You may have seen communications from us and from SWE HQ about FY17 Region Conferences and the new WE Local conferences, but you may be wondering what each of those programs is and why you would want to attend. Let’s set the record straight today!
For many years, SWE Regions have held conferences in various cities with the goal of bringing geographically nearby SWE members together (usually in the spring so as not to conflict with Society WE conferences), offering professional development and leadership training, conducting SWE business, holding career fairs, celebrating our successes, and sharing best practices with one another. Some Regions join together for one big event (Regions A, B, and J), some have professional sections do the bulk of the planning, and some don’t hold a conference at all due to lack of funding, strong leadership, or interest. SWE Region C (comprised of professional and collegiate section members and Members at Large from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi) has held Region C Conferences since the late 1990s. Our region leadership team put together a strategy for collegiate sections to be the main hosts for our conferences, with support of nearby professional sections, as a weekend event. The collegiate host section gains a lot of leadership experience (event planning, contract negotiation, budgeting, fundraising, volunteer recruiting, etc) and for their efforts a portion of any conference overage goes to their section to support their own events. The conference has been held in the DFW area three times in the past 15 years. Like any volunteer-run event, there have been ups and downs through the years, but this system has worked for Region C for a long time.
Recently, SWE HQ has undertaken efforts to standardize the Society’s branding, image, and programming content to drive consistency in how people experience SWE across the United States and the world. Additionally, the volunteer burden of planning and executing the conference is substantial and the Society has initiatives to identify areas where volunteer resources can be used more efficiently. Towards these goals, the Board of Directors decided to replace Region Conferences with WE Local Conferences starting in FY18. The two WE Local conferences being held in FY17 (in San Jose and Pittsburg) are pilot test cases for the new program. Sections can apply to be hosts for a WE Local conference, but their involvement in the planning process is greatly reduced since much of the work for fundraising, registration, program planning, logistics, and execution now fall to SWE HQ staff.
What does this mean to you?
It means that the Region C Conference in College Station, TX Feb 17-19, 2017 is the VERY LAST Region C Conference, so you should definitely consider going! You can view a tentative schedule of events here. There are the usual technical and social tours for you to choose from, keynote speakers, SWE business meetings, a variety of speaker topics for both professionals and collegiates, and an awards banquet celebrating the accomplishments of Region C members and sections. You’ll get to meet other collegiates and professionals from our region, see what other sections are up to, and maybe even find that new job you’ve been looking for at the career fair! SWE conferences are a great time to get recharged and inspired to be a great engineer, leader, and mentor no matter where you are in your career stage. Because this is the last conference, however, there will also be special celebrations specific to the conference’s history. There are so many reasons to join us there in February, especially if you didn’t get to attend WE16 in Philadelphia!
If you’d like to attend the conference, visit the event website to register and secure your hotel room reservation. Early bird rates expire December 30! Our leadership team often carpools and shares hotel rooms to save on travel costs, especially if we’re paying our own way instead of being sponsored by our employers. If you’d like to participate as well, fill out our Region C Coordination Survey and we’ll try our best to accommodate anyone who wants to carpool or share accommodations!
We’ve used an app called GroupMe in the past to connect with members at Society WE conferences. Email us at email@example.com if you have questions, to let us know that you’re attending Region C Conference, and whether you’d like to be included in the GroupMe. We can’t wait to see you there!