Sunday, July 11, 2010

ASEE and ACC Conferences: Different, Yet Similar

Having spent most of my career in the field of engineering education, with the exception of a few years in the mid-90’s, I’ve been to every American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference since the 1994 Conference in Edmonton, Canada. But, as I am relatively new to the field of controls engineering, I had never had the opportunity to attend the American Control Conference.

So, even though it was Father’s Day, I was excited to embark on a 12-day trip to Louisville and Baltimore to attend the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition and ACC 2010 – the American Control Conference.

On the surface the events were quite different. The ASEE Annual Conference drew over 3,500 attendees and featured what seemed like a couple of acres of elaborate exhibits in the Kentucky International Convention Center. At any one time there were, literally, almost 100 sessions taking place. One had to carefully sift through a myriad of opportunities during the four days to identify areas of greatest personal interest and to keep from becoming overloaded.

Paul Gilbert, Quanser's CEO showing the range of Quanser's experiments to one of the ASEE 2010 delegates.

I found ACC 2010, on the other hand, much more manageable. Compactly housed at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, over four days approximately 1,000 attendees toured a dozen, mostly table-top, exhibits and chose special interest sessions from amongst 22 tracks. Certainly ACC 2010 was still formidable – just not as overwhelming as ASEE.

The prototype of a wind turbine experiment got a lot of attention in Quanser's booth at ACC 2010.

Despite the obvious differences, I found, in essence, the two conferences were very similar. Attendees at both were researchers and academicians dedicated to improving their teaching and advancing the learning opportunities available to their students so as to prepare them for academic and career success and to successfully compete in today’s global workplace.

My days were filled with exciting conversations with professors, department chairs and deans eager to learn about Quanser’s newest education and research-based systems for real-time control design and implementation. Our Innovation Hub, in which we demonstrated our new Qball – a quadrotor for Indoor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Research, drew SRO crowds. At the same time, many educators wanted more information about Quanser’s SRV02 – the base unit of Quanser's Rotary Family – which students at hundreds of universities have used to learn control theory for over 20 years.

As a father I grow increasingly concerned with the world my six-year old son will grow up in. While I missed him greatly over the 12 days, it was heartening to spend the time with educators who share Quanser’s commitment to inspiring and preparing the next generation of engineers – the engineers who will be designing and building his world.

- Alan Jacobs -

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