EXPLORE Student Professional Awareness.

What is student professional awareness?


Develop the skills it takes to be successful in industry that you won't learn in a classroom.

Engineering is broader than writing code or designing a circuit. In reality, nontechnical competencies are just as critical to engineers as their technical training. IEEE-USA student professional awareness activities are oriented to enhance the leadership, career, and professional development skills of engineering students.

Student members of IEEE have many resources available to them - all you have to do is ask. Our regional support coordinators and every member of the committee are committed to helping you get the most out of your SPAx experience.

IEEE Student Chapter Involvement

The sky is the limit. Student Chapters are encouraged to create their own Student Professional Awareness event, and the experience is yours to decide. Traditional conference format, ventures, techtalks, resume workshops, are just some of the few options you have as students to engage yourselves in professional awareness activies. Learn from our newly revamped experience page, specially created as a platform for student chapters around the world to share their innovation and creative with each other.

Get involved today.

Hosting your own event is not only a fantastic experience, it is a fantastic resume booster. Try to get some real world companies to sponsor your event, and bring out some potential hiring recruiters. The possibilities are endless.

The IEEE SPAx Vision

10 Regions, 1 Cause

This year, IEEE-USA is celebrating the 35th birthday of the SPAC program. Since its inception in 1985, Over 100,000 students participated from this effort to encourage students to be more professionally aware. In our continual quest to provide an even better experience and value to the student members of IEEE, a new effort was made to listen and understand the SPAC program from the students perspective, and how IEEE-USA can improve their process to enhance the student experience. We discovered two key lessons

The Best SPACs

Were often achieved when students were able to modify the traditional conference format into their own, iterating over multiple years

Cost and Budget

Varied wildly between chapters of different sizes, up to a factor of 20 in some cases

Introducing SPAx

The new model of IEEE-USA Student Professional Activities

In Fall 2014, IEEE-USA announced a new program called Student Professional Awareness Experience. SPAx builds on the longstanding legacy of Student Professional Awareness Conferences and Ventures, in an effort to address the highly dynamic world we live in today. The goal is for students to “Engage. Explore. Experience.”

What is X?

The “x” in SPAx is a variable. It could be shaped as a conference with an invited expert speaker, a series of activities focused on honing career skills, a social event to foster networking and team building skills, a design contest, a tech talk, or any other format, as long as they focus on one or more of the following eight areas. You decide what works for your chapter, and IEEE gives you the support to implement your ideas.

SPAx Focus areas

Engineers and technologists are uniquely positioned to embark on careers that are not only technical but also in various areas including business management, finance, economics, health, law, non-profit sector, consulting, journalism, public relations, entrepreneurship, government, and entertainment.

Discover how to:

  • Make the most of your career choices, career fairs and internships
  • Fare well in informational and formal interviews
  • Craft and customize your resume, CV, and cover letter for different career pathways
  • Be better informed for your job search and negotiations
  • Establish and maintain professional connections and a circle of mentors
  • Prepare for professional registration, certifications, as well as advanced degrees
Ethics and engineering are fundamentally intertwined. Decisions made by engineers have a profound impact on society.

Discover how to:

  • Practice ethics in a work environment that is constantly influenced by realities of globalization, financial motivation, and information overload
  • Generate or customize a framework or set of principles for ethical conduct across differing conflicts and scenarios
  • Balance professional integrity against corporate loyalty and other personal interest

Personal skills are as crucial as technical skills for a successful career in engineering, and paves the way for successfully navigating the business world.

Discover how to:

  • Develop skills that are necessary to effectively run a meeting and manage a committee.
  • Apply the best practices for time management and priority setting of tasks
  • Better manage your online persona and learn how it can assist or affect your career
  • Plan your finances and investments

Decision-makers are frequently looking to engineers for advice to improve public policies.


  • How a legislation is drafted, introduced, and debated in Congress
  • The major policy issues and contentions of current interest, and why you should care
  • The role engineers play in informing and shaping public policy and how to get involved

Staying involved in a professional society adds value to your career. However, becoming a leader improves your professional net worth and profile.

Discover how:

  • A professional society—such as IEEE—can help you in your professional and personal growth
  • Staying involved with a professional organization is a value to you and your profession?

Innovation is a complex theoretical concept but can be learned by practice like any other art or science.

Discover how to:

  • Capitalize on your professional training and creativity to become an innovator
  • Learn from the success and failure of others
  • Incorporate elements and practices of other cultures and professions (such as arts, humanities, media, and sociology)

In a world of short attention spans, it is crucial to create and communicate a message that sticks. Learning how to communicate effectively will multiply the impact of your work.

Discover how to:

  • Master the art of storytelling
  • Deliver better presentations
  • Improve written communication
  • Leverage social, traditional, and other media effectively
  • Use these skills to help improve the public understanding of engineering and its impact

Engineers play a major role in advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.

Discover how to:

  • Play a role in reducing poverty and hunger, improving infrastructure, and addressing environmental and economic challenges
  • Become a global citizen and an ambassador for the engineering profession.

How does this work?

Steps to a successful SPAx at-a-glance

Initiate a SPAx event

In our Engage page, submit a few bits of information and a SPAx Coordinator in your area will follow-up shortly to discuss your event plans.

Design your experience

Decide what type of Student Professional Awareness event would be interesting to the IEEE student members in your area; The sky is the limit! Any event or budget can be considered; We only ask that you submit an event description to get official approval.

Plan, Organize, Run

Once your event is approved by IEEE, it's time to spring into action! Plan your budget, funding, venue, program, and marketing (Need resources and tips? Head over to our experience section to learn what other chapters have done).

Tell us how you did

Like many engineering endeavors, iterating and learning is the key to being successful. To receive credit for your event, simply send us a small report on your event and lessons learned.


Who is eligible for this program?

All active IEEE student chapters are eligible to host an SPAx in their area; Please contact your representative for more information.

SPAx seems really intimidating; Can I still do a SPAC or an SPAVe?

Yes! The old formats (SPA-Conference, SPA-Venture, and SPA-Workshop) is still valid and sometimes encouraged options; SPAx simply unifies the differently named events under one name, and allows for other event possibilities

What resources are available to us?

IEEE-USA can provide a keynote speaker from our national list or up to $200 in matching funding (as long as it isn't used to pay for a speaker) up to twice per calendar year per student branch in regions 1 to 6. For regions 7 to 10, you can request up to $500 in matching funding from the SPAA Chair.

Ready to start a SPAx in your community?

Start here