John McDonald, SmartGrid Business Development Leader, GE Power, Atlanta and IEEE Life Fellow shares his personal perspective
I have been actively involved in the IEEE and the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) for 46 years, with many leadership positions and awards. It’s a very valuable organisation. However, CIGRE provides me three benefits I do not receive from IEEE. I believe that to be a “complete engineer” you must actively participate in both IEEE and CIGRE.
Three member benefits unique to CIGRE are:
- Technology with global perspective – CIGRE’s technological understanding and expertise spans the globe like no other organisation and this is critical as our world gets ‘smaller’. As engineers, we must understand global differences in technology, industry standards and business cases if we are to keep pace with and successfully address the ever evolving challenges of the power system.
- Executive networking – no other technical organisation has as many company CEOs and other top executives actively involved as CIGRE. Members constantly enjoy opportunities to meet and establish close relationships with key industry executives. A good example is Michel Augonnet, who was second in command at Alstom Grid and President, French National Committee of CIGRE, when I first met him. He is now the CIGRE Treasurer.
- Practical work – CIGRE work results are practical in nature. They address and help solve the practical problems electric utilities and manufacturers encounter. They are not academic transactions papers from researchers.
In my view these three benefits alone are justification enough for every power system professional to get involved. CIGRE membership, relative to membership of other valuable organisations such as IEEE in the USA and other learned institutions like IET and SAIEE in other countries, is complimentary, providing a pathway to becoming a “complete engineer”.