The year 2020 has been full of unprecedented circumstances. Before this year, our technical sessions were mainly dependent on physically gathering in venues such as auditoriums, conference rooms in hotels and so on. The lockdown that was imposed by the propagation of COVID-19 brought major challenges, yet it expedited some welcome transformations. Circumstances have been tough but people have been putting a lot of effort into adopting the new way of living our personal and professional lives. Among these changes is the increased dependency on virtual meetings as the main venue for delivering technical seminars. Overall, we in the IEEE ComSoc Saudi Arabia Chapter and others around the world have been striving to meet the objectives that were set before the storm of COVID-19. Luckily, high percentages of these goals have been achieved by leveraging different means.
Virtual events brought obvious advantages such as extending the reachability of our technical events to many communities beyond the geographical areas. The tools used to facilitate these events have been advancing quickly to securely enrich the user experience. Rich and advanced features help the host of these events to manage and capture the most value of these virtual seminars. However, professional networking among attendees in these virtual events has not been as effective as with the physical gatherings at the event venues. So we expect that in 2021 we will be combining virtual events with some events that will be organized in physical venues such as conference rooms if the situation allows.
Saying that, it is our pleasure in the IEEE Communication Society Saudi Arabia Chapter to share with the IEEE community some of the virtual events that we conducted in 2020. Focusing on December 2020 events, we organized two technical sessions in that month. The two sessions received a good level of participation and stimulated interesting discussion points. Following are brief reports on these sessions.
Technical Session 1:
Title: Impact of IEEE Standards on IoT and 5G
Speaker: Mr. Munir Mohammed, Senior Program Manager, IEEE India
This technical session provided a glimpse of various standardization programs that IEEE is driving in the area of IoT and 5G. It also highlighted how experts can participate and contribute to these global efforts. This session was delivered by Mr. Munir Mohammed, a Senior Program Manager at IEEE India. Mr. Mohammed has 25 years of industry experience in various roles and responsibilities. Notably, Mr. Mohammed has been in association with the IEEE Standards Association (SA) and the IEEE India Office for the past eight years.
Technical Session 2:
Title: Introduction to Public-Key Cryptography and Blockchain
Speaker: Dr. Imam, Muhammad, Assistant Professor at King Fahd of University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Arabia
This session provided a short introduction on Symmetric Key Cryptography, Public Key Cryptography, Digital Signatures and Blockchain. It also showed some live demos on key concepts of Blockchain. This session was delivered by Dr. Imam, Muhammad, Assistant Professor at King Fahd of University of Petroleum and Minerals. Dr. Imam served as the Director of the Business Incubator program at the Entrepreneurship Institute for three years (2017-2020). His research interests include system logic design, cybersecurity, Blockchain, deep learning and computer networks.
Furthermore, our chapter organized various virtual technical sessions over the past few months. These sessions covered various subjects that are of interest to the community such as the following:
UAV Technology for Industrial Applications, Opportunities and Challenges, by Mr. Walaie, Soliman.
Digital Transformation Journey in a Large Organization, by Mr. Almashari, Meshal.
Working at the World Economic Forum (WEF), by Mr. AlAnsari, Mansour A.
IoT: Trends, Directions, Applications, Challenges and Opportunities, by Dr. AlAsaad, Amr.
Our Chapter is currently preparing for the upcoming sessions for 2021. As mentioned before, we expect that 2021 events will be a mix of virtual events with some events that will be organized in physical venues such as conference rooms if the situation allows. One of the nearest sessions in our plan is to share with the community a professional story and lessons learned from a distinguished individual who recently retired after 34+ years of experience in IT and wireless communications.