As the former IEEE Region 8 Director, our new VP Membership Antonio Luque reminds us how IEEE and IES serve humanity. In line with this, he announces a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team in the society. Discover a professor always on the move and creative in everything he does.
ITeN team: Dear professor, thanks a lot for being with us today, can you start by telling us about the highlights of your career?
I’m a professor of electronics engineering at the University of Seville. Just after getting my degree in engineering, I had some initiatives as an entrepreneur. I created a company mainly based on computer science. But soon afterwards I realized that I enjoyed academia the most, that’s how I joined the Department of Electronics Engineering.
And I didn’t regret the decision because I really enjoy what being in academia means. I’ve been working in the same department for more than 20 years now.
ITeN team: What led you to become an engineer?
I always wanted to know how things work. But to me, the main aspect of being an engineer is being able to create new things for practical purposes. Science is wonderful to understand how nature works, but I prefer to design and build things that don’t yet exist to improve people’s life.
My research lines from the beginning were microsystems – microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), microfluidics – then slowly moved to applying these things to biomedical applications.
More recently I have also shifted towards the Internet of Things, cyber physical systems, industrial cyber physical systems. These lines have allowed me to be invited to teach courses for example in Germany, Mexico, China and some other places. And I was very happy to be able to share this with others.
I am also happy, of course, to have volunteered for IEEE. I have spent significant part of my career volunteering for IEEE in many roles that I enjoyed, for example, at the IEEE Board of Directors for the last two years, serving as Director for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
ITeN team: Talking about IEEE, what were your duties as the Region 8 (Middle East, Europe, and Africa) Director?
IEEE is a non-profit organization; we are a charity organization and everything we do is not for just for the benefit of our members, or of ourselves. Indeed, we can find many benefits and services in IEEE, but we need to remember that everything we do, must always be oriented towards serving humanity.
My role as Director of Region 8 was to take care of the members of Middle East, Europe, and Africa. It is definitely a very interesting part of the world, very diverse. Many things which seem obvious to people from one place are completely different for people from another place. And that doesn’t mean they are better or worse, they are simply different, we just need to adapt to this. All these cultural differences were a really enlightening experience.
ITeN team: And as the VP Membership of IES, what would be your mission?
The Vice President for Membership Activities is the officer who is in close contact to the members. Therefore, after my term of two years in this position, I would really like to make sure that all our members can find in IES all the resources they need to progress in their careers.
Unlike other Societies that are more specific, IES has many different technical fields, and this is one of our strengths. Because in today’s world, it is very normal for professionals, technicians, engineers to move from a field to another. The old days, when one was in the same company for the whole life, doing more or less the same thing, are gone. Right now, it’s very normal to move from research to industry or vice versa, from one company to another, in different positions, different fields, different technologies.
For that reason, it’s very important that we can count on a technical home, like this Society, to provide the right place to come back when you are moving, the right network of peers, the appropriate technical content, and the opportunities to exchange information with others in conferences, meetings, symposia, etc.
You will need that in every phase of your career, whether you are starting, or in the middle of your career, or a senior professional, or closer to retirement.
Another mission is to make it clear that everybody is welcome to participate to our mission, which is “to advance global prosperity by fostering technical innovation”. It is a very good mission in my opinion, this is an objective that everybody can feel as theirs. That’s why everybody should consider contributing their time, efforts, and abilities to this mission.
And there are many ways of doing that. For example, you can organize a small event or a large conference, present a webinar to a few members who are interested in your in your field of expertise, arrange a contest for students to motivate them in industrial electronics… You don’t have to spend a lot of time.
ITeN team: Can you talk about the new structure of the Membership committee?
We are appointing a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team in the society because we feel that these three values are very important to IES, to IEEE, and to humanity as well! We want to make sure that everybody feels welcome.
We need to send this message to our members, our potential members and to the world, that everybody is invited to participate in IES, no matter their origin, gender, or whether they are from industry or academia…
IES is a very open society of colleagues, of friends in many cases, in this technology field, but I’m sure that there are things we can improve. Therefore, we created this new team who work on different initiatives, like webinars on how we can work against implicit bias for example.
We are also working on restructuring the whole website so that all the members, and especially potential members, can find the right resources and content and understand that they are right for the society and that the society is right for them.
So, if you are not a member, and you are thinking whether to join the society, my answer will be “Definitely! You are welcome to join. We will do everything so that you feel integrated”
And if you are a member, that you have an idea and would like to organize something, to create a new initiative, a new activity, something that is aligned with our mission and that can benefit humanity through the means of industrial electronics, then I will be happy to help!
We have the human resources and financial resources to serve our members properly and to listen to them. Let us know what you would like to do, I’m sure I will find ways of to make it happen and that everybody will enjoy and find the experience very gratifying.
ITeN team: Which advice(s) would you give to boost our young reader’s career?
One advice I would give is to listen to others, to your coworkers, to your boss of course, to your clients, to your students if you are in academia. To everyone. That doesn’t mean that you should simply follow the opinion of others, but listening will help to form your own opinion. You can only have a good opinion if it is based on information. And information is in others’ minds.
But the opposite is also right! Offer your honest advice and honest criticism to others. Of course, be respectful when doing that. But if you have a firm professional opinion don’t be shy and share it.
My second advice is about the personal branding. Of course, it’s important to be a good marketer of yourself and of your creations, but I don’t think you can sell something if you don’t have a good product first. Thus, the priority might be to invest time and effort in growing technically, getting better educated, learning all the time. Then selling yourself and the things you do will be much easier.
And finally, my third advice is to give back to society. We are very lucky to be engineers, academics, practitioners, scientist and to work in this field. Of course, this is thanks to our efforts, but it’s also in big part thanks to the society that gave us a lot of opportunities that some other people didn’t. Hence, it is very important to be grateful, to acknowledge that society gave to us previously.
I think that we have the responsibility of using part of our skills, efforts, time, abilities, and technologies that we master, to give back to the society and make this world a better place for everyone.
ITeN team: Now we will talk about something more personal. Whenever, if ever, you manage to get some free time, what are your hobbies?
I love painting, drawing, and sometimes just drafting something with a pencil and a sheet of paper, just to relax.
I also like hiking. I’m playing some sports occasionally, but unfortunately; I don’t have much time these days.
But nowadays the thing that I enjoy the most is playing with my three-year-old daughter. I can spend hours just listening or watching what she’s doing, how she’s learning new skills all the time. I think this is the funniest thing that I can do. I would say this is my hobby this time.