Think Long-Range for Signal Processing Society (SPS)

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News and Resources for Members of the IEEE Signal Processing Society

Think Long-Range for Signal Processing Society (SPS)

K. J. Ray Liu
SPS President-Elect


The IEEE Signal Processing Society (SPS) held a long-range strategic retreat during IEEE ICIP 2010 in Hong Kong, to seek attendance and input from a variety of Society, industrial, and local leaders to bring to the event fresh points of view. Just last year, SPS revised its Bylaws significantly by introducing a new Membership Board to bring better value/benefit propositions to meet the ever changing demand of our members. Therefore, in the retreat, how to better serve our members was the central theme of the discussion.

Late last year, the Society realized that it had turned the corner in terms of its falling membership numbers with a growth of approximately 4.7%. However, for the past fifteen years, like most IEEE societies, its membership overall fell from about 21,000 to about 13,000.  (Currently, we have almost 15,000 members.) In fact, the Society has provided value to its members for a relatively small fee (e.g. $29).  But what is new this year, is old news next year; organizations like the Society must provide a continually growing and progressive list of opportunities to keep its members interested.  While the Society has been very successful in the quality of its publications and technical meetings (conferences and workshops), the lack of a growing portfolio of opportunities may quickly hamper the growth that is causing such positive excitement.

The number of students joining the Society has also dropped off.  It appears that this dynamic has affected most IEEE Societies as well.  The Society needs to examine its role and products/services it currently provides to students, and how to address signal processing in a manner that is useful to students and would encourage their involvement with the Society.

During the retreat, there were intensive discussions through the role playing of four membership segments that we may need to strengthen: students, signal processing practitioners, scientists/users of other disciplines using signal processing as tools, and those in developing/disadvantaged regions. There were many excellent ideas. At the end, the following items were identified as key new initiatives that SPS can consider to take on to offer more benefit and value to our members.

First is to develop tutorial and educational programs to meet the need of continuing education of the signal processing community, including web-based audio-visual slides presentations. To bring the visibility to the general public, we need to continue to outreach to deliver the “signal processing inside” message and show its relevance. Perhaps, we can start to host an annual event such as a “signal processing cup” to attract teams of students from all over the world to compete and participate in some technical challenge on some exciting signal processing topics. For potential members in developing/disadvantaged regions, perhaps we can leverage e-options to reduce their membership fees significantly to make joining IEEE and SPS more affordable. For the well organized SPS chapters, perhaps we can recognize them with a Chapter of the Year Award with a real cash reward to encourage more activities. If we would like to attract more students to the signal processing discipline, we can also develop summer/winter schools all over the world to offer our volunteer experts in short courses or lectures that are of great interest to students. Finally, perhaps it is beneficial for SPS to establish a new leadership position in charge of student relations.

All in all, the above list reflected the thoughts of the Long-Range Planning and Implementation Committee and the strategic retreat of a group of invited leaders who participated in the retreat. SPS leadership and EXCOM will sort through the list with careful thinking to plan for the execution and implementation in the coming years. For now, as a member of SPS, perhaps you can also be involved by asking yourself the following questions, as prepared for the retreat. Let us hear from you if you have any interesting ideas.

LRP Homework Questions


A commercial corporation is assessed by its market value.  Although non-profit organizations are, in fact, corporations, they are measured by the service they provide.  The guidelines for measuring value are somewhat nebulous.

If you were asked to put a “market value” on the IEEE Societies to which you belong, how would you measure the IEEE Signal Processing Society?  How would you rank it among other IEEE societies?  How would you rank it among other organizations serving the community-at-large that are either primarily or partially relevant to signal processing?


Imagine yourself as any two of the following:

  • A Ph.D. student studying/training in signal processing and/or related areas;
  • A graduate student using signal processing in related scientific areas;
  • An undergraduate student in ECE or other areas studying DSP.

Your institution has subscribed to the IEEE Electronic Library (IEL) on IEEE Xplore, so that you can access all IEEE publications free of charge.  What kinds of services and benefits offered (or to be offered) by the SPS would you be willing to pay to join SPS as a Student member or Graduate Student member?

Is there something among SPS’s offerings (publications, conferences, other products/services/programs) that would tempt you to join as a Society student member?  What products and services to suit your needs are missing from the Society’s portfolio?

Using conference publications as a means of determining relevant events for members of the signal processing community, what does SPS currently offer in terms of conferences and workshops that are especially attractive to students?  What’s missing in the Society’s conference portfolio?

What else is missing in the Society’s line of products/services/programs that students would find attractive enough to encourage their membership?


Imagine yourself as a member of one of the following:

  • A practicing engineer working in a signal processing-related area
  • A research scientist/bench engineer working in the R&D division of a large corporation
  • An engineer working in a field outside academia but employing the principles of signal processing to accomplish your work.

Your employer is either unable or unwilling to cover membership to relevant professional organizations such as IEEE and/or an IEEE society, including the Signal Processing Society.

What kinds of products/services/programs would offer you value such that you would be willing to pay your own dues to join the Signal Processing Society as an Affiliate or to join the IEEE/Signal Processing Society as a Member?


Imagine that you had a colleague working in one of the following:

  • Engineering field other than EE (biological, chemical, physical, environmental, mechanical)
  • In a scientific area such as biology, physics, medicine, etc.

From conversations with your colleague, you feel certain that his/her work would benefit from signal processing tools and techniques.

What kinds of products/services/programs could the Signal Processing Society provide to attract your colleague and others like him/her to join SPS as an Affiliate or the IEEE/SPS as a Member?


Imagine that you are a member of the signal processing community and your annual salary  in not sufficient to enable you to pay full Member dues and fees to IEEE (currently at $170 to $200) or even Affiliate dues and fees to the SPS (currently at about $100).

What kinds of products/services/programs would be sufficient to encourage you to become an e-member of the IEEE and/or the Society at a significantly reduced rate?  (Note:  The IEEE new e-membership model for individuals from countries having disadvantaged economies is $55-$60 in 2011; society-level mechanisms are still a work in progress of the IEEE master plan.)

What kinds of products/services/programs would you like the Society to provide, either directly through the Society or through its local chapters?

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Education & Resources

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