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IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows conclude internships after producing sci-tech reports

August 19, 2009

WASHINGTON (19 August 2009) -- Covering sci-tech subjects, from clean coal and a new type of American car to disputed Web information and a Wii for seniors, IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows David Lukofsky and Nicholas Diakopoulos completed their 10-week summer media internships this week.

Lukofsky reported on sci-tech at WOSU-FM, a public radio station in Columbus, Ohio; and Diakopoulos, at the Sacramento (Calif.) Bee. Lukofsky received his Ph.D. in engineering physics from Dartmouth College in June; and Diakopoulos, his Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Tech.

At the midpoint of his reporting assignment this summer at WOSU-FM, Lukofsky wrote: "I mostly learn by following my coworkers' example. My most surprising observation was how quickly the reporters go from deciding on a story idea, to making phone calls, to bolting out the door for interviews. Grad school taught me to be prudent in my approach. This newsroom teaches me to be efficient." He added: "Most of my interviewees are scientists. I feel at ease with them, and enjoy the opportunity to talk to them about their new idea, process or discovery.... Being a scientist myself helps me enter their world. I think what allows this to occur is our shared experience of the 'scientific failure.' The past years spent in a lab have taught me that success in science hinges on a healthy approach to failure."

Also at the halfway point of his reporting stint at The Bee, Diakopoulos wrote: "Programming skills are indeed in heavy demand in the newsroom. There are tons of opportunities for adding interactive content to the Web site to either go with a print story or sometimes even stand on its own.... The editors generally seem quite excited by the new storytelling opportunities afforded by computational and interactive media ... [and] I've been working with the online Web site team to help out with their redesign, since my degree is in human computer interaction." He added: "Of course, I've also had some great opportunities to do straight-up reporting and writing stories."

Bee Assistant Managing Editor Scott Lebar praised Diakopoulos as "a splendid addition to our staff for the summer," adding that "he stimulated conversation and ideas...a dedicated journalist who wanted to know what the future held."

Lukofsky described the WOSU-FM internship as "the perfect springboard to the media and policy experience [that] I need for my dream job -- to act as the messenger who informs members of government on sci-tech issues." Diakopoulos cited garnering "valuable knowledge of journalism that will help me innovate better technologies for journalists of the future."

To see the reports prepared by the IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows:

--For David Lukofsky at WOSU-FM, go to:

"Can one exist without the other: light bulbs and mercury?," at

"Is clean coal the solution?," at

"A new type of American car," at

"Scientists test strength of spider silk," at

--For Nicholas Diakopoulos at Sacramento Bee, go to:

"Intel project seeks to mark disputed Web information," at

"For seniors, a Wii may be a win-win: fun and brain-nourishing," at

"Univ. of Calif. Davis camp offers summer tech fun," at

"Crowd sourcing site lets Web users make a few bucks," at
Since 2000, 13 U.S. IEEE undergraduate and graduate students have served as IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows, helping journalists in print and broadcast fields communicate authoritatively to the public about science, engineering and technology. IEEE-USA is the only engineering organization in the Mass Media Fellows program, which is administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). IEEE-USA is also one of a smaller group of sponsoring societies that supports more than one Fellow. From 2006-08, AAAS Science & Engineering Mass Media Fellows produced more than 600 first-run news stories on science and technology. Entering its 35th year in 2009, more than 550 Fellows have participated.

As a result of IEEE-USA's participation in the program, volunteers and staff have established contact with key journalists to promote IEEE-USA activities. IEEE-USA Communications Committee Chair Abby Vogel and former Chair Allan Schell helped to select the organization's 2009 Fellows. In 2005, Vogel was an IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellow at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

For more information on IEEE-USA involvement, see

IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of IEEE, the world's largest technical professional society with 375,000 members in 160 countries. See


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