2018 IEEE Rising Stars Conference: Building the Future of IEEE

2018 IEEE Rising Stars Conference:  Building the Future of IEEE

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For the 4th year in a row, more than 270 students and young professionals from all over North America kicked off their New Year on 6-8 January, with the IEEE Rising Stars Conference. IEEE Region 6 hosts this annual conference, geared toward students and young professionals.  Its primary goal is to mold IEEE’s future leaders, and empower them, with the latest technological trends and professional development.

The conference venue was the Excalibur Hotel, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Attendees gathered at the conference to share ideas, build new relationships, find mentors, and create new experiences. The program provided a complete package for technical and professional development for both students and young professionals.

We are now experiencing a “Technical Age,” with the life-altering Internet of Things — and artificial intelligence (that had once seemed part of the future) — now in existence. Rising Stars’ stellar speakers covered Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Autonomous Driving, Space Discovery and Computer Software. All of these topics are current technology trends leading the world forward.

The conference’s professional development track answered the following questions: what to expect in a job interview; how to switch jobs; how to negotiate a salary with an employer; how to startup a company; and how to evolve in the ever-changing job environment. A Young Professionals in Industry panel discussion, networking sessions, and a corporate mixer/resume review were also part of the conference. The sense of community was readily apparent. Every student was eager to learn, and professionals were happy to share their knowledge — the true essence that Rising Stars wants to achieve.

Keeping up with the current trends in technology, specifically in cybersecurity, the conference kicked off with a Capture the Flag competition.  More than 45 students participated, and a special thanks goes to Joaquin Fuentes, for making the competition possible.

Rising Stars was also the first IEEE event that 2018 IEEE President Jim Jefferies attended. The conference had an exciting lineup of keynote speakers: Kevin O’Malley (Engineering Director at Google); William Hurley (Strange works Inc.); Jin Bains (Head of the Connectivity Lab at Facebook); and Andrew Rush (Made In Space President). Both students and professionals had the opportunity to listen to engineers at the forefront of their industries.

The second day of the conference consisted of four, 45-minute breakout sessions focusing on current technology, personal development, or essential career-building tools.  A stream or a session was available for everyone.

The attendees were not disappointed. Diana Dang, a participant from the University of Calgary, said: “It’s not like reading a forum online, being part of a school community, or the basic concept of being able to learn something. It’s shaking someone’s hand, and knowing that they understand your goals, and that they believe in the path you’re taking. It’s empowering.”

On the third day, conference participants attended an awards ceremony, to honor the winners of the CTF Cybersecurity Competition, EPICS in IEEE Project competition, and the IEEE Region 6 awards.

The conference ended with a panel discussion on the Next Big Thing, where panelists discussed the future in their interest areas – the world of virtual reality, large strides towards autonomous cars, 3D printing, or artificial intelligence.

Time will tell, but innovation is what will pave the way.

Special thanks to our sponsors, IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee, Digi-Key Electronics, Coughlin Associates, Centry, The University of New Mexico, Incose, IEEE Young Professionals, EPICS in IEEE, AESS, Advanced Test Equipment Rentals, ActioNet, IEEE Standards University, and MTT-S; and co-sponsors, IEEE Computer Society and IEEE TEMS and IEEE-USA. Special thanks and appreciation to the 26 speakers, who enlightened the audience on technological innovation and professional development.

The IEEE Rising Stars Conference has ignited the ambition and motivation of its attendees — to innovate — and advance technology for humanity. With 95 percent of the attendees recommending the Rising Stars Conference to their peers, as well as rating the conference a success, goals are set for the 2019.  The 2019 Rising Stars Conference will build on the current momentum — and is set to achieve records in the program, participation and satisfaction.

Let us inspire you, and the future generations next year. See you at the 2019 IEEE Rising Stars Conference next January!

Anis Ben Arfi is a graduate student and member of the iRadio Lab team at the Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary. Anis holds a number of leadership positions at his University. He is currently the Governance Committee Chair of the Graduate Students Association, and the Chair of the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology-Southern Alberta Section (SIGHT). Anis is an IEEE VOLT program 2017 graduate, and a winner of the 2017 IEEE MGA YP Achievement Award.

Diana Dang is currently pursuing a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is the Vice Chair of the IEEE Student Branch WiE Affinity Group. Diana is passionate about increasing student involvement in the profession, ensuring that students reach their full potential. Diana approaches everything with enthusiasm, curiosity and hard work, as she believes these qualities drive the world.

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