What are the Benefits of Attending Engineering Conferences?
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Engineering conferences are opportunities for engineers to get together with other engineers or related professionals. New devices, technology or techniques will be presented and demonstrated. There’s likely to be discussions on challenges and how they have been overcome. Keynote speakers may present the results of brand new research or the content of academic papers.
Whether you’re a student, trainee or seasoned engineer there are plenty of good reasons to get yourself along to a conference. Let’s take a look at the top 5.
1. Broaden your knowledge
Engineering is forever changing. Technology changes. Methods and processes change. Environmental focuses change. Everything changes. And the rate of change is ever-increasing.
Conferences are the perfect way to stay up-to-date with industry developments.
Ok, but can’t I just read journals and industry publications, why do I need physically go to a conference? The fact remains that conferences are often the first airing of cutting-edge ideas, concepts and developments. If you want to be at the vanguard of innovation, conferences are a must. Conferences are an all-around learning experience compared to sitting at your desk skimming an industry magazine. You’ll get to see and hear presentations, Q&A’s and discussions.
Knowledge is power. Conferences add lots of fuel to your knowledge base. If you decide to participate in a conference as a speaker, you’ll develop new skills such as presenting and public speaking.
2. Cross-pollinate ideas
Engineers love solutions. That’s what we’re all about. Present us with a problem, and we’ll try and solve it. But sometimes we need some inspiration. Conferences are great ways to not only get new ideas, but to recognise ways that other processes or methods can be synthesised with your own.
For instance, say you’re a structural engineer working on a cutting-edge commercial construction project that is facing difficulties, and you see a conference where a speaker is presenting a paper on the latest technology used in infrastructure design, you may not immediately be interested. But what if that technology is easily transferred to a structural project? Suddenly it becomes a highly valuable experience.
Your best bet is to get along to as many conferences as possible, especially where new technology or developments are being presented. Even if the concepts aren’t transferrable, often just going along and discussing different ideas and opinions will sow the seeds of new ideas and breakthroughs.
It’s not always what you know, but who you know. Ok, it’s a cliché, but there is some truth to the proverb. The more phone numbers and email addresses you have in your contacts, the more likely it is you’ll be able to get in touch with a helpful person when problems arise.
Also, in many ways engineering can be a lonely profession. This of course, depends in which branch of engineering you ply your trade, but let’s face it: everyone likes the company of like-minded people. If you attend a conference, you’ll meet people with similar interests and who, most likely, have a similar outlook.
4. Career advancement
Let’s look at the bigger picture for a moment. Attending conferences looks great in your CPD file or on your CV. If you’re ambitious and career-focused, nothing says ‘I’m keen, self-motivated and enthusiastic’ more than going along or participating in conferences. Not to mention that your industry knowledge will be far more advanced than those that don’t.
If you’re thinking of applying for an engineering job in a specific sector that is unfamiliar to you, attending a relevant conference can give you valuable information and will make you stand out compared to other candidates.
5. Re-ignite enthusiasm or passion
Last, but not least, is rekindling enthusiasm for the job. Familiarity breeds contempt, and it’s easy to get tired, bored or disillusioned with a job. Conferences offer a way to give yourself a shake and possibly get you out of a rut. When your synapses are firing with new information and ideas, it’s possible you’ll find a renewed passion for your profession. There’s a chance you’ll come away from it buzzing; brimming with ideas to take back to the office and implement or discuss with your manager.
Never underestimate the importance of keeping things fresh. Sometimes you don’t even notice that you’re treading water. Making a point of attending conferences on a regular basis will highlight whether this is the case, and will give you the motivation to do something about it.
To find other upcoming research and academic conferences see the Conference Monkey Directory.