I have been involved with the Circuits and Systems Society since 1978 when I was a Ph.D. Student at the Univ. of California at Berkeley. Thirty-one years later, I am honored and humbled to be the 2009 President of our Society. It is a great opportunity to serve the approximately 10,000 members of CAS but it is also a great responsibility, especially in the current worldwide economic climate.

Profs. Maciej Ogorzalek and Ljiljana Trajkovic served admirably as my immediate predecessors as President in 2008 and 2007, respectively, and Prof. Gianluca Setti is already preparing for his term as President in 2010. Our members can rest easy knowing the Society has been, and will continue to be, in good hands with such talented, passionate, and incredibly dedicated leaders. Of course, that is also true of all of our volunteers, whose efforts are greatly appreciated but invariably inadequately acknowledged. 

During my professional career, I have worked for several high technology companies and several academic institutions. Moreover, I have considerable experience as a volunteer for the CAS Society (and several other IEEE Societies) ranging from Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems, organization and leadership of our flagship conference, ISCAS, organization of tutorials and short courses, to various committee assignments, etc. All of this experience convinces me there are many opportunities to provide greater value-added to both maintain and attract new members to CASS that includes increased representation from students, industry, and academia. In my view, this is critically important for the future of our Society given the current economic situation. 

The Circuits and Systems Society faces several immediate challenges:

  1. 1.Another Society’s flagship conference recently experienced a drop of about 40% in conference registrations from industry. This daunting statistic bodes danger for the IEEE and all member Societies.

  2. 2.University Research funds including gifts and grants from industry are down sharply in most technical areas although government stimulus plans may boost them up soon.

  3. 3.Unemployment driven by highly publicized layoffs at high technology companies is discouraging students from participation in the technical activities of IEEE Societies.  

In short, many industry workers are no longer being sponsored by their companies to be IEEE members, attend IEEE Conferences, attend short courses, tutorials, and workshops, etc. Academics face similar budgetary constraints due to diminished research and development funds, and students are finding less support to partake of our products.

Bold and innovative actions are needed to address these problems. To maintain our membership and grow in the future, we must provide the highest quality products for the greatest value to our members. Some ideas along these lines include insistence on conference tutorials and short courses with a healthy mix of industry and academic experts as teachers. We should offer our conference tutorials and short courses free-of-charge as an incentive for attendance. We should seek rapid publication of the best such tutorials in our flagship transactions—the two papers by Razavi and Casper and O’Mahony in the January 2009 issue of TCAS-I based on highly successful tutorials at ISCAS 2008 are exemplary. We should consider low, if not zero, conference registration fees for students, at least in the short term, and we should enhance support of conferences like PRIME that bring together industry, academic, and student researchers in a unique collegial and collaborative setting. Greater exploitation of the talents of our Distinguished Lecturers and Gold members is also vital to the long-term health of our Society.

During 2009, I aim to promote the best possible service and value to the CAS Members. My primary goal is to hand the reins to Prof. Setti in 2010 knowing the quality of our products has improved and the appeal of our Society has increased.   

Your help, guidance, and suggestions are always welcomed.

David J. Allstot

2009 President, IEEE Circuits and Systems Society