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Getting Back to Normal

Aug. 3, 2022
After two-plus years of virtual meetings, webinars, and virtual conferences, I’ve always felt something was missing.

When will it be “normal” again?  I’m sure this phrase has been repeated over and over in our minds and in our words throughout the past few years. Our world and our lives have been significantly affected by the COVID pandemic and often in ways that we never thought possible.

Two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, returning to “normal” was probably not something we thought about as we just tried to deal with all that was happening and all that was unknown as best we could. Then sometime last year we began to see signs that “normal” might be a possibility down the road and with each passing day it seems we’re on the path back to some kind of “normalcy”.

As we all experienced, the initial onset of the pandemic resulted in mandatory lockdowns, which required businesses to learn to operate under a completely new set of unforeseen conditions.  Entirely remote workforces and limitations of individual movement were just two of the many challenges faced by companies in our industry.  Zoom, Teams, Webex and other virtual meeting platforms suddenly became indispensable tools for conducting business then and continue to be valuable collaboration tools today and in the future.

But after two-plus years of virtual meetings, webinars, and virtual conferences, I’ve always felt something was missing. It is that personal connection I get from shaking someone’s hand (well sanitized, of course) and having a face-to-face conversation.  It’s the ability to share a cup of coffee with a colleague and discuss business without the worries of an intermittent internet connection, echoes or audio delays, or the dreaded barking dog in the background. For me, these personal interactions are a big component of getting back to “normal”.

Let’s Meet in Orlando

This fall, the ASCE/Structural Engineering Institute will host the Electrical Transmission & Substation Structures (ETS) Conference in Orlando, Florida.The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Innovating for Critical Global Infrastructure’.This conference is the largest and most valuable conference in the United States focused solely on the design and construction of transmission and substation structures and their components.The ETS Conference brings together utilities, consultants, suppliers, contractors, engineers, and industry professionals to learn, engage, and network.Originally scheduled to be held in September 2021, the ETS Conference Steering Committee decided to postpone the event to 2022, given the uncertainties of holding an in-person in the fall of 2021.The 2022 ETS Conference will provide an excellent opportunity to reconnect with old friends, establish new relationships with industry professionals, meet those people you’ve only known on the other side of the computer screen, and engage with colleagues without the need to unmute your microphone or raise your virtual hand.

The 2022 ETS Conference promises to have something for everyone, beginning with our Keynote speaker, Matt Parker, also known as the Stand-Up Mathematician.  He is a best-selling author, award winning YouTuber and stand-up comedian who brings a unique and entertaining perspective to mathematics in everyday life.

Of course, the cornerstone of the ETS Conference is the exceptional Technical Program and the 2022 conference will definitely continue that tradition.  This year thirty-six presentations are grouped into eleven sessions scheduled over three days.  The sessions cover a wide range of relevant and important issues in our industry, including topics such as Wildfires, Managing Aging Infrastructure, Foundations, Case Studies, Substations and more.  You’ll hear from utilities, consultants, suppliers, and academic researchers as they present papers on design, analysis, construction and maintenance of electrical transmission line and substation structures and foundations.  In addition to the live presentations, numerous poster presentations will be available for viewing throughout the conference.

Would you like guidance and knowledge on applying the requirements and provisions ASCE/SEI Standards and Manuals of Practice (MoP)?  Then you’ll definitely want to attend the pre-conference seminar on Sunday October 2, where Industry Experts will teach you how to implement ASCE/SEI Standards and MoPs for structure loadings, tubular steel poles, lattice steel towers and wood poles.  This workshop will contain tutorials and real-life design examples to help attendees better understand the design provisions and implement them on their projects.

Want to make shake those hands and reestablish those personal connections?  There will be no shortage of social and networking opportunities.  The event has three evening receptions, beginning with the Grand Opening Reception on Sunday October 2, an outdoor Terrace Reception on Monday and a Networking Reception on Tuesday.  Daily breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks provide additional time for socializing with colleagues, clients, and exhibitors throughout the conference.  We’re excited to have a large exhibit space for the event and are expecting over 130 exhibitors to showcase their state-of-the-art products, services, and solutions during the conference. 

Looking for something a little different than previous ETS Conferences?  The ETS Conference is pleased to offer a unique social activity to conclude the conference, a golf scramble event on Thursday October 6.  What a great way to wind down the week, relax and enjoy the beautiful fall weather in Orlando with friends, and maybe even win a prize!

So, what better way to break away from the cycle of bland virtual meetings and conferences and restore some sense of “normalcy” in our industry by attending the 2022 ASCE/SEI Electrical Transmission & Substation Structures Conference in Orlando, Florida.  And when you see me there, come on over, shake my hand and let’s have a chat. I’ll even supply the sanitizer.

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