IETF 11 November 2016

Reflecting on 10 Years of the Fellowship to the IETF

Niel Harper
By Niel HarperFormer Director, Next Generation Leaders and Fellowships

At any particular IETF meeting, you are likely to find the Tech Fellows buzzing to and from working group (WG) meetings to BOFs or hanging out in one of the rather small public areas, laptops open and headphones plugged in, or talking with other fellows or participants during the lunch break or in the many informal lounge areas. Others might be serving as scribes for certain sessions, discussing their current projects with WG chairs, speaking at the microphone during the Q&A, or talking with their Mentors about which sessions on the agenda are best for them to attend.

At the end of the day, the Fellows would have attended sessions that match up with their own academic or professional interests, had lively conversations with their colleagues, been stimulated through interactions with IETF veterans more than likely in their own or similar fields, engaged in deep technical discussions in groups of their peers, discovered a new research group (RG) or standard that peaks their interest, deepened social bonds at an informal dinner, and been pushed to broaden their minds in purposeful and unexpected ways.

And this is pretty much what the Fellowship to the IETF is all about. The programme was started in 2006 to increase awareness of the open standards development process across communities where there was little to no understanding. Since then, it has evolved into a sort of incubator for the next generation of IETF leaders. Over the 10 years of the programme’s existence, a total of 289 awards have been given out to 193 individuals (First-Timer and Returning Fellows). And during this time, we have recognized that the success of the program is largely down to not only what Fellows give back to the IETF (directly or indirectly), but also what they receive from it.

A recent survey of past participants of the Fellowship to the IETF has yielded some interesting results as it pertains to the direct and indirect contributions of Fellows to the IETF. Below are a few highlights from the survey:

  • Fellows have contributed to the development of roughly 49 RFCs in total, including 7 co-authored RFCs
  • Several fellows are active in other standards development organizations such as IEEE and W3C, and also involved with network operator groups (NOGs)
  • Fellows regularly speak at regional conferences about the importance of the IETF and recruit individuals to become involved
  • In 2015, a group of past Fellows from India have launched the Indian IETF Capacity Building initiative, and secured funding money from the government to host a meeting and build an Indian Fellows programme and mentoring network
  • In LAC, many former Fellows have been involved in recruiting others and organizing local hubs for remote participation
  • Former Brazilian Fellows launched professor-student Fellowships where they attended 6-9 IETF meetings over 3 years
  • A number of Fellows have led and driven IPv6 deployments at their respective universities

We are certain that the individuals selected for the Fellowship to IETF 97 will continue along this rich vein of building awareness of and sustaining active participation in the IETF. You can check out their profiles here.

At this time, we would also like to thank those organizations who sponsor and support the Fellowship to the IETF: Afilias, APNIC, APTLD, Google, and ICANN. We very much appreciate your support!

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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