even US $25,000 in the past. The typical budget has been between US $3,000 and US $4,000. The committee seldom rejects proposals, but frequently advises to collaborate with other groups/organizations for funding. For instance, if the NPO/NGO offers cost-sharing in cash or by offering personnel time, or catering or even a venue, such deepens the commitment. This is not required, but helpful. Your budget may constitute of project supplies, transportation, stationery, and overheads. Overheads could be between 10 and 25 %, and should be budgeted if required. EPICS-in-IEEE tends to commit costs towards project supplies, but you may have some minor transportation costs, such as a visit to the nearby secondary school. Long distance travel is not funded by EPICS-in-IEEE, and if necessary secondary funding should be solicited for such.
Now that your proposal is drafted, send it to all involved for comments. Specify a deadline for comments. In some cases, you may want to state that if you don’t receive comments, say within a week. It’s a good idea to be reasonable, and keep holiday periods in mind. Volunteers may work over night, but you may be working with NGO/NPO staff, who may be available during office hours only.
Within your team, you may have someone that can assist to proofread your proposal. Even if you are a native speaker of the English language, it’s easy to miss your own mistakes, ask another person to check. Do not simply trust the built-in spell or language checking feature of your word processor, ask a real person, if available! Remember your reviewers do not know you, but will know you through your typed and submitted proposal. The reviewers are volunteers, and busy, therefore writing concisely, correct grammar and punctuation will be something they will appreciate.
I think we’re now ready to submit. Submit through e-mail, and if applicable, please copy your Section Chair and other key student branch leaders. If you don’t receive an e-mail acknowledgement within three (3) working days, please follow-up to ensure that IEEE professional staff partners received your documentation. You’ll receive feedback within 30-45 days.
You’ll then receive a review for your proposal. The proposal may be a “yay” or “nay.” If it’s completely rejected, a brief reasoning would be provided. Many times, you’ll receive constructive feedback, review and submit your updated proposal to the e-mail address shown.
If or once your proposal is accepted, it’s time to get to work. Speak to your project partners, and remember interim progress reports that you promised!
Thank you for partaking in this presentation. The call for proposals is now open, and it’s time to propose to make the changes you wanted to see in the world. Thank you for volunteering!
Saurabh, who is, hmm? Source: http://www.yodaspeak.co.uk/index.php ….. South Africa Key positions: • Serves as Vice-Chair: Region Works as a Prof. and 8 Technical Activities Director: Carl & Emily (2011/12) IEEE Journey Fuchs Institute for • Serves as a voting member of Microelectronics, Dept. of IEEE Educational Activities Electrical, Electronic & Board Computer Engineering, • Serves ad-hoc working group University of Pretoria (IEEE-UNESCO) • Served as South Africa • Academic Section Chair (2009/10) • Consultant for govt. and • A number of other things, see industry website2 09/24/12 Saurabh Sinha: www.saurabhsinha.info
EPICS-in-IEEE – Engineering Social Innovation through University and Pre- University Education Non-govt./Non- University profit student organization(s) branch(es) The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) Community Secondary Partner/ School “Recipient” Partner(s) 8 09/24/12
EPICS-in-IEEE – Engineering Social Innovation through University and Pre- University Education Non-govt./Non- University profit student organization(s) branch(es) The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) Community Secondary Partner/ School “Recipient” Partner(s) External Sponsor(s) 9 09/24/12
Review the template (3) www.xe.comPage 2 13 09/24/12
Every artist was first an amateur. Ralph Waldo Emerson14 09/24/12
Start discussions right away! Hold discussions with a NPO/NGOUniversity student branch(es) Non-govt./Non- profit organization(s) Community Partner/ “Recipient” David Oyedokun, University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa Joint discussion with community? 15 09/24/12
NPOs/NGOs & International links Example16 09/24/12
Discuss project timelines Overall expectation, examples: – Start in Feb. 2013, conclude Nov. 2013 – Start in Oct., 2013, conclude Jun. 2014 Discuss key milestones Discuss frequency of meetings – Discuss schedule differences, if any – Discuss the involvement of secondary schools & coordination of timelines with learners17 09/24/12
Ok, we have held the discussions What’s next? – Putting notes together .. – Preliminary concept Draw a technical block diagram of the project - Identify technical components of the project to be handled by secondary school and University students23 09/24/12
Proposal submission Submit your proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org CC: Section chair, Student branch chair, etc -You’llreceive a confirmation within three (3) working days – US time. -If you don’t, please follow-up.30 Review is provided within 30-45 days. 09/24/12
Review received! Feedback could be positive or negative, but in most cases constructive! – Review panel requests clarification? - Update proposal (track changes), or answer questions specifically! - Submit to: email@example.com 09/24/12
Proposal accepted Time to get to work.32 09/24/12