WESTEC, produced by SME and AMT, is an industry-leading west coast manufacturing trade show. As a biennial event, in 2017, WESTEC attracted over 10,000 guests and 428 exhibitors. This year WESTEC will be held in a new location at the Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, California. The show will feature the latest industry news and technologies affecting critical industries such as aerospace, medical, industrial machinery and consumer goods.
Long Beach Convention Center
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, California 90802 USA
24-26 September 2019
We caught up with Dirk von Gal, director of US Events, to learn more about WESTEC 2019 in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.
AMazing®: Dirk, thank you for your participation. This must be an exciting time with WESTEC 2019 just around the corner and in a new location at the Long Beach Convention Center. Why is attending WESTEC so vital to businesses in this highly competitive global market?
Dirk von Gal: WESTEC gives attendees from all walks of the manufacturing profession first-hand insight into the latest technologies revolutionizing the industrial sector. So, we’re certainly looking forward to bringing WESTEC to Long Beach. There’s a lot planned for our attendees to experience.
The industry has grown leaps and bounds from what it looked like a few decades ago, and quite honestly, it’s even changed from what we witnessed last year. That’s why it’s so important that manufacturers stay up-to-date with current trends, innovations, and processes so that they can remain competitive on the national and global landscape. That’s what we’re striving to provide at WESTEC.
AMazing®: As we understand, additive manufacturing (AM) is the #1 most sought out technology at SME Regionals Events. This year WESTEC will feature a one-day Additive Manufacturing Materials Seminar. What are some topics that will be presented at this seminar? What tools will be available to attendees to help make informed decisions about additive manufacturing technologies and materials?
Dirk von Gal: The Additive Manufacturing Seminar Series will be a co-located event during WESTEC on September 25. This seminar will highlight how major manufacturers and suppliers have transformed their operations by embracing additive manufacturing with a focus on materials used to produce production-ready parts. Experts from Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, GE Additive, Arris Composites, and other companies will discuss the metal materials used to produce aerospace components, composites used in mass production, and other material applications. We will end the day with an expert panel session to provide greater insight into AM. There will be plenty of time for attendees to ask questions and participate in group discussions.
AMazing®: As education and knowledge are essential in today’s decision-making process, what event floor features will be available to learn about the latest news and trends in industry?
Dirk von Gal: You should be sure to catch the education content each day. Let’s start with the keynotes. On Tuesday Tom Wujec will share the disruptive process in manufacturing that has implications not just in our industry but virtually every sector, from real estate to retail, from finance to health care. On Wednesday Brian Beaulieu will provide an economic outlook for manufacturing through 2023, which will help all of us understand the environment we’re working in and trying to innovate in. This will help guide your investment and financial decisions. On Thursday, Fredi Lajvardi will share – through the story of his own renowned experiences in building a champion robotics team – the secret to inspiring the next generation of designers, makers, and builders who will propel our industry into the next generation.
We also have great panel discussions on the impact of blockchain on manufacturing and the supply chain, and on building your workforce supply chain to ensure you have the skilled workers to meet your business needs. The rest of the conference presentations focus on subjects as varied as artificial intelligence, collaborative robotics, metal 3D printing, metal fabricating process improvements, CNC machining improvements, among others. We’ve used the conference part of WESTEC to make this so much more than a trade show and networking event; we’ve really tried to provide both formal and informal opportunities to learn and prepare our industry for the rapid, exciting changes that are coming.
AMazing®: In the next 10 years, it is predicted millions of jobs may go unfilled, due to a lack of unskilled workers. What show features will be available to students, faculty members and young professionals interested in a career in manufacturing?
Dirk von Gal: We’re thrilled to bring our Student Summit Series to WESTEC. This summit delivers student-centric programming, hands-on challenges and competitions, technology demonstrations, and a guided show-floor tour. Students between 16-19 years-old will gain perspectives on manufacturing technologies, career pathways, and the industry from notable industry speakers. The students will also engage in a race competition designed to give them hands-on experience as they learn about different manufacturing technologies. They will also go on a guided tour of the show floor to engage with manufacturing exhibitors and get first-hand access to new manufacturing technologies, processes, and innovations.
AMazing®: Finally, what pre-show strategies and tips would you suggest to WESTEC 2019 attendees to explore the rich, diverse network of industries to maximize their conference experience?
Dirk von Gal: Our attendees are pretty knowledgeable about show activities by the time they arrive. That’s due in part to the research they do before the show. We encourage attendees to educate themselves about all aspects of WESTEC. Visit the show website often to keep up with the conference schedule and find out what our speakers will share. It’s a good idea to map out the show floor to see where exhibitors are located and learn what we have planned in the SME Zone.
Also, our show app has a lot of great information on event features, including keynote presentations, seminars and workshops, knowledge bars, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.
This concludes our interview. Dirk, thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about WESTEC 2019.
About Dirk von Gal:
Dirk von Gal joined SME in 2017 as the Director of US Events and is tasked with strengthening the Manufacturing Events portfolio to promote and champion U.S. Manufacturing throughout North America. Along with these duties, Mr. von Gal is the lead of Southern California’s premier manufacturing event WESTEC, in its new Long Beach home.
Before joining SME, Mr. von Gal was a senior vice president at Urban Expositions, now Clarion UX, producer of 37 events across 13 sectors.
SME connects all those who are passionate about making things that improve our world. As a nonprofit organization, SME has served practitioners, companies, educators, government and communities across the manufacturing spectrum for more than 80 years. Through its strategic areas of events, media, membership, training and development, and the SME Education Foundation, SME is uniquely dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing by addressing both knowledge and skills needed for the industry. Learn more at sme.org, follow @SME_MFG on Twitter or facebook.com/SMEmfg.
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