How Engineering Societies and Associations use OpenWater

16 Reasons Why Engineering Societies Choose OpenWater

Organizations like the BioMedical Engineering Society, IEEE, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers are a few examples of the engineering societies and associations that work with OpenWater to help manage their abstract review, awards, scholarships, fellowships, certifications and grants.

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[ON DEMAND] Lunch and Learn – How Engineering Societies and Associations Use OpenWater

This lunch and learn will cover an overview of the OpenWater system and how organizations like IEEE, and the Biomedical Medical Engineering Society uses OpenWater for things like abstract review, scholarships, fellowships, certifications, awards and more.

Why Engineering Associations Choose OpenWater

Engineering societies choose OpenWater because it is the most robust system that can accommodate a wide range of programs with different requirements. OpenWater caters to engineering associations because within one platform an organization can manage their abstract review, scholarships, fellowships, awards, certifications and grants.

The Hidden Cost of a Clunky System

When it comes to membership engagement program managers that handle application submissions have an understanding of what members are experiencing. This is especially true for engineering societies with a small staff in which everyone is wearing multiple hats in order to complete certifications, scholarships, fellowships and awards.

When members experience a clunky process for certifications, submitting a scholarship or nominating someone for a fellowship it’s often the result of the limitations of a process built around email attachments, google forms, excel sheets, dropboxes, and legacy software.

The Administrative Burden of a Clunky Process

The first hidden cost of a clunky process is the extra burden placed on association staff that are constantly sidelined by tedious updates and reminders. Having the proper tools to collect letters of recommendation, organize reviewers, and report back to the executive director are a few of the top concerns for most engineering societies.

Member Submission User Experience = Member Engagement

The second hidden cost is felt by a range of stakeholders such as members, volunteers, reviewers, and non-members. That is the cost of a bad user experience.

Consider for example someone that applies for a scholarship and the submission software crashes from large files, or worse case materials are misplaced because a shared spreadsheet wasn’t updated.

A process that relies on email attachments, excel sheets, google forms, and third party payment portals makes your engineering association’s certifications, scholarships, fellowships and awards a chore for those applying.

Automatic confirmation emails, API integrations, digital signatures, and processing payments online are all examples of a submission process that make members happier because applying was easier.

How to Convince the Board to Take Action

When we speak with engineering associations about implementing OpenWater we’ve learned that there are three things a board will respond well to. Here are the talking points that make convincing an executive director, or a board member much easier.

1. Demonstrate to the board that each program workflow has been audited against the capabilities of OpenWater. This ensures that our platform matches the needs of your association.

2. Demonstrate what aspects of the submission and review process create headaches for members, non-members, volunteers, judges, nominees, and most importantly for you the association staff. Then prioritize these issues.

3. Demonstrate an implementation plan that tackles your biggest hurdles while also balancing an annual budget. Most engineering societies that migrate to OpenWater will spend 2-3 years migrating all their programs and implementing AMS integrations.

AMS Integrations that will Impact Submissions and Retention

When an engineering association connects their AMS to a submission and review platform like OpenWater it benefits the association executive team and anyone utilizing the platform for submissions, review, or nominations.

For example, by querying membership status an association can automatically recuse a reviewer, or alternatively offer membership specific pricing to someone when they complete a submission for an award.

For the executive team the data set produced by connecting an AMS with OpenWater enables transparency into engagement trends for scholarship categories, certification renewals and keeps tabs on the status of each round of their awards, or call for papers.

16 Reasons Why Engineering Associations Choose OpenWater

Engineering societies choose OpenWater because it is the most robust system that can accommodate a wide range of programs with different requirements. OpenWater caters to engineering associations because within one platform an organization can manage their abstract review, scholarships, fellowships, awards, certifications and grants.

1. Every Program in One Place – Dashboard

Quickly check in on the status of certifications, awards, scholarships, grants and fellowships under one dashboard. Use the dashboard to monitor the progress of submissions through multiple rounds such as a call for sessions followed by a call for abstracts.

2. Communicate the Status of All Your Programs

The OpenWater submission portal also functions as a marketable website that makes it easy to communicate with members and non-members about the status of all your programs. Use our website builder to create an experience that clearly communicates criteria, eligibility and deadlines to participants.

3. Letter of Recommendation Tools

Use OpenWater to clean up a clunky letter of recommendation process. The letter of recommendation feature allows the applicant to request a recommendation or letter of support from a third party individual. An applicant will type in the name and email address of another individual. This individual will receive an email with an auto-generated link. If they click this link, it will take them to a form that you define. They can complete the form and click submit to complete their recommendation or letter of support.

4. Multiple Rounds

Configuring multiple rounds makes abstract review easier. For example, an engineering society may want to accept an abstract and then collect more information once the staff has approved the submission.

5. Bulk Assign Submission to a Judges, or Automatically Assign

If you have many submissions and judges, assigning submissions manually would become very tedious. Fortunately, we have a tool that allows you to assign your submissions to judges all in one shot based on the rules and requirements you specify. At a high level, here are the different options we support:

  • Assign all submissions to all judges
  • Ensure each submission is reviewed by a # of judges
  • Ensure each judge reviews a # of submissions
  • Assign submissions to a certain judge
  • Assign submissions to a certain judge team

6. Digital Signatures

If you collect personal information in your submission form, you may need to also require your applicants to submit a signature as part of the form. You can insert a specialized field directly into your form that will allow applicants to draw a signature with their cursor.

7. Payment Portal

Make members happy by taking secure payments inside the application portal. OpenWater works with all of the leading payment portals including PayPal,, Stripe, and many others.

8. Rich Fields with Scientific Characters

OpenWater submission forms have rich text fields with scientific characters.

9. Reviewer Portal, Save and Return Later

Automation eliminates frustration. OpenWater can be configured so that a submission is automatically assigned to a reviewer. For example, configure a reviewer to only receive abstracts under a specific category, or set the review process so that an abstract continues to circulate until it is reviewed multiple times. OpenWater also allows judges to save their evaluations and return later.

10. Email Reminders, and Much More

OpenWater has 15+ email templates that are ready out of the box. For instance, configure all judges to receive a confirmation email once they have submitted their evaluations. Or, email a judge that they have new submissions to review. OpenWater email reminders ensures your members that they’re application was received and is getting the proper attention it deserves.

11. Manage Certifications

Use OpenWater to process certifications and accreditations. Our submission forms can be configured with conditional logic that make processing certifications a breeze. Create smart forms that will route the applicant by renewals vs. first time applications, and utilize calendar features to schedule times for an upcoming examination. By connecting your AMS with OpenWater we can push back membership activity data in order to monitor the progress of renewals.

12. Submission Forms for Everything

OpenWater submission forms can handle it all. From long HD footage to monster PDFs our software has been tested by the most demanding application submission forms. For example, one of our customers is the American Advertising Federation with hundreds of thousands of submissions including media files being uploaded in the final week. One of the most difficult things to collect is exhibitor information related to an annual meeting. OpenWater allows speaker materials, posters, and sponsorship information to be collected with forms.

13. Collect Submission from Multiple Languages

OpenWater offers the ability for the front end of your program to be viewed in several different languages. The engine will automatically translate words and phrases that are part of the OpenWater system. You will have to manually input translations for phrases that you create in the form builder and other parts of your program.

14. Co-Author, and Save Submissions

OpenWater submissions can allow for multiple author’s. For example, OpenWater can implement look up fields so that when someone wants to add a co-author they can search that name and it will appear as an option as a co-author.

15. Abstract Review with Session Scheduler

OpenWater has the ability to schedule abstracts, sessions, and other time slots. This makes it easy to schedule your event, while also adding time for breaks. Our session scheduler makes it easy to reschedule or remove a session.

16. Conference Mobile App

Get a branded Application for Android & iOS. Attendees will use the OpenWater Mobile App to access the schedule, sponsors, posters, chat and more. The mobile app includes a comprehensive schedule of your sessions. Attendees can access sessions, chat with other attendees, as well as other key features. An attendee directory is created for users that are currently using the application. This allows for maximum networking.

Lunch and Learn

Fridays at 1 PM