F-16 World Wide Review 2011

F-16 World Wide Review 2011

Why should any design engineer take the time to attend a technology conference? Travel takes time from already busy schedules. The conference itself is a cost for likely non-billable time. Any engineering conference worth attending should be profitable for the engineer in terms of future projects and skill expansion. All conferences claim to add professional value and, every flavor of engineer is being bombarded with marketing communication to attend many. In the end, any conference attended needs to be better than purchasing a book or subscribing to trade journals.

How Much Will A Conference Cost? How do you determine the payback from the conference is worth the investment? Consider all the costs associated with a conference. First what does the conference cost per attendee? What are the costs associated with travel, lodging, registration, and possibly workshop fees? The engineer’s normal salary should also be included in the total cost to the employer. With these associated costs, does the investment allow for professional development to take flight?

PC-12 Cockpit at NBAA 2012 Conference

PC-12 Cockpit at NBAA 2012 Conference

Which Conference Offers the Most Value To You? When looking for a conference a couple of places to begin are through professional organizations or advertisements in relevant trade journals. Most conferences publish a list of topics and vendors. If these are not listed, contact the conference organizer. Pour over the topic listings, and do research on the presenters to identify which conference is most valuable to you. Following their presentation the speakers are often available for more in-depth conversations. These conversations and conference workshops may be just the push needed to solve current or future project decision dilemmas.

Constantine Balanis at Loughborough Antenna and Propagation Conference 2014

Constantine Balanis at Loughborough Antenna and Propagation Conference 2014

What Can Be Gained by Attending a Conference? Who attends technical conferences? Obviously, academic organizations heavily attend engineering conferences. These can be both professors and graduate students presenting research activities. For industry, technical professionals may present also, but there are other valuable reasons to attend. Checking in on the state of technological developments may yield dividends in upcoming projects. Technology moves, and technical professionals need to move with it.

What about networking? Is this actually a useful activity? Yes, if it is more than a social activity used to pass the time.

Steam Engine Designing by James Watt

Steam Engine Designing by James Watt

6 benefits of attending a technology conference:

  1. Learn about shortcomings in software tools
  2. Discover new software tool capabilities being presented
  3. Experiment with new equipment
  4. Learn how others have solved similar design problems
  5. Engage those attending similar lectures and workshops
  6. Speak with presenters about their work
SEMICON West 2014

SEMICON West 2014

Technical conferences are not all created equal. Engineers should research the reviews of previous conferences, and the search engines will likely lead to helpful resources. These technical conferences are not only for cutting-edge research and development. Any current technology will have a sponsored showcase, and they are waiting to make the engineer’s work more productive.

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