Humans of IEEE SIGHT: Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan

  1. Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan has been the IEEE SIGHT Projects Chair for the past three years. Outside of IEEE, Sampath works as a Technical Program Manager at Amazon.
  2. Celia Shahnaz, the IEEE SIGHT 2017 Communications Chair, interviewed Sampath.
  3. What inspired you to join IEEE SIGHT? Explain is it a suggestion from a friend or any inspiration from some professors? When did you first joined it?

As a technologist, I’m passionate about developing technological innovations to address pressing global humanitarian challenges. My journey with IEEE started as a student involved in developing automated screening system to detect autism in India. Over the years, I have been engaged in leading major humanitarian initiatives across multiple segments in India through the Brahmam program. I was well aware of IEEE SIGHT formation in 2011 and was thrilled with the proposal as I strongly believed that SIGHT will act as the unified platform to bring in IEEE members from diversified culture and technical specialization to join hands to solve pressing humanitarian needs. I formally joined the SIGHT steering committee in 2014 and since then have been actively contributing to the IEEE SIGHT global efforts and proposal committee

  1. What motivated you to volunteer for IEEE SIGHT? Please do tell little about your professional job role also and does being IEEE SIGHT member supplement to your professional job life?

I enjoy volunteering for IEEE SIGHT since its vision perfectly matches with my passion to address pressing global challenges through technology. As the director and principle investigator, I lead “Brahmam innovations lab” where we develop assistive technologies to serve differently-abled children. Certainly, the volunteering experience for IEEE SIGHT has helped me to gain deeper insights in to broader range of global humanitarian challenges 

  1. How do you see yourself without IEEE SIGHT? If you were not ever have had joined IEEE SIGHT, how would your life have been?

In my view, SIGHT is a unique “feet on the ground initiative” that provides a global platform for IEEE members to transform their good intentions in to actionable projects. SIGHT initiatives provide key opportunities at grass root level both for networking and to apply individual’s expertise in solution formulation. This is a key differentiator when compared to any other initiatives which ultimately enriches my volunteering experience

  1. What has been your most lovable or memorable IEEE SIGHT moment? which you can’t forget or are proud of?

I have been actively involved in the SIGHT project committee since 2014 and have reviewed over 175+ proposals in the last 4 years.  These proposals are the heart of the SIGHT programs and provided key opportunity to engage with SIGHT groups across the globe and to learn about the critical issues faced in their locality. As the chair of the projects committee, I’m thrilled to work with a great team of global reviewers and particularly glad to have introduced key process improvements in the project space which includes revised proposal forms, improved metrics collection, conflict resolution process, tool-kits, mentor program to guide applicants on proposal process and on-boarding process for reviewers. We also closely worked with individual SIGHT groups and provided guidance for writing effective proposal. All these efforts resulted in increased in-flow of SIGHT applications globally with improved quality of proposals and contributed to our global expansion

  1. What is one thing IEEE SIGHT should consider doing or is worthy enough to be considered? It can be an event, online program, project or policy.

Over the years, IEEE SIGHT groups have been growing rapidly which is well reflected in the number of SIGHT groups approved every year. One key recommendation is to conduct a quarterly online forum where the SIGHT groups across the globe can seek guidance on various topics of interest to the SIGHT steering committee. I believe such an interaction will motivate volunteers at grass root level and convey the vision of SIGHT steering committee more effectively

  1. Are there any suggestions or message you would like to give to IEEE SIGHT for introducing or bringing about anything within IEEE SIGHT, that you think can benefit more? 

We can introduce a process in our website to support individual SIGHT groups to submit request for 1:1 guidance session and a mechanism to track their request. This will help us to understand and address any operational challenges faced by the volunteers

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

     In my personal experience as a young professional member, SIGHT volunteering provided a huge opportunity to apply both technical and program management skills. Such an experience will positively influence an individual’s career development path. For YP and WIE members early in their career, SIGHT volunteering will provide avenues to find mentors to guide them to effectively drive technology-driven humanitarian programs. For seasoned and experienced YP and WIE professionals, SIGHT provides key avenues to mentor and nurture the next generation of SIGHT leaders.  In addition, it gives immense personal satisfaction to directly serve local communities and people at the bottom of pyramid through SIGHT efforts 

  1. Are there any suggestions or message you would like to give to IEEE SIGHT to collaborate with more technical societies, like IEEE MTTS, IEEE RAS, IEEE PES, IEEE IAS, IEEE SSIT, IEEE EMBS and so on?

SIGHT core team has done an excellent job in establishing strong partnership with various IEEE technical societies. As we continue to expand our partnership, my recommendation is that SIGHT core team should ensure that we have continued activities in existing partnerships to sustain our interest and growth