This is the seventh article in the series started in December 2020 and published monthly in the IEEE ComSoc Global Communications Newsletter, which covers all areas of IEEE ComSoc Member and Global Activities (MGA). In this series of articles, I introduce the Vice-President MGA and the members of the Member and Global Activities Council. In each article, one by one, they present their sector activities and plans. In this issue, I interview Shashank Gaur, Chair of the Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committee.
Shashank Gaur is a Systems Engineer for Platform Architecture at TTTech Auto, providing safe software and hardware platforms for automated driving. Shashank contributes to topics such as time sensitive networking and scheduling for in-vehicle ethernet communication. Shashank also actively engages in TSN standards activities. Shashank is also Chair of ComSoc’s Young Professionals group, where he leads a team of volunteers across various projects such as events at flagship conferences, a blog, webinars, etc. Shashank is also Chair of the Tools Subcommittee of the IEEE Conferences Committee. Shashank has been volunteering for IEEE for 15+ years across various OUs such as RAS, MGA, Region 8, TAB and ComSoc.
Stefano: Hello Shashank! Let us begin by explaining what is the role of the Young Professionals Committee in the IEEE Communications Society.
Shashank: The IEEE Communication Society has more than 29,000 members. These members include people from different geographic locations and different technical areas. ComSoc serves its member by creating various volunteer groups to work on a specific demographic (location, technology, and career goals). Some of our members graduated from their first university degree (usually a four year bachelor program) within the last 15 years, just like me. These members are categorized as Young Professionals by IEEE and are served through a volunteer group known as ComSoc Young Professionals (yp.comsoc.org).
Stefano: How many Young Professionals are currently enrolled among ComSoc Members?
Shashank: IEEE ComSoc has more than 6,700 Young Professionals spread around the globe. We also have a significant number outside North America, which represents more than 60 percent of Young Professionals. In terms of their professional role, more than 45 percent of our members are in their early career stage, either working in academia or industry. The rest of our members are graduate students.
The IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals team includes members from various demographics such as students, academia, industry, etc. We have more than 15 members contributing to different projects on their own time. We consider ComSoc YP as a front door for anyone interested in volunteering for ComSoc. Through our team, a member can experience what volunteering is all about without making any considerable time commitments. We allow everyone to contribute in whatever shape or form they wish to.
Stefano: Why do you think the YP Committee is important among ComSoc priorities?
Shashank: IEEE ComSoc is a leading organization with experts from different technical areas. However, we also need contributions from the younger generation to keep ComSoc relevant in the future. Young Professionals are a key resource and contributor for our organization. You can pick any of our major events and examine the volunteer teams. You will find that a lot of work is done by the younger generation on the ground. Young Professionals are motivated to work on projects and learn from experts, and they also bring new perspective to ComSoc activities.
Stefano: What are the main activities that have been run by the YP Committee under your leadership? And please introduce the YP Committee members working with you on organizing such activities?
Shashank: In 2021, ComSoc Young Professionals are engaged in the following significant activities that are led by various volunteers.
Events: Our core activity is engaging Young Professionals at ComSoc’s leading conferences such as ICC, GLOBECOM, INFOCOM, etc. Each year we organize a comprehensive set of students, post-doctoral researchers, early career faculties, industry researchers, and practitioners. In the past, We planned these activities in partnership with local IEEE student groups in the cities where the conference was hosted. Since COVID, we have kept these activities virtual but still kept them free and accessible for anyone interested. Some of our successful sessions have been fireside chats in which ComSoc leaders come together to have an open discussion with the audience through interactive Q&A. This year we hosted similar activities again at ICC 2021 (https://icc2021.ieee-icc.org/program/young-professionals), and we look forward to interacting with GCN readers in our other events.
Webinars: In 2021, we started to organize regular virtual events to accommodate a diverse audience. We understand that not everyone can be available during the same conference due to time commitments. Hence, we are bringing our excellent speakers to these virtual events every month on different topics. Imran S Ansari and Marco Giordani are leading efforts to identify these fantastic speakers and topics. This year we have already hosted talks on hot topics such as Non-Terrasterial Networks by Michele Zorzi of the University of Padova, and Communication in the 6G Era by Preben Mogensen of Nokia Bell Labs. Many more talks will be scheduled. Please follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter on our website to stay updated on upcoming sessions.
Blog: The ComSoc YP Blog (yp.comsoc.org/blog) is organized by Shashi Raj Pandey (a Ph.D. student at Kyung Hee University). Our intention behind drafting each content in the blog is to document valuable materials relevant to young professionals. While it is equally challenging to conquer all avenues of our objectives, we try to balance sharing key research directions, progress made, future challenges in communication networks, and the underlying “thought process” to develop a solution. We have worked to simplify the content submission process by enlisting sufficient information in advance. We would like to host an open platform where YPs openly share their “untold” academic/personal challenges during an early career as personal narratives and failures/successes stories. We are also working to reach out to diverse contributors. We plan to have content related to applying for grants/funding at conferences, mini-tutorials on recent progress made in the field, and mentorship. If you are interested in highlighting your work through our blog, please reach out to us at yp.comsoc.org/blog/submission.
Awards: ComSoc Young Professionals has maintained a successful awards program since 2016. Our 2021 awards program received around 50 nominations from various Young Professionals from both academia and industry. We hope to provide more opportunities to highlight the rising stars of our community, who are working hard in multiple areas. Nominations for the 2021 award are open now; check our website for more info: yp.comsoc.org/award
Social Media: Our social media activities are led by John Benedict Boggala and Manuel Lopez Morales (Ph.D. student, University Carlos III of Madrid). We have created a LinkedIn showcase page inside Comsoc’s main page. We now have accounts in four social networks: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media is intended as an outlet for all Comsoc YP things by collaborating with other activities and engaging our members across the board. The aim is to keep our followers aware of ongoing activities in Comsoc YP. With this, members can directly participate if they find some content that can be of interest to be published on the social networks. For future plans, we aim at keeping things engaging and maybe think of new means to interact with our followers.
Stefano: Any more opportunities still open for 2021?
Shashank: Here are some of the opportunities available for the rest of 2021:
- We are looking for various volunteers to manage our communities on topics and events across the year. These exist over platforms such as slack but also across our events (virtual for now).
- We are looking for volunteers to interview communication experts. For this there is no need to have in-depth technical experience, but a basic understanding of Communication technologies is appreciated.
- We are looking for volunteers to help us organize events at various conferences (virtual and in-person).
- We are looking for volunteers to represent various geographic areas in our team such as North America.
You can find out more by visiting: https://yp.comsoc.org/volunteer/
Stefano: What are the specific needs of YPs that you have identified through these two years of service as YP Committee Chair?
Shashank: One of the major resources YPs need is opportunities to learn and highlight their skills. As an organization we need to provide more volunteer opportunities that fit the time schedule of a YP. Remember that most YPs change jobs and geographic areas a lot. We cannot expect them to stay committed to the same projects for a long time. We need to become flexible to adapt to their schedules and interests. Another key challenge is to provide a “front door” for interested YPs, where they can walk in and have a meaningful conversation with our leaders.
Stefano: Is it possible to join your efforts and contribute to the YP activities?