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10 SMT007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2019 From Participant to Volunteer to Leader: Matt Smith on the IEEE Rising Stars Conference Feature Interview by Nolan Johnson I-CONNECT007 Matt Smith is one of the volunteer organiz- ers for the IEEE Rising Stars Conference. As if that's not enough, Matt also is an example of the impact this program can have on a young professional. In this interview, Matt provides an overview of the programs and what the conference strives to create for the attendees. Nolan Johnson: Can you start by telling us about yourself, and how you're affiliated with the IEEE Rising Stars Conference? Matt Smith: I've been a member of the IEEE for six years. I started in 2013 volunteering at my university student branch. The first time I became involved with Rising Stars was as a participant in 2014, which was held at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the first Rising Stars Conference and was quite a bit different than what we have today. There weren't as many attendees, and not nearly as many speakers. The tracks were a little bit different; we've learned a lot over the years, so the program has evolved. When I attended the first Rising Stars Confer- ence, I was inspired by what I learned and all of the networking that I was able to do. I made new friends and met contacts that made the beginning of my career in engineering a real- ity. I wanted to give back, so I spoke with the organizers and offered to volunteer. I volun- teered for a year as a regular volunteer, then I was asked if I'd be interested in serving as vice chair. I said yes. Last year, I chaired the confer- ence; this year, I'm co-chairing to help support our efforts, and it has taken off. Johnson: Clearly this is something you're passionate about. Smith: Absolutely. Every year, I feel compelled to give back after everything I've gained from my involvement with the Rising Stars Confer- ence. I can never seem to even the score. Johnson: That's usually when it's working right. Smith: For some background, it has been four or five years since the first IEEE Rising Stars Conference. Before I came to the Rising Stars Conference, I was working on my engineer- ing degree online because there was no local university in Montana where I'm from; there Matt Smith

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