IEEE recognizes Montréal with the Supporting Friend Award

published on 10 04 2018
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This summer, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recognized Tourisme Montréal and the Palais des congrès de Montréal with a Supporting Friend Award. Montréal is the first destination and the Palais des congrès is the first convention centre in Canada to receive this distinction. The award is rarely given to people or organizations not working directly in the fields of electrical or electronic engineering.

To be nominated for an IEEE Supporting Friend Award, candidates must have a long history of providing support to the IEEE. In the case of Tourisme Montréal and the Palais des congrès de Montréal, the award recognized the DMO and the convention centre for the truly extraordinary assistance they provided in the hosting of IEEE conferences and meetings.

Extraordinary collaboration

“The Palais des congrès and Tourisme Montréal host so many IEEE conferences in Montréal and that creates the opportunity for people – engineers, scientists, researchers, decision-makers, policy-makers, governments and top industry leaders worldwide – to come and see Montreal, share their ideas and thoughts, and make decisions about the future of technology,” says Dr. Wahab Almuhtadi, professor at Algonquin College, Fellow of the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC)  and Senior Member of IEEE. “So here was a hub to galvanize all these people, thanks to the work they have done and the relationship they have built with IEEE.”

Dr. Almuhtadi is Executive Chair for the IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) 2021 – Montréal, as well as incoming President of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society (CESoc). He is also a Director on the IEEE ComSoc (Communications Society) North America Board, a member of the ComSoc Board of Governors and is Chair of the IEEE Canada Publications & Communications Group. Dr. Almuhtadi has served on the IEEE conference advisory committee for Canada for three years and has been instrumental in showcasing the benefits of meeting in Montréal and other Canadian destinations.

“When we see such great cooperation and understanding of IEEE, we value this,” explains Dr. Almuhtadi. “Montréal is a leader in hosting IEEE conferences in their city. They understand the structure of IEEE…so it is easy for IEEE to communicate with them. We don’t have to start from scratch each time because Marc-André Gemme (Palais des congrès), Carol Damiani (Tourisme Montréal) and Sabrina Pergass (Tourisme Montréal) go to IEEE conferences and say, okay, this conference is fantastic, can we host it for four, five years at a time. You rarely see such dynamic preparation and vision elsewhere.”

A destination with a difference

Dr. Almuhtadi points out that, in addition to its high-tech and flexible meeting infrastructure, Montréal is also an appealing destination that draws members from around the world to IEEE events. “Montréal has so many combinations, it’s like a forest for flowers; it has the European touch, it has the American touch, it has the First Nations touch, all in one place,” says Dr. Almuhtadi. “So when we do conferences here, like POCO for example, with many different societies, attendees cannot get bored because there are so many things to see and you can fill the program with so many activities.”

Montréal hosted POCO, the Panel of Conference Organizers, in 2016. POCO has since been renamed IEEE Convene and it is the annual event for leading scholarly conference organizers.

Dr. Almuhtadi also notes the importance of the local community in the success of IEEE meetings and conventions. “Montréal has one of the oldest sections of IEEE dating back to the 1940s. And the Montréal section has chapters, and the chapters have members. For example, there are microwave members here, and they created their own chapter, coming under the pyramid of the section. When we organize conferences, we need the local people to back the organizing committee.”

There are also student branches at Montréal universities with a new generation of young professionals, including groups bringing together women in engineering.

“It is good that we have Tourisme Montréal and the Palais, as well as people from the local section who know the industry and academia; sometimes it helps us get sponsorships or additional support,” says Dr. Almuhtadi. “For example, when we were competing for 2021, I worked with Marc-André to collect letters of support, and the letters we received were amazing. They came from government, industry and potential sponsors. Marc-André helped by knocking on doors for us, asking the Prime Minister’s office if they would lend their support. We were competing against cities like New York and Chicago, and to compete for this conference [the Society of Communications in 2021, with 3,000 attendees expected], you have to compete four years ahead of time.”

One of Montréal’s strengths as a host city is the synergy it creates between the client, the convention centre and the DMO. “The best compliment we can receive is when someone asks, ‘does Carol – or Marc-André – work for the tourism board or the convention centre?’ because that means our collaboration is seamless, that we truly work as a team,” says Carol Damiani of Tourisme Montréal. “And of course, Wahab has been the key player for us because, without him, we could never bring these meetings to Montréal. He has been instrumental in opening doors for us to allow us to better understand IEEE – its structure, its needs and its members.”

About IEEE

IEEE and its members inspire a global community of more than 423,000 members in over 160 countries to innovate for a better tomorrow. IEEE has 334 Sections in 10 geographic Regions worldwide and more than 50 percent of its members come from outside the United States. It also has more than 120,000 student members and 3,005 Student Branches at colleges and universities in over 100 countries. Through its highly cited publications, conferences, technology standards, and professional and educational activities, IEEE has established itself as a trusted voice for engineering, computing, and technology information around the world. IEEE will host almost 2,000 conferences in 2018, attracting more than half a million people.

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