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International collaboration leads to symposium success

28 August 2012
By Keri Allan
Delegates at the IET Bahrain symposium

An event held at the University of Bahrain this May is a great example of Local Networks (LNs) and Technical Professional Networks (TPNs) working together on an international scale.

‘New Directions in Automative Control: Theories and Applications’, was a free one-day symposium organised to increase awareness surrounding the latest trends within control engineering. It was also a chance to highlight the latest control methods being used by students at the University of Bahrain.

The day was broken down into a number of sessions with a variety of speakers presenting on over ten control related topics including intelligent control methods and techniques, robotics and artificial intelligence, plant automation and programmable logic controllers, status and new directions.

“The symposium idea came about as a result of a number of discussions with the Control and Automation (C&A) Network committee members,” says Dr Ebrahim Mattar, IET Bahrain Network honorary chair, and one of the event’s organisers. “The idea was to prepare for an activity that would serve as a technical event – i.e. to show the involvement of the C&A Network in community demands and concerns,” he explains.

Once the idea became more solid, the work of developing the symposium was put in the hands of the Bahrain Network and its Young Professional (YP) members at the University of Bahrain. These were the people who organised the event, whilst the TPN was involved in its development and provided the funds to put the symposium on.

“Most of the work was therefore divided into two main parts: the first was technical (the technical program preparation) and the second was the organisational aspects of the event,” Mattar notes. “The LN prepared a very typical programme, a costing sheet, which was presented to and approved by the TPN.

“[The TPN’s role] was to approve the event and make sure its content tied in with the direction in which it is heading,” he says. “It also provided the necessary funds and was involved in the technical aspects and contents of the programme. It also approved the marketing of the event through the IET website.”

In terms of laying out the technical programme, the LN and YP members came across one issue – which topics and related speakers to choose from, as they were spoilt for choice. They also had to consider technical issues as some of the chosen lectures were actually going to be viewed as online videos from IET.tv.

Once the event itself was fully developed the next job was to market it. Again different groups from the IET came together to make this a success, including the C&A Network as well as IET staff.

“They all helped in marketing the event. An interactive registration website was created for that purpose,” notes Mattar.

Mattar explains that many forms of marketing were used to promote the symposium including telephone calls, emails, a website, direct invitation letters and even faxes.

“The event was marketed through a number of means. The first was through the IET emailing (information on the event) to members within the EMEA region. We also took advantage of the main IET website,” he highlights.

What is more, the hard work paid off. The total registration for the event reached 135 participants, with the actual number attending on the day hitting 99 – a very respectable figure. People from a wide range of sectors attended too, including working engineers, academics, technicians and students.

Now the two Networks want to continue this success by developing follow up events and Mattar believes that other LNs should take the work they’ve done and repeat the symposium elsewhere.

“It was such a successful event that we need to plan it once again,” he enthuses. “A successful technical symposium, [I believe] it should be repeated from time to time by other IET LNs. This is because large events are expensive to organise and put on, but a short term event like this does not need [the same level of funding]. Furthermore, it is an opportunity for [TPNs] to link in and highlight local issues for the region/country where the LN is located,” he concludes.

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