It is an enormous responsibility and at the same time a great privilege to serve the IEEE Circuit and Systems Society (CASS) as President for the next two years. As I write these lines, my first thoughts go to the Presidents who preceded me and with whom I have had the honor to work. Thanks to their strategic guidance and dedication, CASS is a respected and technically vibrant professional society, and I will strive to build upon their drives and enrich the quality of services offered to our members. Profs. Franco Maloberti, Yong Lian and Amara Amara; thank you very much.
I would also like to thank in advance the support and commitment of the volunteers who will serve in the different positions of the CASS organizational chart during my term as President. I aspire to maintain an open, serene, and conversational environment with all of them as this is the only way to move well-coordinated and fruitful initiatives forward. Special mention deserves the members of the CASS Executive Committee (Ex-Com) team who will be my closest collaborators. Prof. Myung Hoon Sunwoo will serve as President-Elect after a successful four-years period as Vice President (VP) of Conferences. Profs. Mohamad Sawan and Guoxing Wang will continue at the day-to-day helm of the Publications and Finance Divisions, respectively, during 2022. This year, three new Vice Presidents will be in charge of the Conference, Regional Activity and Membership, and Technical Activities Divisions. They are Prof. Andrei Vladimirescu (replacing Prof. Myung Hoon Sunwoo), Prof. Kea-Tiong Tang (replacing Prof. Yoshifumi Nishio), and Prof. Xinmiao Zhang (replacing Dr. Yen-Kuang Chen), respectively. The new Ex-Com members have been deeply involved in the Society governance from their roles in the CASS Board of Governors (BoG), and mechanisms have been established to avoid any service gap during the transition. Herein, I would like to express my gratitude and recognition to the outgoing VPs for their outstanding service to the Society, and my complete confidence on the new team with whom and I am fully convinced we will be able to elevate the Society to next level.
As President, I will endeavor to preserve and enhance, whenever possible, the initiatives put forward in recent years by my predecessors. Such initiatives have contributed to emphasize the multidisciplinary feature of CASS (for instance, with the creation of Special Interest Groups), to promote research in emerging topics (for instance, with the launch of CASS Competitions on Emerging and Selected Topics), to facilitate industry and academia collaboration (for instance, with the implementation of CASS Industry Forums), to make available continuous education programs (for instance, with the creation of the CASS Resource Center), or to expand our regional activities (for instance, with the Initiative for Africa). All these initiatives have proven themselves as excellent tools to create value for our members and strengthen the technical leadership of our Society; objectives which, as could not be otherwise, I will assume for the next two years.
Additionally, there are two main statements on which my government plan will be based. On the one hand, CASS should serve and recognize its members, no matter the CAS technical topic in which they are active, and provide the best career guidance and continuing education services, especially for students and young professionals. On the other, CASS should adhere to the 2020-24 CASS strategic Plan and foster technological innovation and excellence in fundamentals, emerging directions and application of circuits and systems, taking advantage of the unique multidisciplinary basis of our Society. These statements will be articulated through, but not limited to, the following actions.
CASS in IEEE
The CAS Society should react rapidly to the strategic plans approved by IEEE and stay alert to the experiences and proposals arising from other societies in order to remain at the front line in development efforts. Furthermore, CASS should work proactively on identifying collaborative scenarios with our sister societies and councils and, consider the launching of co-sponsored publications or conferences if they can entail evident benefits to our members. Among other potential options, I want to explore the possibility and, eventually take steps, to create an open-access journal on AI Hardware (different to other IEEE publication venues more focused on signal processing, computing or communications) or participate in the IEEE Quantum Future Directions Initiative.
Diversity and Inclusion
The IEEE Strategic Plan 2020-25 states that “IEEE will foster a collaborative environment that is open, inclusive, and free of bias and will continue to sustain the strength, reach, and vitality of our organization for future generations”. CASS cannot be left out of this directive. On the contrary, geographic or gender issues (or, in general, any minority group aspect) should never be an obstacle in CASS for engagement and personal development. For this reason, we will create a Standing Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Ethics by extending the responsibilities of the WiCAS-YP Steering Committee. The new Committee will act as a liaison with the IEEE Diversity and Inclusion Committee and will be responsible to promote an inclusive and equitable culture inside CASS.
Education and Communications
Education and communications services are gaining increasing relevance in CASS and the launch of a CASS Office to coordinate efforts is becoming essential (currently both activities are handled by two ad-hoc committees). Based on this, an Education and Communications Division will be created. The responsibilities of the Division will be twofold. On the one hand, to foster, coordinate, supervise, develop and maintain the Society’s programs on continuing education and training. And, on the other, to initiate, assess, and oversee the Society online content and establish the communication channels required to enhance the CASS image and guarantee the usefulness, timeliness, and accessibility of the information posted and/or distributed to the Society membership. The new Division will act as a liaison with the IEEE Learning Network, to increase the visibility of the CASS educational activities at the IEEE level and give learners the ability to obtain IEEE certificates.
Web-based Mentoring Program and Young Professionals support
Setting up a stable web-based mentoring program, beyond specific conference meetings, can give students and young professionals the opportunity to interact at any time of year with our more experimented members for professional and career assistance. This can offer added value to our members and increase the feeling of belonging to a community.
Of course, this mentoring program will complement, not replace, other activities or programs specifically geared towards students and early-career professionals. CASS will continue to provide financial support for: (1) participation in conferences, workshops, summer schools, or in cooperation programs between chapters through travel grants and/or registration fee waivers; (2) organization of student design competitions; (3) establishment of CASS student branches; or (4) granting of pre-doctoral scholarships, among others. CASS will also support Young Professionals (YP) related activities at flagship or premier conferences and the CASS website will be enhanced with materials more oriented to young members such as, job offers, blogs, bulletin boards or podcasts.
Despite the fact that industry members constitute approximately half of our overall headcount, their lack of involvement in the life of CASS is a significant challenge to address. This has a detrimental impact on the technical leadership of the Society and, therefore, it is important to find mechanisms that capture the interest of Industry members and encourage their participation, particularly in our flagship conferences. As with JETCAS special issues, it is desirable that the proponents of special sessions in flagship conferences (especially, ISCAS) are technically and geographically balanced with the industry and academia represented. Additionally, special sessions should include contributions from both Academia and Industry so that attendees can appreciate a synergistic scenario between research challenges and technological innovations. Also, it is worth considering enabling application-oriented submission tracks for industry authors to give companies the opportunity to showcase their recent technological advances and interact with attendees. These actions, together with the opportunity to network with young members at the available mentoring meetings, could offer the Industry a more attractive space for their active participation.
In a different format, I also want to explore new opportunities for increasing the visibility of CASS in Industry by hosting emerging technology symposiums at company premises, similar to the successful IBM CAS EDS Symposium on AI Compute which in 2021 celebrated its fourth edition. Clearly, other companies, other emerging topics and/or other IEEE Society/Council partners could be envisioned.
Advertisements/sponsorships from Industry in the CAS Magazine, as well as in conferences, could also increase the visibility of Industry in CASS.
CASS Chapters: creation, rejuvenation, and expansion
CAS chapters are essential agents for the retention and enrollment of new members, as well as for stimulating a sense of belonging to our Society. Clearly, such capacities are directly proportional to the activities that take place locally. The creation, rejuvenation and/or expansion of our chapters should look for cooperative scenarios with the organization of joint events between chapters/branches (even from other Societies) so that those more active can lead the way to others which remain almost dormant. The engagement of local Industry in chapter activities is also a fundamental tool not only to increase the visibility of the CAS Society but also to showcase the application of circuits and systems in quite diverse socioeconomic scenarios.
Throughout 2021, CASS has been hosting specific sessions at flagship conferences to encourage our IEEE members to raise their grades to senior members. In the same vein, CASS will also host conference panels to promote elevation to IEEE Fellows. On this point, it is worth mentioning that IEEE TAB is defining a new procedure for IEEE Fellow elevation in which the traditional role of the Society/Council Fellow Committees will change. One of the main duties of these Committees will be to identify candidates and nominators, as well as, to increase the number of nominations. It is expected that the new procedure is open for new nominations by the end of 2022 and, therefore, the referred panels will be instrumental to inform the community.
CASS Awards also need some adjustments. Based on the feedback received from evaluators, some of the award descriptions are not completely clear and there are overlaps in the merits to be honored. Accordingly, changes are needed to recognize the different types of contributions to the CAS Society. Prof. Amara, in his capacity as Chairman of the Awards Committee and based on the works done by Prof. Lian, will soon coordinate efforts to make the appropriate adjustments in the judging basis of each award so that the selection criteria are clearly differentiated. Additionally, a new JETCAS Best Paper Award will be created to recognize the best works submitted to this journal with more than 10 years history.
CAS governance must provide the means to make our Society a core value provider in the global community of circuit and systems professionals, and it is a priority to efficiently address the challenges affecting our society today. From this point of view, the relevance and quality of CASS publications depend on how well they represent and anticipate the ever-changing trends and technical needs of our scientific field; a particularly relevant aspect for our Industry members. JETCAS, for special issues on emerging topics, and the CAS Magazine, for impactful tutorials, are excellent tools to explore and test out trends; but, not only this, the adaptation to rapid topical changes should be made permeable to the other Transactions in our portfolio. This demands that EDICS are periodically revisited by our Technical Committees and eventually updated.
From a more operational point of view, it is priority to correct the excessive backlog shown by some of our Journals despite the notable efforts of their editorial boards to speed up the review process. My purpose is to increase the page budget on these Transactions and reduce their time to final publication.
Unfortunately, talking about conferences inevitably leads to talking about the impact of the pandemic. CASS will maintain conferences in which the Society sponsorship is greater than 50% either virtual or hybrid. The CASS governance is fully aware of the difficulties of organization and participation that this scenario entails and the Conference Division will assist the organizers and steering committees in preserving the quality of the events. Further, CASS will continue to support our flagship conferences by providing free of charge platforms for online participation… Anyway, I hope that throughout this term we can begin to cautiously embrace the possibility of face-to-face conferences with all participants in place.
Technically-focused workshops or medium-sized symposia in emerging areas with high market projection have also proven to be valuable tools for fostering interaction between researchers. They have spawned successful international conferences (e.g., AICAS) or even provided the breeding ground for new journal publications (e.g., FoodCAS). Definitively, this approach, potentially more suitable for virtual participation than large conferences, should be promoted for other disciplines with the support of the CASS Technical Committees and Special Interest Groups.
Without a doubt, the most reliable source of information to evaluate any present or future initiative is to get the opinion of the members to whom the services are directed. I look forward to hearing your ideas, concerns, and suggestions (in fact, I am considering conducting a survey to receive your feedback).
As a final note, CASS is moving forward thanks to the many volunteers who work for the benefit of the community at all levels of the organization, including chapters, committees, conferences, and many more. I would like to sincerely thank their efforts to make CASS a better Society. If you are not yet a volunteer but are willing to join us, you are more than welcome. Every helping hand is useful to take CASS to the next level of excellence.
Wishing you and your family health and happiness in the New Year.
Manuel Delgado-Restituto, 2022-2023 CASS President