iCON Recognition Goes to IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium

The event was cited for its innovation, community-building, and professional growth

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Image of José Moreno accepting an award and shaking hands with the award presenter.
José Moreno accepting the iCON recognition on behalf of the conference.
Photo: IEEE

THE INSTITUTEThis year’s iCON honors were given to the 2018 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) for its exemplary innovation, content curation, community-building, and financial stability and growth.

The recognition ceremony was during IEEE Convene, which was held from 1 to 2 August in Washington, D.C. The event is produced by IEEE’s Meetings, Conferences & Events group, and is an annual gathering of the IEEE conference community. The theme of this year’s IEEE Convene was “Enhancing the Attendee Experience”.

IEEE Executive Director and COO, Steve Welby’s keynote speech underscored the critical role of convening, both within IEEE and for advancing the technologies shaping our world.

IGARSS is the premier event in remote sensing. Attendees network, learn about research developments, exchange ideas, and identify trends. Jose Moreno, conference chair, accepted the recognition on behalf of the organizing committee that planned last year’s event.


The conference established a unique technical program with interactive elements—which included two events organized by the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as activities tailored toward women and young professionals, such as a women in STEM forum and a young professionals luncheon, plus the symposium’s first-ever code workshop. Conference keynotes, tutorials, and workshops highlighted the rapid evolution of geospatial technology, new remote-sensing software, and calibration standards for spectral imaging devices.

The 2018 conference enjoyed a 45 percent increase in revenue and a 41 percent increase in attendance compared with the previous year.

“The key goal of the conference was to increase attendee engagement during sessions,” Moreno said in his acceptance speech. “Another goal was to increase the number of students and young professionals attending the conference. In 2018, 30 percent of conference attendees were students.”

He thanked IEEE and the whole organizing committee—in particular the volunteers, who played important roles in making the conference a success.

The symposium included an industry-engagement forum—the Technology Industry Education forum. Through panel presentations and interactive discussions, the event addressed parallel topics on industry and academia, women and young professionals in geoscience and remote sensing, education, standards, and application networks.

Sessions geared toward women and young professionals provided a space for them to discuss professional development opportunities and career paths in the geosciences and remote-sensing industries.

Participants in the code workshop practiced processing satellite data with open-source tools such as Sat-utils and Label Maker. Sat-utils is a collection of tools for querying and processing satellite data. Label Maker is a Python library that creates custom machine learning–ready satellite training data for popular frameworks including Keras, TensorFlow, and MXNet.

The space agency’s first event highlighted the ESA’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity Earth Explorer mission, which provides data for applications including weather prediction, hydrological forecasting, and ocean modeling. The ESA invited 12 specialists from academia, the agency, and other organizations to speak at the event, including the mission’s principal engineer, IEEE Senior Member Manuel Martin-Neira. The second ESA event included keynotes and discussions designed to gain feedback and recommendations from the community on the agency’s new Carbon Science Constellation Initiative.

IGRASS is a model for how creativity in planning can establish an event that engages attendees and inspires innovation.

Marie Hunter is the senior director of IEEE Meetings, Conferences & Events.

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