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SPIE Professional October 2006

Foundation of Volunteers

One of the most valuable ways to get involved with SPIE is to volunteer.

By Paul McManamon

SPIE is built on our volunteers -- people like you who are willing to volunteer to make SPIE a family, a community, and a great technical society. I think that volunteering truly allows you to take advantage of your SPIE membership. Volunteering provides a sense of satisfaction that results from doing something worthwhile for the optics and photonics community, but it also makes you an active part of the SPIE community.
You get to meet and work with new people from across the world, as well as other areas of your home country. By interacting with people from other cultures, your volunteering will become an even richer experience. I have a much better understanding of Europe and Asia than I would have if I had not volunteered with SPIE. I believe this is one of the best benefits of being a member.
Some volunteer opportunities can use as many people as possible. For example, judging science fairs on behalf of SPIE (a simple but very needed job) or spreading the concept of hands-on optics education by volunteering with area schools. We are still looking for the best way to reach the millions of young minds in the world, and your help is vital to this effort.
We also have a huge number of conferences, program tracks, and sessions that could use your participation. You can, of course, suggest a new conference or a new session or volunteer to become involved in a particular conference or session. SPIE staff would be happy to introduce appropriate volunteers into conference committees. We encourage our chairs to be open to new volunteers and to look for someone they can mentor to be their successor.
We especially seek to involve students and early career professionals. These are people who have not yet built a worldwide network of contacts, and we offer SPIE as a resource to help them build that network and their experience.
We also have 14 standing committees on numerous topics ranging from education to symposia to policy. I encourage you to find a topic that interests you and volunteer on one of the committees.
In many areas of the world we have local chapters and student chapters that can use volunteers as well. Even if there is no local chapter you still could serve as a speaker or recruit a speaker for a chapter near or far.
Similarly, maybe you have an idea for a course that is not given at your favorite meeting but that would be of value, and perhaps you are even willing to put together such a course.
We should be able to help you find a place you can volunteer and feel comfortable. Please think about how you might contribute. What interests you? What would give you satisfaction? What would help you meet the contacts you would like to meet? What would help you to understand the cultures that interest you?
I am sure there are many useful volunteer ideas we haven't even thought of yet. Suggest your own area where you think you can contribute best -- it doesn't have to exist today.
From my own experience, I know volunteering can be very valuable. Even if my volunteering had not resulted in becoming president, I would still count this as one of my most rewarding experiences.

Volunteer Contacts
If you've found your curiosity piqued, contact the SPIE staff listed below about the volunteering possibilities mentioned in the adjoining article.
Science fair judges: Pascale Barnett, pascale@spie.org
Event, conference, session/track volunteers: Lisa Love, lisa@spie.org
Standing committee candidates: Paul Brainard, paulb@spie.org
Student chapter speakers: Allison Romanyshyn, allisonr@spie.org
Course instructors or topic suggestions: John Cain, johnc@spie.org

Paul McManamon, 2006 SPIE President











DOI: 10.1117/2.4200610.001