IEEE conference lacks locals

Read time 2min 10sec

The world's largest and most prestigious software engineering conference, sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, is about to hit SA's shores for the first time, yet local participation appears to be lacking.

The event is scheduled to run from 1 to 8 May, in Cape Town. The 32nd International Conference on Software Engineering is considered the preeminent high-level gathering of academics, and public and private sector software engineers, architects and others who gather on an annual basis to discuss future trends and current issues.

The conference is being hosted by the Computer Society of SA, and other sponsors include Microsoft and IBM. The size of the event can be gauged from the fact that almost the entire Cape Town International Convention Centre has been booked for the conference.

Jenny McKinnell, executive director of the Cape IT Initiative (Citi), says her information is that, while more than 600 international delegates have booked to attend, only 25 people from SA have confirmed they will be there.

“Possibly it is the price, maybe some feel it is too long to be away from their businesses, but local participation is a problem,” she says.

Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, says the lack of local delegates is disappointing; however, he is optimistic these numbers will increase closer to the time of the conference.

“This conference is well known to the local software engineering community and many have travelled overseas to attend it. Now it is happening on our shores and, in reality, the cost to attend is far less,” he says.

The cost to attend is around R6 500 for IEEE members and R7 500 for non-members.

The conference will be chaired by two well-known South African software academics: Judith Bishop, who was formerly head of computer science, at the University of Pretoria, and now works for Microsoft, in Redmond; and Jeff Kramer, who is at Imperial College, in London.

However, the paucity of local delegates is not deterring Citi from using the conference to showcase the Western Cape's ICT industry. The City of Cape Town has spent R140 000 with the conference organisers to book up most of the convention centre's ballroom to allow small and medium companies to display their products, services and offerings.

“We have come up with a low-tech solution for a hi-tech conference that should make it very affordable for any company to display its offerings,” McKinnell says.

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