As the summer approaches, and winter becomes a distant memory (hopefully!), we turn our attention to “conference season” – the time when, as a community, we can look forward to meeting-up with colleagues to learn more about what is happening in the industry outside of our own respective business units.
This year, NAFEMS is no different. In addition to the NAFEMS World Congress 2011, the location and date of which will be announced in the coming weeks, we have an unprecedented number of regional conferences scheduled during 2010, to give as many members of the community as possible the chance to participate in a NAFEMS conference, which are widely held to be amongst the most useful and worthwhile events in the engineering analysis community.
Plans for conferences in the UK and France are well underway (see pages 18-23 of this issue), and we also hope to announce a Nordic conference in the near future. The conference being held by NAFEMS North America, however, promises to be something a little different. Being held in a “virtual” environment entirely online, the conference will provide everything you would expect from a standard conference in terms of presentations, exhibition stands and networking opportunities, but doesn’t require you to travel anywhere further than your own desk.
Whilst we all know that “physical” conferences provide the face-to-face networking opportunities and focussed environment that virtual events can’t give us (yet!), this online conference will give all members of the analysis community an opportunity to participate, no matter where they are located. We anticipate that the event will complement our physical conferences, and provide those who would not normally be able to attend a physical event with the chance to get involved.
It is vital that an organisation such as NAFEMS investigates new ways of working, and technology advances such as the virtual conferencing facility, in order to ensure we continue to provide the best opportunities and benefits to our membership as possible. As we all know, technology moves at an alarming rate, and this is not just limited to the work we do – it influences the very way we carry-out our day to day lives, both at home and the office, and organisations such as NAFEMS must keep-up with these advances and push the forefront of these technology developments.
In my own opinion, nothing can replace the conference “experience” – networking into the wee small hours with colleagues old and new, and being able to discuss the technology in-depth with a range of exhibitors and presenters, is something that is of great value in every industry, but the ability to bring together hundreds of attendees from across the globe in one “virtual” venue without the associated travel costs and time out of the office is one which could greatly benefit not just this industry, but companies and individuals in every sector. I wonder when it’ll go 3D?
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q&a - jim wood & nigel knowles
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