It’s time to finalize your travel plans, pack your bags and get yourself on over to Chicago, because from April 14-17, the Windy City is the place to be!

The IEEE PES T&D team has been working diligently for the past two years to get everything lined up for this week. Front man Tommy Mayne and consummate show manager Barbara Powell are pulling out all the stops to make this the best event ever.

Tommy tells me that this event — now celebrating its 50-year anniversary — started out as an underground show. Remember back in the day, when underground residential distribution launched itself on center stage? As an industry old-timer, I’m feeling that a personal retrospective is in order.

I was working in distribution at Georgia Power back in the 1970s when the IEEE T&D show came to Atlanta. I recall our drafters drawing up the show mascot, the lowly mole. And I was still at Georgia Power when the show came back to Atlanta. I was on the technical tours committee and arranged bus transportation. I also handled details for the tour of the AT&T fiber-optic manufacturing facilities. As some of you may recall, that was one mind-expanding era when the broadband revelation was in its infancy.

As a local boy, I loved it when the IEEE T&D expo came to Atlanta, but my favorite show towns are New Orleans and Chicago.

Remember when IEEE pitched one of the most lavish events ever in New Orleans, with the opening parade and reception right on the Mississippi riverfront? The IEEE T&D show had expanded to such an extent that Tommy Mayne (with Entergy then) and his cohorts decided that it was time to bury the mole with a New Orleans-style jazz-infused funeral march. What a blast! That mole went out in style.

Unfortunately, the next New Orleans-scheduled IEEE T&D show was blown out when Hurricane Katrina blew in. So the show team had to reschedule and put its efforts into overdrive to relocate the show to Dallas. That event had a fusion of Louisiana and Texas with co-chairs Tommy Mayne and Jim Greer (Oncor) moderating the opening session, which focused on the Herculean efforts expended by the nation to bring the Gulf region back from Katrina.

 

Chicago Is My Kind of Town

This year is actually my third trip to Chicago to attend an IEEE show. My first Chicago show, I was responsible for signing up the Georgia Power Research Center (now Georgia Tech NEETRAC) to exhibit. We offered testing services to the greater T&D community, and exhibiting at the show enabled us to meet new clients while affording us the opportunity to reconnect with existing clients.

I was working for T&D World when the next Chicago show came around. Our editorial team was scurrying around daily to provide attendees with up-to-date news on the happenings of the day. We interviewed IEEE execs, including past PES President Wanda Reder (what a workhorse for our industry).

What’s in Store for Us in 2014?

First, a shout-out to host utility ComEd is in order. Volunteers, thanks for all you do. If past years are any guide, you will find volunteers around every corner eager to help you find your way to the various events and sessions.

I am thrilled that the mixer will be at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. This place is quite a fine venue for engineers, a social event with a technical slant. And along with the 50-year look back, IEEE is bringing in a futurist to speak at the opening session and share what the next 50 years might have in store for our industry.

We are glad to bring you this show issue. Here you will find all the motivation you could need to sign up for this world-class event. With more than 750 exhibitors, you will find the resources and contacts you need to make your T&D purchases.

Of course, IEEE is an international organization, and if you are traveling to this event from foreign lands, take yourself over to the International Visitor Center. IEEE will provide meeting areas with interpreters to assist as needed.

Feel like doing a bit of a wander? IEEE will have five technical tours available. Want a deeper dive? Five tutorials will be available with instructors providing you with a pragmatic slant on topics that vary from synchrophasers to distribution automation to smart substations. What else is available? You will have access to forum sessions, panel sessions, poster sessions and info sessions. What really caught my eye are the super sessions that will address resiliency and aging infrastructure. And speaking of aging, our workforce has a little of that going on. To address this issue, IEEE has created an on-site job fair to provide you with the opportunity to snag one of our graduating students coming into the industry.

So, whatever particular role you play in our dynamic electric energy industry, succumb to the siren call of the IEEE T&D PES Conference & Exposition. See you in Chicago.

Rick Bush on His Editorial