Internet Society Fellow Sets RFC Milestone

By: Carolyn Duffy Marsan

Date: November 1, 2013

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IETF participant Sandra Céspedes reached an important milestone this summer, when she became the first ISOC Fellowship Programme alumni from Colombia to coauthor an RFC (Request for Comments).

Céspedes is coauthor of RFC 6971, Depth-First Forwarding in Unreliable Networks, which was published as an Experimental RFC in June 2013.

Céspedes is an assistant professor with the Department of Information and Communications Technology at Icesi University in Cali, Colombia. She directs the university’s telematics engineering undergraduate programme, and she is a member of the Informatics and Telecommunications Research Group.

Céspedes was awarded a fellowship from the Internet Society that covered the cost of travel, accommodations, and meeting fees to attend IETF 69 in Chicago in July 2007. With the Internet Society’s support, she came back as a Returning Fellow at IETF 76 in Hiroshima, IETF 79 in Beijing, IETF 83 in Paris, and IETF 87 in Berlin. She was able to attend one IETF meeting without ISOC funding, which was IETF 81 in Quebec because she was studying in Waterloo, Ontario, at the time.

Over the years, Céspedes has participated in a variety of IETF working groups: Mobility Extensions for IPv6 (Mext); Network Based Mobility Extensions (Netext); Distributed Mobility Management (DMM); and the Internet Research Task Force’s IP Mobility Optimizations Research (MOBOPTS). She also was involved in the Intelligent Transport Systems BoF.

Céspedes spent two years working on the research that became RFC 6971. She met one of the coauthors, Álvaro Cárdenas, at IETF 79 and started working with him a few months later to improve a forwarding mechanism that she discovered while conducting a research internship at Fujitsu Laboratories in California. Céspedes and Cárdenas did some experimental research and simulations on the mechanism, and together wrote the first version of the draft in March 2011. Fujitsu engineer Ulrich Herberg served as editor for the RFC and presented it at IETF 84.

“We couldn’t convince a working group to adopt the document,” Céspedes said. “We continued with the document as an independent submission, and Ulrich found reviewers interested in the work.”

Céspedes says the publication of RFC 6971 represents “a big accomplishment in my professional career. It’s been recognized as a big success by the university where I work, not only because I’m a professor there but also because I’m an alumni of the telematics engineering programme there.”

Céspedes is among a handful of Colombians who are active in the IETF and have published RFCs.

“What the publication demonstrates is that any professional in this area can contribute to make a better Internet, even if you only start by asking questions to a working group or by proposing an experimental protocol,” she said. “That’s what I try to share with my colleagues and students in my home country.”

Céspedes says she wouldn’t have been able to get involved with the IETF without the support of the Internet Society Fellowship Programme.

“Nothing would have happened if I hadn’t received the continuous support from the Internet Society,” she said. “Even though at most I’ve attended one meeting per year over the last five years, it’s definitely helped keep things rolling.”

Céspedes says the Internet Society Fellowship Programme is a key component of expanding participation at the IETF meetings among network engineers from Latin American countries.

“Every time I attend an IETF meeting, I find people attending from Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina—it’s clear that Latin American countries are getting more involved,” she said. “The hardest part is maintaining the interest and will to work after the initial meeting when companies and universities from our region don’t allow time to be dedicated to the standardization process.”