By current estimates, the world’s population is roughly 7.6 billion people. I shouldn’t have to say, “that’s billion with a ‘B’”, but I will say it any ways (just for dramatic purposes). 7.6 billion is a huge number and by that token a lot of people so I should go to the FIE conference in San Jose, California even if it costs me close to a thousand dollars out of my own pocket. That was the argument I made when deciding whether I should go to San Jose, California for one day to attend a 4-day conference and the only way I could convince myself into spending that much money was the fact that the world has 7.6 billion people. Strange argument isn’t it?
Here is the connection between 7.6 billion people and the conference. FIE (Frontiers in Education) is an Engineering education focused conference and is a part of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) which is the world’s largest technical professional organization (IEEE website). FIE conferences are a truly international affair and unlike most education conferences that take place at a local or regional level, FIE doesn’t just afford its presenters the opportunity to present their paper and interact with other like-minded professionals, this conference also publishes the presented papers in proceedings which are indexed by major peer-reviewed literature databases. This means that once you have presented your paper at FIE you could brag to your rich cousin that you have been published, now match that!
So once my advisor explained to me the importance of attending and presenting my accepted work putting it in the context of the world’s huge population made me feel extremely special and the decision to spend money to earn the notoriety that comes with being published which is afforded only to a very few out of the 7.6 billion became very easy.
That said, when you do go to a conference, local, regional or international, take your slippers, towel, HDMI cable, chargers, medications and most importantly your Alka-Seltzer with you. Realizing that you are stuck in the downtown of a major city (yes I am talking about San Jose) where there is no McDonalds, Wendy’s or Taco Bell in the vicinity is not bad enough until the food from the airport causes you upset stomach and you need something and you realize that there are no pharmacies in sight either. So, don’t forget the Alka-Seltzer.
Aamir is a PhD student in the College of Education and Human Development