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ComSoc’s Technical and Educational Activities

Khaled B. Letaief

Khaled B. Letaief

Past President


Nelson Fonseca

Nelson Fonseca

Director, Conference Development

This month, I am pleased to introduce Nelson Fonseca, Vice-President for Technical and Educational Activities who will report on the progress made and activities status during the last year within his portfolio as well as share with us his plans for 2019.

Nelson Fonseca received his Ph.D. degree from The University of Southern California in 1994. He is a Full Professor at the Institute of Computing of the University of Campinas, Brazil. He has published 350+ papers and supervised 60+ graduate students. He is a ComSoc Distinguished Lecturer and has lectured at the University of Trento, University of Pisa and University of Basque Country. He received the IEEE Communications Society Joseph LoCicero Award for Exemplary Service to Publications, the IEEE Communications Society Latin America Region Distinguished Service Award, the Medal of the Chancellor of the University of Pisa, the State University of Campinas Zeferino Vaz Award and the Elsevier Computer Network Journal Editor of the Year 2001 Award. He has been a Keynote Speaker for several conferences.

Nelson is an active ComSoc volunteer. Currently, he serves as VP–Technical and Educational Activities, and he has served as VP–Publications (2016–2017), VP–Member Relations (2012–2013), Director of Conference Development (2014–2015), Director of the Latin America Region and Director of On-line Services (2002). He was the EIC for IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials (2008–2012). He served as EIC of the IEEE Communications Society Electronic Newsletter (2004–2007), and as Editor of the Global Communications Newsletter (1999–2002). He chaired the Multimedia Communications Technical Committee and the Communications Systems Integration and Modeling Technical Committee. He created IEEE Networking Letters, the ComSoc Student Competition Program and the conferences IEEE LATINCOM, IEEE Latincloud, IEEE NFV-SDN, and the series of Multimedia Communications Symposia in GLOBECOM/ICC.

Over the past century, communications technology has greatly changed our society and improved the quality of life. For over 65 years, the IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) has actively promoted advances in this area, and it became the world’s leading organization for communications professionals. ComSoc produces publications, organizes conferences, and promotes educational programs. At present, technical activities link all of the activities of the Society. Indeed, technical activities constitute the heart of ComSoc and are of the utmost importance for its members.

The evolution of communications has always been challenging, but we need to broaden this field so that we can embrace a new era of massive production and data availability, as well as fostering the ongoing transition from a hardware-based infrastructure to a softwarized global network. Technical activities are crucial in this new era and ComSoc must adopt a flexible structure that can respond quickly to the new dynamics and even anticipate its occurrence.

To continue its revolutionary role, ComSoc must evolve, and it should maintain its position at the center of the development of communications technology around the world. The dissemination of knowledge by ComSoc is based on three pillars: publications, conferences, and education. For the past decade, ComSoc has diversified its educational activities by introducing new courses, training programs, tutorial programs at ComSoc conferences, summer school, etc.

The technical and educational activities within the Society are coordinated by the Vice President for Technical and Educational Activities. These activities are conducted by a team of outstanding volunteers on different Boards and Standing Committees:

  • Technical Services Board: Director, Tarik Taleb.
  • Educational Services Board: Director, Fabrizio Granelli.
  • Emerging Technologies Standing Committee: Chair, Jeffrey G Andrews.
  • Distinguished Lecturers Selection Committee: Chair, Shiwen Mao.
  • Communications History Committee: Chair, Dave Michelson.

Technical Committees: Technical Committees (TC) are undoubtedly the cornerstone of ComSoc technical activities. These Committees are based on a network of professionals with common interests in a specific technical area within the scope of the Society. These areas of interest vary from the traditional Communications Theory to more recent fields such as Big Data. Specifically, they define and implement the technical directions of the Society and participate in publications, conferences, educational activities and the development of standards. Recently, changes in the ComSoc Bylaws have allowed greater flexibility for these Committees by introducing Special Interest Groups within the TCs. Moreover, stronger links to the Emerging Technology Initiatives have been established. All of the Society members are invited and encouraged to participate in one or more of these TCs. This participation is the point of entry for various several other activities, because the technical committees appoint volunteers on technical program committees at ComSoc conferences and working groups for the development of standards. Three new technical committees have been recently established: Tactile Internet, Molecular, Biological and Multiscale Communications, and Smart Grid Communications. The complete list of ComSoc technical committees and their activities can be found at:

The Emerging Technologies Initiative is responsible for identifying and nurturing emerging areas for research and development that will have an impact on communications technologies in the future. This challenging task requires “crowdsourcing” from all corners of ComSoc. The ETC has six appointed members, as well as the Chair, and collectively they identify and encourage new technical initiatives. Issues of current interest include many key topics of emerging interest for ComSoc members, including:

  • Backhaul/Fronthaul Networking & Communications.
  • Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Quantum Communications & Information Technology.
  • Machine Learning for Communications.
  • Network Intelligence.

These initiatives are headed by hard working volunteers who seek impact and visibility for these topics in various ways such as organizing JSAC special issues, as well as workshops and symposia tracks at Globecom and ICC. They also foster the creation of a web presence with the help of ComSoc. In some cases, these initiatives have expanded to become full technical committees.

Educational Services: Education and training have been established as the Third Pillar of ComSoc. The focus has been mainly on strategic efforts for the development of world-class training and professional education programs aimed primarily at ComSoc members. The goal is the provisioning of high-quality instruction at a reasonable cost and with easy access to facilitate the professional growth of individuals in communications and related fields.

Today, after two successful years in the development of various actions in education and training, ComSoc has developed a portfolio of services to help meet the needs of young members as well as mature members, professionals in industry and in academia. Established services include the following:

  • Education and Training Track at ICC and Globecom: This program provides services for students and young members of ComSoc. It is run by the Educational Services Board (ESB) and provides a special track to help attendees gain insights into how to grow their careers and what to expect for the future, as well as a chance to participate in hands-on activities to facilitate empowerment through the use of new technologies.
  • ComSoc Summer School: The ComSoc Summer School was designed to provide a unique opportunity for student members around the world to meet and learn from the top experts in the field. After four successful years, it has become an integral part of ComSoc student services. In June 2018, the ComSoc Summer School was organized by the Shanghai Institute of Fog Computing Technology (SHIFT) and held in Shanghai. Over 100 graduate students from 15 different countries attended this Summer School. Positive feedback was received from numerous attendees. In 2019, the ComSoc Summer School will be sponsored National Instruments and organized in Austin, Texas, USA. Moreover, a one-day Summer School will be held jointly with IEEE WCNC 2019 in Morocco in April.
  • 5G and Beyond Education Initiatives: The goal of this program is to support the training and educational activities involving emerging hot topics, including 5G. This program is supported by ComSoc and offers tutorials, webinars and e-learning modules exploiting the knowledge of top world experts on the topics. In 2018, a variety of tutorials were successfully conducted, some jointly with the 5G Summit, such as the one held in Trento, Italy in March 2018.
  • The IEEE Communications Magazine Feature Topic on Telecommunication and Network Engineering Education aims at sharing relevant contributions in the area of education. Some of the topics include current experiences and lessons learned, such as pedagogical models and best practices as well as case studies in teaching and learning, mentoring and tutoring. The deadline for submission to this feature issue is April 15, 2019 (
  • ComSoc Training Courses: In 2018, the course catalog was expanded. The newly lunched courses are: Satellite Data Communications and VSAT Networks; LTE Performance and Optimization Framework; Fundamentals of 5G Small Cell Deployments; Wi-Fi Security; 5G New Radio; A New Standard and Industry Update Course; Technical Writing and Presentation for Englishas- a-Second-Language Engineers; Optical Communication Technologies for 5G Wireless; and Software Defined Networking for Optical Networks: A Practical Introduction
  • IEEE WCET: The IEEE Wireless Communications Engineering Technologies Certification program successfully exploits the critical mass and outstanding expertise of ComSoc members in the provision of various services for companies and enterprises. Education and training activities are very important. We hope that these efforts and the topics will make it possible for our Society to provide useful and suitable services, especially for our young members, and that they will be able to catalyze the knowhow of our Technical Committees.

Distinguished Lecturer Program: Another benefit for Com- Soc members is the ComSoc Distinguished Lecturer Program, which provides the means for ComSoc chapters (and other organizations) to offer lectures by renowned authorities on communications and networking-related topics. The current distinguished lecturer team consists of 40 experts and technical leaders, and covers a wide range of emerging topics in the field. For information on this program link to: The Distinguished Lecturers Selection Standing Committee is responsible for establishing the selection criteria for the appointment of lecturers. Each Fall, a call for nominations is announced, and the new distinguished lecturers are selected on the basis of a rigorous review process. Appointments are announced at the TEA-C meeting at IEEE GLOBECOM.

Communications History Committee: Communications is, in the final analysis, a community endeavor. However, a community does not truly exist until it has an awareness of its history. The Communications History Committee is responsible for promoting the awareness of the history of the profession. The Committee fully participates in several IEEE programs, such as the IEEE Milestone Program, the IEEE & IET History Book Series, and the Scanning the Past Column in the Proceedings of the IEEE. It will continue to solicit articles on Communication History for our magazines. Moreover, it has participated in the Society for the History of Technology and in the Engineering Technology WiKi. The goal is to move beyond personal histories to a scholarly study of communications history. Volunteers interested in Communications History should contact Dave Michelson (

ComSoc is an open volunteer-based society with our success depending on the involvement of its members. In 2019, we are committed to strengthening our activities and more importantly to continue our review of the TC activities with the hope of further revamping their structure so that ComSoc remains the leading professional organization in the communications and networking field. You are highly encouraged to participate in the Society’s technical and educational activities. You are invited to get in touch with Nelson Fonseca at if you have any suggestions or you wish to participate in any of our activities.