This year’s Eurocon conference saw around 400 IEEE members gather at the University of Zagreb in the capital of Croatia. Here, distinguished keynote speakers and numerous paper and poster sessions covered a variety of topics with a focus on the latest research.
The Region 8 GOLD and Professional Activities (PA) committees teamed up to provide a special session track designed for IEEE GOLD members attending the conference. Eurocon, as the flagship conference of Region 8, presented a great opportunity to directly address young IEEE professionals and introduce them to the GOLD community and its activities. Sessions were organized with the local support of Croatian GOLD Affinity Group (AG) volunteers, and consisted of 5 lectures and a workshop during the first conference day.
GOLD/PA sessions began with a welcome talk by Croatia GOLD AG Chair Tomislav Pokrajcic, who presented some interesting facts about GOLD in IEEE Region 8 (R8) and encouraged members from sections without active GOLD affinity groups to join and boost networking between young IEEE engineers and students. He also showcased activities of the Croatia GOLD AG (a recipient of the R8 GOLD Outstanding Affinity Group Award in 2011).
Marko Lackovic, Chief Secretary of the Croatian Competitiveness Council and IEEE Croatia Industrial Relations Chair, followed with a presentation on the Global Competitiveness Index with a focus on the competitiveness ranking of Croatia. While traditionally ranked low in general competitiveness of developed countries, the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report places it within the top third of countries in ICT categories. Marko explained the potential reflected by that position and the role of engineering in the economic development of a country.
Jan Verveckken, R8 Professional Activities Chair, highlighted the fact that the conference opening day July 1st was also the day Croatia joined the European Union. He presented a set of data that benchmarked the entrepreneurship environment and opportunities for young engineers in Croatia relative to other countries which recently joined the EU.
Damir Sabol from the Zagreb Entrepreneurship Incubator initiative gave an overview of what it takes to secure the required resources and build a successful startup company based on a new technology. He emphasized that gathering an excellent team, building a product and finding customers or investors are complex tasks, but with proper execution they can generate significant market changes and business results.
Prof. Željka Car from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing gave an informative and inspirational talk about active corporate social responsibility in the ICT domain with an emphasis on accessible user interfaces. Participants learned about the barriers that persons with disabilities face in a modern digital world, and ways to help them to fully benefit from a networked society.
The final part of this special Eurocon track was a workshop on body language held by an excellent trainer and speaker, Professor Kurt Richter. In a relaxed atmosphere, he explained the importance of understanding non-verbal communication in a business environment and demonstrated some real-life situations through interaction with the audience.
The special GOLD/PA sessions at Eurocon were well received by IEEE GOLD attendees. We commend these attendees for demonstrating a clear interest in complementing their technical knowledge with business know-how and soft skills.
Contributed by Tomislav Pokrajcic, IEEE Croatia GOLD AG Chair