IEEE ComSoc Central Texas - Austin Chapter, USA Winner of the 2021 Chapter Achievement Award

By Fawzi Behman - Central Texas Austin Chapter Chair, USA

On behalf of the Austin Chapter leadership team and members we express our deep appreciation for ComSoc awarding the Austin Chapter for 2021 North America Region (R1-7) Chapter Achievement Award.

We are also pleased to report that Austin Chapter has received Regional Chapter Achievement Award (CAA) and Chapter of the Year Award (CoY) for the years 2015, 2017 and 2020.

I’d like to share some of the factors that helped us to serve the member and community at large.

Contribution to IEEE ComSoc Chapter

One simple principal we have used consistently is to set clear vision, theme and direction at the beginning of each year. It has been important to collect feedback after each meeting assessing the usefulness, quality of the topic and delivery for each session. We also ask for suggestions for future topical areas and suggested speakers. This input enable the chapter officers to build a particular theme for each year and build pipeline foe topics and speakers and other areas that build a strong dialogue and network among members.

Secondly, we are proud that our chapter has expanded to be a joint chapter with Signal Processing and Consumer Technology and that open the diversity of the topical areas and applications.

Typically, we meet at least monthly at AT&T Labs in Austin where AT&T has been a great supporter to IEEE and the host/sponsor to our meetings for many years. This relationship has grown over the years and provided a relaxed environment for meeting and networking opportunities.

We learned to be flexible and adaptable to changes. This was evident when COVID-19 came and disrupted our normal practices that we ended up not able to assemble physically. But quickly we resorted to virtual connection, expand the coverage and opportunity to connect with local communities and collaborate around interesting topics.

The joint chapter executive team organized a planning meeting at the beginning of the year, and established the theme and key objectives of the year “Disruptive technologies and impact in key markets.”

The Austin ComSoc (joint with Signal Processing and Consumer Technology) conducted 33 meetings: 3-Adminstrative, 2-professional and 28-Technical meetings. Among the key technical topics: SDN/NFV and 5G, Elastic Optical Networks, AI and Mobile Edge Computing, Smart Cities/Societies, Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces, 5G/6G Security, Deep Learning in Computer Vision, IoT Collaborative Technologies and others. The vast majority of the technical virtual meetings leveraged the Distinguished Lecture Program introduced by ComSoc.

Among the services offered to members include promoting membership development & benefits and member elevation. Implemented student outreach program at Texas State for hands-on IoT outreach project. The project consisted of 4 student team, lecturer, faculty advisor and IEEE host. The project demo was part of senior design day.

Contribution to IEEE NAB and ComSoc

The chapter chair had opportunity being North America Regional Director to share some of the best practices inspiring the other 94 chapter chairs in R1-R7 serving close to 10,000 members. Among the examples: Introduced chapter vitality with 12 quarterly check list, and encouraged collaboration among chapters leveraging the new Virtual Distinguished Lecture (VDL) Program. Proposed and implemented ‘membership development of 3-minute promotion prior to the Q&A segment VDL session promoting membership benefits.

Leveraged chapter survey for Austin and expand and collected valuable data that helped build agenda for the RCCC program for the region.

As chapter chair, NA regional director and member of the BoG, extended reach to support other regions by help defining strategy and framework to transform the DLT/DSP program to a virtual format across the 10 regions. Collaborated with ComSoc and defined the implementation process, operational procedures and training. Initially, 29 DLs and 62 chapters participated in the VDL program. Later it was expanded to include 51 DLs and all the 216 chapter chairs.

Section & Regional Support

As a chapter chair reported chapter activities twice a year at CTS Section ExCom & Secom. Participated at the section ExCom monthly call serving as past section chair, conference & professional activities chair. Attended Regional ExCom as past R5 Conference committee chair. Defined several initiatives for Outreach student competition projects, increase Industry outreach and collaborated with ComSoc marketing for website support.

Other IEEE Outreach Experience

As chapter chair and general chair of WCNC 2022 that will be held in Austin, build Organizing committee based on qualified resources from Austin and field of expertise from other regions. For example, the local arrangement co-chairs, and operations co-chairs, Finance and some TPC chairs and industry program are local.

This helped expand and connect with individuals from other regions to form a cohesive OC committee.

As a distinguished Lecturer, reached out and spoke to many IEEE communities in 2020 in Kenya, Estonia, WF 5G (India), Ecuador, Trois Reverie/Quebec, Windsor, Seattle, Vancouver, Victoria, and others. As a distinguished speaker delivered virtual talk to the Maine section on AI and Blockchain.

ComSoc-Consumer Technology support at ICCE, Jan 2020.

ComSoc Austin participation in Univ. Maine Virtual Panel on AI - Nov. 2020

Among other initiatives: Supported IEEE INGR 2020 – Future Networking Roadmap in two working areas: Security and Applications & Services. Co-chaired 2020 WF 5G, sand made two presentations on IoT/AI/5G and Smart Cities.

Community Outreach Initiatives

As a part of community outreach held a special talk to members of the Texas Mackintosh user group, and provided services to Round Rock School District STEM Program. Collaborated with Intelligent Health Association and participated in a couple of panels at HTLH virtual conference and TechAfrica virtual conference.

Awards & Recognitions

The chapter and leadership were recognized for their roles and contributions to the members, section and region.

  • IEEE Central Texas Section – Appreciation Award – Visionary leadership section chair 2018-2019

  • IEEE USA Regional Professional Leadership Award for 2017

  • IEEE Communications Society – 2015, 2017, 2020 Central Texas (Austin) Global Chapter-of-the-Year Award (212 Chapters)

  • IEEE Communications Society – 2015, 2017, 2020 Central Texas (Austin) NA Chapter Achievement Award (92 Chapters)

  • IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Member Award for 2013, 2014 and 2015

In summary, we are proud for the outstanding and passionate services that Austin chapter has provided to members, grow membership, collaborate with the section and region, maximize the benefits of ComSoc Virtual Distinguished Lecture Program, became the core entity organizing and executing WCNC 2022 conference collaborating with the regions worldwide.