Engineering a successful event

  • 23-Apr-2010 04:36 EDT

Patti Kreh, Manager of Engineering Meetings for SAE International, organizes the SAE World Congress and other technical meetings and exhibits.

With one of her two engineering degrees in packaging engineering, Patti Kreh, Manager of Engineering Meetings for SAE International, knows how to take many elements and put them together into one cohesive package. And that is what is required to put together an SAE World Congress or any of the many other technical meetings and exhibits that SAE International organizes every year.

This year, SAE International offers a portfolio of 18 meetings, ranging from electronics to onboard diagnostics in locations from Detroit to Shanghai. One of the biggest packaging challenges this year was a complete makeover of the SAE 2010 World Congress.

The 2010 World Congress was like no other in SAE International’s history. Words like “reinvented” were used to describe this year’s event. But, regardless of what word was used, the result is the same—attendees who filed into Detroit's Cobo Center this year saw some radical changes.

The changes had their beginnings more than a year ago when SAE International first began reaching out to its members and volunteers to solicit feedback on how the World Congress should evolve. The answers were concise and clear—keep the technical information that has been the hallmark of the World Congress for many decades but add convenience, efficiency, and, most of all, innovation.

The agenda for this year’s World Congress reflected all three.

Those walking the exhibit floor saw companies that accepted and met the “Innovators Only” challenge put forth by SAE International. All companies first had to apply to exhibit; their applications were then reviewed by a panel of industry experts that included representatives from OEMs and top suppliers.

In addition, almost 1100 technical papers were presented, and several new features highlighted the conference. These included technology lounges that featured dialogue and information exchanges, as well as “Chat with the Experts” discussion groups that were led by subject-matter experts who facilitated open dialogue on key topics and issues.

Also, real-time Web broadcasts from the AVL Technology Leadership Center and the FEV Powertrain Innovation Forum and a ride-and-drive featuring award-winning, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and affordable vehicles were new to the show.

The changes even went as far as registration badges that reflected the disciplines of those wearing them—attendees knew right away if the person they met worked in powertrain, safety, electronics, or emissions.

And, finally, the World Congress featured a new three-day schedule—which meant less time away from the office for busy automotive professionals.

Kreh and the SAE International team of volunteers and staff tirelessly worked to ensure that the SAE World Congress provided a quality experience of real relevance and value to those who attended. In short, they strove to ensure that after an engineer or other automotive professional walked the halls of the SAE World Congress, they would leave having learned more about themselves and the industry.

David L. Schutt, SAE Chief Executive Officer

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