I am honored to have served as the 2023 Vice President of IEEE Technical Activities (TA). Over the course of my nearly decade long involvement in the Technical Activities Board (TAB) in various capacities, I have learned a lot about how TA works, and the integral nature of the Societies, Councils, Technical Committees and many other entities comprising TA, and their interactions with the rest of the IEEE. The leaders of those many TA entities and associated staff, and indeed volunteers and staff from across IEEE, have been generous with their time and advice, and I hope I can give back even a fraction to the next generation.
Our strategic priorities throughout 2023 will include timely issues like engagement on climate change and sustainable technologies, imagining future products and services and new audiences, providing value to and growing existing audiences, and building on our progress of becoming a more diverse and inclusive community.
Focusing on Climate Change
Climate change is one of the most important challenges impacting all inhabitants of the planet. By virtue of its mission to advance technology for humanity, the IEEE has a responsibility to provide a venue for individuals and organizations to engage on climate change and sustainable technologies. We are seeking to develop this effort in a holistic and unified approach while connecting to organic activities across the IEEE, including within Societies and Councils. This topic is so pervasive and impactful that it affords the opportunity for TA to work closely with our colleagues in other parts of IEEE to develop a unified approach.
It is imperative that we connect advances in technology to the people that can use them, and equally important to foster sharing of needs and best practices. A strategic and integrated approach using the expertise of all arms of the IEEE can enable us to impact not only the R&D community, but also the practicing engineer/technologist, university students, media and policy makers, college and pre-college students, and the general public. In addition to the potential for major societal impact, this will also enhance the IEEE brand, and provide an opportunity for new types of membership for individuals and organizations outside the usual IEEE family to bind to the IEEE for their topical interest – we just have to provide value. Watch the TA Spotlight space for future opportunities to engage.
Providing Value Through New Products and Services
We are imaging future IEEE products and services that provide value to new audiences. An example is the AskIEEE product, an AI-driven technology encyclopedia app that can adjust answers according to the profile of the user, with granularity among pre-college students, general public, college students, media and public policy makers, investors, practicing engineers and technologists, and researchers. Our goal with AskIEEE is to get IEEE in the hand of every person, and top of mind when it comes to technology. AskIEEE has just completed a Proof of Concept and will be continuing development in 2023.
Other concepts in development would seek to provide value from the vast information accumulated by the IEEE, including the largest technical library on the planet, as well as usage information across the conference and publication space that can reveal emerging technology trends in near real time. The opportunity exists to provide value to individuals and organizations beyond the technology community, but with interest in technology-related public policy, startups, or R&D investments to improve the efficient use of capital in advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.
Strides in Diversity & Inclusion
IEEE in general, and TA in particular, have made great strides in diversity and inclusion. I am particularly proud of the way we have taken actionable steps and created tangible outcomes. In the IEEE context, diversity means much more than gender and other individual characteristics, including geographic and technical area diversity. Seeking to take advantage of our strength across these dimensions has become an integral part of IEEE processes, including developing slates of candidates, and ensuring committees and other bodies benefit from our deep bench of perspectives. This has yielded multiple benefits, including amazing volunteers of all kinds, as well as the enhanced wisdom and experience to better understand the range of ethics issues confronting the modern world that less inclusive groups might have missed. This has strengthened not only the IEEE and TA, but also the profession.
A Look Ahead
Our operational priorities will leverage best practices of our predecessors. Together as a community we will:
- Seek short concise presentations leaning on backup materials for pre-meeting review, so that we can have more time for discussion that makes meetings so valuable.
- Apply the new Fellows policy at the Society and Council level to make sure our process is equitable, supports our diversity and inclusion strategic goals, and is scalable to ensure we can continue to do quality work in a growing community, relying increasingly on the expertise in societies and councils as the foundation for that process.
- Manage the transition from traditional publishing to open access publishing, including ensuring the distribution algorithms incentivize engagement as well as support our ability to execute our mission.
- Work with our colleagues in the Publication Services and Products Board to ensure that we continue to deliver top quality publications and examine opportunities in open publishing.
- Continue to improve our ability to deliver top quality conferences and events, even as we navigate the complexities of the new hybrid meeting paradigm.
- Partner with the Standards Association to ensure IEEE leads on key standards in our fields of interest.
- Support the education pillar of our mission in collaboration with the Educational Activities Board.
- Collaborate with our colleagues in Member and Geographic Activities in expanding the IEEE footprint.
- Finally, we will also build upon our engagement in public policy in collaboration with IEEE USA, the European Public Policy Committee, and other policy and outreach arms of IEEE that can amplify our impact beyond the science, engineering and technology community.
I am humbled by the complexity of the IEEE, and greatly appreciative of the knowledge and support of the volunteers and staff who make it all possible. I look forward to a culture of respect, in which we listen intently and decide carefully in the context of the shared mission of advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.