WICE Workshop at ICC 2018: Promoting the Visibility and Roles of Women Communications Engineers

By Ana Garcia Armada - Chair of the WICE Committee, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain, Baek-Young Choi - University of Missouri-Kansas City, USA, Dola Saha - University at Albany, SUNY, USA and Michele Nogueira - Federal University of Parana, Brazil

WICE represents the IEEE ComSoc Women in Communications Engineering Standing Committee, whose mission is promoting the visibility and roles of women communications engineers, as well as providing a venue for their professional growth. N2Women (Networking Networking Women) is a discipline-specific community of researchers in the fields of networking and communications. WICE and N2Women jointly organized a workshop at the 2018 IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC), which was held in Kansas City, MO, USA on Sunday, 20 May, 2018.

Some of the Mentors introducing themselves.

The workshop aimed to foster connections among women and researchers from under represented groups and minorities in communications, computer networking and related research fields.

The program featured keynotes, a panel, mentoring activities and student presentations and posters in a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere where professional and technical discussions were mixed with personal experience details and advice to the young engineers.

Innovation and Research in Wireless

The keynote speakers were Vanitha Kumar, Vice President- Software Engineering, Qualcomm Technologies Incorporated, and Monisha Ghosh, Program Director, NSF.

Ms. Kumar, with her talk about the “Road to the Innovation Super Highway,” showed that the mobile platform has transformed the world and changed our lives far beyond what anyone could have imagined in the past decade. With the advent of 5G, we are about to see another new wave of possibilities to an even more connected world. This promises to not only make our lives more efficient, but will also open doors for technological innovations from a new pool of creators, thinkers, makers and doers who may not be in a traditional technology domain. She discussed with the audience how the new wave of mobile revolution will achieve this and how the engineers of today can be better prepared to travel on this innovation super highway.

Ms. Gosh addressed “What’s Next for Wireless Networking Research,” highlighting that wireless networking has made unprecedented advances in the past decade, with fundamental contributions from both academia and industry. The National Science Foundation has played a pivotal role from the very beginning in nurturing research ideas from conception to reality. She shared her point of view about new initiatives that will fuel the next generation of advances in wireless networking.

Both speakers agreed that “there is no better time to be in technology than now.”

Group picture of WICE meeting at ICC 2018.

Hard Working and Excellent Engineers and Researchers

A lively panel was held discussing “In the crowd of hard-working and excellent researchers: what can we do to stand out.” The topic was developed by the following panelists: Elisa Bertino (Purdue University), My Thai (University of Florida), Vanitha Kumar (Qualcomm), Victor Frost (University of Kansas), and Teresa Kellett (Google), who shared their experience in a very interactive session.

The importance of impactful research, to select where you publish, build a community, and follow trends, was emphasized, as well as having a good mentor and building confidence in yourself. The attendees were encouraged to have passion for what they are doing.

Mentoring and Student Presentations

We held multiple parallel mentoring sessions organized by Angela Sara Cacciapuoti and led by the following experienced personnel from industry and academia:

  • Vladimir Barash (Graphika, Inc)
  • Michelle Zhu (Montclair State University)
  • Anu Mercian (Hewlett Packard Enterprise)
  • Ali Imran (University of Oklahoma)
  • Teresa Kellett (Google)
  • Amardeep Kaur (Missouri University of Science & Technology)
  • Fengjun Li (University of Kansas)
  • Kira Theuer (National Instruments)
Students presenting their research.

The students had the chance to briefly introduce their research topics and then in an interactive poster session discuss the details. They covered a very wide spectrum of topics on video caching, security, vehicular networks, HetNets, content distribution, network slicing, WSNs, image retrieval, data routing, mmWave, VLC, mu-MIMO, channel modeling, and bacterial communications, to name a few, with all being very timely and relevant.

Concluding Remarks

The presenters reported that it was a satisfying experience for them and they enjoyed being able to connect with the next generation of researchers, especially women and minorities, and share some of their experience with them. Some presenters also highlighted that they liked this workshop with a very high attendance rate where people shared their experience of career development and also their personal life.

Interactive poster session.

Some comments from the students were, “The workshop is amazing, and the organization was great. I could not have a better experience,” and “The moments in which we interact with other people at the workshop are the best, so activities like this should continue and maybe have more. For us students, it provided a professional vision that we did not have.”

We would like to acknowledge the support from IEEE Comsoc, WICE, N2Women, CRA-W and NSF. This was a wonderful event and the experience will allow us to improve in the future. Get ready for more at future major ComSoc conferences!