July 2020: UFFC-S President’s message

July 28, 2020 | Contributed By - Paul Reynolds, President IEEE UFFC-S

I hope this message finds everyone safe, well, and adapting at least somewhat to the new normal. It’s been quite an intense few months for everyone working on UFFC projects, but we’re beginning to adjust and work within this new set of constraints.

The biggest impact has been to our 2020 conferences, and this week saw the first of those, IFCS/ISAF 2020, take place. It was entirely shifted online. Despite this disruption, the General Chairs Dana Weinstein and Geoff Brennecka, Technical Chairs Brady Gibbons and Matteo Rinaldi, and the entire conference team, made a tremendous success of the conference which had excellent technical content, increased participation, and innovative interactive and social sessions like the Student Pitch competition and the Pub Quiz. Our society runs because of the efforts of volunteers, and we’re tremendously grateful to everyone, especially Dana and Geoff, for their incredible achievement.

IUS 2020 is still scheduled for the 6th to 11th September, and while in-person options at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas will be available, the conference has been structured to support a heavily online format, and, in the event that conditions do not allow physical attendance, the meeting can be held entirely online. No attendee will miss out by being online, and there will be no penalty to switch between in-person and online registration up to the first day of the conference. To try to make things available as globally as possible, technical sessions will be from early morning through lunchtime Pacific Time, with social and other events in the afternoons. Presenters with posters will also be able to take advantage of the ePosters platform, which allows for multimedia presentations and a more rich experience. Submissions are at an all time high, both in number and quality, and we’re looking forward to seeing our colleagues and their work, even if only over Zoom.

Now that we have a little breathing room, we’ve been looking at the more long term consequences of COVID, and how to serve our members while keeping everyone safe. Our Distinguished Lecturer and Star Ambassador programs have previously paid for travel for our most experienced and promising members to promote their work around the world and in their local regions, however this clearly has had to be put on hold. Instead, we’re now working on an innovative online platform to promote their lectures to as wide an audience as possible, and hope to announce that in the coming months.

In a similar vein we are also looking to take advantage of the increased number of high quality video talks that are being given within our society. Both at the conferences, and as part of lecture series such as those organized by Kyle Webber on Ferroelectrics, our members are rising to the occasion and delivering great content in new ways. Over the next few months we will be working on a “YouTube” like platform to give members who wish to provide their work a curated and easily searchable means to educate and disseminate knowledge.

We’re also dedicated to our long term goals of ensuring that our society leadership and membership better match that of society in general, and that no-one feels they do not have a home with us. The UFFC Society recently was the first IEEE society to make a public statement in support of the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and stand in the belief that to be neutral is to support oppression. Words are the first step, and we must now back that up with concrete actions. Our D&I team are working to ensure that’s at the top of our agenda, that we have appropriate training and education, and opportunities to improve. While we still have a long way to go, I’m glad to see the progress we have made compared to even just a few years ago.

As always, every area of our society is looking for dedicated and passionate volunteers to make UFFC everything it can be. From students to retirees, we have amazing people who make our society better in small ways and large. If you are interested, please let the VPs in your technical area know, or to me as President, and we’ll work to find a way to make you part of our team.

Please continue to stay safe and well.