This is the third article in the series of eight, 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. In this series of articles, I introduce the Vice-President and six Directors on the Member and Global Activities Council (namely: Sister and Related Societies; Membership Services; AP, NA, LA, EMEA Regions) and the two Chairs of the Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) and Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committees. In each article, one by one they present their sector activities and plans.
In this issue, I interview Nury Gabriela Ramirez Cely, Director of the LA Region.
This opportunity is a big pleasure for me! I had the pleasure to appreciate the outstanding dedication of Nury to serve ComSoc many times already, beginning with her previous appointment as Chair of the IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Standing Committee. Besides all that, she is from Guadalajara, which is definitely one of the nicest places in Mexico (and home of the best quality Tequilas!). Last time I visited Guadalajara was two years ago for IEEE LATINCOM 2018, which was a very successful conference.
Nury currently works as a Software Project Manager for HCL in Guadalajara, Mexico. She has very broad experience in high technology companies, like Continental Automotive and Cisco Systems, and she worked for nine years at Intel Corporation as well, where shr held several Program Manager positions in R&D groups that have enriched her career. She was the Chair of ComSoc’s Young Professionals Committee from 2018 to 2019, the Chair of the IEEE Guadalajara Section (Mexico) from 2019 to 2020; and has held several positions in her young volunteer career at IEEE. Nury received her Bachelor in electronics and communications engineering from Ecuador and the Master’s in quality engineering and management from ITESO in Mexico.
Stefano: Hello Nury! Let us begin our interview by explaining the key points of the Latin America region of the IEEE Communications Society.
Nury: The Latin America (LA) region in ComSoc covers all countries in Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina, and the Caribbean Sea, namely Puerto Rico and Trinidad y Tobago islands. Latin America in ComSoc represents less than 5 percent of the whole membership. Despite that, we have 25 Chapters and 41 Student Branch Chapters, all extremely active.
One recent news item I would like to tell you about is we increased our membership 15 percent comparing December 2019 and December 2020. I would say this is a result of the quality and singularity of new activities we have offered.
Stefano: Would you like to mention any special initiative that you started in your term as Director?
Nury: I would tell you about two key initiatives: First, the ComSoc Latin American Board (LAB) launched in 2019 the IEEE ComSoc LA Monthly Newsletter. It has the same concept as the Global Communication Newsletter that you lead so well.
The LA Newsletter is managed by Andrea Carrion, our Newsletter coordinator. She manages to put together information about new Senior Members in the region, past activities highlights and incoming activities promotion. This has been a good way to get closer to our members and provide a channel for them to know more about the Society.
Second, the re-vitalized image of the ComSoc LA Region, by means of the social networks and web page. As you know, this is important specifically for our students and young professional members, as well as to gain more visibility outside of the IEEE community.
Stefano: What about the committee members working with you in the ComSoc LAB?
Nury: The ComSoc LAB is formed by a diverse and experienced group of eleven people that coordinate and support the different committees. They are:
Gidy Florez, Student Activities
Andres Navarro, Industry Relations
Yessica Sáez, Social Networks and Webpage
Fabricio Carvalho, DLT and DSP
Sandra Hidalgo, Membership Development
Héctor Poveda, Technical Activities
Esmeralda Asurza, Secretary
Fredy Campos, Volunteer Training
Andrea Carrion, Newsletter
Jose David Cely, Awards
Carlos Lozano, Advisor
We have developed strong confidence among us that has made easier the collaborative work.
Stefano: Can you mention any opportunities that ComSoc has in Latin America?
Nury: Being a community of 1,450 members up to this month, we have the potential for growth. We, as the other regions, have the challenge of increasing the value of benefits offered to industry professionals as well as increasing the members in this segment. One of the critical points that usually our members tell us about is the ComSoc membership fee; for some countries with high inflation rates, maintaining the Society affiliation becomes harder. Thus, it is crucial that we find new ways to increase the value of what we offer.
Stefano: What are the needs of members in Latin America, which you have identified through this first year as Director?
Nury: LA members have acknowledged that they want to be part of ComSoc because they want to remain current, obtain publications and have the opportunity of professional networking. In addition, they have stated that their preferred benefits are conferences, printed magazines, and online webinars. (2020 All Society Research survey results). Based on that, ComSoc LAB is fostering the organization of local conferences within each chapter Section, as well as strengthening IEEE LATINCOM, the ComSoc Latin American and Caribbean flagship conference that has improved year by year. We also plan to continue with the webinars opened to the whole professional community improving the quality of speakers and their topics.
Stefano: I am glad you mention LATINCOM, which has been consolidated as the reference conference on Communications in the whole LA Region, but also with significant global participation! I feel a special personal commitment with LATINCOM, as I have been working for this conference for the last 10 years and I am now the Steering Committee Chair, after the founder Nelson Fonseca. In your opinion, what is the significance of LATINCOM for LA ComSoc Members?
Nury: LATINCOM is gaining more relevance each year, being a reference for researchers and scientists in our region. As you say, with global participation in the organizing committee and keynotes presentations covering the most interesting topics in communications, it has attracted authors from different continents of the world. We have demonstrated our volunteer’s capability to organize an international and high-level impact Conference, according to the standards of IEEE ComSoc. Nevertheless, I envision a conference that attractS more Latin American and Caribbean authors to showcase the level of investigation and applications done here.
Talking about some highlights of last year´s conference, we were able to offer two main unprecedent advantages for the audience: first, a zero conference fee for ComSoc students; and second, a Hackathon as part of the conference program. This Hackathon called seven groups of students from LA that presented projects that tackle local communities’ problems with solutions based on telecommunication topic implementation. The awards were sponsored by the Membership development Support Grant from the IEEE Comsoc Member Services Board for the first three best projects.
Stefano: What other recent initiatives run by the ComSoc LAB would you like to highlight briefly?
Nury: Last year, we started a Webinars series, in conjunction with the support of the chapter chairs to find local speakers among their communities and not precisely IEEE ComSoc members. These webinars were offered every week, from April to September, at no cost to anyone, to deliver key information on application and research done in Latin America in several trending communications topics.
Stefano: Do you have any recent news you wish to share with the readers of GCN?
Nury: Yes. In the last quarter of 2020, we offered two key projects that were receive positively. One was the Industry–Students panel, with the intention of helping students understand the needs of the industry, receive valuable feedback, and adapt their projects accordingly. During this panel, the students presented their work to industry professionals or panelists by means of a teleconference, and the panelists judged the work based on industry interests, existing standards, and real needs of the market. The other project was the Student Paper competition, aimed to award the outstanding students’ work carried out at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. These were funded by ComSoc as an opportunistic situation, that ComSoc MGA will continue pursuing due to the great response from the members.