This is the fourth article in the series of nine, started in May 2018 and published monthly in the IEEE ComSoc Global Communications Newsletter, which covers all areas of IEEE ComSoc Member and Global Activities. In this series of articles, I introduce the Vice-President and six Directors on the Member and Global Activities Council (namely: Sister and Related Societies; Membership Services; AP, NA, LA, EMEA Regions) and the two Chairs of the Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) and Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committees. In each article, one by one they present their sector activities and plans.
In this issue, I interview Lisandro Zambenedetti Granville, Director of the LA Region. Lisandro is an associate professor at the Institute of Informatics of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil. He received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees, both in computer science, from UFRGS in 1998 and 2001, respectively. He is president of the Brazilian Computer Society (SBC) and was previous chair (2013-2017) of ComSoc’s Committee on Network Operations and Management (CNOM). He has served as a TPC member for many important events in the area of computer networks (e.g., IM, NOMS, and CNSM) and was TPC co-chair of DSOM 2007, NOMS 2010, NetSoft 2018, and ICC 2018.
Stefano: Hello Lisandro! We might begin by outlining the main characteristics of the LA Region.
Lisandro: The LA region encompasses a large geographical area, from Mexico in the north to the very south of Argentina and Chile. With the exception of Brazil, whose official language is Portuguese, most of the other countries in the region have Spanish as their primary language.
Currently, the region is served by 25 chapters, each of them providing the interface between the local community and Com- Soc. With such a structure, chapters are able to promote and organize workshops, seminars, conferences, and events, and benefit from Distinguished Lecturer Tours (DLTs) Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP).
Stefano: The Distinguished Lecturer Program (DLP) and the Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) are particularly appreciated by our members. For personal experience, I know that in particular the LA Region is very appreciative of this program.
During my previous term as VP–Member Relations, we increased the budget allocated to these programs, to allow more and better DLTs in all regions. What is your perception of these programs? How are they organized in the LA Region?
Lisandro: Chapter chairs have been quite active with regard to DLT and DSP, in the sense that several tours are organized per semester. The outcome is much often reported as being quite important for the region.
It is important to mention that because LA is not a rich area in the globe, DLT/DSP is frequently the only means that local members have to get in direct contact with distinguished experts. As such, DLT/DSP also work as a mechanism of inclusion for members who are not able to attend ComSoc major events (e.g., ICC and GLOBECOM).
The increased budget for these programs is thus especially appreciated because it improves the potential number of speakers paying visits to LA, and as a consequence, allowing more local members to get in touch with them. Pedro Aguilera is currently the DLT & DSP coordinator for LA.
Stefano: The LA Region Board assigns awards to recognize the contributions of its outstanding members. Please describe these awards in some detail?
Lisandro: Our two main awards are the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) and the Young Professional Award (DPA). While DSA acknowledges those members with a significant contribution to the community, DPA is devoted to young professionals who already present a distinguished profile.
Candidates are indicated by their peers (self-indication is possible) to the LA Board coordinator, who puts together the Award Committee, usually composed of previous LA Board directors. The winners are announced in our social media (e.g., Facebook) and prizes are usually handed over at LATINCOM, the main communication conference in the LA region.
In 2017, the winners were: Pedro Aguilera for the Distinguished Service Award, and Carlos Lozano Garzon for the Young Professional Award. Carlos, by the way, for our term of 2018-2019, is responsible for the Awards Committee.
Stefano: What are the major challenges that you currently see in the LA Region?
Lisandro: We have three major challenges in the area. First, it is important to increase the region’s membership. That is a challenge because it is not always easy to reach potential members in such a huge geographic area. The chapter chairs help a lot, but we need to find ways to increase interest, especially among students, in becoming part of ComSoc.
The second challenge is related to industry relations. There is a growing telecommunications/networking industry in LA, but the main players are not always present at ComSoc related activities. This approximation is essential for the industry to grow with the help of ComSoc.
Our last major challenge is with regard to young professionals. Today, young professionals, who are not students anymore but are not senior members either, need special care in the transition between university and market. We believe ComSoc can help with that a lot.
Fortunately, these three challenges can be properly faced by our LA Board members. In particular, I would like to mention Nury Gabriela Ramirez Cely, who is in charge of industry relations; Juan David Alvarado, who is in charge of membership development; and Gidy Carolina Florez Navarro, who is responsible for the young professionals.
Stefano: Besides those LA Board members you have mentioned already, would you like to acknowledge the contribution of others in particular?
Lisandro: I would like to additionally mention the following people from the LA Board: Carlos Martinez is in charge of the LA Global Communications Newsletter Committee; Joel Rodrigues is our Technical Activities coordinator; Araceli García Gómez is responsible for Student Activities; and Esmeralda Asurza is in charge of Social Networks and the Webpage, an activity especially important not only to advertise our actions in the region, but also to connect with a generation of young researchers for whom social media is their main form of communication. Finally, I would like to recognize the great work that Carol Cronin, from the ComSoc headquarers staff, develops together with region directors!
Stefano: Among the many activities that you are running, what will be the highlight next year?
Lisandro: All activities are obviously important for the development of our region. Still, if I have to pick one, I would say that our Board would be very proud if the number and involvement of young, energized people increases. Getting them involved is important for the moment due to the reasons I mentioned above, but also because young people will be the leaders of tomorrow, so we must bring them into the ComSoc community as earlier as possible.