Asia Pacific Region: Interview with Tomoaki Otsuki, Director of the AP Region

By Stefano Bregni - Global Communications Newsletter Editor-in-Chief, Director Conference Operations and Tomoaki Otsuki - Director of the AP Region

This article continues the series of nine interviews to the Officers of the IEEE ComSoc Member and Global Activities (MGA) Council, which is published every month on the Global Communications Newsletter.

In this series of articles, I introduce the Vice-President and the six Directors on the MGA Council (namely: Member Services, Industry Outreach, and AP, NA, LA, EMEA Regions), as well as the two Chairs of the Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) and Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committees. In each interview, one by one they present their sector activities and plans.

In this issue, I interview Tomoaki Otsuki, IEEE ComSoc Asia Pacific Region Director.

Tomoaki is a professor at the Keio University in Yokohama, Japan. He is the author or co-author of over 235 research papers and 470 international conference papers, in the areas of wireless communications, optical communications, signal processing, sensing, and so on. He is now serving as an Area Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology and an editor of the IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials. He is a senior member and a distinguished lecturer of the IEEE, a fellow of the IEICE, and a member of the Engineering Academy of Japan.

Tomoaki, we might begin outlining the main characteristics of the AP Region.

The AP Region covers a vast geographical area stretching from South Korea and Japan in the north — east to New Zealand in the south, and Pakistan in the west. With a membership of 107,154, it is one of the largest regions in IEEE. This is roughly 40% of ComSoc members in the world.

Chapters provide a local connection for our society members. Their activities include: talks organized within the Distinguished Lecturer Tour (DLT) or Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) frameworks, social events, workshops, seminars, special events, etc.

The Distinguished Lecturer Program (DLP) and the Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) are particularly appreciated by our Members. The AP Region is extremely active also on this program.

DLTs provide the means for ComSoc chapters to identify and arrange lectures by renowned experts on communications and networking-related topics. ComSoc’s DSPs enable current and past distinguished lecturers as well as ComSoc officers, IEEE Fellows, and prominent speakers to schedule lectures while traveling on business trips. To cope with the vast geographical area, and related travel costs, of the AP Region, we are emphasizing DLT/DSP.

What about other membership activities in the AP Region?

We also put lots of efforts to promote our membership activities, particularly women in communication engineering (WICE), young professionals (YP), students, and industry activities. We have set up a new team including new WICE and YP committees. Dr. Kaoru Ohta of Muroran Institute of Technology, Japan and Dr. Jemin Lee of Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU), Korea are leading the WICE committee. Dr. Nicholas Wong of GlobalFoundries, Singapore, and Dr. Yuichi Kawamoto of Tohoku University, Japan are leading the YP committee. They are planning several events and services for WICE and YP members.

Regarding the industry activity, we organized several DLT/DSP by people from industry. Also, we sponsored the 2nd International Future Communications Workshop (2 day online industry-academia joint workshop) that all our member can attend free.

An important facet of the AP activities is our Award Program that includes the AP Young Researcher Award and the AP Outstanding Paper Award. The former one is 17th and the latter one is 11th this year. Many recipients of the AP Young Research Award including me are now contributing a lot to our IEEE the AP Regional Activities.

The AP Region publishes a very detailed Newsletter. May you please tell us a bit about that?

Another important service is our AP Newsletter. We publish 2 AP newsletters a year. We have already published 61 AP newsletters. The AP newsletter contains a lot of useful information for our members including our award programs and other activities, also sometimes tutorial articles.

And what about Students? Do you organize regularly any specific activity for them?

In AP regions, we are also proud that many chapters in our AP regions are very active. They held many events including many events for students. Thanks to their activities, many chapters increased members a lot, including student members. It is important to share the knowhow with other chapters. We hold the event that introduced the knowhow of the chapter that was very active and the chapter award to other chapter members. We are planning to continue this activity.

How do you coordinate the activities of Chapters? Do you meet regularly with Chapter Chairs?

In the AP region we usually had the AP Region Regional Chapter Chairs Congress (AP-RCCC) every 2 years before the COVID-19. The AP-RCCC is the place where all the chapter chairs get together and discuss our activity. It is a very important opportunity to get the opinion and comments from the chairs directly, which contributed a lot to improve our activities. Unfortunately, we have not held AP-RCCC during the COVID-19, but now we are planning to held it next year in the AP region, possibly at IEEE Globecom 2023 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

We hope many people will be able to come to the IEEE Globecom 2023!

I am one of the organizers of IEEE GLOBECOM 2023 in Kuala Lumpur and therefore I am extremely happy you have mentioned it. As one of the Technical Program Co-Chairs, I wish to take this opportunity to invite all readers to submit a paper to IEEE GLOBECOM 2023 and, certainly, to attend it in person. KL is an outstanding location.

Changing topic, how the AP Region Board collaborates with other professional associations in the Region?

Another important thing in the AP region is that we have many ComSoc Sister Societies. We held many activities including international conferences and workshops with collaboration with the sister societies.

To promote our activities in local countries, it is very important to have such collaboration with sister societies. We are planning to enhance the collaboration with the sister societies so that we can reach local people more.

To conclude, what are the most serious challenges that you are coping with?

One of our challenges is membership retention. As I mentioned, we have many members in total. However, we have a few Chapters where a significant number of members did not renew the IEEE membership or ComSoc membership. Retention is important for us! We are now investigating the reasons to improve our services to members. We hope we can share our findings with other regions.