The Institute - September 2020 - TI16
of the local IEEE members who read the
article became his mentors and encouraged him to become more involved with
Local schools and health care facilities began to use Veeraraghavan's autism
screening technology in 2006. When he
visited health care providers who were
using it on children, he was introduced to
the families, who expressed their gratitude.
"That was the first time I saw the impact
my technology had on the community,"
he says. "Families who used the screening
system told me that it changed their lives."
Those interactions inspired Veeraraghavan to found Brahmam Innovations.
Launching the program wasn't smooth
sailing, but he was able to turn to his IEEE
network for help.
"Although I could understand how to
solve the community's needs with technology, I didn't know how to make the
application scalable so it could be offered
to everyone," Veeraraghavan says. "I
didn't have a mentor to guide me on
how to do this, but I was able to find several through IEEE, specifically the IEEE
IEEE members Vedantadesikan Krishnaswamy and Suresh Chander guided
Veeraraghavan in his journey, both as
founder of the Brahmam program and
as an IEEE member. Krishnaswamy, who
died in 2007, taught Veeraraghavan
about the potential impact technology
could have on disabled children. Chander introduced him to IEEE programs
available to students and YP members.
To introduce himself to more members, he presented his autism screening
system at the 2008 IEEE Region 10 Congress, which brings together students
and young engineers from throughout
IEEE's Asia and Pacific region to learn
about advances in technology, attend
workshops, and meet IEEE leaders.
That opportunity provided the program with visibility, and the connections Veeraraghavan made led to
collaborations with other engineering
communities, nonprofit organizations,
governmental agencies, and disability
advocacy groups, he says.
The program now runs projects in Uganda and the United States as well. Engineers are working to create self-sufficient
villages using artificial intelligence, provide a continuous source of clean water
and electricity, and address challenges
faced by hospitals that care for neonatal
and prenatal patients.
"Brahmam Innovations allows me to
build a better tomorrow and to serve
society," Veeraraghavan says.
LEADING IEEE PROGRAMS
After joining IEEE, Veeraraghavan played
a large role in many of the organization's
humanitarian efforts in his native country.
He led a collaboration between the
IEEE Young Professionals committee
and the IEEE Women in Engineering -JOANNA GOODRICH
Madras affinity group, which established
the Sangamam program in India. The This article originally appeared online
as "An Autism Screening Tool Led
initiative teaches science, technology, Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan to Devote
engineering, and mathematics to women Himself to Humanitarian Work."
SAMPATHKUMAR VEERARAGHAVAN/IEEE SIGHT
Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan [sixth from left] visiting a power plant in Abuja,
Nigeria, during the 2019 IEEE Power Africa Conference
and children in rural areas and aims to
create self-supporting communities.
In 2008 he moved to the United States
to pursue a master's degree in electrical engineering at Tufts University, in
While there he took on IEEE leadership roles. He was chair of the IEEE
Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (IEEE SIGHT) projects
committee from 2015 to 2017. During
that time, he doubled the number of
projects being funded. He then joined
the EPICS in IEEE proposal committee
and taught Boston high school students
about STEM careers.
"Every IEEE member has a social
responsibility to positively influence
society through technological innovations and by mentoring students from
underrepresented groups," Veeraraghavan says. "When the community grows,
the region grows; when the region grows,
the nation grows; and when the nation
grows, there will be global growth."
For the past two years, Veeraraghavan
has been a member of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee. And he is
now the global chair of IEEE SIGHT.
Veeraraghavan has increased the number of new projects being funded by IEEE
SIGHT-which now total more than 20.
He also increased the group's membership by 200 percent, to 10,645.
"Sampath's exemplary leadership,
vision, and pioneering innovations for
IEEE humanitarian programs is truly
inspiring," says IEEE Senior Member Darwin Jose Raju, an IEEE SIGHT subcommittee member. "It reflects how IEEE
members' innovations can transcend
global boundaries to serve the needs of
underserved communities at grassroots
The Institute - September 2020
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