IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine - July 2020 - 6

Testimonials
Prof. Jack L. Gallant

immediately swung the finances into the positive with a

University of California at Berkeley

solid surplus. His extensive experience in business was

It would be difficult to overstate Dr. Smith's contributions to the

instrumental in enabling a quick turnaround.

SMC, the IEEE, and the advancement of neurotechnology

One of the ways that Mike helped out the Society was by

within the IEEE. Dr. Smith's involvement in the SMC Society

growing the size of the annual conference by making it a

over the past decade has been critical for the success,

great event for attendees from a social as well as scientific

modernization, and expansion of the Society. Although Dr.

perspective. He pioneered the use of quality special

Smith does not currently hold a formal position in the SMC

sessions to build attendance. Mike motivated people to

Society, he continues to play a critical role in the Society as

put together the special sessions and, in particular, utilized

an advisor, recruiter for senior service positions, long-range

the unflagging help of Prof. Hideuki Takagi. He was and

planner, and a repository of institutional memory. He initially

continues to be the force behind SMC's BMI Workshops. Mike

spearheaded and has continued to push the Society to play

also experimented with novel ways to add members, such

a key role in the development of the field of BMI devices. He

as providing conference attendees a one-year membership

created the first of many SMC Society BMI Workshops in 2009.

in the SMC Society. He increased member value through

An important contribution of Dr. Smith was that he

the publications received (electronically) while keeping the

immediately started inviting members of the U.S. Brain

membership fee affordable. In general, Mike proved himself

Initiative to participate in these workshops, helping to build

to be a tireless motivator, worker, and ambassador for the

an early relationship between the U.S. Brain Initiative and the

SMC Society.

IEEE. Another contribution was his inviting representatives of

Mike Smith always has ideas about how to make things

the world's Global Brain Initiatives to one of his workshops,

bigger and better. He is always very generous in sharing his

again helping to build a relationship between them and the

ideas, and when someone is interested in an idea, he helps

IEEE. Also, a significant contribution of Dr. Smith has been the

create a path to realize it. Mike is also good at modifying

development and promotion of the IEEE Brain Initiative. As a

any approaches that can be improved after having been

senior advisor of the IEEE Brain Initiative, he promoted the idea

ideated. He has worked hard both as a leader and behind

of an IEEE Brain Initiative through the SMC and then lobbied

the scenes to make the Society a more modern, sustainable

other IEEE Societies and the IEEE leadership to come on board.

entity, which all members appreciate.

He recruited a leading neuroengineer, Prof. Jose Carmena, to
become involved in SMC's BMI Workshop and later serve as

Prof. José del R. Millán

the Society's representative to the IEEE Brain Initiative (where he

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

is now a cochair). Throughout the several years that it took to

My first encounter with Mike Smith was in 2009, on the

bring this effort to fruition, Dr. Smith was doggedly persistent

occasion of the annual IEEE SMC conference in San

but always unfailingly polite and politically astute. He was

Antonio, Texas. In fact, Mike had the early vision to make

happy for others to get the credit for his hard work as long

the field of BMI (or brain-computer interface) an integral

as the end result was positive. I suspect that few members

part of the research program of the SMC Society, and he

of the IEEE have been as generous with their time and so

invited Dr. Jose Carmena from the University of California,

effective in the outcome.

Berkeley and me to give a tutorial on this topic during the
conference. Soon after, Mike convinced the two of us to join

6	

Prof. Larry O. Hall

the SMC Society and establish the Technical Committee on

University of South Florida

BMI Systems. The three of us started the organization of the

Mike Smith has provided important service to the IEEE

annual BMI Workshop as part of the flagship annual IEEE

SMC Society, with his first major above-and-beyond service

SMC conference, whose scientific prestige grew rapidly. The

coming before he was president. He helped out President

SMC BMI Systems Workshop is now attracting an increasing

Pierre Borne by attending IEEE Technical Activity Board

number of submissions over the years, especially from

meetings when President Borne could not. This was a big-

researchers initially outside the IEEE.

time commitment. He made the effort to understand the

Mike's relentless and fervent efforts have made the BMI

issues and how the president wanted to vote on them.

Workshop a key element of the annual IEEE SMC conference,

Understanding how another will want something done is

placing the SMC Society at the heart of the IEEE Brain

time consuming, and Mike did it seamlessly.

Initiative and BMI activities. We can certainly state that Mike

Mike also did a great job stabilizing SMC Society

has played (and continues to play) a pivotal role in making

finances just before and while he was the Society

the SMC Society a reference in the field of BMI. This is far from

president. The Society ran into a brief rough spot, where

a trivial achievement because, due to its multidisciplinary

it was in an operational fiscal deficit. Mike was able to

nature, BMI is a growing research field that is attracting

quickly spot a couple of places for improvement that

significant interest in many domains and conferences.

IEEE SYSTEMS, MAN, & CYBERNETICS MAGAZINE Ju ly 2020



IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine - July 2020

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