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RE: Seminars

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While it is good to seek input on how to make seminars more appealing, to
some degree it will always be an uphill battle.

You will ALWAYS find that you will not really reach a consensus on many of
the issues related to seminars.  Ask when should the seminar be and you
get the wide range of answers such as on the weekend, on a weekday during
hte day time, on a weekday during hte evening, etc.  Ask what the cost
should be and you will likely get a "concensus" answer, which is usually
no really feasible (sorry, Roger, but holding a seminar for under $100 is
just darn tough to do...keep in mind that you have to pay for the meals
[which at many hotels in on the order of $20+ alone], the room space, any
handout materials, pay the speaker and his/her costs [potentially flight
cost, hotel cost, meals, etc], and also leave a little "profit" for the
seminar organizer [most groups use such money to fund other
projects]...the end result is that only local run, organized, and taught
seminars have a chance to be so cost effective).

The point is that different people have different priorities when it comes
to seminars.  Some don't want to give up their free time on the weekends
but that is countered by companies that may not want to give up their
employees time during the week.  Some don't want to pay for a seminar
themselves, but then there are many companies that don't pay for their
employees to attend seminars.  There is the issue of location...it is not
cost effective for organizations like AISC, ACI, etc to hold a seminar at
EVERY location possible so that everyone can attend a seminar that is
within a half-hour of their home or office.  So, you end up with seminars
are "major" locations that can serve the most people possible, which then
usually means that many people will have to travel significant distances
to attend the seminars.

The end result is that in many cases most people will not be happy with
the seminars that are available.  To that, I can only say that each person
will have to evaluate their own situation and determine if attending a
particular seminar is worthwhile or not.  Of course, you do have to add
into that dynamic the fact that more and more states are having continuing
education requirements as part of the licensing renewal process.  This
will mean that many engineers will be forced to attend seminars that they
really don't want to attend on the weekend that they must pay for (cause
their company is too cheap...excuse me, "bottomline oriented").  On the
otherhand, this may on the positive side create more of a market/demand
for seminars, which could mean more quality seminars will begin to appear
at reasonable costs and provide worthwhile, useful information.

FWIW, I think AISC does a reasonably good job with their seminars.  They
tend to be reasonably prices (a couple hundred $$) and tend to be 1/2 to
3/4 day seminars that start in the afternoon and run into the evening
(thus, the individual sacrifices part of their time and the company
sacrifices part of their time).  The content is usually pretty good,
although it does vary (I attend at least one AISC seminar when I thought
that much of the material was not too interesting or useful).

As Charlie pointed out, Bob Shaw also does a good seminar.  While I can
only really comment on his welding seminar (which was GREAT, BTW), I would
assume that is other seminars are of equal quality and value (although
part of the reason I thought the welding seminar was so great was because
_ALL_ the information was new...such information is not really taught in
college).

I have been relatively disappointed with ACI's seminars.  They have had
their good points, but I generally consider them a little too expensive
for the amount and quality of material that they cover.

I have yet to attend an ASCE seminar as they usually don't seem to send
the ones that I would be interested in (i.e. the structural related ones)
to my area too ofter and they are quite expensive.  Thus, they tend to
become cost prohibitive when I also have to add in the cost to travel to
the seminar location in addition to the cost of the seminar.

HTH,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


On Tue, 2 Sep 2003, Peter James wrote:

> Often I find that seminars I want to attend are out of town - indeed several
> hours away. There are many potential "costs" associated with attending such
> seminars:
>
> The cost of the seminar
> The cost of travel
> The cost of accomodation (sometimes required even for one-day seminars)
> The time for the seminar (lost revenue can easily exceed the seminar cost)
> The time for the travel (which might also lose revenue)
> The time away from one's family if the location requires an overnight stay
>
>
> If out-of-town attendees are part of the target audience, a later start
> would reduce the need for an overnight stay.
>
> To minimize some of the add-on costs/time, seminars could be held adjacent
> to a weekend, or overlapping into a weekend.
>
> If the seminar is in/near a place that is a destination of interest to other
> family members, there's also an opportunity for a weekend break at marginal
> extra cost - so the total cost to the company might be reduced.
>
>
> Peter James
>
>
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