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IEEE - Serving Members in the Metaverse

By civile - Posted on 24 February 2009

IEEE Island in Second LifeProfessional societies have been building communities long before Web 2.0 emerged on the scene, and incorporating new technologies like virtual worlds is only one more tool to help these groups better serve their membership.

IEEE, a non-profit organization serving as a professional association for the advancement of technology, began their journey into Second Life (SL) in mid 2007, around the time that Buildit Nikolaidis (SL name) began working for IEEE. “The society was looking into establishing a presence in Second Life based off of the involvement of other companies such as IBM and Dell,” said Nikolaidis. “The association had heard of the capabilities of using Second Life as a platform to educate and spread knowledge.”

Nikolaidis researched SL and then began teaching himself how to use SL. IEEE went ahead with the purchase of an island, and Nikolaidis began building. Since then the island, named IEEE after the organization, has taken a number of different forms. To benefit the island and visitors, Nikolaidis has increased his knowledge and use of the tools in Second Life to craft an island experience that best suits visiting avatars.

The completion of the pilot island towards the end of winter proved to IEEE that SL was a viable platform in which to conduct their business so they went forward with the purchase of an additional island. The second island was acquired so IEEE members and societies within the IEEE can stake a claim on a small piece of land to use for their own purposes. Recently the second island, IEEE 2, was finished and work has been progressing on redesigning island 1.”

The layout and design of the islands have been conceived by Nikolaidis and approved by the organization. Nikolaidis presented his designs to the organization in which he received full approval of his outline. As the islands and progression develop there are weekly or bi-weekly meetings that allow the progress to be presented. In addition, these meetings allow for constructive feedback of any requested revisions and or edits that might benefit the project. All of the feedback is considered and absorbed by Nikolaidis, the project leader in which his expertise knowledge and judgment is applied to decide the best plan to proceed accordingly. As the plans develop, the use of his staff superiors are used as a sounding board.

Once a society of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, today IEEE represents a wide variety of professionals working in technical fields that range from aerospace to biomedical engineering. With representing so many different segments of the industry, IEEE decided to develop specific areas of the islands based on the expressed interest of their membership. Nikolaidis explained that the Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) expressed heavy interest from the start of IEEE’s involvement in Second Life and was the first society within the IEEE to create a presence on IEEE Island. “They created a building design which I constructed in Second Life as they designed and programmed robots driven by artificial intelligence to display some of the projects they are working on in real life.”

Eventually other groups within the organization may end up helping to create their own builds. New groups that are expressing interest are the Professional Communications Society (PCS), the Standards Association (SA), and hopefully the Computer Society (CS) will get involved as well. IEEE Student Villas in Second Life

The organization also hopes to engage the college student population. On IEEE Island 2 there are Villas developed for students who would like to get involved with Second Life but do not want the responsibility of managing a large parcel. There are plans on filling the villas with student members from across the globe and having some sort of a competitive event as incentive for them to create the best villa environment they can.

IEEE also sees the student villas as an opportunity to link the island’s student population to their respective universities. In the villas, there are possibilities to have the students place links to their university islands so people who are interested more in a particular student’s presence on IEEE island can explore more into their background by visiting their university’s island. In return, the university and business islands can then have links pointing to our IEEE islands to increase traffic and gather interest of people who otherwise wouldn't know anything about the IEEE.

IEEE Theater in Second LifeAccording to Nikolaidis, the original island, IEEE, “is the home of our conference center, amphitheatre, human resources center, building sandbox, orientation area, and Tower. We plan on having conferences here that tie in with real world IEEE events.” There are also plans to create a portal site from the association’s Website and set up training areas to help people transition from real life to Second Life. Visitors will also be able to view episodes of IEEE TV at the IEEE TV tower set up on the island.


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