With almost 300 attendees, this year’s R8 Student Branch and GOLD Congress seems to be the most successful so far! With the presence of almost all important IEEE officials and staff amongst the 268 student branch and GOLD representatives, Leuven became the unofficial IEEE Headquarters for 5 tremendously busy days…leaving Piscattaway a ghost town.
From 4 to 8 August, 268 young engineering students and young professionals from all over the region gathered together in the small city of Leuven (Belgium) for what would become the 7th edition of the biannually held SBC. Here, they had the chance to network, learn more about the IEEE and to discuss present and future engineering challenges. The organizers were very honoured with the presence of a large number of highly ranked IEEE officials, including past president John Vig, president-elect Moshe Kam, both presidential candidates and the entire Region 8 Opcom, whose presence highlighted the importance of this student event within IEEE.
In total there were 334 registrations of which 292 were able to attend. Out of this total number, there were 238 students and 30 GOLD representatives from 46 countries. With 32 participants, the Turkish delegation showed to be the largest by far even outnumbering the local organizing members. The price for the longest travel distance went to the R10 Student representative coming all the way from Australia.
The congress started with a guided tour through the historic city of in the afternoon, taking all participants to the city hall in the evening for the opening reception. With plenary sessions starting early in the morning and interactive workshops about new branch activities, networking and soft skills for tomorrow’s leaders (over 40 different topics in total!), the congress had a lot of useful experiences to offer. Together with the visits and lively evening activities, the congress program offered all activities that can be expect at a SBC. Highlights in the program were the elect the president debate, the highly explosive and inspiring session of ‘mad scientist’ John Cohn, the gala dinner in the heart of the city and a guided tour on the Leuven High-Tech campus ending with a live band supported barbecue in the green surroundings of the engineering campus. The most highly expected activity by far was the multi-cultural evening, where all participants could meet, drink and eat each others’ culture after having experienced a part of the Belgian culture during the brewery visit. For some participants, a ‘multi-cultural hangover’ was one of the side effect of this evening activity, which resulted by far in the largest drop of breakfast attendees one could ever expect the morning of the last congress day. After the closing sessions and the visit to Brussels, all congress participants returned back to their home countries, student branches and affinity groups, with a bag full of stories and experiences, counting the days until the next SBC…