Read Prior MPIF Times:
January 26, 20121 February 2, 2021 February 18, 2021 March 3, 2021 March 31, 2021
Signs of Hope? Absolutely!
MPIF Technical Board Chairman Blaine Stebick, Phoenix Sintered Metals LLC, shared his perspective on the upcoming hybrid PowderMet2021/AMPM2021/Tungsten2021 conferences to be held June 20-23 in Orlando and virtually.
How do you think the current COVID-19 pandemic will affect the Orlando event?
I guess I am a “glass half-full” type of guy and always the optimist. The COVID-19 pandemic has burned a path of destruction on every level, but I believe that for the industry to grow, we must meet at least annually. When we meet in Orlando, it will have been 2 full years since PowderMet2019 in Phoenix, when we last met as an industry. Everyone that I have spoken to, from the powder producers, equipment manufacturers, parts makers, and our end-users, all agree that we can’t wait any longer to get together and the excitement is building to once again be face-to-face, or at least mask-to-mask, in Orlando. We are hungry to meet again!
We are seeing signs extremely positive signs domestically. States are reporting a downturn in hospitalizations and deaths. We now have 3 approved vaccines. Governors of many states are reopening, removing travel restrictions, and increasing the size of gatherings. Even a Johns Hopkins researcher, Prof. Martin Makary, wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed that predicted the virus will be mostly gone in the US by April. Best of all, President Biden negotiated a deal with major rival drug companies to manufacture and distribute enough vaccines for all adults by the end of May!
All of this good news is happening more than 3 and a half months before the conferences. Yes, it is time to plan to be in Orlando.
You mentioned things look very positive domestically, but what about internationally?
Unfortunately, we don’t have control over when countries will lift their travel bans. However, MPIF has been extremely proactive by moving to hybrid conferences, both in-person and virtual. This move not only allows speakers to share their work, but also provides the opportunity for our international colleagues to attend, many likely for the first time. One great price provides delegates the opportunities of attending the conferences in person, virtually, and as a bonus, the presentations will be available on demand. Delegates will no longer struggle deciding which session to attend as they will be able to watch the recordings. I think the on demand is a great incentive for our international colleagues to attend!
Can you describe the exhibit experience and other networking opportunities?
I have been to many, many conferences and exhibitions – nothing compares to what MPIF offers. MPIF conferences are the benchmark. They are well designed to balance technical sessions and non-compete time to attend the exhibits. From the opening events to the closing events, everything will be spectacular.
Orlando attendees will notice additional distance between exhibit booths in the exhibit hall. This decision was made months ago. MPIF staff is working closely with the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort to ensure that all safety and health measures are in-place to keep attendees healthy throughout the duration of the conference.
Delegates that will be attending virtually will be provided opportunities to network, visit with exhibitors, and truly feel like they are a part of the conference.
Are there activities for students?
Possibly one of the most exciting aspects of the MPIF conferences is the infusion of students, thanks to the National Science Foundation (NSF), Center for Powder Metallurgy Technology (CPMT) Axel Madsen Foundation and MPIF student conference grants. Over 45 students were awarded grants for 2021. Each student will submit electronic posters (in-person attendees will also submit free standing posters) and provide a 25-minute presentation of their research. As in the past, Tech Board members and other volunteers from the industry will act as mentors for the students.
Do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share?
MPIF conferences never disappoint. I can’t stress enough how the industry needs to meet annually, and MPIF has taken on the extra burden to provide hybrid conferences. I personally appreciate the speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and those that will attend for supporting the industry. We are a resilient industry, and together, we will be stronger from what we have learned over the past year. Now is the time to gather and I look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando or online if they are unable to attend in person.