An Unparalleled Experience

In just a couple of months, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) will hold its 124th Annual Conference & Exposition (ACE05) from June 12-16 in San Francisco. Operating under the theme “The World’s Water Event,” ACE05 is composed of a vast array of elements including the exhibition hall, workshops, professional sessions, facility tours, and a luncheon featuring former NFL player and coach, Mike Ditka.
As a precursor to ACE05, Water & Wastes Digest recently had the opportunity to discuss the event with Paula MacIlwaine, the deputy executive
director for the AWWA.

WWD: When and where is the ACE05 event scheduled?
Paula MacIlwaine: ACE05 is June 12–16 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. We couldn’t be more excited about the location.

WWD: How many attendees and exhibitors do you expect at ACE05?
MacIlwaine: It’s difficult to predict the number of attendees, but we were really thrilled by the success of last year’s show in Orlando. I’ll say we expect more than 12,000 people—beyond that I’m guessing.
We know there will be more than 500 exhibitors and more than 1,000 booths. We’re far ahead of our planned attendance in that area, which is exciting. The Exhibit Hall will be extraordinary.

WWD: What can an attendee of ACE05 expect to take away from the event?
MacIlwaine: I hope each attendee comes away with whatever they’re looking for, and the ACE staff will be working feverishly to make sure that’s the case. Attendees hoping to grow professionally will be able to pick from more than 105 professional sessions.
Those looking for new ideas or technology will find an extraordinary display of what’s hot in the industry. If you’re looking for networking opportunities or business partners, there’s no better place.

WWD: What makes ACE05 different from past AWWA ACEs as well as other shows offered to the water industry?
MacIlwaine: We make a concerted effort each year to respond to the feedback from our attendees. There are many things that will make ACE05 an unparalleled experience, but you could start with the number and scope of professional sessions offered. We have 105 scheduled—that’s unmatched anywhere.
This year’s show will also feature a Career Fair, nine tours of local facilities, some extraordinary speakers—even a lunch with football great Mike Ditka. We also have hundreds of committee meetings going on during the week and all meetings are open to anyone.

WWD: How might the show encompass the different aspects of the water industry?
MacIlwaine: Regardless of where you fit into the water community, ACE05 will have mountains of useful information for you. We’re offering 19 focused technical tracks that cover all aspects of the water industry.
Our tracks on Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Public Affairs and Water Conservation and Water Resources are available at no
other conference.
ACE05 will also feature a brand new track on Water Reuse, offered in conjunction with the WateReuse Association.
In addition, there are 17 professional workshops covering a broad range of topics that allow for hands-on interaction with your colleagues.

WWD: How is the theme “The World’s Water Event” incorporated into ACE05?
MacIlwaine: The theme reflects several truths about ACE05, but I’ll focus on a couple.
First, ACE has been around longer than any other show—123 years—and for many water professionals, it’s simply “the” water event.
But the theme also reflects the increasingly international feel of the conference. For the second year, ACE05 will host the U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program. This program encourages the export of U.S.-made products by matching international buyers with domestic firms at ACE. We’ll again have an International Resource Center with an international attendee lounge, rosters of ACE attendees sorted by country, and information regarding companies interested in doing business in specific areas of the world.

WWD: What are some of the highlights of ACE05?
MacIlwaine: We’ll be bringing back the New Product Technology Showcase for a second year. It’s difficult to overstate how much attendees loved that feature last year. They really appreciated the opportunity to learn about the industry’s top cutting-edge technology in one place, so we’ll be doing that again.
The Top-Ops Challenge and Pipe-Tapping Contest are always a highlight. We’re very excited about the Career Fair, which will match job hunters, students and young professionals with a variety of companies.
And, for the first time, contact hours will be available for attending facility tours.

WWD: Are there any particular tips or recommendations you would offer attendees to make the most of their time at ACE05?
MacIlwaine: The first thing I’d say is to schedule some significant time in the Exhibit Hall. There’s a lot of business that gets done in that environment, but it’s important to spend some time “taking in” everything that’s there.
I talk to a lot of attendees who encounter something in the Exhibit Hall that positively impacted their utility or business—and they weren’t even looking.
Second, I’d reflect on my own career and professional needs, and think about what I’d really like from conference. Then open your eyes and look at the ACE05 agenda. There’s a track or individual sessions to fit any need, so know what your needs are before you arrive.

WWD: When and where is ACE06?
MacIlwaine: ACE06 will be in San Antonio, June 11–15. By the time the “lights go down” in San Francisco, we’ll be deep into the ACE06 planning.

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