This year the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Annual Convention and Expo (ACE18) will lay out some important discussions around our water issues and offer new insights to combat these challenges. Co-partnering with the California/Nevada Section, AWWA has a lot in store for attendees, including first-timers and international audiences. Hundreds of topics will be discussed including P3s, affordability, inventions and ideas from everyday folk, reuse strategies, and more. Attendees can even expand their knowledge base and earn CEUs. Finally, there will be plenty of opportunities to network and compete in contests. No attendee will leave empty-handed.
PHC News spoke with Barb Martin, AWWA’s director of Engineering and Technical Services, and picked her brain for more on ACE 18’s hot topics, content and future of water implications. She even gave us a sneak peek at next year’s show.
Sarah Cimarusti (SC): Journalist Ira Flatow is ACE 18’s headlining speaker. What went into this selection? What is significance behind the theme, “Catalysts of Creativity,” and how will that play into the rest of the conference?
Barb Martin (BM): The Catalysts of Creativity theme describes where new ideas for inventions and advances comes from — and how even non-scientists, such as actors, musicians, and plain folk — are being granted patents for their creative ideas. Flatow was selected based on “his ability to make science and technology a topic for discussion around the dinner table.” Our goal during the Opening General Session is for attendees to leave feeling that innovation and ideas can come from everyone. In fact, some of the most creative ideas we see at AWWA come from the operators that submit entries for the annual Gimmicks and Gadgets contest!
SC: What other themes is AWWA trying to hit on this year?
BM: AWWA recognizes that innovation is a key to help solve our global water challenges. That’s why this year’s theme is Innovating the Future of Water. We’ll once again host the Innovation Lounge, but this year we’re also making a special effort to attract an international audience to the conference, through a Red-Carpet Service, international-only tours, an International Resource Center and International Reception Event.
ACE18 also emphasizes AWWA’s Total Water Solutions objectives, with sessions covering reuse, wastewater and stormwater in addition to drinking water.
Finally, AWWA continues to strive to make ACE18 a premier event for operators, with education available through the professional sessions, exhibit hall and CEUs available.
SC: There is a lot of content to choose from this year. What are a few of some of the most anticipated sessions and events? Is there anything/anyone back by popular demand?
BM: The Beyond the Spec Book workshop is back by popular demand! Eight manufacturers will set up their equipment in a room, with a station for each. In small groups, attendees will visit each station and learn about equipment piece(s), touch or handle the equipment, learn how to operate it, understand when to use it, and learn what each part of the equipment specification means in simple terms.
The Legal Program, a one-day program geared toward legal staff, outside legal counsel and general managers, is also back this year.
Additionally, the tours have been popular this year. The Hoover Dam and Bellagio tours are sold out, but there’s still some room on selected facility tours.
SC: Are there any new features and developments this year? Is there any feedback you received last year that was implemented this year?
BM: We’ll debut the AWWA Exam Prep app during ACE18. We’ll be hosting demos of the new app, which will let water operators study for their certification exams from mobile devices and their desktops while tracking their progress through a series of practice questions, at the AWWA Pavilion all week.
SC: What is the Innovation Lounge, and what can attendees gain from participating?
BM: The ACE18 Innovation Lounge, powered by Isle Utilities, will showcase emerging water technologies that offer new approaches and solutions for the water sector. Attendees can visit with technologies providers during exhibit hall hours— or benefit from a guided tour of the Innovation Lounge Space, offered daily at noon.
Additionally, various providers of emerging technologies will be competing in the Isle Utilities Tech Pitch Competition, a “Shark Tank” style competition on Wednesday afternoon.
SC: What can first-timers expect? Is there anything they should prioritize or take advantage of to get the most out of their first-time experience?
BM: There’s a lot! We encourage first-time attendees to attend the First-Time Attendee Breakfast on Tuesday morning before heading to the Opening General Session to hear Mr. Flatow. We also encourage them to attend the TEC Plenary Session, Water Industry Lunch, visit the exhibit hall, watch the pipe tapping competition and attend relevant professional sessions.
Additionally, for the first time this year we’re offering a mentorship program at ACE. People who are interested need to sign up by May 7th.
SC: What opportunities are available for attendees to network and connect?
BM: There will be many opportunities to network throughout the conference. They include:
SC: What are some current events and major trends that sessions and training will address this year?
BM: There are too many topics to cover here, but some of the key hot topics that will be covered during the professional program include:
SC: Are there opportunities for Continuing Education?
BM: Yes. We offer CEUs and PDHs, CLEs for the Legal Program and a Certificate of Completion for the Public Officials Program.
SC: There are at least five competitions taking place this year. Can you go into a little bit more depth on them? What will attendees get out of this conference feature?
BM: We’ll be hosting seven different competitions this year. I won’t go into details about all of them, but the World Water Cup and Hot Flare Demo will be unique to ACE18.
This is the first time AWWA’s hosted the World Water Cup in a few years. It’s an international drilling and tapping competition among champion men’s teams from North America, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Organizations host national competitions at their conventions and the national champions will be competing for the World Water Cup champion title.
The Hot Flare Demonstration by our co-hosts the California-Nevada Section of AWWA will feature water operators changing out a ¾-inch angle meter stop under pressure.
Here’s a full list of the competitions we’ll hold during the week:
SC: Overall, what would you like attendees to take home with them?
BM: It is AWWA’s goal to provide an excellent attendee experience, and that means many things to many people. We hope everyone leaves excited and inspired to implement everything they’ve learned in their own communities.
SC: What is in the works for ACE19?
BM: We’re very excited to be back in our hometown of Denver next year, and we encourage folks to submit their abstracts as soon as they get home from Vegas!
SC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
BM: Everyone should be sure to stop by the exhibit hall, where we’ll have over 450 exhibitors and 1000 booths. We encourage everyone to stop by and learn about the products and services they have available.