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18 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2019 Feature Interview by Nolan Johnson I-CONNECT007 Held each year in Las Vegas on the weekend preceding CES, the IEEE Rising Stars Confer- ence is rapidly establishing itself as a model program for developing leadership, network- ing, and aptitude in navigating an organiza- tional structure in technical students and young professionals. I spent the weekend observ- ing the program and realizing the amount of vision and development that went into crafting this conference. Then, I turned to Michael Andrews to help explain it all. Andrews is an IEEE Senior Life member, serial entrepreneur, and founder of the IEEE Rising Stars Conference. Nolan Johnson: How are you affiliated with IEEE Rising Stars Conference? Mike Andrews: Well, I was actually the creator of the conference. When I was the director-elect for IEEE Region 6, I had this idea for a student and young professionals' event. The idea behind the conference was to provide young people an opportunity to develop an appreciation of emerging technologies, and to be provided with professional tools that would greatly influence their future success. The conference was designed for the attendees to meet key influencers and thought leaders in fields of interest. The conference would also provide them with professional growth oppor- tunities and encourage them to move into lead- ership positions—that is, provide them with the confidence and abilities to professionally "fly." We tried for a long time to find a loca- tion, secure a venue, get a date for a confer- ence, etc., which was a crazy task. The challenge was that if you looked at the differ- ent university schedules, there are various educa- tional systems includ- ing quarters, trimesters, and semesters. Some schools even go through the summer, so we could never come up with a consistent date or time. Finally, I ended up taking the bull by the horns. I said, "Here's the confer- ence we're going to put together, and here's where and when it's going to be." My succes- sor, Tom Coughlin, and I were on the phone, talk- ing about our frustrations about not being able to get a conference scheduled after working at it for a long time and trying to make all of the necessary considerations. So, we discussed our audience—young professionals—what we want them to do and developed a program that IEEE Rising Stars Conference Founder: Empowering Young Professionals Mike Andrews

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