2023 President's Letter
2023 CASS President’s Message
Dear Members of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society,
First, I would like to convey my best wishes to all of you for a prosperous, healthy, productive, and enjoyable New Year.
I begin 2023 with the same enthusiasm as in the first year of my mandate, with the firm commitment of dedication and effort to expand and improve the quality of the services offered to our members, as well as to strengthen the technical leadership of our Society. In this message, I would like to briefly outline some of the important measures that have been developed in 2022 and present some new initiatives that will be put forward in the next months. I will use the same grouping of areas used in my early 2022 President's message for better tracking of accomplishments.
CASS in IEEE
Remarkable efforts have been made to identify collaborative scenarios within the IEEE with the goal of providing additional benefits to our members. Thus, CASS has become one of the sponsoring societies of the IEEE Future Networks, which is an IEEE Technical Community that strives to address the challenges of next-generation wireless technologies. Similarly, CASS has joined the IEEE Smart Grid Consortium, where our members can find information, resources, and expertise about smart grid technology. With these two communities, CASS brings the number of sponsored Technical Communities to five, along with IEEE Brain, IEEE Internet of the Things, and IEEE Rebooting Computing. In these communities, as well as in the six IEEE Councils financially sponsored by CASS, CASS members can participate for free or with significant discounts in the activities developed within these communities and can find a space for multidisciplinary and multi-society collaboration to advance research, standardization, and development of technologies.
In 2022, CASS also joined a new IEEE TAB Program on Climate Change whose objective is to discuss the current and future problems caused by climate change and define a roadmap of specific actions to mitigate its impact. In this Program, CASS is leading one of the identified task forces, namely, the impact of agriculture on climate change and GHG emissions. Further, in November, our society organized the first IEEE Workshop on Electronics for mitigating Climate Change (EmC2) which counts with the technical sponsorship of the IEEE Sensors Council, the IEEE Electron Devices Society (EDS), the IEEE Nanotechnology Council, the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society (SSCS), and the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT).
Besides other collaborations in publications and conferences to be detailed later, CASS has formed an agreement with SSCS to contribute educational purposes to the PICO Program (Platform for IC Design Outreach) in geographic areas where CASS has a presence and SSCS does not. This will help low-income and/or low-opportunity countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia to gain experience and accessibility to IC technologies, thus contributing to the democratization of IC design. With these premises, our goal for 2023 is to sponsor four open-source designs for silicon fabrication and testing.
Diversity and Inclusion
In a scientific society such as CASS, whose mission, according to the IEEE CASS Strategic Plan 2020-24, is to foster technological innovation for the benefit of humanity, there can be no discrimination of any kind. On the contrary, all members must have the same rights to participate, contribute, serve, and be recognized by the community. For that reason, in early 2022 we amended our Bylaws and created a Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). This Committee expands the Women-in-CAS (WiCAS) and Young Professionals (YP) programs and works to promote an inclusive and equitable culture that welcomes, engages, and rewards all who contribute to CASS, regardless of race, religion, gender, disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression. The DEI committee was approved by IEEE TAB and it acts as a liaison with the IEEE TAB Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Further, in 2022 CASS also endorsed the Women-in-Engineering (WiE) Pledge to continue to promote female scientists and engineers with the implementation of strategies towards a diversified gender composition in all the forums (not only technical but also management) established in our Society.
Education and Communications
This has probably been one of the most active areas in 2022.
First, at the organizational level, we created the Education and Digital Communications (EDU-COM) Division to coordinate, supervise, develop, and maintain the Society’s programs on continuing education, as well as, to oversee the Society’s online content and establish the communication channels to distribute information to our members in a timely and accurate manner. Further, given the affinity of the activities, our successful Distinguished Lecturers Program (DLP) was also included among the responsibilities of this Division – by the way, an excellent list of Distinguished Lectures has just been appointed for the 2023-2024 term.
Second, a new plan for Image Enhancement through Continuous Education was conceived and implemented to promote and preserve the CAS knowledge framed in a global and diverse technical community, to enrich the current CASS educational portfolio, and to contribute to the circuit and systems education worldwide. The plan is articulated around two main initiatives: the monthly broadcasting of CASS-Wide Webinars delivered by leading CASS researchers; and the selection and archiving of keynote presentations offered at major CASS flagship conferences. In both cases, the recordings are made available on the CASS Resource Center and the IEEE Learning Network for improving the visibility of IEEE CASS (both inside and outside the Society). The webinar series started in October 2022 (all the presentations obtained notable participation, in some cases with almost 300 attendees), and 19 keynotes can now be visualized for free from our Resource Center.
Web-based Mentoring Program and Young Professionals Support
While some measures have been postponed until the Digital Communications Standing Committee of the EDU-COM Division is up and running (quite in particular, the launch of a web-based mentoring program to introduce YPs to the CASS world and provide them advice in early career development, or the creation of a YP’s corner in the CASS website to post material targeted at young members such as job offers, blogs, bulletin boards or podcasts), we have reinforced other initiatives specifically focused on students and early-career professionals. Thus, for example, in 2022 we held six Seasonal Schools on Circuits and Systems (SSCAS), three of which were recorded and will soon be available on the CASS Resource Center for the entire community. We also substantially increased (3 times) the budget for travel grants to encourage our graduate students' participation in CASS flagship/premier conferences. And, additionally, we approved the formation of 13 new student branches to stimulate the formation of local networks based on the promotion of circuit and systems knowledge through initiatives funded by the outreach funding program (two calls per year). In 2023, we will continue to enhance the attendance of young professionals at our flagship conferences and support the events organized under the YP program.
One of my main objectives as President is to achieve a more cohesive society in which everyone can reach their professional goals and this, of course, also concerns our Industry members. In 2022 we launched different initiatives aimed at this collective to encourage their participation in the CASS life. We started the year with the appointment of the 2022-23 Committee of the CASS Standards Activities Sub Division (SASD), a new organizational body under the Technical Activities (TA) Division which aims to promote and foster a closer relationship between academia and industry communities for the development of standards-related works within the scope of the Society. This Sub Division has done significant work in recruiting more than 50 experts, organized into four Standards Committees, and has developed different outreach events as part of CAS conferences such as ISCAS, AICAS, and BioCAS.
At ISCAS 2022, one track was entirely devoted to Industry. It included technical presentations, an industry-academic panel discussion, and an industrial fair/reception attended by experts from all across the globe. At AICAS 2022, 20 companies participated as exhibitors and all keynote speakers were industry representatives. At ICECS 2022, an industry forum about the future of quantum computers was held. These are examples, by no means comprehensive, of successful integration of Industry events in our conferences… But we should go further and explore more mechanisms for participation. To this end, an Ad-Hoc Committee on Industry Engagement was launched for devising strategies to increase the number of technical contributions from industry to our conferences (e.g., through special sessions, technical workshops, or dedicated tracks, with industry members involved in the technical programs), to set up non-profit exhibition or demonstration sessions from industry, to enable networking spaces with younger members of the Society, to provide simple mechanisms for advertising, or even to normalize the participation of industry members in educational events. All these initiatives will be progressively implemented over the next two years and I expect that, after a period of consolidation, this Committee will become the seed of a new CASS Division specifically focused on Industry.
In addition to these actions, CASS has continued its CAS Industry Forums (CASIF) program on emerging and interdisciplinary topics related to real-world challenges and their possible technological solutions. Specifically, our Society funded eight CASIFs during 2022, distributed around the world and covering very diverse topics, from wearable devices to automotive, exascale computing to agri-food electronics. Last but not least, we held, in October 2022, the fifth edition of the IBM CAS EDS - AI Compute Symposium, with the theme "scalable to sustainable". This Symposium brings together dreamers, thinkers, and innovators of cutting-edge research in a two-day forum to explore AI Compute challenges and future research directions... and it's free of charge.
CASS Chapters: Creation, Rejuvenation, and Expansion
In 2022, three new chapters were formed and two more are underway. Special mention should be made of our new chapters in Kenya and Uganda, which, despite their youth, are already organizing very successful activities, including joint events with local industry. However, it is not all good news. Probably as a consequence of the pandemic years, some of our chapters show little or no activity. Chapters are essential agents for the retention and enrollment of new members as well as for stimulating a sense of belonging to our Society and it is essential to recover pre-pandemic activity. To combat the situation, we significantly increased the budget for outreach proposals, and some 50 initiatives were approved and funded, we stimulated with some extra funding those chapters that submitted the mandatory 2021 reports, and we created the figure of CASS Ambassadors (five in total). They are Society representatives of recognized prestige in their respective geographic areas who work for the creation, rejuvenation, and expansion of CASS membership in those regions, as well as to cultivate and grow local talent into leaders of the Society. The CASS Ambassadors have proven to be a useful tool for expansion, as many of the new chapters and student branches were driven by them.
In 2022, a total of 21 CASS members were elevated to IEEE Fellows (eight of them evaluated by CASS and 13 by other Organizational Units). Congratulations to all of them! I also extend my congratulations to those who earned a CASS Award last year.
A new JETCAS Best Paper Award has been created to recognize the best papers submitted to this journal with more than 10 years of history. However, there is still work to be done to clarify some of the descriptions of the Society and Achievement Awards and their basis for evaluation. This work is ongoing and I expect it to be completed (and approved by IEEE TABARC) in the course of 2023.
Our publications are probably the most representative indicator of the CASS technical strength and I am pleased to report that all the Transactions fully sponsored by the Society (six in total) achieved, according to the 2021 Journal Citation Report published by Clarivate, their best performance in terms of Impact Factor, Eigen-factor Score, and Article Influence Score, following a steadily increasing progression since 2016. Further, we have continued our backlog reduction strategy (in particular for TCAS-II and TCSVT) with significant investments in page budgets to shorten the time from submission to printed publication. As an example, over 6.000 pages have been allocated for TCSVT in 2023. Additionally, our Editorial Boards are making a major effort to speed up the review process and final decisions on articles are made in less than two months on average across all our publications.
Two new Periodicals, financially co-sponsored with other IEEE Societies, have been added to our portfolio under this category (10 in total). These are the IEEE Journal on Flexible Electronics, J-FLEX (co-sponsored with EDS, and the Sensors Council) and the IEEE Transactions on Agrifood Electronics, TAFE (co-sponsored with the Sensors Council, IMS, and the RFID Council). Special mention should be made of the latter, in which CASS has a 57% participation and which deals with circuits and systems applied to the agrifood value chain, including technologies for food production, processing, quality control along the distribution chain, and preservation. Not long ago, these topics were mainly covered in satellite workshops (FoodCAS) held together with ISCAS and now we are about to see the first issue of TAFE released. My appreciation goes to the Editor-in-Chief of TAFE and to all those who initiated this project.
Finally, I would like to inform that we are working on the launch of a new periodical, the Transactions on Artificial Intelligence Circuits and Systems (TAICAS) which aims to focus on the electronic design (including hardware-software co-design), implementation, and demonstration of machine learning and artificial intelligence circuits and systems. We consider that TAICAS can offer a relevant venue to fulfill the fast-growing need for AI circuits and systems designs and timely address one of the hottest topics of our scientific field. The Phase 1 proposal has been submitted to IEEE and will be evaluated in February.
Conferences should not only serve to exchange technical knowledge but should also provide an opportunity to network with colleagues from all over the world. Over the last few years, this social component has not been satisfactorily accomplished because most of our conferences have been held virtually or in hybrid form. However, we believe that the time has come to progressively bring back face-to-face participation, and speakers of accepted papers will be asked to present in person at our 2023 flagship conferences. If this is not possible for some due to country-specific travel bans, online participation will be available, but the conferences will be optimized for on-site attendees. The goal is for remote participation to become a residual option, not the norm. We will, of course, monitor global pandemic conditions and adjust the format of the conferences as necessary.
Of course, no accomplishment would be possible without the hard work and commitment of many volunteers who offer their time for the benefit of the community. From these lines, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to all of them because thanks to their efforts we are bringing CASS to higher levels of excellence.
2022-2023 CASS President