IEEE ComSoc Austin Chapter, USA: Winner of the 2017 IEEE ComSoc Chapter-of-the- Year Award and North-America Chapter Achievement Award

By Fawzi Behmann - Chair, IEEE ComSoc and Signal Processing Joint Chapter in Austin

Since our last CAA and CoY awards in 2015, The Austin Chapter strived to a greater level in serving our membership and the local community, and extending our reach within the region, to North America and, when opportunities opened, internationally.

Through focused vision, high energy and passion, the core team led by Fawzi Behmann exhibited high capacity in executing many activities and programs. Such efforts were not only recognized by the Society but also by the region where the Chapter Chair received an outstanding member Award for three consecutive years 2013-2014 and 2015.

Our core focus is fulfilling the mission of IEEE and tailoring it to the societies we are privileged to serve. The ComSoc Chapter had the opportunity as a joint chapter with the Signal Processing Chapter to bring intriguing topics and speakers to broaden the advancement in technology, research and use cases in different vertical markets.

In 2016, the ComSoc (Austin) chapter carried out core activities that included conducting 19 sessions (11 technical and eight non-technical/professional/administrative), capitalizing on the DLT/DSP program, engaging with student activities, reaching out to the community for membership development, participating and supporting technical events, and supporting one member to a senior level.

Among the interesting talks was one related to drones given by Robert Youens on the topic, “New FAA Drone Regulations.”

Among the Distinguished Lecturers we hosted were: Dr. Anthony Chan, Huawei, Dallas, TX; Prof. Riku Jäntti, Head of the Department of Communications and Networking at Aalto University, Finland; and Prof. Todd Humphreys, UT, Austin, TX.

The core value offering was enhanced by executing a number of steps:

  • Conducting feedback survey after ach session to capture attendees’ evaluation for improvement, suggestions for future topics and presenters, as well as other ideas such as volunteering to assist in support activities.
  • Conducting a leadership meeting for strategic planning and budgeting, setting the theme of the year and topics to be pursued, and assessing on a quarterly basis.
  • Conducting a year-end assessment of achievements and lessons learned.
  • Being creative and innovative in preparing personalized gifts (plaques with the speaker’s name, title and date) for speakers as a token of appreciation of their time and efforts and sharing their experience.
  • Having introductory slides that were presented at the beginning of each session promoting the IEEE brand, membership, most recent news and important chapter activities.
  • Continuing to build the relationship with AT&T as the facility sponsor and ensuring that acknowledgments are made every time we hold the meeting at their facilities.
  • Reaching out and collaborating with other Chapters, including the Computer Society, EMBS, Consulting Networks, and others.
  • Preparing a process for re-election, sending information to members, and tabulating and announcing the results.

We have taken a proactive approach in managing Chapter activities on a quarterly basis. This approach helped define tangible steps in subsequent quarters to plan more events and attract higher attendance. As the subjects change, we see many new faces, helping us to ensure that the message is reaching a wider audience.

The Austin Communications Chapter sponsored, supported and participated in several local events and activities. Some examples include IEEE/NI 5G Day (August 3), NI Week (August 1-4), IEEE N3XT (September 17), and the Texas Wireless Summit (October 18).

Fawzi Behmann, Chapter Chair, participated at the R5 annual meeting and received the Outstanding Member Award at the banquet. He also supported the NA ComSoc region as a board member and vice chair in the planning, coordination and execution of the RCCC Regional Chapter Chair Conference held in December 2016 in Washington. Behmann also made a presentation at the RCCC as an exemplary Chapter with best practices.

The Chapter reached out and supported the student community by being part of the Advisory Board for the Westwood High School Ambassador Academy for Health and Science. The Chapter invitated students and teachers to the Chapter meeting. The Chapter also extended support to Texas State University by participating in Senior Design Day, when senior students demonstrated their projects. During lunch, Behmann was a keynote speaker for the event.