Two Very Different North Jersey ComSoc Events Held in 2020

By Amit Patel - IEEE North Jersey Section ComSoc Chapter Chair

This article is a tale of how the North Jersey Section ComSoc chapter (New Jersey, USA) held two very different workshops in 2020. The pandemic caused the chapter to pivot to a new approach for its annual IEEE North Jersey Advanced Communications Symposium (NJACS) on September 12, 2020. Like so many other chapters, the traditional in-person events had to change to online substitutes. The year started out with normal seminar, workshop and distinguished lecturer planning. The chapter even held an in-person Embedded Microcontrollers training event in February. But things quickly changed in March and all activity halted for a short time until there was better understanding of how to do online events.

Our first big workshop of the year started planning in mid-to-late 2019 and was held on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ. The topic was an “Introduction to Embedded Systems Using ARM Microcontrollers” ( It was co-sponsored by the Controls Society Chapter and Young Professionals Affinity Group. The workshop was a hands-on event with microcontroller kits ordered for each registrant. Two instructors lectured and guided each participant with how to use tools to develop software and interface external peripherals, controllers, and circuits. It was an intensive and practical workshop in embedded systems, designed for electronics engineers, software engineers, and other technical professionals.

The basic end-to-end process of designing an embedded system, from components to working software and the skills to troubleshoot an embedded processor, were demonstrated. Participants enjoyed lunch at the event and took home the embedded ARM microcontroller kits and instructional workbooks from the event to continue further learning at home. A YouTube video from the class is shown here:

The chapter’s second big workshop was the eighth annual Advanced Communication Symposium. Normally, it is a live in-person event hosted at the Babbio Center, Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, NJ, on a fall Saturday in conjunction with a student poster competition. This year, those plans had to change to a Zoom event hosting just seminar speakers. The student paper competition could not be held due to the logistics of collecting submissions, doing presentations and judging. The symposium consisted of four keynotes. The symposium was well attended with close to 70 attendees, speakers, and volunteers from the NY/NJ metro-area.

The program ran from 1pm to 5pm with welcome remarks given by Symposium Chair Dr. Adriaan van Wijngaarden, Nokia Bell Labs. 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. Additional co-sponsors for the event included the IEEE North Jersey Section, ComSoc Chapter (which had received additional financial support from the IEEE Communications Society), and its Information Theory, Vehicular Technology, Computer Chapters and METSAC.

Slide from Prof Liu’s talk on Adversarial Machine Learning.

Dr. Yao then gave program remarks and introduced this year’s theme of “AI and Deep Learning.” The program began with Prof. George Sklivanitis, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, giving the first lecture on “Autonomous Space-Time Waveform Design for Controlled-Interference Spectrum Coexistence.” This was followed by Prof. Huaxia Wang, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, on “Exploring Artificial Intelligence in Wireless Communications and Internet-of-Things Applications.” The program continued with “Practical Adversarial Machine Learning Attacks Against Voice-controllable Systems” by Prof. Jian Liu, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. This was followed by a lecture on “Deep Learning for MIMO Systems in 5G and Beyond: Enabling Mobility and Enhancing Reliability” by Prof. Ahmed Alkhateeb, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. 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.