Maria-Alexandra Paun, IEEE Switzerland Chair, on the IEEE

The Student Branch is preparing new exciting events for the coming year. Doing that we encounter Dr. Maria-Alexandra Paun, the Chair of the IEEE Switzerland Section.

We met her at the EPFL campus, in Lausanne. We decided to ask her some interesting questions to understand better what really means IEEE in her opinion.
Dr Maria-Alexandra Paun is currently a researcher at EPFL, where she works in the development of electronics for medical devices. She is currently Chair of IEEE Switzerland Section, meanwhile, she is also Chair of IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) Affinity Group in Switzerland and Corresponding Member in the IEEE R8 WIE Subcommittee. She is really committed to volunteering work within IEEE, and with a great passion for her job, she gave us precise and detailed answer.
Firstly we asked her when and why she joined the IEEE. She joined it in the 3rd year of PhD, and “being an engineer myself, I really wanted to join the largest community and technical association for engineers…” was, and still is, her main driving reason to join.
We continue asking her some questions collected from our Members. We decided to transcript here part of her answer, since they were really inspiring for us:

SBPoliTO: How did the IEEE helps your career?
Dr.Paun: It helps tremendously because keeps you updated with everything that is going on from research and technological advancement point of view, the IEEE is the largest technological database, giving us the access to the latest technologies, the latest standards, the latest publication, and you can be always updated.

SBPoliTO: How is the IEEE considered in Switzerland? Is there an active community? It is growing?
Dr.Paun: …here in Switzerland they know it as a global association that has a Section here in Switzerland. IEEE Switzerland is as active, if not more, then other Sections, not referring to any particular Section. We are always trying to offer activities to our members, just to give you an example, in 2017 we have proposed around 40 technical events for our members. Every year we are growing, we are always on an ascending curve, keep doing more and more for our members.

SBPoliTO: Is the IEEE activities main focus only helping the research in academia, or they help also the transfer from the research to the industry?
Dr.Paun: I would say that IEEE is definitely doing both, both serving the academia and the industry community—IEEE himself has always tried to be more relevant in industry, there are many programs that are specifically transfer of technology focused, there are a few platforms where you can learn and share your ideas.

SBPoliTO: Which is, in your opinion, the best activity or initiative proposed by the IEEE?
Dr.Paun: I think that is really difficult to pin the point to one single activity—IEEE offers a little bit of everything.
I would say that sharing or producing technical contents and giving you the opportunity to be part of this community and also to volunteer, for me are the most important activity.

SBPoliTO: Do you think that the student branches are helpful for the student? What do you think are the activity that a student branch must carry out to really help the students?
Dr.Paun: IEEE, in general, is very proud of Student Branches and their activity because the freshest blood is in the student—The best activity for the student is the Distinguish Lecture program, as well as visits to some companies, or to participate in some company fair, to give them an idea of their future career—We have done many events with the IEEE Student Branch at EPFL, and this kind of events is the one that attracts students, but they also give something back to the people that are IEEE members while being still students.
One particular example that I can emphasise on, is the fact that we organised the IEEE Day, it was about drones and was very well received and a lot of students contributed to this volunteering.

SBPoliTO: How can the IEEE Women In Engineering Affinity Group helps the woman in engineering?
Dr.Paun: Firstly I would say the Woman in Engineering Affinity Group is open for both female and male members—Woman in Eng. is offering the platform to raise awareness for women in engineering, but also trying to recognise the merit of women in engineering and helps to promote the career. For this we are organising many events in which we bring all women to share their career path, we also have some awards, some competitions—in which everyone can come and share their path or ask questions—Participating to this community, to this network, can potentially bring you a way to expanding your career, by finding the right opportunity.

We continued talking about our plans for the future. We are sure that this meeting can bring to a fruitful collaboration between Italy and Switzerland, between Turin and Lausanne, two cities so close to having a wall between them.
And then the meeting ended. We said goodbye to Dr. Maria-Alexandra with the promise to organise a seminar soon. If you would like to meet her, join us on the 16th of January at the Politecnico di Torino.