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Keeping pace with IISE 

Hidden work yields open success

Content, networking and facility combined at IISE Annual for a spectacular venue Content, networking and facility combined at IISE Annual for a spectacular venue 

Industrial and systems engineers know that good experiences often come about because of unsung front-line workers behind the scenes.

And that was the case at the IISE Annual Conference and Expo 2017, held May 20-23 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. From program chairs to track chairs to the host committee, scores of volunteers and staff members came together to ensure a smooth experience. After recent locations like Montreal, Nashville, Tennessee, and Anaheim, California, some wondered how Pittsburgh, set in the industrial Northeast, would compete, said Jared Dunlap of West Monroe Partners, chair of the host committee.

"Pittsburgh proved to be a spectacular venue," Dunlap said. "From the beautiful skyline that was on full display during the rooftop welcome reception to the accessibility of the city, many of the attendees that I spoke to had nothing but positive things to say about the city of Pittsburgh and the venue. … There was more to do and see in Pittsburgh than originally expected, the keynote speakers had ties to the city of Pittsburgh and the lineup of facility tours was impressive."

This year's tours offered the chance to visit a premier GE additive manufacturing research center, a new children's hospital, a live FedEx Ground inbound sort and a nuclear power plant. The keynote speakers were Sev McMurtry of FedEx Ground, Gerald G. Brown of the Center for Infrastructure Defense at the Naval Postgraduate School and Francis J. Kramer of II-VI Inc.

"The tours were also a huge hit by giving participants a chance to see new things," Program Chair Katie Coperich agreed. "The conference schedule was posted the earliest it has ever been posted, enabling attendees to arrange travel early."

In between the more than 1,000 educational sessions were multiple networking opportunities, town hall meetings and workshops. This year also marked the continuing evolution of integrating the industry and academic sessions under one umbrella, a process that received mixed reviews but had clear benefits according to Coperich and fellow Program Chair Beth Cudney of the Missouri University of Science & Technology.

"The combined researchers and practitioner sessions were a tremendous benefit for sharing ideas and best practices," Cudney said. "The opportunities for collaboration were significantly increased. This year showed the benefit of integrating researchers and practitioners, and it highlighted areas for additional integration."

Next year, attendees will head down south, where the IISE Annual Conference and Expo will be held May 19-22, 2018, at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Take a look at the 2017 Annual Conference highlights here.