Young Professionals interview with Vincenzo Piuri: Candidate for IEEE President 2019
August 26, 2017
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Every year the IEEE Young Professionals dive deep in order to get the know the Candidates for IEEE President. This year three excellent candidates have been presented to us, so how do you decide who to vote for? Our short interview with all of the candidates should provide you with more insight. Our editor in chief, Eddie Custovic had the pleasure of meting all of the candidates and getting their opinion on a few important elements for our membership. Today we spoke to Vincenzo Piuri. He is best described by IEEE Young Professionals charismatic with great ability to engage with volunteers at all levels.

Who is Vincenzo Piuri?

I studied and worked in Italy, even though I enjoyed long research periods abroad as visiting professor at the University of Texas, USA (summers 1996-1999) and as visiting researcher at George Mason University, USA (summers 2012-2017), and shorter research visits in Europe and Asia. These collaborations and visits resulted not only in significant research achievements, but mainly in many long-lasting friendships around the world and made me appreciating and valuing the various cultures and traditions as well as the importance of diversity and inclusivity.

My first job was as director of a large university computing/information center. I have been an Associate Professor at Politecnico di Milano, and then a Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Milan (since 2000). I have also been awarded the honorary professorship in three universities in Europe and Asia.

I have been very active in the industry as project manager of various industrial research projects and as founder of a start-up company for industrial intelligent systems (CEO in 2007-2010).

My research and industrial interests are in intelligent systems, neural networks, pattern recognition, machine learning, signal/image processing, measurement systems, and fault-tolerant architectures. Results have been recognized by the IEEE Fellow grade and technical awards.

I am a truly passionate volunteer who enjoys serving the IEEE members and our entire scientific and professional community for 33 years. I have been involved in a large spectrum of IEEE activities, including members services, technical committees, conferences, publications, education, people networking, management, finances, and strategic planning. I have served on the Technical Activities Board and the Publication Services and Products Board as well as on their Committees, and on Committees of the Member and Geographic Activities Board, the Educational Activities Board, and the IEEE. I have served as IEEE Vice President for Technical Activities and as a member of the IEEE Board of Directors for four years.

My long-lasting volunteer service has given me a broad and deep experience in IEEE and has made me very sensitive to the needs and aspirations of all IEEE members and volunteers.

On a personal side, not only I feel that I have technical background, academic and industrial experience, management and leadership skills, but also vision and strategic thinking, understanding of members’ aspirations, genuine global perspective, understanding of IEEE activities and operations with proven successful problem-solving experience. I have promoted and supported diversity, underserved groups and areas, transparency, trust, participation, and team building. I always have aimed to work collegially through consensus for One IEEE.

I enjoy and value working with people, and I want that IEEE always be by people for people.

Going back in time, describe to us Vincenzo Piuri as a young professional.

I have been always curious about technology and its use in the industry. As young professional this led me to research, not only from the point of view of theory, but also for industrial applications.

I started from digital VLSI circuit design for arithmetic operations and signal/image processing, with specific focus on high performance and dependability. Then I expanded my interests to intelligent systems based on high performance architectures and signal/image processing: machine learning and artificial/computational intelligence fascinated and still are fascinating me.

Vincenzo Piuri

Along these years as young professional, I enjoyed designing VLSI architectures for dedicated processing, signal/image processing solutions for quality monitoring in industrial manufacturing processes, intelligent measurement systems, and, finally, intelligent and adaptive systems for quality classification of products and manufacturing processes.

These experiences have been the bases for many real-world industrial exploitations, especially in laser metal cutting and welding, wood panel production, food quality analysis, dyeing factory monitoring and control, power plant modeling and control. It has been very thrilling when the competences acquired in VLSI designing and fault tolerance allowed me to contribute to the design of the digital front-end and read-out microsystem for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, a system for high-energy physic experiments. Similarly, it has been exciting when the competences on signal/image processing and neural networks allowed me to contribute to the design of the manufacturing processes for DVD heads welding, car gear welding, and metal sheet cutting of world-leading companies in the respective fields.

IEEE has been extremely valuable to me in these activities since provided access to high-quality, trustable knowledge and, especially, offered extraordinary opportunities for networking with world-renown experts both from academy and industry, thus facilitating and boosting my career.

At the beginning, even though I have been very focused on technology, I started developing my volunteering activities in the scientific and professional community and, especially, in IEEE. I liked to experiment something complementary to my job. I started in my student branch, of which I later become counselor, and in two Chapters. I also started helping in the organization of international conferences.

These experiences helped me in experimenting and refining management and leadership skills in a very safe environment, with mentors who were suggesting how to deal with problems and monitoring my activities so as to provide early guidance whenever needed. There was no fear of making mistakes since there always was someone more senior who was friendly mentoring.

Building on these experiences, I felt very comfortable in moving one step forward in my career as young professional, first as director of a large computing/information center and subsequently as an associate professor. Even though I was born and have been always living and working in Italy, IEEE offered me unique opportunities for entering and growing professionally in the international scenario, opening many more options, and extraordinarily broadening my perspectives. In turn, this exposure to the global scenario helped me in really understanding people worldwide, valuing and respecting all diversities, and making me comfortable being everywhere in the world. Always, I have been able to find extraordinary people in any place, with bright minds and open hearts.

What are some of the major challenges that IEEE faces in the coming years and how do you plan to address them?

IEEE is facing some major challenges related to declining ability of making its value visible and appreciated by each individual in the scientific and professional community, working cooperatively, and ensuring financial sustainability.

Attractiveness and value proposition

IEEE must strengthen attractiveness, value, and relevance for members, volunteers, the scientific and professional community, and the entire humanity. To this purpose, we should be in front of evolving needs and challenges of the communities that we serve with an inclusive and open attitude. We should understand the needs and the aspirations of each individual in our community, with a holistic view both globally and locally, and provide a personalized experience across the entire IEEE by adopting a human-centric approach, with selected services and products in the various stages of her professional career. We should nurture each individual in the scientific and professional community, making IEEE her real scientific and professional home, recognizing diversity as a fundamental richness. We should strive for an IEEE in which everybody feels proud to be.

If we will properly do so, people will appreciate and value IEEE, perceive relevant to have an active role in it, and – consequently – be happy and proud to become or remain a member, volunteer ensuring that IEEE will continue to flourish, and contribute to fostering the advancement of technology for benefit of humanity.

Critical aspects are products, services, membership value, diversity, globalization, visibility, and innovation. I firmly believe that we should focus more on:

  • Continuing to be the trusted source for high-quality knowledge for scientists and professionals, adopting a human-centric approach, with modern delivery, and addressing emerging topics;
  • Empowering and engaging the IEEE members and all people in the scientific and professional community, and promoting active participation of members in IEEE management;
  • Promoting inclusivity and diversity, pervasively embracing the underserved groups and areas, and reinforcing cooperation among all groups.

In this direction, I envision several opportunities for strategic actions:

  • Expand activities, events, services, material, and products especially on emerging technologies and interdisciplinary areas as well as emerging needs for technologies, standards, and applications to support technological development and innovation in research and industry
  • Continue to produce high-quality timely knowledge, enhance aggregation and curation of materials into easily usable and accessible knowledge, and adopt modern delivery mechanisms facilitating the access to knowledge.
  • Increase continuing education programs, especially on emerging technologies, applications, and standards, and centralize the access to materials available in the various IEEE groups, to support the transition from student to professional, the evolving career of young professionals, entrepreneurship, and people changing jobs as well as the industry needs for tailored corporate-wide approaches.
  • Create practical knowledge for professionals to solve real-world problems and use standards, including guidelines, methodologies, best practices, and successful cases showing how to translate effectively the knowledge learnt in university courses into working solutions and be more effective in the industry.
  • Develop services for sharing knowledge through data, algorithms, and experimental results, with data mining and data analytics, by facilitating scientific research and fostering innovation in the industry, and by supporting educational activities with advanced educational materials.
  • Enhance people networking with agile specialized forums and events to foster dissemination of knowledge and best practices, mentoring on technology and career development, supporting inclusivity, and providing competence directories and repositories.
  • Introduce a human-centric recommendation system to promote awareness about and facilitate the selection of knowledge, events, activities, products, and services available in IEEE, by tailoring the search on the profile of each individual and proactively suggesting opportunities.
  • Personalize membership, with membership fees affordable everywhere, tangible benefits, multi-tier membership models, bundles of services and products tailored on the needs of each individual, participation in technical communities, joint memberships, rewarding mechanisms for volunteers and frequent users, sustainable payment methods, and caring for special conditions (position transition, unemployment, retirement).
  • Promote inclusivity and diversity and make this approach more visible and pervasive, by focusing especially on local communities, underserved groups and areas, young professionals, women, young generations, so as to tailor activities, events, products, and services to their specific needs.
  • Enhance the support to public services, public policy, and humanitarian activities to reinforce the visibility, standing, and appreciation of IEEE worldwide.
  • Increase cooperation among groups in IEEE and with other international and national associations with a holistic approach, exploiting synergies and focusing on the needs of the community.

One IEEE: cooperation among organizational units

IEEE must strengthen the cooperation among its various organizational units to provide a more comprehensive view of its offering to IEEE members as well as to the scientific and professional community and the entire society. This will allow also for exploiting synergies and reducing costs.  IEEE should always think, feel, and behave in a coordinated way as One IEEE. Together we can do much more!

Since some years, I have been promoting collaboration among Societies, Technical Councils, Standard Association, Regions, and Sections to understand respective needs and synergies as One IEEE. This approach strengthens bonds, improves effectiveness, enhances knowledge dissemination, expands people networking, supports interdisciplinary areas, increases service/product users, reduces duplications, and reduces expenses. I firmly believe that we should promote and strengthen the cohesion among the organizational units so as really achieve One IEEE.

To reinforce cooperation and further coalesce the organizational units into One IEEE, I would like to promote and expand, e.g., the following activities:

  • best practices concerning cooperation;
  • volunteers’ awareness to make cooperation value visible;
  • new initiatives for interdisciplinary emerging technologies/applications/standards and products/services;
  • single repository of educational material metadata for comprehensive search;
  • recommendation system for searching IEEE knowledge, services, and products;
  • data/algorithms repositories and data analytics/mining for research, industry, and education;
  • integrated platform across IEEE to make knowledge, networking opportunities, events, conferences, educational activities easier to search, also according to personal interests and preferences;
  • studying joint discounted membership, joint rewarding mechanisms, and other membership models among Societies and Standards Association;
  • studying IEEE membership personalization with knowledge, services, and products relevant to individuals.

Financial sustainability and transparency

IEEE must strengthen the global financial sustainability of the overall set of activities, without impairing services to members and the entire scientific and professional community and avoiding excessive rigidity when investing in innovative activities, services and products.

Transparency of decisions and finances is essential to understand budget. Pervasive, deep and active participation of diverse-thinking volunteers and organizational units in decision processes is essential for comprehensive analysis, monitoring, and control. These principles should be preserved for appropriate budgeting and management.

Since a few years, I have been contributing to the group autonomously created by IEEE volunteers for financial transparency at IEEE level and, in my various volunteering roles, I have been promoting and active for financial transparency and budget control. I firmly believe that we should continue to work in this direction to have a better understanding and control of the financial aspects. Financial sustainability and overheads reduction should be firmly pursued to ensure the funding needed by organizational units for fulfilling their respective mission and serve the IEEE members and the entire scientific and professional community.

The following measures should be adopted to improve financial and management transparency:

  • clarifying budget structure and allocation rules in detail;
  • service center model to understand cost allocation for used services.

To reduce overheads we should focus more on the following actions:

  • accurate spending review at IEEE level for optimizing global expenses;
  • IEEE-level project review for reducing unnecessary expenses;
  • new IEEE-level activities should be approved only after medium/long-term financial impact has been analyzed by considering all annually-submitted proposals and those previously approved.

We should work more on reducing expenses by means fo the following measures:

  • sharing best management practices with financial impact;
  • supporting experiments for innovative activities, potentially valuable across IEEE;
  • sharing services/products/platforms across IEEE for lowering costs;
  • periodic spending review of organizational units;
  • cooperating with national associations to limit investments for joint activities.

My commitment

If elected, I am fully committed to address the above issues and serve our community, with collegial approach and strategic vision, encouraging participation, galvanizing enthusiasm, and catalyzing diverse competences and thinking of members and volunteers. I will strive to improve services and products and ensure financial transparency and sustainability. I envision a holistic view for One IEEE, recognizing diversity as a fundamental richness for synergic cooperation, and in which everybody feels proud to be. An IEEE by people for people.

More details at http://VincenzoPiuri.org.

Why should young professionals vote for you?

I am motivated by a true passion for serving and giving back to the IEEE members and our scientific and professional community, especially to the young generations. From my background and experiences, I feel that I am well qualified to lead our efforts as One IEEE.

From a personal side, I still have the enthusiasm, the curiosity, the passion, the dedication, the desire of experimenting, the spirit of exploring, the crave for learning, the perseverance, the aspirations, the willingness of taking challenges, the braveness for changes, the energy, the desire of understanding cultures, the wishing of tasting different cuisines, the delight of listening to people, the urge of building a better future all together, the love for the life, the open mind, the open heart, and the pleasure of making friends that are typical of young professionals. I still feel a young professional in my heart.

I firmly believe that IEEE should always strive to support young professionals to the greatest extent, ensuring that they are fully engaged and integral part of our community and the entire IEEE. They should have a pervasive presence in all IEEE groups (including Sections, Societies/Technical Councils, Chapters, and their Committees) to bring their views and aspirations in all decision processes since inception. They should have actual impact in IEEE. We should embrace and be inspired by their passion. We should appreciate their fresh views and their enthusiasm for the life and the humanity.

IEEE should provide knowledge and services tailored on the specific needs of young professionals, in the respective geographical area, and in the specific technological area of work.

If elected, I will strive to work in these directions with all of our extraordinary people, as One IEEE. In particular, I will focus on creating a human-centric, personalized offer for every young professional.

Listening to young professionals in each geographical area, analyzing the local needs, and identifying effective solutions all together, I will work with all Boards and organizational units catalyzing our efforts in following main areas:

  • Develop more practical knowledge to solve real-world problems and use standards, including methodologies, guidelines, best practices, and successful cases.
  • Expand technical activities, communities, and standards in emerging technologies, multi-disciplinary areas, and areas which are broadly using technologies in the IEEE field (e.g., environmental engineering, finance engineering, food engineering).
  • Introduce a recommendation system on a comprehensive platform to facilitate identification of knowledge, products, services, and volunteering opportunities according to the profiles of each individual, by taking into account her/his area of work, her/his recent searches, and the searches of people with similar interests.
  • Extract fundamental and advanced knowledge from the technical material already available, by knowledge discovery approaches and aggregating this material, for example, into overviews, tutorials, and webinars.

Some additional specific actions are:

  1. Knowledge:
    • Continue to enhance the information and knowledge delivery mechanisms with modern solutions and mobile services, so that information and knowledge are made available when and where needed.
    • Expand awareness and support to ethics, ethic by design, technology sustainability, and risk management in technology, applications, and design innovation.
  2. Continuing education
    • Create more opportunities for continuing education to remain on the leading edge of technology and innovation, both on advanced foundations and emerging and multi-disciplinary technologies as well as emerging needs for technologies, applications and standards, in particular by means of webinars and online courses.
    • Introduce a recommendation system to create personalized continuing education programs, according to the specific background of individuals and their respective needs, goals and aspirations.
    • Develop specific educational activities by adopting modern delivery mechanisms and quickly on-demand focusing on specific problems.
    • Facilitate access to knowledge and continuing education by personalized plans and bundles.
    • Create a repository/directory of expertise and competence profile, with possible certifications.
  3. Networking
    • Expand networking opportunities, especially among young professionals, in all IEEE groups, especially in Societies, Technical Councils, Divisions, Sections, Chapters, and in multi-disciplinary and emerging areas, by establishing specialized forums on advanced topics as well as emerging technologies, applications, and standards, to facilitate dissemination of knowledge, recent experiences, and best practices.
    • Reinforce attention on young professionals in networking opportunities at conferences and other events, promoting interaction with more senior volunteers.
    • Enhance local people networking with local specialized groups, maker events, and competitions.
    • Enhance the humanitarian activities worldwide and the engineering projects in the local community to show the value of technology for improving the daily life of people and to give back to the society.
  4. Career development and planning
    • Expand the materials, tools, mentoring, and other services for early career development, career planning, capacity building, soft skills training, language, communication, group dynamics, social intelligence, adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, transdisciplinarity, cognitive load management, problem solving, public policy skills, management, and leadership.
    • Expand the mentoring programs to address not only career development and planning, but also discussion of technology advancement and emerging topics.
    • Stimulate internship opportunities in industry, research centers, and academia.
    • Create and promote a global directory for internship opportunities with local and worldwide perspectives.
    • Expand the support to job fairs and online market place, possibly in cooperation with other organizations.
    • Provide better understanding of entrepreneurship skills and foundations.
    • Contribute to support start-ups with knowledge, networking, services, and visibility.
    • Provide more information about volunteering activities, also as way to develop and practice leadership skills in the friendly IEEE environment, and enhance mentoring for early volunteering development.
    • Expand micro-volunteering across IEEE, also with directory of opportunities.
  5. Membership
    • Continue not to charge fees to young professionals for membership to the Young Professional Affinity Group.
    • Identify multi-tier membership models more suited for the needs of young professionals, with products and services tailored on their specific needs, equally affordable everywhere in the world, more proportional to the average income, rewarding volunteers and frequent users, possibly with monthly payments and more gradual increase from the student membership fee, and more caring for transitions between employment positions or in the case of unemployment.
    • Further expand the recognition of excellence of young professionals, especially in technology, product development, engineering practice, and industry management.

Actual specific activities should be identified together with young professionals and all people in each geographical area, since the most appropriate solutions depend on the specific needs and aspirations of the local professional community.

Even though the list of envisioned activities is long, it is worth noting that different IEEE groups are involved so that many activities can be addressed in parallel and synergies exploited in coordinated collaborative efforts across the entire IEEE. The actual initiatives should be anyway analyzed on the bases of the specific needs of each geographical area and the available financial and human resources.

To cast your vote in the 2017 Elections please go to https://www.ieee.org/Loginforms/annualElections/login.html

Interview conducted by Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief, IMPACT by IEEE young Professionals

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