The 2014 Region C Conference in Houston last weekend was a great success! Rice University and the University of Houston hosted a busy, productive, and fun few days with the theme “Mobilize to Energize.” For more photos, please visit Boyd Raburn’s photo gallery site. He did such a great job capturing the excitement of this year’s Region C Conference!
In attendance from Dallas SWE were Jennifer Vilbig (President), Barbara Read (Vice President), Morgen Schroeder (Secretary), Amanda Posadas (Section Representative), Barbara Vilbig (Board of Trustees), Liong So (Board of Trustees), Cherrie Fisher (Scholarship Committee Chair), Rachel Seidner (Membership Committee Chair), Nicole Navinsky (Fundraising Committee Chair), Shelley Stracener (Dallas SWE and Region C Webmaster), Sue Biancheri, and Lori Wiltz. We enjoyed visiting with each other, members from our sister section, Fort Worth SWE, and other friends from all around Region C!
The conference kicked off Friday evening with a Spa Social during which collegiate members were encouraged to get to know professional members by filling in a list of obscure trivia about each of us! There were some really great statements on that list and it was fun to guess which professionals had lived in 4 different countries, loves dancing, or is an aspiring pianist. Attendees got massages, manicures and tasty food as a relaxing intro to the busy days ahead.
Saturday morning’s breakfast keynote speaker was Karen Horting, CAE who delivered a State of SWE presentation that highlighted some exciting new things for the year ahead! Included in her talk were statistics from a record-breaking WE13 conference (in Baltimore, MD October 2013), SWE’s strategic plan for the future (which include focus on Professional Excellence, Globalization, and Advocacy), new webinar and virtual conference topics, a partnership with Outreach 4 Change, and announcements about WE14 conference in Los Angeles October of this year! It was a great insight into what the Society is planning at the national and international level.
After breakfast, we had a joint professional and collegiate Region Meeting hosted by Region C Governor Dianne Beever. You can find the slides from that meeting here. Region C leadership gave updates on the business of various committees and SWE Senate bylaw vote results, and we enjoyed presentations on two bids for the Region C Conference in 2015: the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the University of Texas at Austin. We then split off into separate professional and collegiate meetings.
Members attended various sessions throughout the day. Workshop topics included volunteer service (Engineers Without Borders), the importance of Hackerspaces to local communities, engineering ethics, finance for SWE sections, building retirement strategies, effective communication, and graduate research fellowship proposals. More information about the sessions can be found at the Region C 2014 Conference website.
Saturday’s lunch combined delicious food with an Oil & Gas Panel of four engineers with a variety of experience. They answered questions from the moderator and audience including tips on how they’ve steered their own careers and family lives, their best and worst experiences in the field, the value of being open to new opportunities, and how recent legislation and public opinion on new fossil fuel extraction techniques has challenged the energy industry. The panel members offered great insight and advice on these and other topics!
Closing out the formal events of the conference was the Awards Dinner at the Chevron building a few blocks away from the Crowne Plaza hotel. A list of awards presented to Region C members can be found here. The keynote speaker was Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, a former NASA astronaut. She gave a wonderful talk about her life growing up on a farm, how her curiosity about her environment inspired her to learn enthusiastically, how she was encouraged along the way by inspirational mentors and teachers, and about her experiences at NASA and in space! Her story is so inspiring!
Sunday morning we had an informal breakfast and two yoga sessions to round out a great weekend before attendees headed back to their respective home cities.
Thanks to all the conference committee members and volunteers who helped make this an outstanding event! If you weren’t able to come to this conference, don’t miss the international SWE WE14 in October or the next Region C Conference in 2014.