Young Professionals Find Their Technical Haven within ComSoc: Interview with Lola Awoniyi-Oteri, Chair of the ComSoc YP Committee

By Lola Awoniyi-Oteri - Chair of the YP Committee and Stefano Bregni - Vice-President for Member and Global Activities

This is the seventh article in the series started in November 2016 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 six MGA Directors (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 Dr. Lola Awoniyi- Oteri, Chair of the IEEE ComSoc Committee on Young Professionals (YP).

Lola is currently a Senior Staff Systems R&D Engineer within Qualcomm Research, where she conducts research in particular on cellular and satellite networks and on 802.x LANs. Her primary focus is on mobile network and device enhancements for improving connectivity performance, reducing network and device power consumption, and enhancing user experience. Prior to joining Qualcomm, she worked at Texas Instruments (TI) developing chipsets for cellular handsets. At Qualcomm and TI, she has also worked on 3GPP standardization activities for HSPA and LTE technologies. Lola received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She is also the author/co-author of 28 U.S. approved patents and 21 U.S. patent pending applications.

It is my pleasure to interview Lola and offer her the opportunity to outline her initiatives and plans about ComSoc Young Professionals.

Bregni: Hello Lola! Welcome to the Global Communications Newsletter. Would you please introduce the IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Committee to our readers? What are its structure and mission?

Awoniyi-Oteri: The IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Committee is made up of a technically and geographically diverse team who are committed to providing a “technical haven” within the IEEE community for the graduating ComSoc student transitioning into the larger ComSoc community, or the budding communication professional in their early to mid-career seeking avenues for technical and professional development. IEEE Com- Soc Young Professionals are members of IEEE ComSoc and the IEEE Young Professionals network.

For those not familiar with the IEEE Young Professionals group, formerly known as Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD), the group’s charter is to foster the professional development of its members and enable them to build global professional networks. It comprises members and volunteers within IEEE who are at most 15 years out from their first technical/professional degree, which could be a bachelors or an associate degree in electrical engineering or a related field. It is also possible for others who do not meet the criteria to “opt-in” to the IEEE Young Professionals membership. Currently, IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals make up about 5 percent of the entire IEEE Young Professionals membership.

Bregni: Very good. And what are the main activities currently ongoing in the YP Committee?

Awoniyi-Oteri: Given the IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Committee’s charter, many of our activities and programs are geared toward providing opportunities for the technical and professional development of our members. Some of these activities and programs include:

  • Organizing meetups at IEEE ComSoc flagship conferences.
  • Recognizing outstanding IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals through award presentations.
  • Providing networking and mentoring resources.
  • Providing access to IEEE ComSoc and IEEE Young Professionals publications and opportunities to publish in these publications.
  • Providing access to workshops, webinars, and continuing education resources.

Bregni: What are the most important events organized by the YP Committee?

Awoniyi-Oteri: Our signature events are ComSoc Young Professional events hosted at ComSoc conferences such as GLOBECOM, ICC, WCNC, and GREENCOM. These events feature panel discussions, award ceremonies, lightning talk competitions, and networking receptions. The attendees are typically IEEE Com- Soc Young Professionals, other ComSoc members, Young Professionals from other societies, and corporate sponsors. Due to the growing popularity of these events, we have seen a significant uptick in attendance and participation from IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals in the past year.

We have received extremely positive feedback from the attendees of the panel discussions. The panels involve interactive sessions with seasoned communication veterans, such as accomplished experts from academia and industry leaders, and discussions of technical and career-related issues and challenges that are of interest to ComSoc Young Professionals. Some of the panel discussions held at past events addressed topics such as “Trends in the communications field and how ComSoc Young Professionals can position themselves to stay relevant,” while other panel discussions delved into the technical details of “Hot topics in communications” such as 5G and IoT.

Bregni: Would you mention any other significant initiatives and meetings organized by the YP Committee?

Awoniyi-Oteri: Other event features worth noting include award ceremonies that provide an avenue for recognizing outstanding members by presenting them with awards such as the “The Best IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals” awards in Academia, Industry and the Startup Community, the “IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Best Paper” and the “IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Best Innovation” awards. These awards serve the dual purpose of rewarding members who are making outstanding contributions as well as inspiring our membership to greater achievements. The criteria for these awards are typically the distinguished technical accomplishments and volunteering activities of the recipients.

Some of these events also include thematic networking receptions where academia and industry domain experts in various areas of communications such as 5G, IoT, and smart energy are stationed throughout the reception floor to facilitate discussions related to the latest technologies in the field. Networking based on areas of interest makes it easy to form connections with people of similar technical interests, and some of these interactions have led to technical collaborations and the formation of mentoring relationships.

Bregni: Are those meetings well attended? They are organized in conjunction with major ComSoc conferences, which are organized rotating among all Regions.

Awoniyi-Oteri: While our signature events at conferences have been very successful, we are aware that a significant population of our demographics may not be able to attend these conferences. Therefore, we have a renewed focus going forward to host local and regional events such as workshops, lecture series and meetups. Our regionally diverse IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals Committee is excited about driving these efforts in their various regions and sections.

Bregni: Is it possible for more ComSoc members to be involved in the various activities organized by the YP Committee?

Awoniyi-Oteri: It is worth highlighting that in addition to our conference events, there are numerous volunteering opportunities for ComSoc Young Professionals interested in serving on ComSoc technical committees, conference organizing committees, and organization committees for webinars, workshops, lecture series, paper competitions, ComSoc Young Professionals meetups, etc.

These opportunities serve not only as laboratories to polish professional and technical skills, but also a means of increasing peer recognition. Therefore, we encourage ComSoc Young Professionals to take advantage of these opportunities.

For more infofmation about IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals, visit our website ( and Facebook page (