North Jersey ComSoc Chapter's Virtual Year

By Amit Patel - IEEE North Jersey Section ComSoc Chapter Chair, USA

2021 was a rather virtual one for the North Jersey ComSoc chapter (USA). The year actually happened, and many activities were coordinated and executed, so in that sense, the year was very much a real one. But all the events for the year happened using everyone’s favorite online tool, Zoom, for hosting the seminars and symposium. Planning for joint seminars and Distinguished Lecturers resulted in a handful of speakers and dates being set. Then began the work of making them happen.

This year saw a return to many more seminars as the easiest, preferred online format. Speakers from many distant institutions were invited to deliver virtual talks to chapter members. This was a way to bring some new information and learning opportunities while still maintaining a sense of continuity using regularly planned talks. This year also saw many more co-sponsored events with local section chapters and other ComSoc chapters in neighboring sections.

The year started fast with four seminars. First was on Saturday, March 20, 2021, with ComSoc Distinguished Lecturer Mr. Fawzi Behmann, President, TelNet Management Consulting Inc. He spoke on the topic “During Covid-19 How Can Technology Help” (event details: Next was “Extreme IoT: Wireless & Sensor Technologies for Oceans, Health, and Robotics” by Dr. Fadel Adib on Monday, March 22, 2021 (event details: The third was “Spectrum Situational Awareness through Distributed RF Sensing” by Dr. Andrew Portune, Senior Research Scientist, Perspecta Labs on April 8, 2021 (event details: Last was another IEEE Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Shiwen Mao, who gave a talk on “RFID for Human Activity Sensing: Challenges, Solutions and Applications” on May 2, 2021 (event details:

The chapter’s flagship workshop was the ninth annual Advanced Communication Symposium. Normally, it is a live in-person event hosted at the Babbio Center, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, on a fall Saturday in conjunction with a student poster competition. This year was a Zoom event, hosting just seminar speakers with no student paper competition on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The symposium consisted of four keynotes and offered CEU credits to interested attendees. The symposium was well attended with a peak close to 50 attendees, speakers, and volunteers from the New York/New Jersey metro-area.

The program ran from 1 to 5 p.m. with welcome remarks given by Symposium Chair Dr. Adriaan van Wijngaarden, Nokia Bell Labs, and acknowledgments and thanks to the many technical and financial supporters were given by Mr. Amit Patel, IEEE North Jersey Section ComSoc Chapter Chair. Symposium Program Chair and Stevens Professor, Dr. Yu-Dong Yao delivered opening remarks remotely from China. Additional co-sponsors for the event included IEEE North Jersey Section, ComSoc Chapter (which had received additional financial support from the IEEE Communications Society), and its Information Theory, Vehicular Technology, Computer, AP/MTT Chapters, and METSAC.

Dr. Yao then gave program remarks and introduced this year’s theme of “Deep Reinforcement Learning.” The program began with Prof. Toby D Hocking, Northern Arizona University, USA giving the first lecture on “Functional Pruning for Fast Learning Algorithms in Optimal Change Point Detection.” This was followed by Prof. Yiyu Shi, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA on “Hardware/Software Co-Design of Deep Learning Accelerators.” The program continued with “Some New Results on Federated Learning” by Prof. Pramod Varshney, Syracuse University, New York, USA. This was followed by a lecture on “Learning-Based Strategies in Aerial Networks with UAVs” by Prof. M. Cenk Gursoy, Syracuse University. Abstract summaries and speaker biographies for all presentations can be found at

In his closing remarks, Dr. van Wijngaarden thanked Stevens Institute of Technology for hosting the symposium virtually. Additional thanks went to all co-organizers and volunteers for their hard work that made the symposium a success, including Michael Newell, Registration Chair and Bennet Meyer, CEU coordinator. Please contact the organizing committee or volunteers for any additional follow-up questions or feedback on the event.

The year then closed on a strong note with two additional virtual talks. A presentation on “Connecting Space Assets to the Internet: Challenges and Solutions,” by Prof. Mohammed Atiquzzaman on Friday October 29, 2021 (event details: The last was on Tuesday November 30, 2021, on “Algorithm and Hardware Co-Design for Energy-Efficient Deep Learning” by Dr. Bo Yuan, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rutgers University (event details:

Even though there were no opportunities to meet in person and conduct in-person events, a robust slate of virtual talks can be planned and coordinated with a number of different chapters and sections. This is a one sure way to keep a chapter fresh and participating in value added events that members can enjoy. It is unclear what 2022 will be like and what the year ahead will bring, but regular virtual seminars is something that can work for any section.