Many people in this industry joke that you could make a career out of just going to events related to civil engineering. There are many, of all shapes and sizes.
One of the perks of my career switch from an engineering consultant to an editor is that now I attend these more regularly. I have made excellent contacts and learned so much from my attendance at various conferences, meetings, and expositions - more than I ever would have sitting and working in my office. And I rely on these contacts and knowledge everyday; the benefits are real.
Along the way, I have learned how to get the most out of my time at events. My best advice is to be as outgoing as possible, which I've noticed can be challenging for many fellow attendees. Connecting with people is what makes any experience great - even at civil engineering functions.
Remember that the opportunity to meet peers is part of what you are paying for and why you made the sacrifice to attend an event. You can't expect stimulating conversation and excellent contacts to happen without effort. You have to be willing to initiate conversation.
I have also become an expert at assessing the quality of events. Two of my favorites relate to technology.
Autodesk University, which takes place this year from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 in Las Vegas, is always an informative, well-done program. CE News Editor Bob Drake is attending for the first time this year, and I imagine like me, he'll come home amazed at the sophisticated solutions Autodesk has created for civil designers and GIS experts, as well as other land development professionals. Besides the conference, an exhibition features demonstrations of Autodesk solutions, as well as third-party providers' products and other services allied to civil engineering. Attendees say the event is useful, and as a bonus, ¬ďalways has great food!¬” Bentley puts on a similar event annually, called the BE Conference (BE stands for Bentley Empowered), that is just as polished, just as informative, and just as fun. I attended last May and had the privilege of serving as a judge for the BE Awards, a competition among companies that completed complex projects by applying innovative technological solutions with remarkable results. The evening of the award presentation was memorable to me, as it was the closest I've come to the Oscars. I was thrilled to see teams of professionals jumping up into ¬ďgroup hugs¬” and shouting for joy upon the announcement of their win. Even during the winners' after-party that Bentley held, many people obviously were still exhilarated with their win.
This was the case for Greg Herrington, Engineering Technology Support manager for the Utah Department of Transportation's information technology department, who represented the winning project team in the visualization award category. His enthusiasm for visualization and excitement over the award were refreshing, and I was so pleased to meet him. The project, featured as our cover story this month, exemplifies the value that 3-D modeling and animation bring to engineering design.
¬ďNot just a pretty picture¬” by Laura Lang (see page 40), shows how applying modern technology can minimize design errors, thereby diminishing change orders during construction, and ultimately saving significant costs. Just as I wouldn't have wanted to miss my ¬ďnight at the Oscars,¬” you shouldn't miss this great example of visualization technology.