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Seven IEEE Members Who are Reshaping the Young Professionals Program

Meet the diverse group of leaders striving to keep the organization relevant

Photo: Sean McCabe

The IEEE Young Professionals program is run by tireless volunteers seeking to provide professional development opportunities for IEEE members who are in an early stage of their career. It offers networking events with technical experts and industry leaders as well as a host of volunteering roles. To increase and retain members, the program’s leaders are working hard at marketing, communications, and forming partnerships with high-tech companies.

Here’s the group’s leadership team, which helped shape the Young Professionals business plan.

  • Rafal Sliz

    2017 chair

    An IEEE senior member, Sliz began volunteering with IEEE Young Professionals as a graduate student in Oulu, Finland, in 2010. He started out as the Young Professionals chair of the IEEE Finland Section and went on to serve as chair of the Region 8 Young Professionals subcommittee in 2013 and 2014.

    This year he took on a new role as chair of IEEE Young Professionals, driving the group’s mission and positioning it to serve future generations of engineers. He has tried to make the program more relevant to young engineers by helping develop and implement the group’s business plan. The plan includes modifying IEEE’s products and services to make them more relevant and accessible to young engineers.

    Sliz is a research fellow at the University of Toronto, focused on nanotechnology and printed electronics. His work involves the development and upscaling of quantum dot devices, QLEDs, and ultrasensitive sensors.

  • Mario Milicevic

    Past chair

    Milicevic served as chair of IEEE Young Professionals in 2015 and 2016 while pursuing a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto. He took the lead in shaping the group’s business plan, which includes creating more volunteer roles, introducing programs to help retain members, and developing networking opportunities with other IEEE groups and leaders in industry.

    He made it a point to increase the visibility of the group by having a booth and organizing mixers at high-profile conferences including the Consumer Electronics Show, South by Southwest, and the Web Summit, as well as at several IEEE flagship conferences. He was co-chair of the 2015 and 2016 IEEE N3XT summits, entrepreneurship events designed to equip the group’s members with the skills and support they need to launch their own ventures.

    Related: IEEE N3XT Stars Program Helps Tech Startups Emerge

    For his day job, Milicevic is a communication systems engineer at MaxLinear, in Irvine, Calif. He develops algorithms and system-on-chip architectures for high-performance broadband and networking semiconductors.

  • Flavia Dinca

    Vice chair, communications

    Dinca, who was chair of the Region 8 Young Professionals subcommittee in 2015, joined the IEEE Young Professionals leadership team this year.

    In addition to helping develop the business plan, she is leading the microvolunteering and loyalty projects, as well as spearheading communications efforts.

    Related: Helping Busy Members Get Involved With IEEE

    Dinca is pursuing a master’s degree in information security at Stockholm University.

  • Ramesh Nair

    Vice chair, funding opportunities

    Nair has for more than eight years served as a volunteer helping out with student and Young Professionals activities.

    In his current role, he developed the group’s events funding portal, where members can request money for their activities. Four types of events are funded: IEEE Student Transition and Elevation Partnership activities, which help recent graduates enter the workforce; seed funding for new projects; meet-ups for members in the same geographic area; and signature events, held in conjunction with other tech conferences. Since the portal’s launch in January, the group has funded more than 100 events.

    Nair is a senior design automation engineer at Intel in Folsom, Calif.

  • Dinko Jakovljevic

    Vice chair, marketing and design

    Jakovljevic is responsible for Young Professionals branding. He has held positions on a number of IEEE committees during the past five years, starting out as a Croatia Section representative from the IEEE student branch at the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek.

    For the past three years, he has helped organize IEEEXtreme, a 24-hour coding competition for student members around the world. He’s also cofounder of IEEEmadC, an annual contest for building mobile apps that benefit humanity.

    A system integrator at Ericsson Nikola Tesla, in Zagreb, Croatia—an affiliate of the telecommunications equipment manufacturer—Jakovljevic specializes in command and control systems and traffic management.

    In his spare time, he is developing software to help find missing children in Croatia.

  • Shashank Gaur

    Vice chair, internal partnerships

    The graduate student member has been an IEEE volunteer for eight years, since founding the student branch at the BK Birla Institute of Engineering and Technology, Pilani, in India.

    He is forming partnerships across IEEE technical societies to find new opportunities for Young Professionals members. That includes helping develop microvolunteering roles for those who want to get involved with the organization but don’t have much time. He also helps members learn about and access IEEE resources that match their needs, and he contributes to the group’s entrepreneurial efforts.

    Gaur is a Ph.D. candidate at the CISTER research center in Porto, Portugal. His work focuses on context-aware computing in wireless sensor networks and the Internet of Things.

    He is also a member of The Institute’s editorial advisory board.

  • Preeti Kovvali

    Vice chair, external partnerships

    Kovvali seeks out companies and organizations that can work with Young Professionals. She is building relationships with high-tech companies for networking events, and recruiting companies to sponsor the group’s events and projects. She also is responsible for social media efforts and the group’s online presence.

    A recipient of the 2016 Member and Geographic Activities Young Professionals Achievement Award, Kovvali has been involved with IEEE for a decade.

    She is a project manager for Tech Mahindra, in Hyderabad, India, where she manages IT services for a Fortune 500 client and a Finnish retail giant.

This article is part of our December 2017 special issue on young professionals.

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