Lucia Lo Bello is the Secretary of the Industrial Electronics Society as well as the IES Women in Engineering Representative. With the sound of birds and nature of Sicily in the background, it’s been a real pleasure to get to know more personally this inspiring woman.
ITeN team: Dear professor Lo Bello, thanks a lot for being with us today. Please tell us about your experience, what would be the highlights of your career?
Lucia Lo Bello: I think that some of the milestones in my career are the results of participating to scientific conferences relevant to my research interests. Conferences are valuable for both the interesting presentations, the valuable feedback provided by peer colleagues, the inspiring keynotes, and the people one can meet during such conferences. Attending and taking active part to the conferences is very important for young researchers.
The first milestone for my career was at the 1999 IEEE Real-Time Systems Symposium conference in Phoenix. There I met a professor from Seoul National University (SNU) that was interested in my research. A few months later, I went to SNU for my post doc and spent seven months there working with two research groups, and the collaboration lasted for a few years with a PhD from SNU visiting me for 6 months. The results of this period include a methodology for the stochastic analysis of real-time systems that has obtained a high impact in the scientific community and is being cited even today, after 20 years. Everything stemmed from a casual conversation after my presentation at this conference!
Another milestone is an IES conference, the IEEE Emerging Technologies and Factory Automation Conference, ETFA 2001, in Juan-les-Pins. There, I met a number of colleagues and we started long-term relationships consisting of exchanging ideas and collaborating on joint papers, projects, and research. And since then, I’ve been regularly attending the ETFA conferences every year, meeting new people and creating new research connections. In 2005 I was honored to host this conference in Catania, at my University, being one of the two Program Chairs.
I am regularly serving ETFA, every year in some role. From ETFA my involvement in IES also started, and I became an AdCom Member-at-large a few years later, in 2007.
It’s a step by step process. But if you go to the right conference, such as the IES ones, IECON, INDIN, ISIE, WFCS, ICIT, the already mentioned ETFA, ICPS, and all the others, depending on what your research interests are, and meet the right people, this can really be helpful to your growth as a researcher, but also as a person. I met many of my friends there. Attending conferences, presenting your work, discussing your research with your peers, and participating actively can really foster your career.
ITeN team: Did you receive any award that were important to you?
Lucia Lo Bello: I received the IEEE Early Career award from IES in 2008 and also recently received the IEEE Rudolph Chope Research & Development Award. These two awards mean a lot to me.
First, the Early Career Award was a recognition of my commitment to research and for the hard work I was doing at the beginning of my career.
The Rudolph Chope in 2021 is the recognition of what I have actually accomplished so far, with my hard work and passion in research.
I have always been very passionate about technology. When I was a school girl, I was fascinated by telecommunications in general. When I was 9 years old, I was able to repair a small radio that was not working. I still don’t know how I did it, but I fixed the radio that my father was about to throw away.
For me, it was fascinating that I could hear people talking in other languages using the long-wave radio. It was great, I had this impression that the other countries and the other people were not so far from me. And then, when the Internet age started, for me it was perfect because we can be very far, but we can still get in touch easily and communicate with each other. Geographical barriers are gone, in some sense.
I always put passion in what I do, both in research and in teaching, and my constant effort is to transfer the same passion to my research group and my students. For example, I have a very nice experience to report about the students of my course on industrial and automotive networks of this semester. As a supplementary and non-mandatory project for them, the students realized small autonomous cars able to reach a target while avoiding obstacles using equipment kindly provided by STMicroelectronics. The students had fun in working on this project, and the results were amazing.
ITeN team: What would be your mission in our Industrial Electronics society…
…First, as our IES Women in Engineering representative?
Lucia Lo Bello: The Industrial Electronics Society has always been fostering diversity and inclusion, being an open and friendly environment. My mission as the IES WiE representative is to continually improve our practices, following the IEEE WiE mainstream, in order to maintain an environment that reflects the rich diversity of the industrial electronics scientific community. When I started the Women in Engineering representative mission, my target was to foster the active participation of women in the IES and IEEE activities, and to inspire young women to pursue their career in Engineering. Since then, a lot of progress has been done within the Women in IES initiative under the IEEE Growth Center project. Our events, i.e., both the Women in IES Forums and the Women in IES Technical Workshops held at the major IES conferences since 2017, have contributed to increase the percentage of women in the IES membership from about 6% to more than 13% in the last few years. Many attendees told me that they were really inspired by our speakers.
Moreover, if you look around, now there are many women actively involved in IES and in the AdCom with different roles, and all of them are performing extremely well. I am very happy that I was able to involve in IES such active and committed women as well as to team with them.
I’ve also worked towards fostering diversity and inclusion by representing IES in other events, such as the European PhD School on Power Electronics in Gaeta and the SHARPER (SHAring Researchers’ Passion for Enhanced Roadmaps) nights, i.e., the European Researchers’ Nights held in Catania, both in 2019.
…And as the IES Secretary?
Lucia Lo Bello: The Secretary mission includes, among other things, leading the Constitution and Bylaws (C&B) Committee, whose role is to ascertain that the Constitution and Bylaws are conform to the IEEE requirements or rules and also to make timely recommended changes in the Constitution and Bylaws to reflect the developments of the IES and its mode of operation.
As the Secretary, I had to go through the IES Constitution, the IES Bylaws, and the relevant IEEE documents. Fortunately, I have a great team! In the C&B Committee there are Senior Members and Life AdCom Members with a significant experience, and I learned a lot by listening to them. It is when you have the right people to work with that you can really succeed, and therefore, in the first term of my mandate as Secretary, we were able to present to the AdCom changes in both the IES Bylaws and the IES Constitution, and such changes were approved. And I believe that some other work will be done during my second term.
ITeN team: Beside attending to conferences, as you said earlier, which advice would you give to boost our reader’s career?
Work hard to advance your skills and to bring your ideas to life. Team with the right people.
These are the better advices I can give.
ITeN team: And beside being a dedicated professor in IES, what are your hobbies?
Lucia Lo Bello: I have several passions.
First of all, my family. I try to spend as much time as I can with my husband (we are married since 25 years now), my 14-year-old son, my parents, and my dog.
And I like sports, in particular outside sports, like sailing.
I also like playing tennis and hiking. I can walk for hours in the nature. This helps me to refresh my mind. I particularly enjoy the scent of the sea and the beautiful landscapes, such as the wind-swept coasts that we have here in Sicily.
Nature is inspiring. In the nature my mind becomes more creative. If I manage to get old and retire, I could write novels.
I also like to spend the time with my friends. After the COVID, the need to meet people, to hang out together has increased a lot. No need to do anything exciting, just talk and listen to them, laugh, and stay together. This pandemic made us appreciate the value of the relationships with other people.
I also like cooking, as it relaxes me. When I have enough time, I prepare delicious things. I like cooking sweets. Tart with fresh fruit is one of my favorites.
ITeN team: Would you say that it was obvious that you would become an Engineer?
Lucia Lo Bello: It was not so obvious at that time. But now that I look behind, yes, probably I have always been an Engineer. Even though I didn’t even think about it.
In the eighties-nineties, not so many women took the Master Degree in Electronic Engineering. For instance, in my course there were only two women out of 145 students (Now it’s different. The percentage of women in Electronic Engineering and Computer Engineering is higher than in the past, at least in Italy.)
During the university years, I have always studied with groups of male colleagues. It was good for them to have such a picky colleague as I was always pointing on every detail, on every aspect in a very systematic way. As a result, all the people who studied with me took very high scores in the end.
ITeN team: Thank you, Prof. Lucia Lo Bello, for having shared about your experience with us. Stay tuned, we will soon interview other IES officers…