The following PowerUp blog entry was written by Bruce Guetzkow, who has been an IT professional for more than 25 years, mostly with Power Systems servers running IBM i and its predecessors. His published articles cover utility programs and commands he created over the years. Bruce is currently Webmaster for the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association (WMCPA), an advisor for the Programmer/Analyst Track at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wis., and an independent consultant for GmanTech Consulting in Delavan, Wis.
I've been a volunteer with the Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association (WMCPA) for several years. On March 20-22, 2012, WMCPA will be holding its 27th-annual Spring Technical Conference at the beautiful Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, Wis. The location makes for a reasonable drive for people from all over Wisconsin and Illinois and as far away as Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Minnesota.
If you've ever done any event planning you know many aspects must be coordinated: the venue, food, speakers, topics, lodging, audio-visual needs, entertainment and registration, to name a few. No one person could adequately deal with all of that.
Fortunately WMCPA has a five-person Board of Directors, elected annually, and four Conference Committee members (including myself) appointed by the Board that share in the work. Sharing the load makes these manageable tasks. I have learned a great deal over time about the people on our Board and Committee. Everyone has unique talents that they bring to the table to enhance the process. Whether it be effectively communicating with potential speakers, negotiating with the different venues and sponsors, creating banners, composing documents or just putting a few links on a web page, everyone contributes in his/her own fashion. We also get help from IT students at conference time thanks to our special relationship with Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wis., and their IBM i-based Programmer/Analyst program.
Recently a few of us got together to work on “the grid," which is the document that lays out specific days, times, speakers and topics for our two-day conference based on topics submitted by potential speakers. As of this writing it is about 95-percent complete. There will certainly be a few changes, rearranging times, adding or removing particular topics as needed, but there should be enough information for IT professionals to make up their minds as to which sessions are of utmost importance to them. If it isn't available on our website, it will be shortly.
For the last few years we have also been offering a bonus day (Tuesday) for anyone that registers for the two normal conference days (Wednesday and Thursday). That's when we host the Tuesday night roundtable discussion where several of the conference speakers discuss a topic of interest. The Wednesday Casino night entertainment allows attendees to play games with fellow attendees and speakers in a relaxed atmosphere.
When first approached to volunteer for WMCPA I must admit that I was a bit reluctant. After all, did I really have time to do all of that work? Well, it's true that there is work to be done, but I quickly realized that I am only one of many, and many hands make light work. I have also developeed friendships over the years with the Board and Committee members, and many of the WMCPA members-at-large that make me want to volunteer year after year.
Plenty of free webinars and other online events are available, but when you want to really learn about a topic there is nothing quite like a technical conference where you can talk directly with industry experts. If you're planning on being anywhere in the Midwest we hope you'll consider joining us at our 27th-annual Spring Technical Conference. If not, check out a local user group in your area for their monthly or conference offerings. And, while you're at it, consider volunteering--it's time well spent.