Thursday, March 22, 2012

Two Perspectives on Attending #STLE2012

In a recent interview, we talked to two STLE members - one a student and the other a young professional about their past attendance at STLE Annual Meetings, and their advice for others looking to attend too.
Rachel Colbert, STLE Student Member
How did you first decide to attend the STLE Annual Meeting? I got involved in STLE initially through my advisor. He highly encouraged everyone working in the laboratory to attend STLE. The first meeting I attended I presented a poster, but since then have participated in both the podium and poster presentations.

What were your expectations prior to attending that first meeting? I was not sure what to expect for my first meeting other than being excited for the Berries and Cream Social.

What did you think of the poster competition? Are you presenting this year? I think that the student poster competition is a great way to start to get involved in the meeting. The years I have participated, I have found it to be a way to network with both professionals who were also interested in my research as well as the other student presenters around me. I have been able to make contacts and friends across the country and world. I also found that the poster presentations are a little more informal than the talks which has provided me a chance to have in depth conversations with people about my work which to some extent has helped shape my research and provided me with job/internship opportunities.

What did you think of the Student/Young Professional networking event? It was quite fun last year. There was not a huge turn out, but everyone who did attend had a great time. It's yet another way to network in the field but in a more informal setting.
STLE Note: This year's event promises to be even better! We will have key STLE members - including incoming President Jerry Byers, Young Tribologist Committee members, young professionals and students. It will be a great mix of people leading to great discussions and contacts you can utilize after the meeting. Click here for more details - it will happen on Tuesday, May 8, from 7:30-10:30 at Flamingo Bowl. Share this information with your colleagues and encourage them to attend (with an RSVP of course!).

Do you have any advice for those presenting this year? Practice, but don't memorize. Knowing the presentation in and out and presenting in front of my lab mates has helped get me ready for questions as well as know that when my nerves kick in I will still have a general idea of what I want to say.

What recommendations do you have for a first time attendee (things to do or see, people to meet, etc.)? Attend the welcome reception and any other social events, but when you do make sure to converse with people outside of your lab or normal social group. It's a great way to make professional contacts in the field. Also make sure to bring business cards. It's the easiest way to exchange information. When you receive someone's business card, write on the back how you met them and what you discussed so you will remember by the time you get back home. Try and plan out what talks you would like to attend in advance, but be flexible with your schedule. My last recommendation is when attending talks, attempt to come up with at least one thoughtful question to ask the presenter. Even if you are too nervous to ask during the session, you can ask them during the next break. This provides an ice breaker and a way to meet some of the top researchers in the field.

David Burris, STLE Member, University of Delaware
How did you first decide to attend the meeting? I had done undergraduate research and the work was accepted for a podium presentation.

What were your first impressions? I remember being impressed by the variety of research present at the annual meeting. The type of work that we were doing in the lab was only a very small fraction of the breadth of work by the community.

What was the top thing you took away from the meeting? As an undergraduate, the top thing to me was traveling (via van) from Florida to NYC. I had never been to NY and this was quite an experience for me. However, I remember being inspired and getting a lot of new ideas about the directions my research would take. Since this first meeting, the number one take away from this meeting is re-invigoration and inspiration for new studies.

What would you say to convince others to go? This is by far the best, most efficient way to learn about the current standing and future directions of tribology research. It is an essential yearly trip for the aspiring researcher.

Now that you’ve attended a few meetings, what makes you come back every year? Going to the annual meeting really helps me stay current, identify emerging trends, and choose my paths forward in different areas of research I am involved in.

How do you meet new people? What if you don't know anyone at the meeting? Asking someone a thoughtful question about their research presentation or abstract is an excellent way to break the ice of a cold introduction.

What are your recommendations for making the transition from student to young professional? Get involved. Participating in the business meetings for the technical tracks is a good starting point. You will naturally meet and work with professionals with common research interests. The progression from student to profession is a natural one for those who get involved.

If you are a student or young professional, be sure to check out all our resources for #STLE2012:

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