New President's Message

Dear Members of the IEEE System, Man, & Cybernetics Society,

Not many of you may care about the organizational structure of our society and you don't need to - but if you read this, you probably read our transactions and attend our conferences and are obviously interested in their content. This is what really counts: our transactions continuing to publish inspiring, interesting, high-quality articles and our conferences being the premier outlet for new and exciting results in the areas of systems, cybernetics and human factors research.

However, with my term as president of the society beginning this year I would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers and briefly introduce some of the ongoing plans and projects. If, previously, you have not been all that interested in the organization behind SMCS maybe you might become interested in being part of shaping the society now?...

Our society is in good shape: we have a solid membership base, our transactions are continuing to better their impact factors and our annual conferences (in addition to the many SMCS-sponsored conferences) are drawing many attendees. This is, no doubt, the result of the work of my predecessors: Bill Gruver, Larry Hall, and Daniel Yeung to name just the last three. And many others have also worked hard in various roles in our organization. But let us not rest on these past laurels; there is still lots of room for improvement. For instance, even though attendee numbers are not an issue, the quality of our conference does leave room for improvement and also our Distinguished Lecturer program is in need of an overhaul to better reach out to our local members and chapters.

My goal for the coming two years is threefold. First, and most importantly, I want to continue increasing the quality of our transactions and conferences. We cannot be satisfied with keeping the number of submissions to our transactions high, we need to keep pushing for even higher quality articles being both submitted and ultimately accepted. Over the past years our impact factors have steadily risen. Granted, no one dimensional numeric measure can really capture the quality of a publication but it is at least a strong indicator that we are striving in the right direction. Our flagship conference also needs attention; we need to get back into a position where more high quality papers are being presented at our annual conference!

Secondly, we need to continue identifying the emerging topics and foster the exchange of ideas in those areas particularly -- we will have a dedicated committee working on identifying new areas and we will carefully look at our current setup of Technical Committees to make sure we are focusing on the right areas. This again ties in with our conference - as active technical committees in exciting areas ought to be able to attract high caliber papers!

And thirdly, we need to get much better at communicating what SMCS really is all about to our members. Considering that SMC has a long and intertwined history this will also require considering name changes to our transactions and even the entire society to better emphasize our key areas of interest. First rounds of discussions regarding a clarification of transaction and society names have already taken place and hopefully you will hear more about this soon. It is interesting to note that SMCS emerged from groups that actually had Human Factors in their names (SMCS's original transaction was the result of a merger of a Transaction on Systems Science and Cybernetics and a second one which used to be called the Transaction on Human Factors in Electronics). So there is actually no historical reason for sticking to the gender biased and really not all that descriptive term "Man" in our society's and transactions' names.

This does not mean that we will not continue working on our member outreach program, support local chapters in any way we can, and keep investing in student activities! These are all important aspects of a healthy society too, but without quality, hot topics, and communication none of those activites will have a ground to grow on.

All of this will, of course, not be possible without the help of many volunteers and also feedback from all of you: SMCS readers and members! The colleagues who will support me on the BOG and ExCom of SMCS in the coming two years are listed in the cover of our transactions and more information on the remainder of the SMCS team and SMCS in general can be found on our website: http://www.ieeesmc.org.

If you have any suggestions, comments or are interested in getting involved with SMCS please send me a note:. Without continuous feedback, we cannot even attempt to claim that we are trying to serve you: the members of SMCS, the readers of our transactions and the attendees of our conferences.

Best regards,

Michael R. Berthold
President, SMCS 2010/2011