Phillip J. Anthony
If you have not recently visited the IEEE-LEOS Internet portal at www.i-LEOS.org, you may want to try it out again soon. You may find that you will want to set your Internet home page to the LEOS portal, or at least bookmark it for frequent reference. There will be an increasing amount of Society news on it in the coming weeks on technology, volunteer assignments, and the governance of IEEE.
The annual IEEE elections are ongoing. We need you to vote. We need to stuff the ballot box (legally, of course) with as many votes from LEOS as possible. As discussed in a previous column, the IEEE finances are in need of repair, due to an organizational structure that is in need of streamlining, to large information technology expenses, and to an over-reliance on a (formerly) booming stock market for paying the annual operating expenses. The various technical societies are shouldering a larger portion of the financial burden of the larger IEEE. Our Society, in this and in the two previous years, was able to absorb the extra assessments, primarily due to the outstanding returns achieved from the OFC conference. If no changes are made, some other societies in a few years will have depleted their reserves, and even if still operating, will provide no contribution to the assessments. That will further increase the assessments on LEOS and other financially well-managed societies such as the much larger Computer Society.
The society presidents are drafting a letter to the IEEE Board of Directors that calls for changes in the financial reporting, in budgeted spending levels, in the allocation of costs for clearer accountability, and, eventually, in the structure of IEEE. When and if that letter is approved, it will be posted on the portal. For a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers, such as the IEEE, change can take place slowly, and sometimes too slowly to correct rapidly-appearing problems. Electing suitable members to the responsible governing body, the IEEE Board of Directors, can enhance the rate of change.
First among these positions is the IEEE President-Elect. The Computer Society posed four questions to the three nominees. The questions overlap the concerns I have for LEOS very well. The questions and answers are posted on the LEOS portal and show differences in the perspectives of the candidates. Please read them as well as the statements of the candidates for other posts in your election materials.
As LEOS members, you also vote this year for the Technical Activities VP-Elect and for the Division 1 Director. Both Division 1 candidates understand the changes that need to be made, but you might as well consider keeping LEOS Past-President Gordon Day in the midst of the problems.
Depending on your location and affiliations, you may also vote for Regional Directors, the Standards Association President-Elect, and (in the US) the IEEE-USA President-Elect. An increased and informed voter turnout may be the best message for change that can be sent.
Also, for the portal, we are soliciting links to LEOS-related research programs around the world. Already, there are two links to research sites in the US and the UK related to lasers in optics. We would like to post the up-to-date links to other programs that you submit. The Optoelectronics Industry Development Association just completed a third survey of university research programs in North America (2001 University Research Survey, OIDA, 2001). They identified nearly 400 professors engaged in photonics research for their survey. Since most academic programs now have a website, it would be a useful member service to have all those, and the rest from around the world, linked with the LEOS portal. It is interesting to note from the survey that 66% of the respondents are members of LEOS (a higher percentage than for any other organization) and 27% report that they play an active role in the Society.
One task that the several LEOS Vice Presidents have is to appoint volunteers to various committees, boards, and positions. Often there are obvious and outstanding candidates who have volunteered for the roles. Yet sometimes, there are positions that go unfilled for lack of a suitable volunteer. One of my presidential self-assignments for the year was to broaden the net we use to find volunteers to help with the Society activities. I will be collecting a set of open positions and suggested qualifications for posting on the portal.
One reason that such a broader net is necessary is that the LEOS membership keeps increasing. In August, the membership passed the 9000 mark for the first time, a 22% year over year gain, and up 36% from 1999. The program that we instituted in May to increase the number of LEOS Associates through Chapters has had an apparently immediate response. The increase year-over-year for August was 138%, with nearly two-thirds of the increase in August alone.
I hope that the value that LEOS provides will continue to be apparent and contribute to continued growth as one segment of our industry telecommunications continues to decline. Business Week reports in the September 17, 2001 issue that the prospects for recovery keep sliding out with time. One generally useful rule of thumb is that, in the absence of any other information, an event is likely to continue into the future for the same amount of time that it has been occurring up to that point. Without other information, the best likelihood estimate is that the present is not a preferred time, i.e., now falls a priori neither in the first nor second half of the event lifetime. (I even use the rule to gauge how long someone will be on the phone. If they have been on the phone only a minute, I wait. If they have been on for an hour, I dont. Of course, other information may not be absent, such as lunchtime is approaching or it was my teenager on the phone.) Business Week notes that early in the telecom recession, the decline was predicted to be of short duration. Now, nine or more months into the contraction, estimates for recovery are extending out for nine or more months. That might indicate an absence of other information.
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