The Student Social event was organized on Tuesday, September 8 during the 2020 International Ultrasonics Symposium. This was a casual social event that provided student attendees with a valuable opportunity to meet and get to know their peers on the first day of the technical sessions. With IUS 2020 being held virtually with a compressed schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it became much harder for students to network as they usually might during an in-person conference; the goal of this event was to facilitate new connections between students that would not be possible otherwise.
At the start of the event, the IEEE UFFC-S Ultrasonics Student Representatives welcomed everyone and provided conversation starters in the form of a Bingo card, to help prevent any potential awkwardness of virtual conversations with a group of unfamiliar people. The Bingo card served to not only highlight the diversity of students attending IUS 2020, but also encouraged students to discuss their research, hobbies, past IUS experiences, and plans for the remainder of the virtual conference.
Participants were also encouraged to switch their virtual Zoom background to one of eight fun IUS-related backgrounds that were provided. These served as great conversation starters and were also featured as one of the tiles on the provided Bingo card.
During the event itself, participants were randomly assigned to smaller breakout rooms of three to four people per room to facilitate conversations in a more comfortable group setting. The random assignment of rooms allowed students to meet and talk with others from different fields that they may not have had a chance to meet otherwise. Breakout rooms were reassigned every six to eight minutes so that people had a chance to converse with different groups of people, and to allow attendees to drop in or out of the event as their schedule permitted.
Overall, the event feedback was extremely positive, with all survey respondents indicating afterwards that this kind of event should be offered in future conferences. One attendee noted: “It was great! I met people I usually wouldn’t at a usual student event since I had to meet random people.” Another commented: “I personally enjoyed this event, hoping to see similar social events in the future.”
Thank you to everyone who participated in the IUS 2020 Student Social! Stay tuned for more information on new and exciting student events at IEEE IUS 2021.