Questions to candidates to Director Elect
During the last Region 8 Committee meeting in Athens, chairs of the 57 Sections that form Region 8 had the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates for 2019-2020 Director-Elect. In order to reach all members, I would like to share with you the questions and my answers to them. Please feel free to contact me for more questions or clarifications on these ones.
What are your plans to reinstate the IEEE Syria Section and how to support the former members?
Currently Syria is under sanction by the US OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) which makes it difficult to have a Section or other official unit there. Our options are limited then. What we can do from the Region is to support members (or former members) in keeping activities and allowing them to participate in IEEE even when they are not official members.
For example, I organized a conference in my city 3 years ago and I remember we supported travel to several Syrian authors using scholarships and travel grants. This type of support can serve members in Syria (at least at a minimum level) until the sanctions are lift.
What can we do to make R8 Meetings more effective? Do we really need two times two days per year?
I think one of the strengths of IEEE is networking. Therefore having Section chairs together, learning from each other and being aware of what is happening at IEEE at all levels is a wonderful opportunity as long as we can afford it. After all, Section chairs are the link between the organization and its members.
On the other hand, it is true that it takes a significant time to travel here, spend two days and go back. We tried different approaches in the last R8 meeting and feedback was positive. We will keep improving the effectiveness of these events.
I would also like to give back more decision to the committee, which is composed by the Section chairs, so that they can review what the subcommittees are doing. Subcommittees focus on specific activities and in my opinion they should directly report to R8 Committee. I foresee that most programs, activities, budgets, etc. be submitted to the R8 Committee in advance and discussed here, ideas exchanged, and eventually approved.
Will it be a possibility to bring one of R8 meetings to Africa?
Definitely! There are many places in Africa which would be excellent R8 hosts. The main concern is the cost of travel, but this could be offset by the savings in local expenses if we can find a place cheap enough. Very often Sections volunteer to host R8 meetings, and I think it would be good that one proposal coming from Africa could be financially and logistically viable.
This year we had an MD Workshop in South Africa, with help from the AAHC. Quite a success in terms of organization and attendance. A similar model could be explored.
Now that MGA is not absorbing TCS fees anymore and they are passing them to Geo OUs or conferences, should the allocation of Xplore revenue change?
Xplore downloads are an important source of revenue for IEEE. The current algorithm distributes this revenue among different OUs (mainly Societies, WIE, IEEE-USA,… and of course MGA, where Sections are located). There is also a cost of processing conferences, which Societies pay or pass to conferences at their choice, and now GeoUnits can do the same. I think it is fair to treat GeoUnits the same way as Societies and distribute the appropriate share of the revenue to them. At the same time, we would need to strengthen the quality control to make sure that the technical content meets the standards and no TCS conferences are added just for the money.
Concretely, how you are going to help African countries to become more involved within IEEE, to support IEEE activities, and to create their IEEE sections? Currently, only 9 sections + 4 subsections in Africa; that means 40 countries are missing!
There are many countries without Section in Africa indeed. But it is also true that there are few members in these countries and perhaps we should wait until membership grows instead of creating units that will die soon for lack of activity. In the meantime there are other structures that can be used to support African members. Maybe we can start with Sections that span several countries and will be divided in the future.
But Sections are not the only way of providing activities. Many Societies are having Africa initiatives and are organizing activities and programs in the continent (I can think now of PES, Communications, Computer and many others). Region 8 should partner with them to benefit current and potential members in Africa. Other IEEE areas that can have a great impact in Africa are SIGHT (Special Interest Groups on Humanitarian Technology), Standards, or Publications. The Region should cooperate with all them until critical mass is reached to create Sections.