Big Idea Engineering
Events for the Cross-Industry Engineer

Events for the Cross-Industry Engineer

Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

January 6-9, 2015 / Las Vegas, NV

This is the mac-daddy of shows. This year be sure to check out Eureka Park where you'll find startups galore.

Startup Weekends

(almost every weekend in various parts of the world)

If you haven't noticed, I love this group. Get in on the ground level and be the technical star you are by joining a group when you get there or bring an idea to the table. You then have 54 hours to make that startup happen. Or, join them on Sundays as a guest to see the final presentations. (Bonus, if you send me your summary of a Startup Weekend event similar to this write up I'll post it to our blog.)

Innovation Enterprise Summits

(usually two-day events with about 100 to 200 in attendance in various parts of the world)

This group puts on a great lineup of summits with some big names. In a connected world it's all about the data, and this group has made the connection between innovation and information for almost every industry and every job title. The attendance is intimate (which is good for networking) and all of the presentations are recorded to view at a later date.

CoInvent Startup Summit

(Hosted by the Meetup Group, CoInvent, based in NY) December 16, 2014

If you want to learn about venture capital and disruptive technology, this is a great event to go to listen and network. Most of the speakers are from venture capital firms and

Financial Times Summits and Events

(Hosted by Financial Times in various parts of the world)

This publication puts on shows with attractive themes such as: Innovation, Energy & Construction, Environment/Sustainability, Manufacturing, and Energy/utilities/mining.

Software User Conferences

Siemens PLM World (usually in Q2)

Solidworks World (usually in Q1)

Autodesk University (various dates)

ABB's Automation & Power World (usually in Q1)

User conferences are a great way to troubleshoot software like PLM, CAD, Virtual Planning, and Automation. I think Siemen's PLM Conference #PLMworld is one of the most dynamic because PLM covers so many areas including CAD.

**There are too many of these user conferences to list. Maybe another day!

IMPACT Summits

(Hosted by IMPACT during various times usually in America)

These invite-only events will allow you to rub elbows with the speakers. The broader themed shows like Supply Chain and Innovation give great cross-industry examples and allow you to open your network with new friends from various backgrounds.

RFID Journal Events

(Various events hosted by RFID Journal around the world)

Going to an RFID show is like visiting Disney World. How fitting that last year's RFIDTech Show was in Orlando. If you're looking to get data from your plant or from your products, these shows will give you the sensing solutions to do so.

IndustryWeek Best Plants

(Hosted by our sister publication IndustryWeek)

May 4-6, 2015 Charlotte, NC

This is a good show for operations to executive-level manufacturing professionals. There are about 600 people that attend this show and the evening events are always elaborate.

Grocery Manufacturing Association Events

(Hosted by the GMA in various parts of America)

If you are at all in the supply chain of a grocery manufacturer then you should attend these shows. While the information is not very technical it does cover trends and trends are what give you a competitive edge. Topics usually cover efficiency and sustainability examples. For instance, did you know there are Sustainability Standards beyond ISO? (
Materials Shows It all starts with materials. This list of trade shows will give you the knowledge to take your products and designs to the next level. Composites, mushroom packaging, powder's all there.


(Hosted by SME usually in Q2)

3D printing, hybrid manufacturing, new materials, how to automate rapid manufacturing processes, and other topics are covered at this scaling show. Last year's attendance was double of the previous year. My favorites from 2014 show include Fabrisonic (a company that layers various sized metal sheets of together) and MC Machinery Systems' LUMEX Avance-25 (a hybrid of additive and subtractive manufacturing techniques in one chamber). You can see more technologies here.


(Hosted by CR Magazine and the Corporate Responsibility Association usually in Q3)

Corporate Responsibility is not a buzzword. In fact, at this show you'll meet the efficiency strategists, sustainability managers, non-profits to outreach to, sourcing and procurement professionals, and everyone else that raised their hand when the boss said it's time to start giving back to the community and start filling out our Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) documents. Last year's event had interesting topics pertaining to sourcing and cases of efficiency improvements inside manufacturing facilities.


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