Activities of the IEEE ComSoc Sri Lanka Chapter in 2021

By Shechem Sumanthiran - IEEE ComSoc Sri Lanka Chapter Chair

Although the year 2021 was an unusually stagnant year for many due to COVID-19, the IEEE ComSoc Sri Lanka Chapter had a year filled with growth and development. The Sri Lanka Chapter was able to host multiple online and in-person events, and significantly able to extend its membership base by initiating two new Student Chapters at the University of Peradeniya and the University of Ruhuna.

The year began with the ComSoc SL Tech Meetup 4.0 and a virtual distinguished lecture conducted by Dr. Giovanni Geraci of Pompeu Fabra University, Spain, on the topic “IEEE 802.11be: Wi-Fi Strikes Again.” This was the first event of the year and was held on 20 January, 2021. Continuing the wireless communications theme, a virtual distinguished lecture on the topic “AI-Enabled Wireless Networks: A Bridge from 5G to 6G” was conducted by Dr. Melike¬†Erol-Kantarci,¬†University of Ottawa, Canada.

The talk, organized in collaboration with the IEEE ComSoc Student Branch Chapter of the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, discussed the challenging performance and reliability requirements of 6G and the potential of machine learning to learn environment parameters under varying behavior of the wireless channel to meet these stringent requirements. The virtual distinguished lecture was held on 8 April, 2021 and was well attended.

The latter part of the year saw the Sri Lanka Chapter hosting three more events. The first of these, held on 25 October, 2021 was another virtual distinguished lecture conducted by Prof. Sudip Misra of the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. This was on the topic “IoT in e-Health: From Wearables to Diagnostic Systems” and covered the state of the art in the e-Health domain and its evolution with the introduction of wearables and diagnostics systems. This virtual distinguished lecture was organized in collaboration with the IEEE ComSoc Student Branch Chapters of the University of Moratuwa and the University of Peradeniya. The talk was well attended by the student members of both these student branches, as well as the membership of the Sri Lanka Chapter.

No more than two weeks later, another well attended guest lecture was organized in collaboration with the student branch chapter of the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. This talk was conducted by Dr. Rajarajan Sivaraj, Director for RIC architecture and O-RAN standards at Mavenir, Texas. As per his area of work, he delivered a guest lecture on the topic of building O-RAN-architected end-to-end intelligence in a 5G (and beyond) cellular mobile network. The talk covered how intelligence from the radio access network (RAN) facilitated by the Open RAN (O-RAN)-architected RAN intelligence controller (RIC) can be interfaced with a network edge cloud platform with containerized micro-services for higher-layer IP/application layer optimization by leveraging O-RAN standards. The lecture also covered how end-to-end intelligence will be useful in meeting the complex demands of next-generation mobile apps such as AR/VR, self-driving cars, etc. The wide variety of practical applications of the technology was especially useful to demonstrate the value of the ORAN architecture.

The final learning event held in 2021 was on 6 December. This was a guest talk on the topic “Signal Processing for MIMO-Enabled Terahertz Communications,” conducted by Dr. Hadi Sarieddeen, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering (CEMSE) Division, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia. The event was organized in collaboration with three student branch chapters, namely University of Moratuwa, University of Peradeniya, and University of Ruhuna. The event was an excellent opportunity for the members of the student branch chapters from all three universities to work together and get to know each other. Additionally, the talk itself was extremely insightful, discussing the prospects of ultra-massive multiple-input multiple-output (UM-MIMO) technology to overcome the THz band’s communication distance limitations. The talk outlined a three-step approach for THz UM-MIMO signal processing, consisting of modeling THz-specific channel properties, designing efficient algorithms, and observing terabit-per-second baseband limitations.

2021 contained two important milestones for the IEEE ComSoc Sri Lanka Chapter in membership development. We were able to initiate ComSoc Student Branch Chapters at two major universities in the island. The Student Branch Chapter of the University of Ruhuna obtained approval on 23 October 2021. The inaugural AGM was later held on 6 January 2022. The Student Branch Chapter of the University of Peradeniya was initiated on 1 November 2021. The first AGM was later held on 20 February 2022.

The initiation of these two student branches, in addition to the existing student branch of the University of Moratuwa, are significant in the membership development of the IEEE ComSoc Sri Lanka Chapter. The AGM of the Student Branch Chapter of the University of Moratuwa was held on 11 October 2021. Additionally, members of the student branches of the University of Moratuwa and the University of Peradeniya entered the IEEE ComSoc “Internet for All” Competition, held in December, and won two awards in the APAC Region, second place and an honorary mention award. We congratulate our student members for these outstanding achievements.

From 7 to 9 December, the former Chair of the Sri Lanka Chapter, Dr. Tharaka Samarasinghe, had the opportunity to attend the Membership Value Research Conference held in Madrid, Spain. The conference helped participants to identify product successes, improvements, and gaps for different types of chapter members such as students, young professionals, non-members, and industry professionals.

The AGM of the Sri Lanka Chapter was held on 21 December. Our gratitude to the Chair for 2021, Dr. Tharaka Samarasinghe, and the Executive Committee for their efforts toward the growth and development of the IEEE ComSoc Sri Lanka Chapter.