IEEE Malaysia ComSoc/VTS Joint Chapter: 2021: The Year of Online Activities

By Mohamad Yusoff Alias - Chair of the IEEE Malaysia ComSoc/ VTS Joint Chapter

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, a lot of the activities that were normally held physically have to be converted to online activities instead due to movement restriction order. By 2021, online activities have become a norm and the pandemic did not stop the chapter from continuing to organize activities that were beneficial to the members and to the community in general. Throughout 2021, IEEE Malaysia ComSoc/VTS Joint Chapter was able to organize a total of 131 activities that include 23 administrative and strategic meetings, 10 membership development programs, 84 technical activities, 10 educational activities, 1 humanitarian/social activities and 3 conferences.

The year started with the 22nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was held virtually on 6th February 2022 via Google Meet. The meeting was attended by 48 members. This was then followed by the Mini Leadership Camp (MLC) which was held on 9th and 10th of April 2021 as a preparation for activities to be conducted for the rest of the year.

The most significant activities that were conducted in 2021 were the technical activities. There was a total of 84 activities conducted throughout the year as compared to only 24 the year before. Among the main highlight was the technical forum entitled “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Challenging Times” which was held on 5th July 2021. The forum panelist featured three well-known speakers in Mr. Imri Mohktar, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Telekom Malaysia, which is the biggest telecommunication provider in Malaysia, Dr. Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek, Chairman of Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which is the main regulatory body in Malaysia and Prof. Dr. Hafizal Mohamad, a well-known researcher and IEEE member from Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM). The forum was moderated by Prof. Dr. Borhanuddin Ali, who is one of the most outstanding volunteers for IEEE ComSoc in Region 10. The event has garnered more than 1000 viewers when it broadcasted on Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

Poster for the technical forum entitled “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Challenging Times which was held on 5th July 2021.

2021 also saw the introduction of some new activities that have never been introduced before. The first one is the “Let’s Collaborate” program which aims at introducing research centers and their activities, members, and projects to the public. In 2021, three research centers related to three different universities namely Center for Wireless Technology (CWT), Multimedia University, Wireless and Photonic Network (WiPNET), Universiti Putra Malaysia and Centre for Communication Systems and Networks (CCSN), Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) were involved in the program on 5th August, 8th September and 21st October, respectively.

Another new activity that was introduced was the Tech “Tarik” Session which is a technical sharing session on current topics that might be an interest to the members and the public in general. The first of such session was the “Quantum-assisted Communications” by Prof. Dr. Soon Xin Ng (Michael) from the University of Southampton on 16th August. Then, there was a session on “3G Sunsetting: The dusk of a Mobile Technology” by Dr. Ahmad Nasruddin ‘Atiqullah Fakrullah, Senior Director, Next Generation Technology and Standards Division, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) on 15th September.

In 2021 as well, our chapter has organized for the first time ever the inaugural National Colloquium on Internet of Things (NCIoT) on 25th and 26th October 2021. The aim of the colloquium was to look into the current research and applications in Malaysia. NCIoT managed to attract more than 50 participants especially students who were eager to listen to some of the experts in IoT in Malaysia. The program included one keynote address, two hands-on workshop, one industrial forum and four technical talks.

Apart from NCIoT, the chapter also organized two flagship conferences namely the 26th IEEE Asia-Pacific Conference on Communications (APCC) from 10th to 13th October 2021 and the 15th IEEE Malaysia International Conference on Communications (MICC) on 1st and 2nd December 2021. Aside from that, there is also one technically co-sponsored conference which is the 7th International Conference on Space Science and Communication (IconSpace2021). For APCC, there were 5 tutorials sessions on the latest topics and 7 keynote speakers by world renown speakers. On the other hand, for MICC, there were 3 tutorial sessions, 3 keynote speakers and one industrial forum.

Overall, 2021 has seen a great jump in online activities and people have started to adapt to such mode of delivery. Online activities can bring quite a number of advantages on its own such as easier to get speakers from outside of Malaysia since there is no need for travelling, the advantage of having both live and recorded sessions for those who were not able to attend and giving opportunities for people to join the session despite their tight schedules. On the other hand, there were some disadvantages as well such as lack of focus and interaction by audiences, technical difficulties due to connectivity issues, as well as lack of in person demonstrations. It is hope that in 2022 the situation will become better for in-person activities or at least as hybrid mode.