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Around the Technical Community

A selection of stories highlighting the diversity of recent accomplishments of members, volunteers, and organizational units around Technical Activities

IEEE and Climate Change: Leveraging Global Expertise: 2022 Technical Activities Vice President, Bruno Meyer, believes that IEEE has a key role to play in addressing climate change and sustainability challenges.

Cloud Software Cuts Through Biomedical Data Thickets: The founders of SciosHub, a SaaS platform, met at an IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society event. It is one of 13 companies that is a part of the Powered by IEEE program, which was developed by the IEEE Entrepreneurship initiative, and utilizes IEEE DataPort.

How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid: This University of Vermont team has focused on how to coordinate power demand in real time to match the increasingly variable supply. IEEE technical committees, working groups, and task forces are also playing supporting roles, such as the IEEE Power and Energy Society’s Smart Buildings, Loads, and Customer Systems technical committee.

Update on IEEE’s Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: As part of a ramp-up of IEEE’s diversity and inclusion focus, IEEE policies have been changed and new partnerships have formed. Many Societies and Councils have introduced programs, including IEEE Photonics Society’s activities geared toward underrepresented groups.

From Introvert to IEEE Influencer: Ramneek Kalra, an active Young Professional with the IEEE Computer Society, discusses how becoming an IEEE volunteer shaped the trajectory of his career. Kalra chairs the Society’s history and research subcommittee, which is part of the society’s Distinguished Visitors initiative.

3 benefits: 5G rollout in emerging economies: IEEE members and volunteers are deeply involved in efforts to expand 5G connectivity via IEEE Future Networks initiative, an IEEE Future Directions activity.

What is the IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB)?

The first in a series of articles illustrating TAB contributions to the vitality of IEEE

Over the next four editions, we will be sharing more about the IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB) and how it significantly facilitates, enables, and drives the technical component of IEEE while adding value to your membership. In this issue, we start from the very basics: what, exactly, is TAB? And why should you care as an IEEE member?

You may have joined IEEE as a student member or young professional to advance your career by accessing quality conferences, events and publications. 

But just like attending a great performance, you may not have seen the players behind the scenes bringing you these great member benefits, so let us introduce you to the IEEE Technical Activities Board, more commonly referred to as TAB.

First, let’s explain the role of “technical memberships:” Adding a technical membership provides you access to IEEE’s more-than-50 specialized Societies, Technical Councils, and Technical Communities, across a diverse array of fields of interest. As an IEEE member, you can learn more about technical memberships here.

Now, let’s look at TAB. TAB is the governing body of IEEE Technical Activities and is the largest of six major boards with IEEE. Comprised of 63 voting members, TAB includes the Presidents of all 46 Societies and Technical Councils (more on those later), 10 Division Directors (who also sit on the IEEE Board of Directors), and the chairs of key TAB committees. TAB  ensures the technical content you value as an IEEE member meets expectations and lives up to the standards of professionals across the globe.

The scope and oversight of TAB is especially broad, lending credit to its stature as the largest major IEEE board, crossing many facets of technology. Situated under TAB are not only IEEE Societies and Technical Councils and all the products and services they have to offer, but the majority of IEEE conferences and periodicals content. TAB facilitates all aspects of these technical components at the heart of IEEE, from governance and strategy, to portfolio review, tools and quality, the future of intellectual property, and technical program integrity. If you are reading an IEEE publication or presenting at an IEEE conference, there is a good chance TAB has made this happen.

Quality control and sharing of best practices are facilitated by TAB’s  Society/Council Review Committee (SCRC) and Periodicals Review & Advisory Committee (PRAC). These committees conduct reviews every five years to analyze the scope and structure of Societies, Councils, and their portfolios to ensure that technical interest areas are fully covered in appropriate, effective, and efficient ways. The SCRC and PRAC reviews are posted to facilitate the sharing of best practices.

Outside of traditional engineering disciplines embodied by its 46 Societies and Technical Councils, IEEE develops communities around particular technology challenges and cutting-edge subject areas. These new technology connections are identified as primary focus areas by the IEEE Future Directions Committee, which sits under TAB.

TAB also interfaces with other IEEE major boards and programs, including those centered around diversity and inclusion, young professionals, women in engineering, industry engagement, and standards.

In upcoming editions of IEEE Technical Community Spotlight, we will explore different examples of how TAB drives and enables the technical content you have come to trust as part of your membership. In the spirit of the IEEE Technical Activities Vision, TAB facilitates technical communities working together to be the preferred home for all professionals, worldwide: a critical piece of any IEEE membership.

Learn more about IEEE Technical Activities and TAB.

A Message from the 2022 Technical Activities Vice President

Dear Colleagues,

As I begin my term as IEEE Technical Activities Vice President, I reflect upon the many ways Societies, Councils, and the Technical Activities Board (TAB) have adapted and remained agile, to meet the needs of this changing landscape. While this has presented challenges, it has also brought flexibility and greater understanding of how to prioritize the work of TAB and its OUs.

One of the ways TAB will continue to adapt through my term is by prioritizing time for strategic discussion, while limiting the duration of meetings, especially those that are remote. Favoring shorter meetings, with more rich and strategic content, and better organizing our time for longer, face-to-face meetings, will continue to be a focus point in 2022. The quick-shift to a virtual February Board Series from a planned hybrid in-person event lent an opportunity to demonstrate this flexibility and test out a new format for TAB meetings.

As such, individuals presenting at the February TAB meeting were asked to stick to just a few slides showing important issues or critical strategic items, with supporting reports in backup information. I also requested that TAB members prepare for this meeting beforehand, by offering a walk-through of the TAB agenda and major business elements, adhering to strict deadlines for posting supporting documentation, and hosting specific background meetings ahead of time. What resulted was a more efficient and strategic TAB meeting, where members came prepared to discuss business and ask questions. I am looking forward to seeing how this format evolves in June, when we can translate what we learned in February to an in-person environment.

In addition to fostering more time to discuss strategic issues in TAB, I plan to focus on several key priorities in 2022:

  • Creating a TAB program on climate change
  • Identifying disruptive technology while sharing and favoring cross-disciplinary work amongst Societies/Councils
  • Increasing visibility of the TAB Value Proposition with IEEE members
  • Promoting diversity and attracting “new blood” in committees
  • Continuing to build on existing good practices in place at TAB level

One of my priorities this year is to set up a new TAB Program on Climate Change, as a way to gather forces within TAB on this strategic issue for several years, and to bring support in 2022 to the Ad Hoc on Climate Change launched by IEEE President Ray Liu. Initially, I hope this group will collect ideas for initiatives and activities, develop a scope of work that should be done, and create a mission and vision.

I believe climate change is one of the most pressing issues on the planet, and it is key that we create space for strategic discussions around it. IEEE, and especially TAB, is exceptionally adept at convening people around a common goal and can foster opportunities to understand the climate emergency and to provide solutions. Most notably, TAB is uniquely well-positioned to work on this issue with modesty but at the same time with intelligence and innovation at a global level: a powerful combination.

Formalized activity around climate change also helps refresh the pipeline of IEEE members and volunteers and attract new members. Young scientists and engineers are eager to work on topics such as this, and when joining a professional organization will look for opportunities to contribute to causes that they care deeply about. I believe that those who are the future of our craft will make IEEE their professional home if IEEE shows a strong commitment to topics they consider critical. It is by honoring this commitment that we position IEEE to thrive in the future, while using technology to benefit all of humanity and sharing findings with the world.

Read more about IEEE’s role in addressing sustainability efforts, and why I am making climate change a priority during my term as Vice President of TAB here.

I am looking forward to sharing more information on TAB’s climate change opportunity and on the additional focus areas I have identified in my next message.

Thank you for all that you do to make IEEE a vibrant community that facilitates critical dialogue to shape generations to come.

Bruno Meyer

2022 Vice President, Technical Activities

A Message from the 2021 Technical Activities Vice President

Dear Colleagues, 

In my previous messages, I wrote about how we have had to process the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how IEEE, including the Technical Activities Board (TAB) and Societies and Councils, has adapted in countless ways to the challenges presented. While the response to COVID-19 shaped my thinking at the beginning of my term, it unfortunately remains a presence as I close out my time as TA-VP. 

While there has been disruption to in-person meetings, and we have continued to meet virtually this year, I am pleased with what TAB has accomplished, especially in the focus areas identified earlier in the year: 

  • Society/Council Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration
  • Engagement vs. Membership; and, 
  • Technology Roadmaps

Each of these focus areas has centered on the efforts of volunteer-driven ad hoc committees, which include those specific to TAB as well as collaborative efforts working across multiple organizational units. TAB has also strengthened these focus areas through the efforts of its membership and standing committees. The below update is just a small summary of the extensive work by TAB in 2021. 

Society/Council Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

New and Emerging Technologies

To demonstrate commitment to new and emerging technologies, Technical Activities members have been identifying new ways to adapt to technological evolution. As part of these efforts, the 2021 TAB Ad Hoc Committee on Technical Community 2.0 was created to build an overall plan for a stable framework to support current and future Technical Communities via an improved “Technical Community 2.0” (TC).The committee has developed an overall framework around the following principles:

  1. Offer a more nimble and supported environment for new activities 
    1. Provide success routes through additional start-up support 
    2. Allow “ownership” of assets – new activities to increase financial appeal for integration with existing S/Cs after start-up phase or graduate to successful ongoing multi-OU entity
  2. Improve IEEE’s engagement with industry and other outside institutions 
  3. TC 2.0 could be a less formal way to connect multiple S/Cs around an emerging topic
  4. Increase IEEE community activities within a new or emerging technical area
  5. Create new cross-collaborative engagement in an emerging technical area

After reviewing the framework, the TAB Management Committee (TMC) approved a pilot test of one TC 2.0 based on the principles developed by the TC 2.0 Ad Hoc for one year to finalize the proposal and governance language for approval by TMC and TAB in November 2022.

Operational Efficiency

Several 2021 ad hoc activities were created to review operational and governance efforts in TAB, which help keep Societies and Councils running smoothly and optimize opportunities for collaboration.  

Because cross disciplinary new technologies impact multiple Societies and Councils, the 2021 TAB Ad Hoc Committee on Multi-Society Dues Discounting in Join/Renew Process was formed.

To ensure that governance is supporting TAB and its Societies and Councils as effectively and efficiently as possible, the 2021 TAB Ad Hoc Committee on Society/Council Life Cycle was charged with reviewing the current process for the creation and establishment of a Society and Council as outlined in the TAB Operations Manual.

The IEEE publishing business is undergoing a dramatic transformation and the ecosystem is continuously evolving. The IEEE TAB/PSPB Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Publications Strategy was renewed with TAB, PSPB, and IEEE Publications Operations to continue to evaluate the landscape and implement the joint TAB/PSPB publications strategy.

Engagement vs. Membership

TA was actively involved in defining the requirements for the IEEE NextGen Oracle development.  TA members were key in setting the requirements for Financial Transparency and the definition of the Chart of Accounts that would lead to new financial reports giving publication editors and conference organizers detailed information about their product’s gross revenue, cost of goods sold expenses, and the various Corporate overhead and general administration and accounting expenses.

Supporting Local Engagement

For IEEE to best ensure quality member engagement at all levels, Regions (MGA), Sections, and TAB need to be able to work together to support Chapters.

The IEEE Joint MGA/TAB Ad Hoc Committee on Improving Chapter Support was formed in 2020 and renewed in 2021 to increase member engagement by providing the tools and resources Chapters need in order to best serve their local members.

To effectively align the membership efforts mentioned thus far in this report, the 2021 TAB Ad Hoc Committee on Membership Engagement was formed. This ad hoc, composed of representatives from TA and MGA, worked to evaluate Technical Activities efforts focused on community and membership-related issues.

Engaging a Global Community

To serve the global community better, the TAB Ad Hoc Committee on Language Translation of Content was renewed in 2021 to develop a plan and budget for implementing language translation of technical content from English to other languages. The ad hoc will continue to explore this area, as well as three relevant business models, by securing funding of $30K USD from the IEEE New Initiatives Committee to conduct a pilot test to evaluate quality, speed, and cost of content translation. 

Creating new opportunities for members to engage with relevant content has also been an effort in 2021. The 2021 TAB Ad Hoc Committee on IEEE App Strategy was chartered to develop strategic advice to TAB entities on how to best engage with IEEE-wide digital assets and applications, and to invest, support, and drive TA-wide engagement with these assets.

Technology Roadmaps

Technical Activities continues to lead IEEE’s roadmaps activity via Societies, Councils, and the IEEE Future Directions Committee, and to work to bring visibility to the roadmapping efforts.

I am pleased with the breadth of the work that Technical Activities, through the work of many volunteers and staff across the globe, has accomplished in 2021. I am especially looking forward to how our membership and engagement efforts may evolve, including activities with Chapters, Local Groups, and Technical Communities 2.0. 

Wishing all a happy and healthy end of 2021 and beginning of 2022. It has been my pleasure to serve as your 2021 Vice President, IEEE Technical Activities, and I look forward to continuing to work with you moving forward. 

Roger U. Fujii

2021 Vice President, IEEE Technical Activities  

Store, Search, Access, and Manage Research Data with IEEE DataPort

Researchers’ potentially life-changing work should never be held up because they do not have a way to store, manage, and share their data. To prevent this roadblock, IEEE DataPort developed a comprehensive data solution that fully supports open data initiatives and gives individuals and institutions the opportunity to manage, share, access, and store research data. With IEEE DataPort, researchers can accelerate scientific advancements by supporting research reproducibility and adding to the broad availability of datasets among the interactive data community. 

Since its inception in 2016, IEEE DataPort has grown rapidly both in uploaded datasets and the number of users. As of October 31, 2021, IEEE DataPort is hosting more than 2,700 datasets and has a user community of more than 1.5 million researchers, engineers, and industry experts (Figure 1).

Figure 1. IEEE DataPort membership is rapidly growing. Last year, IEEE DataPort saw a 200 percent increase in average daily users and 175 percent growth in new dataset uploads.

Use cases and testimonials demonstrate how users are benefiting from the platform including:

  • A researcher in New Delhi who is gaining citations and direct connections with other researchers regarding his research on rapidly analyzing and classifying crisis-related Tweets.
  • A researcher who used IEEE DataPort for affordable and stable data storage for her research on fusion mechanisms for human activity recognition using automated machine learning.
  • Researchers in Turkey using IEEE Dataport to reduce the time and resources required for data collection to store their research on predicting Coronavirus cases in Turkey by analyzing Tweets.

IEEE DataPort Data Solution Benefits

With IEEE DataPort, individual subscribers receive up to 2 TB of data storage per dataset at no cost and members of institution subscribers can store datasets up to 10 TB/dataset. Data can be uploaded in any format – from video, audio, and image files to CSV and TXT files. With this large amount of free data storage, researchers can easily meet research funding agency requirements for publishing data and making data available on an open access basis.

All datasets are stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), a widely used Amazon Web Services (AWS) storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. Every IEEE DataPort subscriber is given an AWS access key to upload datasets to or download datasets directly from AWS. Since IEEE DataPort uses the AWS platform, individuals can use their other AWS computing resource subscriptions such as Amazon Athena, AWS data pipeline, or AWS Glue to perform more advanced analysis.

On IEEE DataPort, all datasets can be searched by topic, author, keyword, or dataset type as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. An example of the search tools and how datasets appear on IEEE DataPort.

Each dataset is available for free download and can be copied, analyzed, or used for any other purpose under a CC BY license. Additionally, individual authors publishing their research in one of IEEE’s publications can easily integrate their datasets with any of the more than 134 journals currently integrated with the platform (and more publications will have integration capabilities added in 2022).

Researchers can also accelerate their research using the IEEE DataPort Data Competitions module. When hosting a data competition, users create a time-limited data challenge where a dataset and DataPort Competition instructions are uploaded by the competition initiator. Members of the global technical community, or a specific set of participants, can then join the Data Competition and provide their specific analyses or make predictions based on the dataset.

Additional Benefits for IEEE DataPort Institutional Subscribers

With an IEEE DataPort Institutional Subscription, universities, labs, research facilities, private and public companies, and government institutions can let their researchers focus on what they do best rather than the logistical details surrounding their work. IEEE DataPort Institutional Subscribers receive the following benefits:

  • Five times more storage per dataset (10 TB vs 2 TB)
  • Free downloads for both open access and non-open access datasets
  • Save costs by leveraging IEEE DataPort rather than building your own data storage capability
  • Help members of your institution meet funding agency requirements
  • Custom usage dashboards that show datasets uploaded by anyone using the IEEE DataPort data solution in the institution
  • The ability to brand datasets with the institution’s logo to increase exposure and recognition
  • Create data management plans (DMPs) that outline how your researchers will store, manage, and make data accessible over time as required by many funding agencies

The Future of IEEE DataPort

IEEE DataPort is committed to IEEE’s mission of “Advancing Technology for Humanity.” IEEE DataPort has significantly evolved over the past five years, and it will continue to add new features. IEEE is currently working to ensure citations are shown on all published datasets. 

Visit IEEE DataPort to learn more about the platform, access datasets, or upload your research data.

A Message from the 2021 Technical Activities Vice President

Dear Colleagues,

In my last message, I wrote about how IEEE Societies and Technical Councils have adapted and thrived as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and charged Society and Technical Council leadership to continue to be ambitiously forward-thinking. The June Technical Activities Board Meeting marked the halfway point of my term as Technical Activities Vice President, and I am pleased to see that TAB has risen to meet that challenge.

At the beginning of the year, I defined several priority areas for TAB in 2021: Society/Council Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration; Engagement vs. Membership; and Technology Roadmaps. I was happy to report at the June TAB meeting that progress is being made in each of these focus areas, and to share an update on the various types of engagement that TAB is fostering across IEEE.

Society/Council Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

So many of today’s technologies are not limited to one subject area, or the purviews of a single of IEEE’s 46 Societies and Technical Councils. As such, I’ve asked Societies and Councils to proactively identify technical areas that can be most successfully addressed by working together. These include both emerging technologies and existing fields that are relevant to the fields of interest of multiple organizational units. By being proactive and looking at which technologies might soon be emphasized in each Society/Council’s field of interest, we can ensure improved ways to support new and cross-cutting technologies, and that the newest and most groundbreaking technologies transition seamlessly into the fabric of IEEE.

In addition, Societies and Councils will be working closely with the IEEE Future Directions Committee (FDC), which is conducting R&D of emerging technologies for Technical Activities. By helping to identify emerging technologies that we should support, we are building opportunities for future content and revenue sources in Societies and Councils which often incorporate matured FDC projects into their portfolio (such as Smart Grid in IEEE Power & Energy Society, and Cloud Computing in IEEE Computer Society). This helps Societies and Councils inherit a new technology, engaged volunteers, future members, and potential conference or publications revenue sources.

Because cross disciplinary new technologies impact multiple Societies and Councils, I started an ad hoc committee looking at offering multi-Society/Council membership discounts.  By offering an attractive grouping of related Societies and Councils as part of the membership discount, we are working to increase volunteer engagement in technical activities and offering those volunteers involved in cross disciplinary technologies with access to related societies and councils.

Engagement vs. Membership

TAB is working diligently to engage those in historically underrepresented groups, including industry, government, and entrepreneurs, beginning with developing relevant content for these audiences. To help with this, TAB will be supporting a new initiative pilot project in Silicon Valley, which hosts a multitude of tech industries that cross into Society/Council areas. The introduction of a business development hub office will help identify ways IEEE can engage more effectively with industry and entrepreneurs.

Also of significant importance is engagement with Chapters and other local groups. Partnering with Chapters on related activities is crucial to the success of IEEE and to tackle declining membership in certain areas. Through the remainder of 2021, TAB will focus on improving Chapter connection and support with Technical Activities, beginning with implementation of recommendations defined by a recent ad hoc committee. This will include starting new Chapters at academic institutions and initiating new projects generated by Chapter volunteers. In addition, I hope to share more information about a pilot project on Local Chapters and the Technical Community 2.0 program in a future message.

Technology Roadmaps

Roadmaps set frameworks and establish priorities around emerging technologies. They serve as a blueprint for where technology is headed, and how to support its potential. The purpose of a technology roadmap is to stimulate an industry-wide dialogue to address the many facets and challenges of the development and implementation of an emerging technology in a well-coordinated and comprehensive manner. Roadmaps do not solely provide information; they create an opportunity to engage closely with industry, government, and academic experts.

In addition to creating new roadmaps, we are attempting to make them more visible. In support of IEEE’s leadership on technology roadmaps, a trademarked logo was established. Leveraging a crowdsourcing contest, over 130 designs were submitted from over 60 designers, and members of the IEEE Roadmaps Committee (IRC) and user’s group voted on the top 8 designs.

I welcome you to learn more about IEEE’s roadmap initiatives, including what roadmaps are planned and existing and how you can contribute, by visiting roadmaps.ieee.org.

Finally, I’d like to invite you to learn more about IEEE’s 263 Eta Kappa Nu (HKN) chapters worldwide. HKN is the IEEE honor society, and TAB has committed to collaborating with HKN to engage volunteers and members, especially in emerging geographic regions. To learn more about HKN and how you can become a member, visit the IEEE HKN webpage.

Thank you for your continued support of TAB and engagement with IEEE.

Roger U. Fujii

2021 Vice President, IEEE Technical Activities

Future Tech in Focus

How will technology impact Climate Change, SmartAgrofood Systems, and Public Safety? What challenges does this create? Are there solutions? IEEE Future Directions is generating dialogues in these areas through the IEEE Future Tech Forum (FTF) – and they want your participation.

“Our ambition is to bring global experts from industry, academia and government, discussing leading technology, frontline issues and crucial challenges. We aim to inspire participation and dialogue from a broad sector: women in engineering, young professionals, entrepreneurs, researchers and ethicists, to list a few,” says Christine Miyachi, Chair, IEEE Future Directions Committee (FDC).

One of FTF’s goals is to strengthen relations with industry members, in addition to their partnership with IEEE Industry Engagement Committee. “Research translates into industry because industry is the application of that research. Research can change an industry,” says Kathy Grise, Future Directions Senior Program Director. “A great example of this is how the internet started as a research project, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). The internet launched a new industrial revolution.”

“We would like to realize an increase in the participation of industry as well as a young generation of engineers. We want to encourage and attract future innovators. Technology affects us all and we need all these interests represented at our events!” says Miyachi.

“FTF is starting with smaller events that build new partnerships and expose innovative technologies. This enables us to better understand our audience and their interests. Our approach is to build one-day or half-day sessions/roundtables on future topics with global speakers and gain broader visibility. We want to foster partnerships, collocate with industry events, and finally launch a signature stand-alone event,” says Samina Husain, co-chair FTF Ad Hoc and FDC Member-at-Large.

Currently, the roundtable topics include Climate Change, Smart Agrofood Systems, Digital Transformation, and Public Safety Technology.

Climate Change Roundtable

FTF’s first event, the Climate Change Roundtable, was held in April and had attendees from every IEEE Region. The event keynote speakers and panelists:

  • commented on climate change and associated threats,
  • discussed potential ideas for resolutions, and
  • highlighted developments/initiatives that contribute to combating climate change.

Topics discussed included: 6G technology and architecture to foster global sustainability impact, climate change and telecommunications, and the Information and Communication Technology sector as an enabler for a more sustainable world.

“The event was a virtual and interactive session, and the presentations generated a number of probing questions from the audience. In addition to the positive feedback we received, the event ran over time, an indication of strong interest and success,” says Miyachi.

The Climate Change Roundtable discussed answers to these questions and more:

  • What is the alternative to nuclear energy?
  • Can there be an optimal clean energy mix without nuclear?
  • What are the impacts of lithium mining on climate change?

Listen to the Climate Change Roundtable.

Impassioned, Energized Audience

FTF grew out of other successful Future Directions events. FDC ran Technology Time Machine (TTM), which showcased panel discussions and keynote presentations with respect to future technologies’ benefits, challenges, and societal impacts. After that, FDC organized a TedX-like event called IEEE EnLightening. The inspirational event featured short, diverse talks leaving the audience impassioned and energized about the future of technology.

“Thanuka Wickramarathne’s inspirational path to his interest in multi-sensor data fusion and Jeewika Ranaweera’s motivational journey to Silicon Valley and high-speed microprocessors were the highlights of the event,” says Husain.

Drawing on these engaging events and their positive outcomes, FTF was born. Objectives are to have a sustainable conference, which attracts global speakers and participation, and has strong partnerships with industry, academia, and government.

FDC purposely launched FTF with smaller, online events focused on a specific topic because technologies constantly evolve. Having shorter dialogues every few months allows for a greater impact and more opportunities to engage the community. FDC works to see that the events are not just well attended but also drive future discussions, future forums, and long-term activities in IEEE.

“We want to influence future trends as a result of FTF discussions,” says Grise.

“Our final goal is to be a flagship conference on future technology directions. A similar concept to the World Economic Forum but with a focus on technology. We envision this becoming the leading global event that brings engineers, innovators, policymakers, and humanitarians from all over the world to discuss how technology can serve humanity – a mission of the IEEE. We are thinking big – world leaders in government, research, and industry will want to attend – a space for everyone to join together, present ideas, and find solutions,” says Miyachi.

Shape Our Future

“Participation in FTF events can be highly effective at advancing a wide range of professional objectives, building and extending professional contacts, finding mentors and collaborators, and advancing attendees’ subject matter expertise. The variety of session formats used in FTF offer unique experiences and learning opportunities where attendees can sample a range of presentation approaches and styles. Anyone who cares about technology’s benefits, impacts, and solutions should participate,” says Jeewika Ranaweera, co-chair FTF Ad Hoc and FDC Member-at-Large.

Keep track of upcoming FTF events.

A Message from the 2021 Technical Activities Vice President

Dear Colleagues,

As I begin my term as IEEE Technical Activities Vice President, I reflect upon the many ways IEEE Societies and Technical Councils have adapted their activities in the past year to meet the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around this time, in 2020, IEEE was just beginning to understand how the health crisis would impact the way we conduct business and interact with our volunteers and members. Within a very brief period of time, members, volunteers, and staff were tasked with transposing entire portfolios of planned activities to a new virtual landscape. We were asked to successfully meet the current needs of our constituents, while also addressing the challenges of a global pandemic. Our resilience and energy to adapt was tested, as we were forced to “think outside the box” – and, in many cases, out of our comfort zones.

IEEE and IEEE Technical Activities met this challenge head-on, and I would like to acknowledge the successful efforts across IEEE, and especially in our Societies and Technical Councils. This dynamic, in a way, mirrors the approach we need to take each day as we work together as an organization to “advance technology for the benefit of humanity.”

Technology, and the needs of our members, are constantly evolving. And while we are beginning to see some signs of a return to normalcy, I challenge us to continue to embody the flexibility, adaptation, and collaboration that have been demonstrated over the past year. By learning from our ability to shift quickly, scale efficiently, and adapt significantly, we will be better prepared to meet new challenges as they arise, attract a more diverse group of members, and reach technologists on a significantly larger scale globally. It is IEEE’s ability to adapt that will ultimately engage existing and potential members, and we must remain forward-thinking and collaborative to ensure that IEEE is well-positioned for a successful future.

In Technical Activities, cross-disciplinary collaboration drives success. Our Societies and Technical Councils must work together to address emerging technologies, identify future sources of new products and services, and tap into segments with whom we’ve not historically engaged. They must be ahead of the curve and proactively identify future trends and technology roadmaps, while staying rooted in the foundational principles of their respective fields of interest.

To bring visibility to the exceptional work of IEEE Societies and Technical Councils, I will be sharing major accomplishments from them that embody the spirit defined above. At present, I would like to highlight two examples: how IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) has strengthened industry relationships via their corporate engagement program and how IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) has worked to reduce the digital divide.

IEEE Power & Energy Society Strengthens Relationship with Industry Partners

One of PES’ primary strategies in 2020, while continually looking for ways to engage with new members, was to develop a strong liaison with industry. PES made notable progress throughout the year by expanding activities provided to the PES Corporate Engagement Program participants to include five organizations, with plans to offer the partnership beyond North America.

By participating in the PES Corporate Engagement Program, companies gain access to a host of “collaboration benefits,” such as access to the PES Resource Center, participation in cooperation initiatives with regulatory and government entities, networking opportunities with industry leaders, online training around topics of interest, and company-facing education around guides and standards development. A full list of collaboration benefits can be found here. In 2020, multiple professional development online events were offered to program participants. Close to 400 people participated.  The final materials were made available in the PES Resource Center.

The Corporate Engagement Program has yielded benefits beyond what it offers to companies. PES members from Corporate Engagement Program participants were key contributors to the “Sharing Knowledge on Electrical Energy Industry’s First Response to COVID-19” white paper released in May 2020. The paper drew upon input from global energy industry stakeholders. It was made available free via the PES Resource Center and has been downloaded close to 1,000 times since its release. This quick action to share knowledge on the industry’s first response has helped ensure the reliable and safe distribution of electricity to communities worldwide.  

IEEE Communications Society Works to Reduce the Digital Divide

ComSoc has recently engaged in efforts to reduce the digital divide, which has been widening in the past decade, creating economic and informational inequities, but which has become especially pronounced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This gulf denies disadvantaged populations access to timely and useful data on the internet as they are unable or less able to obtain digital information, work from home, access remote learning, receive health care services, schedule online appointments, or learn and share skills.

This divide, which has been increasing, has been greatly amplified and accelerated by the pandemic, which induced heavy reliance on remote learning, tele-work, e-commerce, banking, and medical consultation. As we strive as a society to return to some normalcy, the divide prohibits those who have difficulty using the internet and/or devices (due to economic, age, disability, and other factors) from accessing valuable information such as the ability to schedule vaccination appointments.

ComSoc is currently exploring efforts to reduce the disparities and equalize opportunities – which will require creating and introducing new infrastructure, financing, policy, regulations, and education on how to use the medium. This is a much larger effort than simply giving computers and network services to people without access; there is a sociological aspect that must be addressed, and in order to foster this dialogue, ComSoc is creating opportunities to raise visibility.

As such, ComSoc hosted a workshop in October 2020 at which a major topic was the need for underserved communities to have sufficient bandwidth access to participate in the digital economy and live a lifestyle that enables digital aptitude.

ComSoc is also planning an October 2021 hybrid workshop with a focus on global reach and regional promotion. The goal of the workshop is to produce a set of recommendations that influences public and private efforts to drive digital inclusion around the globe and address it from the technical, economic, and social aspects including policies legislations, public and private financing, with the intention of creating a sustainable effort giving the sociological aspects of the problem the proper emphasis. ComSoc welcomes all interested IEEE entities to participate. More on this subject will be shared in a future TA Technical Community Spotlight issue.

Throughout the rest of my tenure as Vice President, Technical Activities, I will charge Society and Technical Council leadership to approach their work with the same tenacity that fueled their ambition at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and that these Societies have demonstrated. I extend an open invitation to all TA Societies and Technical Councils to send me impactful accomplishments of your organization so that I can highlight your accomplishments in future Spotlight articles. I encourage the rest of IEEE to join me and look forward to seeing how we can create new opportunities together.

Roger U. Fujii

2021 Vice President, IEEE Technical Activities

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There are countless professional opportunities waiting to help  you stay technically current and connect with leading experts and colleagues in your technical field.  IEEE’s more than 50 specialized Societies, Technical Councils, and Technical Communities facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration among technical professionals, connect experts both across and within disciplines and develop programs that challenge traditional technologies through novel research and applications. As an IEEE member, adding a Society, Council, or Technical Community can be low-cost or even FREE!

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