East Central Indiana Chapter Host Highly Successful Region 5 Conference
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Posted by: Gary C. Kern, Conference Co-Chair & Immediate Past
Prior to January 2009, the AITP-ECI Chapter did not even exist. By October of 2010, the chapter not only had nearly 50 members, but had just hosted the second most attended Region 5 Conference anyone in attendance could recall.
There was certainly some trepidation back in the Spring of 2009 when this newest of chapters threw their hat in the ring to host the semi-annual conference, but at that time there was strong backing from many local entities in the East Central Indiana area. That, in conjunction with the excitement from the chapter members about the prospects of not only hosting the partners from Region 5 leadership, but also taking advantage of an opportunity to organize a technology conference in this region of Indiana (which hadn't seen anything like this for more than 5 years) and publicize the new AITP chapter, made it an opportunity that couldn't be missed
Not having any experience in putting on an event of this type, the chapter was left to only express hopes regarding what was in store for the conference and utilize the guiding principal of wanting to setup an event "that we would enjoy" in trying to define what it should look like. After eventually lining up a GOLD sponsorship from IBM, and SILVER level from MICROSOFT, CDW & XEROX - prospects for the conference looked good. AITP-ECI was able to also obtain nearly 30 different vendor exhibition booth commitments (which helped keep the attendee cost low) and a very strong line-up of break-out presentations to entice approximately 165 attendees (local chapter, regional representation, student chapter, vendors, and local technologists) to the October 7 & 8 event.
The Conference & Expo was held at the Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie, Indiana. Out of town guests enjoyed free shuttle service via the historic Muncie Indiana Trolley to and from conference events. A highlight of the convention center setup, beyond spacious facilities for multiple break-out session tracks and vendor display areas, had to be the Portable Modular Data Center IBM brought and setup in the convention center parking lot. This POD unit makes appearances nation-wide, yet this was its first visit to East Central Indiana and it certainly received its share of attention and tours.
The rest of the conference involved break-out tracks with over 20 very well received sessions focused on IT STRATEGY, STAFF DEVELOPMENT, CURRENT TECHNOLOGY, AITP & GENERAL TECHNOLOGY issues. XEROX presented the lunchtime keynote on the current hot-topic of DIGITAL DEVICE SECURITY and Donny Shimamoto of the AITP Hawaii chapter and AITP task force on professionalism gave a very relevant presentation on the NEW IT BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL and AITP's efforts to better guide that definition. Friday morning featured the AITP regional meetings chaired by Larry Schmitz offset by optional break-out sessions for non-AITP or leadership attendees. The conference closed mid-day on Friday with an engaging panel discussion on current IT Hiring & Staffing trends, from the perspectives of HR, IT hiring managers, placement & staffing firms.
The conference was of course peppered with great networking opportunities, including the two hour cocktail reception in the vendor hall on the first evening. Several drawings and awards were given, and everyone left with something, even if it was only the business card of a new contact! The conference would not have been as much of a success without the hard work of many within the AITP-ECI chapter; but especially the coordinating committee of Jeff Helm (also current AITP-ECI Chapter President), Charlie Bowen, Gary Thomas, Kim Adams, Doug Goodman, Scott Jordan, Fred Kitchens and Student Chapter (Ball State) Project Coordinator Mitch Miller.
Although putting on a conference of this magnitude took a lot of effort, the positive reception of it by media and technologists in the area have led the local leadership to consider making this an annual event - regardless of the AITP Regional Conference implications. We'll be sure to check in later to let you know how that goes!