December 2021 Beacon

VPTA Column (December 2021)

Venugopalan Pallayil, Vice President for Technical Activities, IEEE OES (

OES colleagues,

Time flies and we are already at the far end of 2021. Even COVID-19 does not seem to have slowed down things. The year 2021 has kept me very busy with work (including working at, not from, home) and OES volunteering work. While we look forward to a new year of promises, it is also time to look back and see how we have been doing amidst the pandemic and how to plan the activities forward. This report, in some sense, is also an assessment on VPTA activities.

Technology Committees (TC)

The technology committees have been active in organizing online technical talks, virtual Workshops, and webinars as reported in the previous reports. Two TC Chair’s online meetings were also organised to discuss how the TC activities can be coordinated in the wake of ongoing pandemic. We have one of our TC Chairs, Rene Garello, resigned and a new person has been appointed with AdCom approval. Three TCs have nominated co-chairs and two of them were approved in our October AdCom. The third nomination will be put up for approval in the December AdCom. Details of these have been covered in a separate report by the TC Coordinator.

I would like to request TC Chairs to engage their members on various activities such as review of manuscripts for OES sponsored and co-sponsored workshops and symposia; to support OES initiated and supported UN Decade of Oceans activities, etc. Many of the TCs are yet to setup their website. Explore with the members of your TC who are willing to help setup and manage the website contents. So far, the Singapore chapter has been supporting TCs in this regard and the chapter will be completing its three-year service offer by the end of this year. Any future services will only be on a goodwill basis and possibly would need additional financial support. So, make use of the existing opportunity.

Chapter Activities

We have 30 full chapters and two joint chapters and only 8 chapters have been active or reported their activities. It is understood that some of the chapters have been organizing many in-person activities, which are difficult to transition into virtual events and this has limited chapter level activities. Nevertheless, 8 out of 32 is not an encouraging outcome. There is a need for us to work more closely with the chapter chairs to make sure each chapter reports at least two activities per year. Chapters are required to login at least two technical activities to be eligible for chapter rebates from IEEE Member and Geographic Activities (MGA). Chapters can engage the services of Distinguished Lecturers (DLs) and TC Chairs for hosting technical talks or half-day workshop like events. We also need to explore how the chapters can be utilized in community level engagement.

It is time now for the chapters to elect new office bearers. I would like to request the current chapter chairs to find their replacements if they have served two years (or more). We should bring a sense of ownership and feeling of responsibility to the members and the chapter should nurture them to be valuable contributors to the society objectives. For example, the current vice-chairs can graduate into chairs and so on and so forth with the consent of chapter members. At least one of the ‘senior members’ should have a presence in the executive committee to guide the new committee using the expertise they have acquired over years. This way we can ensure a healthy chapter and membership for the society. We welcome feedback from chapter chairs and suggestions on how the society can help to improve and support chapter activities. If you have creative ideas, please share with us.

We are still working on the 2022 budget final numbers and at this time no chapter activity funds support for the chapters are available for 2022 activities. We shall review this decision early next year and inform the chapter coordinator if there is any fund availability.

Distinguished Lecturers (DL)

Four new DLs have been appointed by the AdCom for a four-year term starting from Jan 2022. And one of the DLs has been re-appointed for a second term. It is encouraging to note from the applications received that there is a strong desire for subject experts to get engaged with the OES activities and share their knowledge with the OES community. The names of DLs, their areas of expertise and short biographies are available in a separate section of this newsletter.

The DL activities have been progressing well, and we had 5 talks delivered since my last report. Milica Stojanovic, delivered yet another exciting talk on ‘Underwater Communications’ at the request of Technology Innovation Institute, Autonomous Robotics Research Centre, Abu Dhabi. There were 21 participants, including me, who attended this talk. As the talk was organised at short notice, wide publicity could not be given. This talk was important from another perspective that there is an opportunity for IEEE OES to explore more association with Middle East and form a Chapter there.

In January 2022, Prof Hanumant Singh has planned for a DL at the request of DAIMS Technology Committee. Announcement of this talk will be communicated to all members in the coming week over e-Notice.

Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM 22)

We have received reasonably good response to our call for papers for most of the sessions proposed for Ocean Sciences Meeting 2022.  A list of sessions and the names of the lead persons have been provided in my last report. Sessions that did not receive enough papers will be merged with other sessions. Jay Pearlman represented OES at the Technical Programme Committee scheduling meeting held on Nov 11th in DC. The final listing of the papers selected, after reviews, for various sessions are expected to be available by 15 Dec 2021. The conference, which was planned to be in hybrid format initially, will now be held fully virtual due to prevailing state government restrictions on the number of people allowed and the need for safe distancing. We would hence miss an opportunity to engage effectively with the participants. Each presenter is now required to send a 5-min recorded presentation and each session will have 6 such presentations followed by a 30-min Q&A session, live.

Non-VPTA Activities

Apart from the above VPTA related activities, I have also been volunteering my time on many other OES related events. As OES Liaison, I have been working closely with Chennai LOC and provide necessary guidance for a successful organization of OCEANS 2022 Chennai, including sourcing of funds from ONR Global for the student poster competition. I also attend JOAB meetings regularly and provide my views and suggestions to run OCEANS more actively and efficiently. As General Co-Chair for IEEE OES AUV 2022 Symposium, I have been taking part in discussions with the LOC members and support in sourcing patronage.  This conference is planned to be an in-person event during Sep 2022 and to add more vitality our Chapter’s flagship event Singapore AUV Challenge 2022 will be held just after the conference. Recently I have been nominated as a member of the Technology Innovation Informal Working Group under the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development-Ocean Decade. More about this group and its objectives have been provided in a separate section of this Newsletter.

2022 Outlook

Many countries have now accepted that COVID-19 is an endemic and will stay here for a longer period than anticipated, perhaps even forever. International travels are opening-up and border controls are becoming less restrictive. We also see that the infection rates are on the high across many countries. But it is still unpredictable how 2022 will turn out to be.  Though I remain optimistic that there will be some possibilities for us to interact over an in-person international conference, most of our activities are still going to be online. Our current financial position is bleak and meeting operational expenses for next year would be an uphill task. I would therefore request our TC Chairs, DLs and Chapters to plan for their technical activities to be online for the coming year as well.