I recently attended the annual conference for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). This particular organization appeals to those who teach engineering, mostly in colleges and universities, or are connected with engineering education in some way. As an engineering librarian, I find it valuable to connect with my fellow academic engineering librarians to learn about their current work and research. It is also useful to hear about developments and innovations in the area of engineering education. Since I had such a great time at the conference, I thought it would be worth sharing: what exactly is a professional association and what are some of the benefits?
Professional associations are organizations to which people who do similar work or have similar interests belong. Often these associations have email lists or forums that facilitate online communication, provide professional development opportunities, and host conferences or symposiums.
There are many benefits to belonging to a professional association including:
- Networking opportunities
- Connection with experts in your field
- Professional development opportunities including workshops, webinars, and committee work
- Sometimes you get full access to a professional journal or magazine
Depending on the association, you will likely have additional benefits.
In the field of engineering, there are many societies and associations. Many of the large ones publish scholarly journals and conference proceedings, in addition to providing benefits to their members. The association you join is somewhat dependent on your field of interest, but here are a few related to engineering that you can check out:
- Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
- American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- ASM International (formerly American Society for Metals)
- American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
- National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE)
- Society for Women in Engineering (SWE)
- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
All of the organizations listed above have a discounted rate for student members, which is a great option to get started in a professional organization! Additionally, there are student chapters of some of these organizations here at University of Michigan which you can connect with to learn more:
- AIAA Student Chapter
- ASME University of Michigan Chapter
- IEEE Student Branch
- SWE Student Section
You can also talk to your faculty members to see which associations they are a member of and learn more about those.
If you know of another great association or society related to engineering, mention it in a comment below!