I went to a presentation being run by the Institute of Engineer's "Young Engineers Australia" (YEA) division on Intellectual Property last night. This event was being run by YEA, for YEA members.
Disappointingly, IEAust defines "young" as between 18 and 35. That's a massive range. Some of those 35 year olds could almost be old enough to be the younger members' parents.
Around 25 people attended the presentation. Of those 25, I counted a grand total of two people under the age of 30. And one of them was the Canberra Representative for YEA. I'd also estimate that around 10 of the attendees were well over 40 -- so even IEAust doesn't consider them "young".
It makes you wonder... Is it because there just aren't that many "young" engineers, or that the subject material just isn't interesting to them? And why is there an overwhelming number of older people attending these events?
Perhaps professional organisations need to re-evaluate their definition of "young", to discourage attendance by 50 year-olds, and try to encourage participation from graduates and the like.
Well, I obviously have to comment on this. The ACS also sets Young IT to be 18-35, just like IEAust. The reasons at the ACS may be different to IEAust but they are:
- To actually be in the organisation you have to have done a degree, so this raises the age limit considerably
- Plus most members join when they've had a few years experience (at the ACS you aren't actually a full member until you've had a few years experience - I'm still a provisional member). So you can see that the min age is probably going to be around 25. So 35 gives you 10 years to be part of the 'young' side of the organisation
- At many events we encourage 'older' members to come because they can provide a different perspective for the younger members. At IT in the Pub many members enjoy talking to the older members and getting some tips
- Student members are hard to get (they don't want to pay and their lazy) and generally unless there is alcohol involved they probably won't turn up.