Driving eight hours to Minneapolis, MN gave me a long time to mentally prepare for the WE13 Region H Conference. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect; it was my first time going to anything of this magnitude. As August Rush’s overture was playing in the background, I couldn’t help but think about different scenarios that could happen at the future (and snowy) destination.
The theme, “Create Your World,” was both inspirational and traditional for an engineering conference. Those three words never left you alone; they were hanging from the ceiling, on banners over the ballroom doors, and on every conference accessory (like the puzzle pen!). It could be argued that it got in everyone’s brain like a subliminal message. If you met someone, the three facts you would have known after a minute of conversation are their name, where they’re from, and how engineering will create their world. Fascinating…
Additionally, keeping the theme constant, they let you create your own conference schedule; allowing you to decide your fate. For example, I etched my clean slate with How to Get the Most Out of Your Internship, Heating the Mall of America, and the Laboratory of Hearts Tour.
This is what I got out of it:
· I now know that its key to have mentors in the workplace who can give you unbiased feedback
· Usually, if you get your work done fast, your supervisor will either give you more work or insist you do the task again with more precision
· Eat lunch with your coworkers (expect to pay for yourself)
· There is an inner culture within the company that can be totally different from any other company
· The Mall of America doesn’t have heat because most of it either comes from solar power (via the Thermal Flywheel Effect) or body heat
· They have a library of hearts that doesn’t resemble Regina’s heart collection
My favorite conference session was the heart tour. However, being a Once Upon A Time fan, I expected the library of hearts to look similar to Regina’s heart collection. I know that real hearts don’t glow magically like in the show (or do they?), but at least their display could have been similar. I envisioned going into a sci-fi mad scientist laboratory and see the hearts floating in clear liquid inside a cylindrical glass container that was connected to an electrical generator. Or possibly, the hearts could have been tucked away inside their own wooden drawers, labeled by the name of their owner.
Besides the conference sessions, the planned entertainment nights were loads of fun. Friday Night Events was set up like a carnival. Different companies hosted different events like dart guns, basketball, and ring toss. You could earn prizes, especially shirts, if you won the game. The refreshments were carnival-themed too! Among other items, they had pretzels, small hamburgers, and white popcorn.
Saturday Night Events were entitled as Board Game Night. They had all sorts of board games, such as Clue and Guess Who? Another option (if you were 21 years and above, or at least looked that age?) was to venture down to Dinkytown bar. Similarly, an awkward dress/ dance event took place. I heard it was fun, but didn’t want to venture in the cold. Did I mention that they had piles of snow??
After a fun-filled weekend, PSWE headed back to lovely Indiana, grabbing the on-the-go breakfast offered. For me, I had a BLAST. I met a multitude of women in my field that were crazy about SWE like I am. The only thing I didn’t particularly like was the bus ride home. Instead of imagining what could be, I had to start imagining what the correct answer to my math homework was. Where is the August Rush movie when you need it?