Humans of IEEE SIGHT: Glenn McKnight, co-chair of SIGHT Communities of Practice subcommittee

Glenn McKnight is the current co-chair of the SIGHT Communities of Practice subcommittee and the member of the SIGHT Toronto group. Outside of IEEE, he is also involved in the Foundation for Building Sustainable Communities as the chair.

Celia Shahnaz, SIGHT’s 2017 Communications Chair, interviewed Mr. McKnight.

  1. What inspired you to join IEEE SIGHT? 

I have been involved with the IEEE HTC from the beginning and as a member of the  IEEE Toronto Section Humanitarian working group i have been active in exploring how we can make an impact in our own community.   I have been a member for  a few years of IEEE SIGHT but also IEEE SMART VILLAGES which was the former  Community Solutions Initiatives. 

What motivated you to volunteer for IEEE SIGHT?

I am keen on sharing my knowledge on issues of Community Networking and Digital Inclusion.  A major interest is working with the Special Needs  community providing Internet access 

  1. How do you see yourself without IEEE SIGHT?

It would be the same since I am very active in ICANN and ISOC so my activity would be the same but what IEEE SIGHT provides a crucial on the ground practical solutions in contrast to other groups which merely speak about solutions and don’t really provide concrete examples. IEEE SIGHT has a crucial role to play

  1. What has been your most lovable or memorable IEEE SIGHT moment?

Hmm, I made short video clips of all the SIGHT members from various countries at the GHTC 2016 in Seattle and it was a pleasure meeting and learning first hand on their fantastic projects and inspired by their enthusiasm

  1. What is one thing IEEE SIGHT should consider doing or is worthy enough to be considered?

IEEE SIGHT  needs to research more in depth on the needs of inner city and  First Nations in North America on how we can provide local solutions .  Each of the  IEEE Sections in North America need to support local initiatives

  1. Are there any suggestions or message you would like to give to IEEE SIGHT?

# 1 is the monthly reporting to V TOOLS  has to change.  We don’t have the ability to report and be accounted for by IEEE

# 2 We need to create a webinar for YP on the benefits of joining us. Too many people opt for societies that are have tangible benefits vs our intangible or not direct benefits. We could articulate how volunteer makes excellent professional contacts

  1. What suggestions you will provide to encourage more YP members to be involved in SIGHT? What are the challenges and possible solutions?

My view is that the IEEE Fee schedule is a serious disincentive for YP who finish school and they drop their IEEE membership and potential involvement with SIGHT. I think active YP members of a local SIGHTchapter should be given membership at a similar student rate.

  1. What suggestions you will provide to encourage more WIE members to be involved in SIGHT?

We need to think this through very strategically since we are seeing especially in the US ( Google employee diatribe on women at Google) that a backlash is occurring in supporting WOMEN in IT, WOMEN IN STEM and obvious  WOMEN IN IEEE. We need to showcase men who support women and that we are all supporting each other.  Showcasing men who support women is critical as a good PR effort and being proactive to contrast to the negative vibe on preferential treatment.  We do a DIY for Girls in our city and only the women in engineering locally volunteered on our free project which focused on young children and electronics.  This is revealing that women are great volunteers. Clear volunteer opportunities is critical to help WIE members become involved

  1. Are there any suggestions or message you would like to give to IEEE SIGHT to collaborate with more technical societies?

My greatest suggestions go outside IEEE and it’s societies to embrace the wider community.  My suggestion that we should be involved in IETF, ISOC, ICANN, IFF, EFF, IGF and others. Not just the IEEE staff but the IEEE SIGHT folks should be aware and active in these groups.

As to the IEEE Sections.  The awareness of humanitarian efforts is next to nil, Each society needs to remember the IEEE moto and make sure they are aware of our purpose and vision for the betterment of humanity.