Asia Pacific Region: Interview with Saewoong Bahk, Director of the AP Region

By Saewoong Bahk, Director of the AP Region Bahk - Director of the AP Region and Stefano Bregni - Global Communications Newsletter Editor in Chief, Vice-President for Conferences

This is the sixth 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 Saewoong Bahk, Director of the AP Region.

Saewoong is a professor at Seoul National University (SNU), Korea. He is a member of National Academy of Engineering of Korea (NAEK). He is general chair of IEEE DySPAN 2018 and IEEE WCNC 2020. He was TPC chair of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC) Spring 2014 and vice president of the Korean Institute of Communications and Information Sciences (KICS). He is co-Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of IEEE/KICS Journal of Communications and Networks (JCN) and an associate editor for IEEE Network Magazine. He was on the editorial boards of IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications and Computer Networks Journal (COMNET). Prior to joining SNU, he was with AT&T Bell Laboratories as a member of technical staff. He received the KICS Haedong Scholar award in 2012. He has led many industrial projects on 3G/4G/5G and IoT connectivity, and published more than 200 technical papers and holds 100 patents.

Stefano: Saewoong, let’s begin with the AP Regional Chapter Chair Congress, which was held last December, co-located with IEEE GLOBECOM 2017 in Singapore. How was the Congress?

Saewoong: It was a great Congress. Actually due to various reasons, we could not have the Congress since 2014. The Congress was held in coordination with the IEEE ComSoc Sister and Related Societies Summit, and co-located with IEEE GLOBECOM 2017 in Singapore. It was a one and a half day Conference that was held just before the main conference. There were 34 attendees including 21 Chapter Chairs.

Prof. Takaya Yamazato, former APB director, served as General Chair, and Prof. Wei Zhang, APB Vice Director, served as Program Chair. I and Dr. Sumei Sun, APB Vice Director, served as session chairs. ComSoc President Khaled Letaief gave a brief speech, and Vice President Stefano Bregni introduced the member and global activities of ComSoc. Dr. Zhensheng Zhang presented materials about membership development, and Mr. Adam Greenberg talked about technical activities and industry outreach.

Then, five APB Committee Chairs gave a presentation about each Committee’s activities, followed by the presentation from Malaysia Chapter Chair, Prof. Aduwati Sali. The Malaysia Chapter was the winner of the Chapter of the Year (CoY) Award in 2016. Each Chapter Chair has a slot for introducing their activities. The meeting ended up with the wrap-up from Prof. Nei Kato, Vice President of Member and Global Activities. It was so fruitful since we were able to exchange and share each other’s experiences throughout the Congress. Stefano: Saewoong, what special characteristics in the Asia/ Pacific Region would you like to share with us? Saewoong: The Asia/Pacific (AP) Region, Region 10, is the Region with the largest number of members in IEEE ComSoc. The number of ComSoc members in the AP region is 7,864, which represents 28.9 percent of the 27,123 ComSoc members (as of December 2017).

Unfortunately, the overall number of ComSoc members in the AP region decreased from 8,771 in December 2016 to 7,864 in December 2017. Like overall ComSoc regions, the AP region is experiencing a gradual drop in membership, although the regional economy is growing quickly these days.

The AP region is the most popular region for ComSoc professionals to deliver Distinguished Lecturer Tours (DLT) and Distinguished Speaker Programs (DSP). In 2017, the total number of DLT/DSP in the AP region was 16, which is much higher than in the other regions. In 2018, as of May, there are 12 DLTs approved already.

Stefano: How is the Asia/Pacific Board organized?

Saewoong: The IEEE ComSoc Asia/Pacific Board (APB) is one of the very best organized Boards within ComSoc. Its reputation mainly comes from the hard work of APB officers and volunteers over the last 20 years.

The mission of APB is to address all ComSoc activities and programs related to AP members and chapters, including fostering the provision of technical activities and information services to our members, expanding membership in the AP Region, and reflecting the interests of AP members in ComSoc policies and procedures.

APB has one Director, three Vice Directors, one Treasurer, and one Secretary, plus five Operation Committees. We have APB meetings, including the teering meeting and the general meeting, twice a year, at ICC and GLOBECOM. The steering meeting is to handle challenges in promoting APB activities and to explore new services for our members.

Usually more than 100 attendees participate in the general meeting, which aims to provide a good social platform for APB members to make friends, share and exchange information, discover new research directions, and facilitate academic industry collaboration.

Stefano: What about the roles and responsibilities of each APB Officer?

Saewoong: The Director and the three Vice Directors oversee the provisioning of APB activities to all ComSoc members in the AP Region. The technical activities and service provisioning are organized into five Committees, each with one or two Chairs plus a few Vice Chairs: Technical Affairs Committee (TAC), Membership Development Committee (MDC), Information Service Committee (ISC), Meeting and Conference Committee (MCC), and Chapter Coordination Committee (CCC).

The volunteers come from academia and industry, considering the balance of geographical locations, gender, and seniority.

The mission and plan of each Committee are as follows: 1. TAC promotes technical activities and fosters award activities, including AP young researcher, outstanding paper awards, and IEEE GOLD awards, for ComSoc members in the AP Region. 2. MDC collaborates with ComSoc chapters in the AP Region to promote academic and industry membership, and works with sister and related societies for professional activities. 3. ISC develops and distributes APB newsletters, and maintains the APB webpage, Facebook, and manages on-line DLT/DSP programs to AP Region members. 4. MCC encourages AP Region members to organize, host, and participate in AP regional and ComSoc flagship conferences. 5. CCC coordinates with the IEEE ComSoc Membership Development Program (MDP) to run DLT/DSP programs and manages chapter activities in the AP Region.

Stefano: Can you tell us more about recent AP award activities?

Saewoong: The award ceremony for the Young Researcher and Outstanding Paper Awards is held at the APB general meeting in GLOBECOM. It has been 12 years since APB awarded the young researcher award, which is for researchers under the age of 35.

In 2017, this Award went to Xiangyun (Sean) Zhou (The Australian National University, Australia), and there are six more outstanding researcher awardees. The outstanding paper award ceremony is six years old. In 2017, the best magazine paper was authored by Hiroki Nishiyama, Masaya Ito, and Nei Kato, “Relay-by-Smartphone: Realizing Multihop Device-to-Device Communications,” IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 52, no. 4, April 2014. The best journal paper was written by Jemin Lee and Tony Q. S. Quek, “Hybrid Full-/Half-duplex System Analysis in Heterogeneous Wireless Networks,” IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 14, no. 5, May 2015. There were tens of nominations for this award. The competition is so tough!

Stefano: What are your plans in the near future?

Saewoong: Our APB team will keep our good tradition, address new needs of our members, and tackle new challenges in the AP region. Currently there are eight well-organized Sister Societies in our Region, especially in East Asia, which are very active in academic and research activities.

Sometimes there exist conflicts of interest between the activities of ComSoc and the Sister Societies. One of my current concerns is how to harmonize ComSoc’s interests with the Sister Societies. ComSoc wants to grow with the Sister Societies in terms of membership. There will be many opportunities for ComSoc members in the AP Region to exploit these.