Montréal LEOS Chapter: Une Renaissance
In light of all the events that have transpired at the Montreal LEOS Chapter over the past two years, one can say, quite honestly, that a renaissance has taken place. At the root of this rebirth, one can find energetic and enthusiastic people who believe in the principles of the IEEE and in the spirit of carrying the torch of knowledge and continuity. The Montreal LEOS Chapter, joint with MTTS and APS, was awarded the Most Improved LEOS Chapter Award for 2001 in recognition of its significant improvements.
Our Chapters rebirth began in earnest on a cold winter night in January 2000 at an IEEE Montreal Section meeting. That night, the most important agenda item focused on the somber news of the death of our past Chapter chairman, Prof. Gar Lam Yip, in October 1999, who had been involved in so many activities over the past 25 years. At that meeting, Section President, Eric Holdrinet, requested for volunteers to carry on the Chapter activities. In attendance that night, were Prof. Ke Wu, Director of Ecole Polytechniques Poly-Grames Research Center and Dr. Peter Noutsios, Systems Engineering Technical Advisor at Nortel Networks and graduate student of the late Prof. Yip. Both had met just a month earlier, introduced by Alice Chan, Prof. Yips widow. Right after the Section meeting, Ke and Peter discussed how they could work together to re-establish the Chapter to a more active level. That very night, they agreed to share the responsibilities, Ke taking on the MTTS/APS events, with Peter handling the LEOS part. Both were motivated to rekindle the Chapter that, due to Gar Lams deteriorating health and energy, had reached to a minimum level of activities. Their goal was to significantly exceed this level and for that, they realized that more new blood was needed. Peter knew of a new Assistant Professor, Prof. Lawrence Chen, who was just hired by the Photonics Group of McGill Universitys Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering and who, as an undergraduate student, worked on research projects, supervised by Prof. Yip. They approached Lawrence to become secretary/treasurer of the joint Chapter and he agreed enthusiastically!
Thus, this new team, with common ties to the past, was formed. These officers were dedicated to rebuilding a Chapter with the motivation and energy to promote the field of photonics, microwaves and antennas. In 2000 2001, the Chapter went through an exciting and active year of technical meeting and activities. Nine technical meetings were organized, a substantial increase from the minimum of two. LEOS membership increased by 37% and the average technical meeting attendance was up by 240%. This latter figure was quite substantial; not only was there an increase in IEEE student and member participation, but interest from the Montreal scientific community was also raised. About 53% of the average meeting attendance was composed of non-IEEE members, suggesting the potential growth of the Chapters membership.
The joint Chapter was also at the heart of the 8th International Symposium for Microwave and Optical Transmission (ISMOT 2001) held in Montreal June 19-23, 2001. Ke was Symposium Chair and also part of the Organizing Committee. Peter and Lawrence were part of the Technical Program Committee and also co-chairs of a Special Session on Guided Wave Photonics, in memory of Prof. Yip. About six months prior to the event, the team was setback by the sudden news of Kes illness and his urgent hospitalization. Fortunately, his hospital stay and recovery lasted about two months and Ke returned to support the symposium. Nevertheless, the Symposium turned out to be a resounding success and a fitting end to a great year for the Chapter!
So far, the 2001-2002 year is progressing very well. Eight technical meetings have been organized so far, five related directly to LEOS. This year, a new theme was introduced to the technical meetings, entitled “LEOS Montreal Seminar Series on Montreal-area Companies”, to encourage participation from industry and to get a better appreciation of some of Montreals optical companies. Thus far, its been quite successful. Technical meeting attendance is sharply higher (about 40%) compared to last years average attendance. Thus far, five seminars have been organized and presented by Chief Technology Officers and Directors of companies such as Lumenon Innovative Lightwave Technology, ITF Optical Technologies, MPB Communications, Bragg Photonics and EXFO. Furthermore, three MTTS/APS events to date have been organized with an upcoming workshop on advanced millimeter-wave technologies for broadband wireless communications and sensor applications.
Dr. Peter C. Noutsios, Nortel Networks
The IEEE-LEOS Benelux chapter
With a population of more than 25 million people, about 10 universities with activities in photonics and distances between those academic centres ranging from 100 to 400 km, the Benelux Belgium + The Netherlands + Luxemburg is an ideal breeding ground for a LEOS chapter. The chapter was founded in 1996, very much under the impulse of professor Djan Khoe of Eindhoven University. Since then the chapter has built a strong activity profile with close to 200 LEOS-members. The board counts about 12 active members from academic institutions as well as industry and the chairmanship rotates every two years. [see photos]
Every year the chapter organizes an annual symposium, rotating between the universities and with participation by 150-200 participants from universities and industry. This symposium is an annual forum for just about all of the research activities in photonics in the region. While most of the research groups are very active internationally, the Benelux symposium brings a regional community together, with activities covering the broad variety of specialized subjects within the field of photonics. The symposium comes with proceedings with 70-90 contributions which reflect the high level of research in the Benelux region, Since the region is multilingual – with Dutch being spoken in The Netherlands and in Flanders and French in Wallonia these meetings are held in English, at least in their formal part. During the more social part of the meetings one can hear a rich mix of English, Dutch and French. Each year there is also a topical workshop on a topic of special interest. These meetings typically focus on an important and timely research topic.
At both the symposia and the workshop the chapter invites LEOS distinguished lecturers. In the past years not many LEOS distinguished lecturers have managed to stay away from the Benelux. Doctoral students do obviously form an important fraction of the audience at our meetings and the chapter invests in them by offering them a free LEOS membership as part of the registration fee of the annual symposium.
The PhD students are also represented on the chapter board and they organize their own activities, in particular company visits. Each year two or three companies with activities related to photonics are being visited by the LEOS student members.
The year 2001 was a special year for the chapter. Not only was the chapter 5 years old. Given that ECOC was organized in Amsterdam, with involvement of many LEOS Benelux members and chaired by Paul Lagasse and Djan Khoe, the chapter decided to organize a special event: on Sunday September 30, just before the start of ECOC, the chapter organized a half-day workshop on How to start your photonics business at the RAI in Amsterdam. For the program committee of this workshop consisting of Peter Vetter (Alcatel), Erik Pennings (Papyron) and Roel Baets (Ghent University) it was an interesting experience to bring a good program on entrepreneurship in photonics together during the turbulent year 2001. Eventually the workshop was quite a success both in terms of number of participants and quality of speakers. Milton Chang president of LEOS presented a tutorial about the dos and donts in setting up a new company. Winfried Horsthuis, formerly with JDS-Uniphase, discussed the process of acquisitions by major players. Then 4 speakers presented case studies of their involvement in specific start-ups. They not only discussed the professional aspects of starting a company but also did not hesitate to emphasize the strong impact of this process on their private life. One speaker had been directly involved in a recent company failure, but nevertheless did not mind to talk about this openly. His comments and recommendations will be remembered by many in the audience.
For 2002 a range of activities is planned. The first on the list is a workshop on photonic crystals that will be held at Ghent University on May 29, 2002. For more information on our activities one can consult the chapter website at http://www.cobra.tue.nl/ leos/index.html or contact the chapter chairman prof. Alfred Driessen (A.Driessen@tn.utwente.nl).