CVD 2024, A Recap by Prasenjit Banerjee

Prasenjit Banerjee
Published 05/04/2024
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CVD 2024IEEE USA organized Congressional Visits Day CVD 2024 on 11 April 2024. It was a two-day program comprising more than 160 participants across different US states. The first day started with an orientation session from 2:00 – 5:00 PM at the Hart Senate building at Capitol Hill. The following day, we had a power-packed agenda to meet Senators and House representatives or their staff officers on April 11th. It was my first time participating in the congressional visits day in Washington, D.C., so I was excited and a little apprehensive at the same time. We were well briefed on the agenda before arriving in DC. So, I wanted to show up as I am very strongly aligned with each of the three bills on the agenda that we wanted to ask for legislative support from our local representatives from congressional districts.

Erik Heilman, director of government relations at IEEE USA, gave a warm welcome at the orientation. I met IEEE members and fellows from various states, introduced myself, shared my scope of work, and learned from others in the field. I was pleasantly surprised to see a healthy mix of young professionals and IEEE luminaries. Furthermore, I met IEEE President Thomas Coughlin and IEEE Computer Society President Jyotika Arthavale. I was also elated to meet other IEEE Region presidents and past chairs.

As the orientation session started, we were greeted and given a brief overview of what to expect from these meetings with the house representatives. We were also given some tips and tricks for making our presence felt on social media, which I thought was pretty cool.

Russel Harrison, Managing Director of IEEE USA, gave an excellent presentation on why we are here and why we need to raise our voices to support the three bills. The first was about investing in the future of US Science and Technology through increased funding for colleges and universities to allow consistent and continued research and education across all levels to ensure the success of the CHIPS ACT of 2022. The Second wasabout support for diversifying and expanding access to AI systems through the CREATE AI ACT, which allows research universities with consistent funding to procure computing power to carry out AI-based research. This would ensure that the benefits of AI are not confined to a few corporations that have the monetary strength to pursue the research. Last but not least, it was strengthening America’s workforce with the Keep Stem Talent Act. This was not only about generating enough STEM-oriented domestic workforce here in the USA through continued sponsorship of technology colleges and programs but also voicing concerns about the need for more employment-based green cards that alleviate the concerns of temporary workers from either level. The IEEE president organized an optional town hall, which I had to skip for logistical reasons.

Day 2 started with an early and optional breakfast for all the members. This is another fantastic opportunity to meet and explore IEEE luminaries. This includes eminent professors like Gora Dutta from Los Angeles. I was the lone representative from Illinois, and my counterparts from my state could not show up due to unavoidable circumstances. This was followed by meetings across the Senate buildings (The Hart Senate Buildings) and the offices of the House of Representatives. The meetings were unique experiences, and it felt very gratifying to represent myself and speak about our local community and my story at these meetings, in addition to the items already on the agenda. Meeting and networking with colleagues in my industry from other states was fascinating. It was good to listen to their stories and experiences from the field as I discussed mine. Some tips from the IEEE USA colleagues came in handy, especially about wearing comfortable shoes. I walked more than 16000 steps in a single day covering my congressional meetings across Capitol Hill.

My experience of the visit was nothing short of extraordinary. It was a unique experience to meet and speak with local representatives to voice our concerns and hear from them. At the same time, it was a great event to meet and network with exceptionally talented engineers and academicians who have demonstrated leadership at the top of their field. Last but not least, while the weather was not very sunny, it did not play a spoilsport as it promised to rain; however, it did not.


Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.