Hasala Dharmawardena is currently serving as Region 3 YP Chair, IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee Member, and IEEE PES US and Canada Student Branch Chapter Committee Chair. He has also volunteered in various other capacities starting from Webmaster, Section YP Chair, Section Student activities Chair, Power and Energy Society Chapter Chair, to General Chair of events such as Presidents Forum and PES Global Student Congress. He graduated specializing in Electrical Power Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, and worked as a lecturer at the same university before moving to Clemson. He is currently a researcher at Clemson University.
Why do you want to be an IEEE Volunteer?
Engineering professionals must work together to change the world, and our success will be determined by the strength of our togetherness.
How and when did you start volunteering for IEEE?
I began in 2007. Dr. Sisil Kumarawadu, the then-Sri Lanka Section Chair, was my professor. Dr. Mini Thomas, then R10 SAC, urged him to start a student chapter at the University of Moratuwa. My friends and I started the Student Branch, which was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.
What have you done as an IEEE volunteer that you’re most proud of?
Over the years, I am most proud of having empowered and provided a platform for students and young professionals from all over the world to fulfill their volunteer and career goals.
What benefits does IEEE offer young professionals from your experience?
The opportunity to network, network, network!
How do you leverage IEEE for your own learning?
IEEE helps me get connected to top professionals and experts in a variety of fields. I speak to them when I need expertise on a topic that is foreign to me. That way I am always armed with cutting-edge information right from the source!
What do you expect from IEEE experience in your future?
Assist me in expanding and deepening my networks in order to attain my career objectives.
What advice would you give to new volunteers?
Initially, it can be a grind, and you may not even get recognition for your efforts. You will, however, gain the recognition and opportunities that you deserve overtime. Patience will pay off if you volunteer diligently and honestly!
How would you describe IEEE in 3 words?
Family, Technology, Global village
Do you have a favorite IEEE story?
I have got a lot of IEEE stories. One such instance is being stranded at a bus stop in the middle of the night when traveling to Poland for the R8 SYWP!
What impact have IEEE and volunteering had on your career?
IEEE allowed me to create incredible connections that have helped keep me motivated, inspired, educated, and open-minded!
What do you think the future of volunteering looks like?
Volunteering in the future will be more about small quantified project-based opportunities rather than long-term commitments.
What are your goals for the future?
IEEE-wise: I would like to take roles that will allow me to shape how IEEE PES and the IEEE evolve in the future.
Career-wise: I want to help accelerate the transition of the electric power industry to a greener sustainable, and equitable one.
What’s your technical area/professional background?
Power and Energy
Which life achievement are you most proud of?
I am proud of contributing to the first-ever post-war development project in the war-torn North of Sri Lanka as the site electrical engineer in charge of the Kilinochchi Grid substation project.
What is the best among your experiences of organizing virtual/hybrid events?
I was the General Chair of the 2020 IEEE PES Global Student Congress, my most enjoyable virtual event experience leading an 80+ volunteer team spanning four continents.
What do you suggest to the future event organizers?
Be realistic about presence, and do not give up! Building a brand can be painstaking, and the end result may take longer than you anticipate. Always look at the bigger picture!!
Please discuss other extracurricular achievements outside IEEE
I am an active Toastmaster and the Vice President of the Clemson Toastmasters Club. I am also an energy policy activist. I am a huge fan of martial arts and hold a Green belt in Kyokushin Karate!