Welcome to the Young Engineers Committee (YEC) page! 

The Young Engineers Committee's purpose is to provide a forum where young practicing engineers can come to promote the structural engineering field, as well as learn from both young and experienced members of SEAOI.  In order to accomplish its mission, the YEC endeavors:

  1. To educate the public about the structural engineering field through volunteering and philanthropy.
  2. To facilitate networking and dialogue among its membership through planning and participation in social and professional events.
  3. To provide resources and support to its membership for professional development and licensure


Check out some of our awesome members talking about the YEC Committee in the video above!

Contact us at YEC@seaoi.org!

Join our Mailing List

Use the form below to subscribe to the YEC Wednesday mailing list.

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Recent Graduate New Member Promotion

Are you graduating or have you recently graduated with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD with a focus on Structural Engineering? Do you want to get more involved with Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI) after you graduate? If so, SEAOI is offering a discounted rate of $75 (normally $137.50) for the first two years of Associate-level membership.

You must participate in at least 3 SEAOI events during your first year of membership in order to be eligible for the discount again in your second year.  

If you are interested in taking advantage of this great offer, please;fill out this form and we’ll contact you with more information! 

Outstanding Young Engineer Award

The Outstanding Young Engineer Award is presented to a structural engineer, 35 years old or younger, in recognition of their achievements in structural engineering. The candidate must exhibit both technical and interpersonal qualities that all young engineers should strive to achieve, and must have gone above and beyond the typical expectations placed on a young engineer. 

Congratulations to Jerome J. (JJ) Tobolski, winner of the 2020 Outstanding Young Engineer Award!

Find the complete list of past winners here

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SEAOI Young Engineer Spotlight

Starting in November, one young engineer will be highlighted every other week in the SEAOI Tuesday Update. We'll post a link when they're published.

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YEC Events

Professional Events

At the beginning of the calendar year, we host the annual Young Engineers Symposium, which gives young engineers the chance to share projects or technical experience with their peers in an informal setting. We also hold panel discussions on topics of interest to young engineers. Past discussions have included preparation for the SE exam and how City Commissioners utilize structural engineers in their respective departments.  Other events we have hosted include Speed Mentoring and the Young Professionals Workshop.

Happy Hours

Every few months we hold happy hour events downtown after work or other SEAOI events. Sometimes the happy hours coincide with a food drive for the Greater Chicago Food Depository or a toy drive for Metropolitan Family Services. Attendees who provide a donation to these drives are also treated to a free beverage on behalf of the YEC. These happy hours are a great opportunity to network and meet other young engineers.  This year (2020) we plan on hosting virtual happy hours to allow networking and fun opportunities to remain in a safe environment.

Post-Exam Celebrations Social Hour Celebrations

After the licensing exams in the fall and spring, we host a post-exam celebration to unwind from the stress of test-taking. In past years, we have organized brewery tours, gone bowling, played ping-pong, darts, and Whirlyball, and attended an improv comedy show. This is a great way to blow off steam and celebrate with those who have taken the exams.  This year (2020) we are planning on hosting virtual events to allow for post exam decompression and fun in a socially distant manner.

Site Visits

Each spring and fall, we set up local site visits, with tours hosted by local engineering firms, general contractors, and/or material fabricators. Past tours include the Old Chicago Post Office Renovations, Repositioning of the Sear/Willis Tower podium structure, a tour of IDOT’s Circle Interchange Project, and a tour of the Atlas Tube facility - a local HSS manufacturer.



Volunteer Opportunities

YEC provides volunteers for many local structural engineering events, including Future City, E-Week, Rebuilding Together, and more. Please see our Outreach Events page for more information.





Sporting Events

Each year, ticket prices permitting, we try to attend one White Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, or Bulls games. We get a block of tickets and all enjoy the game together. Often, we’ll ask attendees to contribute to the cost of the tickets.


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Meet the YEC!

Each member of the YEC oversees a specific area of activity. Read the full Roles & Responsibilities here. Click on any YEC member's name to jump to their photo and bio.

Co-Chairs Jonathan Tavarez and Enji Paul Papazisi
Communications Coordinator Rami Asfahani
Membership Coordinator Kremena Dokliev
Professional Events Coordinator - Joseph Porada
Social Events Coordinator Leutrim Demiri 
Digital Media Coordinator Bryan Stephens
Community Service Coordinator​ Ariadne Silva 
New Grad Coordinator's - Zachary Haney and Amanda Melendez

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Jonathan Tavarez (Co-Chair)

Position: Staff Engineer, American Institute of Steel Construction 

Education: University of Texas at El Paso,  B.S. Civil Engineering; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, M.S. Structural Engineering

Licensure: P.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, AISC, ASCE

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Enji Paul Papazisi (Co-Chair)

Position: Bridge Engineer, HNTB Corporation

Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. Civil Engineering; M.S. Structural Engineering

Licensure: P.E., Illinois; S.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, ASCE, AISC

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Rami Asfahani (Communications Coordinator)

Position: Structures Engineer, Ciorba Group, Inc.

Education: American University of Beirut, B.E, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Illinois Institute of Technology, M.S. Structural Engineering

Licensure: P.E., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, AAAEA

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Kremena Dokliev (Membership Coordinator)








Position: Associate III, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

Education: Illinois Institute of Technology, B.S. Civil Engineering, M.S. Structural Engineering

Licensure: E.I.T., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI

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Joseph Porada (Professional Events Coordinator)









Position: Engineer, Thornton Tomasetti, Inc.

Education: University of Notre Dame, B.S. Civil Engineering; Lehigh University, M.Eng. Structural Engineering

Licensure: E.I.T., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI, AISC, ASCE

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Leutrim Demiri (Social Event Coordinator)








Position: Staff Engineer, HOH Group, Inc.

Education: University of Pristina, B.S. Civil Engineering; Illinois Institute of Technology, M.E. Structural Engineering, M.E. Architectural Engineering


Societies: SEAOI, ASCE

Bryan Stevens, Digital Media Coordinator








Position: Engineer I, HNTB

Education: United States Military Academy, B.S. Civil Engineering; University of Texas at El Paso, M.S. Structural Engineering.



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Ariadne Silva (Community Service Coordinator)









Position: Associate II, Sargent & Lundy, LLC

Education: Illinois Institute of Technology, B.S. Civil Engineering, M.E. Structural Engineering

Licensure: E.I.T., Illinois

Societies: SEAOI

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Zachary Haney (New Graduate Coordinator)









Position: Junior Structural Engineering Professional, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, LLC

Education: Illinois Institute of Technology, B.S. Architectural Engineering, M.E. Structural Engineering

Licensure: E.I.T., Illinois

Societies: ASCE, SEAOI

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Amanda Melendez (New Grad Coordinator)









Position: Civil Associate, Michael Baker International 

Education: University of Kentucky, B.S. Civil Engineering, M.S. Civil Engineering

Licensure: E.I.T, Kentucky 

Societies: SEAOI, ASCE, SHPE

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