Dear colleagues and friends,
We are at the end of a year which has been and still is terrible, but which has opened doors to many opportunities. Nothing will be the same when we overcome this pandemic.
I would like to express my sympathy and compassion to all those who have suffered directly or indirectly from this disease.
Despite the pandemic, it is our duty as leaders of our Society to be agile so that the activities can continue and the service to our members is provided without interruption.
From March 2020, and after my hasty return from Lima, we held extraordinary ExCom meetings to take important decisions for our Society:
- All face-to-face meetings must be virtual,
- All the conferences in which CASS has a financial commitment greater than 50% must be held in virtual or hybrid format. Others are encouraged to follow the same recommendation; this is how we managed to keep our conferences active and these new formats allowed us to reach a much larger audience. I would like to express my gratitude to our conference organizers for respecting our recommendations.
- Move our Distinguished and Industry Distinguished lectures to a virtual format (VDL),
Faced with the choice of canceling our DL and iDLP or transforming them into a virtual format, we opted for the second choice. This is how we grouped our lectures into three clusters with a total of ten excellent-quality webinars that are made available to all for free in our Resource Center. The result was extraordinary with significant online participation and offline participation on Facebook that far exceeded our expectations.
I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have contributed to this rich and exciting adventure and especially to the chairs of the DL and iDLP programs as well as Fakhrul Zaman Rokhani, Chair of the CASS Education Committee.
At the same time, we have launched new initiatives that have engaged many of our volunteers:
- Africa Initiative:
- a. An AdHoc committee has done an excellent job by organizing with African universities several webinars with experiments on CASS themes. These webinars are available in our Resource Center. I would like to express my gratitude to José Silva-Martinez for leading this initiative with professionalism.
- b. In partnership with In-Zone (inter-faculty humanitarian center of Geneva University), the IEEE Kenya Section, Kenyata University, the fablab foundation, and with the support of UNHCR and the Kenyan Red Cross we launched a humanitarian project within Kakuma, the largest refugee camp in the world. The aim is to help develop skills that allow refugees to either set up their own business or acquire credits that will enable them to pursue university studies.
- Faced with the pandemic, we have launched competitions for students and entrepreneurs. The results are great, and I invite you to check them out on our website.
- We also launched a new education program called Microlearning. Fakhrul and his team are doing a great job and very soon we will see the results, hopefully before the end of the year.
What are the perspectives for the year 2021?
Among the priority initiatives that we intend to launch I would like to mention a few of them:
- Revision and update of our website with new technologies and provision of a Progressive Web App (WPA),
- With the perspective to helping our flagship conferences to cope with the new epidemiological context, we have decided to provide them with a platform that will allow them to organize our conferences either in virtual mode or in hybrid mode without any financial commitment from their side,
- Completely review and redesign our Resource Center so that it can facilitate navigation and easy search for content with the help of a chatbot,
- Provide the governance of our Society with an information management system,
- Our Society has 14 technical committees which is one of our strengths and we are proud of them, however, with the rapid evolution of our field of expertise, it is important to align our technical fields with our publication’s main topics. This requires a fine analysis based on artificial intelligence that I intend to launch quickly.
- Our Society is giving great importance in its 2020-2024 strategic plan to Global Education, we are planning to launch in 2021 the CASS Institute for Global Education with our Resource Center as the backbone. To start, the Institute will coordinate all our educational activities and initiatives.
To conclude, I count on all members of our Society to support our initiatives.
I wish you excellent end-of-year holidays and a fruitful, safe, and healthy year 2021.
Prof. Amara Amara
IEEE CASS President