The IETF is the world’s premier Internet standards setting organisation. It operates as a large, open international community of network designers, operators, vendor experts, researchers, and other interested technologists. While much of the IETF’s work takes place over mailing lists, the in-person experience promotes a stronger understanding of the standardisation process, encourages active involvement in IETF work, and facilitates personal networking with others that have similar technical interests.
Presently, there is limited attendance at IETF meetings by technologists from developing countries.
There are, however, many talented individuals in developing regions that have an interest in and follow IETF work and would benefit from the opportunities that attending an IETF meeting presents.
As such, the IETF Fellowship program is part of the Next Generation Leaders programme.
Its main purposes are to:
Raise global awareness about the IETF and its work
Foster greater understanding of and participation in the work of the IETF by technologists from the developing world
Provide an opportunity for networking with individuals from around the world with similar technical interests
Identify and foster potential future leaders from developing regions, and
Demonstrate the Internet community’s commitment to fostering greater global participation in Internet Forums such as the IETF.
ISOC successfully piloted the Fellowship program at the 66th IETF meeting in Montreal in June 2006. Alain Aina and Michuki Mwangi, Internet leaders in Togo and Kenya respectively, participated in the first pilot and wrote the following about their experience:
ISOC Fellows at IETF 67 (L to R): Azael Fernandez Alcantara, Alfred Prasad, and Laupue Raymond Hughes
“To most Internet engineers, the IETF is a revered organisation and involvement is regarded as a career high. We felt that our participation at the IETF meeting in Montreal was both a personal achievement and a motivational experience. It gave life to a process that we had experienced only on mailing lists. Having had the opportunity to be at the meeting, we were able to appreciate the passion and the energy that are put into the IETF for the good of the Internet.”
Alain Aina and Michuki Mwangi from their article Impressions of Two IETF Newcomers about their experience as ISOC Fellows. IETF Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2.
Three individuals from the Pacific and Latin America participated in a second pilot phase at the 67th IETF meeting in San Diego in November 2006. All found the experience highly beneficial. Based on the success of the pilots, the ISOC formalised the program in 2007.
Success stories by alumni are plentiful and highlight the benefits of attending the meeting in person, for both the fellow and the IETF. Please read one fellow's candid thoughts on attending the meeting (PDF: 15KB and visit our Fellowship alumni page for more testimonials.
What the ISOC Fellowship Provides
The ISOC Fellowship pays for the Fellow’s IETF meeting registration and social event fees, a round-trip economy class airfare to the meeting, hotel accommodation, and a small stipend to offset incidental expenses.
The program provides fellowships for up to five individuals per IETF meeting. ISOC will be putting out a call for candidates (including through the ISOC chapter networks) at least three months before an IETF meeting. A small selection committee, comprised of individuals knowledgeable about the IETF, will evaluate the applicants against selection criteria and make their fellowship recommendations.
Fellowship recipients will have an obligation to present or otherwise share their experiences at the IETF meeting they attend with their local community and to provide feedback on their experience to ISOC so that the program can be continuously improved. An ISOC Fellowship Alumni Network will be established to extend the fellows IETF experience and relationship-building opportunities after the meeting.
For further information on the specifics of the program and how to apply for an ISOC Fellowship see the How to Apply details.