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"Digitisation provided us with the perfect solution"

15 Jun 2020
ISSC is the premier Irish platform for academic computing and electronics research. This edition has been fully virtual and organised at LYIT.
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Juanita Blue and Dr Eoghan Furey at LYIT. Picture by ISSC2020.

Letterkenny Institute of Technology
, Donegal Digital partner, and the ISSC 2020 organising committee have recently hosted the 31st Irish Signals and Systems Conference, an event to showcase the best of Irish computing and electronics research. This year the conference adopted a special them of ‘Connected World: Humans, Signals, Systems & the Internet of Everything’.

The event was set to bring delegates from all over the island to lovely County Donegal, however due to the current restrictions on travel and gatherings, the conference has been held virtually. Despite the challenges at hand, over 120 participants from academia and industry attended this year’s virtual edition. These included students, researchers, academics, electronic engineers and computer scientists, among others.

The broad-spectrum conference focuses on all aspects of signals and systems. It aims to reflect the advancements of systems and signals with the amelioration of interconnectivity, Artificial Intelligence (AI), SMART and disruptive technologies, and also affective computing. This year, they have had theory and applications orientated papers in thematic areas which include signal processing, control systems, human signals and systems, software and hardware implementation architectures, communication and secure systems, robotics, intelligent devices and ICT in education

"Letterkenny Institute of Technology is very proud to have hosted the ISSC 2020", states John Andy BonarVP Research, Equality and External Affairs at LYIT. He particularly acknowledges the Organising Committee "for their outstanding and tireless work in organising such a highly successful conference especially given the significant and additional complexities posed by COVID-19", the ISSC 2020 sponsors and all the Conference Chairs and presenters. "The highlights of the conference were Papers and this year's Papers were truly exceptional. We are proud to continue to work collaboratively with our partners in Education, Industry and Government to contribute to building a dynamic internationally connected new Regional Economy here in Ireland's North West", he adds.


"Computing and Electronics are often male dominated industries, so we aimed to address the gender imbalance"

We speak with Dr Eoghan Furey, lecturer in Computing at LYIT and Conference Chair, and Juanita Blue, Project Manager at ERNACT and Conference Co-Chair), who 
conducted all the organisational procedures.

You opted to hold the conference virtually in lieu of cancelling the event. What kind of software have you used?
Juanita: as it is the premiere Computing & Electronics Conference held annually on the island of Ireland, we
opted to run the event virtually from the LYIT campus. We utilised new software developed by Galway SME Ex Ordo, the foundation of this software was originally developed twelve years ago by Galway-native Paul Killoran to manage the ISSC’s paper submission and registration processes. In response to the pandemic, a platform to support and conduct a full virtual conference was developed only twelve weeks ago…and we were the first event to use it!  

Why was the LYIT selected to host the event this year?
Eoghan: we are both members of the ISSC steering committee and have collectively published eight papers via the conference in the last four years. The conference moves annually between Universities and Institutes of Technology on the island of Ireland.  We originally submitted an expression of interest to hold the conference at LYIT 3 years ago and it was finally selected 2 years ago. 

Which session or fact would you highlight from ISSC2020?
Juanita: we had promoted the conference with a special theme of ‘Connected World: Humans, Signals, Systems & the Internet of Everything’. This theme drew much interest and resulted in a 25% increase in paper submissions from the previous year. Papers were submitted from all national universities and from 11 of the 14 ITs. Little did we know when we developed the theme that it would become so relevant in light of the pandemic! We also though it important to address the gender imbalance that is often experienced in this domain. Computing and Electronics are often male dominated industries, so we ensured our own organising committee had equal numbers of men and women. At LYIT this wasn't difficult!

Did you achieve the expected objectives and results?
Eoghan: due to the restrictions implemented by the pandemic we had to rethink almost everything and effectively organised 2 conferences, 1 on site and 1 virtual. We successfully promoted the region and our institution and also even tried to use the Irish language. We selected only Irish companies for our conference management system, payments and website design. The conference was a huge success with over 120 attendees, three high-level keynote speakers and addresses by John Andy Bonar and LYIT President Paul Hannigan.

Is this kind of conference relevant to showcase the best of Irish computing and electronics research?
JuanitaISSC is the premier Irish platform for academic computing and electronics research. We decided that given all the hard work by the authors it was our responsibility to do everything in our power to hold the event and not postpone as many other events did. We are computing people and with the help of Ex Ordo and their new virtual platform we rose to the challenge… digitisation provided us with the perfect solution. We are extremely proud of our achievements and plan to hold an international conference event in the coming few years!


Find out more about ISSC.

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J. Blue ERNACT Project Manager keeping the security session running. Picture by ISSC2020.