Looking back on 2011 Sections Congress

Back home from the 2011 Sections Congress, I’m thinking back over the experience this morning. Going in to 2011SC, I really didn’t know what to expect. The keynote speakers were great, and I especially enjoyed Vint Cerf and his story-telling style.

The sessions I attended were good for the most part, with only a couple of complaints. I think my two favourites were the “How to host a Successful Webinar” and “Using Social Media”.

The Webinar was done in a very creative way, running a webinar concurrently with the session, so that attendees could log in and get the attendee’s view from their own device, theĀ  presenter’s view on the screen and the benefit of having a live presenter, actually two live presenters, in the room to talk about the process. We had a lively discussion going on in the chat room as well, so that was pretty great.

In the “Social Media” session Abby Vogel Robinson did a great job introducing the massive breadth of the social media universe to attendees. I was able to make some new connections with people through the Tweet-stream that accompanied that session, and we are now working on hatching some ideas that came out of that session. I may just have to join the Professional Communications Society too!

I attended some Learning Labs on Sunday afternoon and was really disappointed. The labs I sat in with were on vTools and SAMIEEE. My biggest complaint is that the ‘labs’ were not set up with workstations or connections that attendees could use to access the tools during the session and actually work through using the applications that were being discussed. In one of the labs the presenter seemed to have little familiarity with the tool that was being demonstrated, while in the other session the presenter was struggling with session control and got overwhelmed with questions from the audience pretty quickly.

I think that sessions like these ‘Labs” need to be set up as tutorials, and attendees need to get some guided lessons on using the tools. This would require them to bring their own computers to the session and be ready to connect to the network and work with the tools in a more hands-on way.

The Poster Sessions were OK, but I have to say I was underwhelmed. I did have some nice conversations with a few people while I was taking my turn at the PSES Poster, so that was a good thing!

One other big disappointment for me was that Toronto Section did not have any meetings at the event, nor did Region 7. I would have liked to get a chance to meet the people that make up my Region Executive, and with the exclusion of Ferial al-Hawary, I met none of them.

As far as the “rest” of the event was concerned, the hotel was nice, the food was good, but the hotel’s in-room WiFi was a waste, and worse, they wanted to charge $15/day for virtually unusable connections. VERY DISAPPOINTING Marriott! Particularly at a flagship hotel in a high-tech city!

IEEE provided WiFi in the meeting areas and it worked very well, so kudos for that.

The other great aspect of any IEEE conference is meeting colleagues old and new. This event gave me a great opportunity to make some new connections and to connect with people I met at POCO in Beijing this summer.

San Francisco is a great town, one that is now on my list for further exploration. My wife and I had a great time exploring the city in my off hours, and I can highly recommend it. Just remember to bring a jacket, because it’s always cool and damp around the bay!

All in all it was a good experience and I am glad that I had the opportunity to act on behalf of my Society, PSES. Thank you to everyone at IEEE for making this possible!

Doug Nix, PSES VP-Conferences, dnix ‘at’