IEEE R8 Virtual Student & Young Professionals Congress will be held from 14th to 26th of September 2020 in a hybrid format with 3 hours of daily content.

The IEEE Region 8 SYP Congress is an event of great tradition and perhaps the most expected in Region 8. Throughout the technical and social activities, students and young professionals have an opportunity to improve their engineering knowledge, their soft skills, and to get to know other cultures from our diverse Region. In close collaboration with companies, attendees get closer to the industry. They all network, exchange ideas and thoughts about the technological trends.

This year, all events have been either postponed or canceled for the safety of all IEEE members. Since the beginning of the year, we have been looking forward to the IEEE R8 SYP 2020 in Gothenburg, and while the final decision when it will happen is eagerly awaited, the first ever IEEE R8 Virtual SYP is now in the public spotlight!

IEEE R8 Virtual SYP will be held from 14th to 26th of September 2020 in a hybrid format with 3 hours of daily content. If you are interested in participating, register at the official website (, where you can also learn more about the program.

We asked Gerard Duff, the chair of congress, what is his view on the current situation, and what is the reason behind the decision to organize a completely new event in a hybrid format?

“I was part of the team that was tasked with organizing the IEEE Region 8 SYP 2020 congress in Gothenburg. When the correct decision was made to not hold the event in 2020 for the safety of everyone involved, it was quite frankly devastating. My team had dedicated an enormous amount of effort and time towards the event and it also felt a little bit like we were failing the young engineers of Region 8 by not being able to deliver a big SYP event this year. Thankfully the R8OpCom, R8YP, R8CCT, R8SAC and R8WIE invited me to be a part of the organization team of a brand new virtual SYP event, and I was delighted to take the opportunity to help out. The new virtual SYP has some amazing strengths as an event – it is completely free, accessible from anywhere on the planet, and has a great line-up of speakers from IEEE experts to industry experts from NASA and Mozilla. I love the fact that the event is spread out across the entire region too, and that different sections are hosting different days. In the current global climate, it is heartwarming and reassuring to see volunteers from across the Region pulling together and working towards providing better opportunities for our young engineers.”

To his idea that this format could be part of future R8 SYPs, Gerard added:

“I hope that the spirit of this event will be incorporated into more events in the future when the world returns to a more solid footing. I would love to see the R8 SYP event incorporate some of the online nature of this event, so that we continue to increase the availability of quality education to all our young members going forward.”

Antonio Luque, 2019-2020 IEEE Region 8 Director Elect, participated in the idea and decision to organize the vSYP. He told us his perspective on vSYP and how important it is for Region 8.

“Since we couldn’t have the chance of inviting all students and young professionals of IEEE in Africa, Middle East and Europe, to meet in Gothenburg, Sweden, earlier this summer, the Region is organizing the first ever virtual R8 SYP congress. We believe that it will be a great opportunity to meet other people from the Region and virtually visit them, understand what they are doing, share ideas, and plan for the future. And we will also enjoy listening and interacting with industry leaders, experienced technologists and IEEE leadership. Many volunteers are working tirelessly to offer the best possible event to all and we are sure that it will be a truly unforgettable experience for everybody attending.”

The program of the congress’s unique form will include the opening and closing ceremonies, keynote and plenary sessions, workshops, awards, and some unique social activities. In addition, IEEE Region 8 Entrepreneurship Initiative program, supported by IEEE R8 YP, IEEE R8 PEA and IEEE R8 AfI, incorporates pitching competition finals, which will be part of the vSYP program. Vinko Lesic, IEEE R8 YP chair, told us more about this initiative.

“IEEE Region 8 Entrepreneurship Initiative is a tech-entrepreneurship program that IEEE Region 8 Young Professionals and IEEE Professional and Educational Activities teams brought to strengthen and boost our young IEEE entrepreneurs. The program foundations incorporate various backgrounds of industry, academia and entrepreneurial domains obtained through different IEEE Region 8 subunits by CEOs, senior managers, startup initiators, professors, large summit founders and more. In 2019, we have introduced a competition phase known as IEEE Entrepreneurship Week and organized locally in sections, student branches and affinity groups, with local ambassadors, organizers and competition expert evaluators. In 2020, the program is scaled up through IEEE Foundation and in collaboration with IEEE Entrepreneurship to go beyond our Europe, Middle East and Africa region, to the global stage.”

Vinko added his expectations about finals.

“The finals of the IEEE Region 8 Entrepreneurship Initiative means bringing the best of the best to the public, the ones that are selected among the winners from 20 countries of IEEE Region 8 – and indeed they are, with their robots with lasers, remote-clinics, agriculture monitoring system and counterfeit goods recognition app. What we have all practiced for months in the virtual world, we now deliver in the form of dynamic pitch presentations by the teams and gripping discussions with our judges who are some of the most prominent entrepreneurs and CEOs, globally. More than everything, we expect the startups and their technical products to rise up to great success on the global level and deliver this engineering potential to the world, by the means and network of IEEE.”

Adam Jastrzebski, the IEEE R8 Treasurer,was a great support to the organizing team. He gave us his perspective on the vSYP organization process.

“It was very interesting to be part of the vSYP organising team. There was a lot to learn for everyone involved and adapt to quite different requirements of a large virtual event organised virtually. The process started quite late and then seemed to move in circles for a number of weeks, before eventually it all started to take shape. The experience gained will be invaluable for organising other large virtual events in Region 8.”

Simay Akar was a part of many IEEE events as a participant and as an organizer. Therefore, we asked her what part of the congress she is most looking forward to.

“IEEE Region 8 vSYP’s schedule would be exciting for everyone and I feel the same excitement. We have a beautifully diverse region and our virtual congress’s schedule also covers wide interest fields of different technologies. Congress participants will have a chance to learn about many IEEE initiatives and organizational units’ best practices. What makes me the most excited is actually the chance to meet with old and new friends virtually and having interaction to share experiences and knowledge again.”

As the leader of a new R8 Congress Coordination Team, Barbara Vujkov told us more about challenges they had during the organizing period and gave us final word.

“Organizing a virtual event is as challenging as an in-person event. Sincere praise for the entire organizational team, which coped well with every challenge. We tried to be creative, resourceful in creating a program that will attract as many participants as possible, which has already been shown through the current number of registrations. I hope that the participants will have a nice experience at vSYP and that they will feel its charms in the best possible sense.”