Come out and meet the industry veterans
LME and ICALEO are small enough to encourage socializing, big enough to attract high-profile players.
Since the Labor Day weekend is behind us, it is now time to plan the Fall travel schedule. Within the next month, two of the most important laser application conferences are being staged: LME (Lasers for Manufacturing Event) to be held in Schaumburg, IL (just outside of Chicago), on September 11–12, and ICALEO (International Conference on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics), to occur in Miami, FL, from October 6–11.
LME is a great venue to meet and talk to vendors who will have booths set up in the main hall both days. In addition, there are numerous talks and tutorials to attend. My tutorial on Wednesday from 8:30 to 10 am is titled "Introduction to MicroManufacturing with Lasers." This show has a nominal $50 registration fee, but you can get your "free pass" by contacting any of the listed vendors. Therefore, there is usually a good crowd of end users who are there to discuss specific manufacturing problems. While a good number of participants are from the Midwest, many also travel long distances in order to attend this event.
LME is hosted by the Laser Institute of America (LIA), but the organization's signature conference is ICALEO. This show is over 30 years old (LME is only in its third year), and is the premier event in the US for meeting everyone who is anyone in the industry and involved in laser applications. The conference costs a few hundred dollars to attend, but it lasts all week and included in the price are: the Meet and Greet on Sunday night (featuring the Beer’s Law Band!); President’s reception on Monday night; vendor reception on Tuesday night; and the Schawlow Award luncheon on Wednesday. This year’s winner is Dr. Ursula Keller, a pioneer in ultra-short-pulse (USP) lasers. All of these venues are GREAT places to meet and talk to others in the laser industry.
Both of the above conferences will feature a lot of activity in the USP laser field. In the past two issues of ILS (Industrial Laser Solutions), the articles on USP had by far the largest number of 'hits,' so as our editor David Belforte suggested: "There must be a message here."
The best part about both of these conferences is that they are big enough to attract some very big-name players in the industry, as well as big-name customers, but small enough to be intimate. How many conferences can you attend where, during some years, your odds of meeting and talking to a Nobel Prize winner are high? While some of the bigger conferences have so many people attending that everyone is spread out across the city, both of these conferences are small enough so that most of the attendees stay in the conference hotel – and you can meet everyone at the restaurant/bar in the evening. Make use of these opportunities as the personal interactions tend to be more helpful than dry technical discussions during the day.
And if you see a bunch of old guys with sparse graying hair or no hair at all, probably carrying a few extra pounds, feel free to come over and introduce yourself. We are probably not as intimidating as we seem – even less so if you buy us a drink! The only thing better than seeing all of our old friends from many years ago is seeing new faces, meeting new people, and learning new names. It is a delight to meet the younger folks, especially, as they are the future of the laser industry. See you soon!
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