RAPID 2008 attracted strong attendance rates.

Press Release Summary:

Held May 20-22, 2008, SME's RAPID 2008 took place in Lake Buena Vista, FL with more than 1,500 attendees. New focus areas included Rapid Manufacturing, Rapid Prototyping, Medical Applications, Castings, 3D Scanning, and What's Cool. In addition to keynote speakers, event also included Workforce Development Center, which provided location for engineers and other manufacturing practitioners to network, search for training, enhance job skills, or even change careers.

Original Press Release:

Rapid Manufacturing on the Brink Of Change SME's Rapid 2008 Attracts Strong Attendance

DEARBORN, Mich., June 10, 2008 -The Society of Manufacturing Engineers' (SME) RAPID 2008 recently attracted one of its strongest attendance rates in years and garnered praise for changing its locale and technology focus. More than 1,500 attendees participated in this annual conference and exposition.

Held May 20-22, 2008, this year's event took place outside of the Midwest for the first time. The change of scenery gave attendees the chance to extend their stay for a family-friendly vacation in Lake Buena Vista, FL, while the change of focus brought more attendees to the show floor for the latest rapid technology trends.

"Congratulations to SME for successfully bringing the RAPID Conference to a new location and in increasing exposure of Additive Fabrication to a historically, non-traditional audience (outside of greater Chicago/Detroit)," wrote Fred Fischer, marketing manager, Stratasys Incorporated, a leading provider of 3D prototyping technology.

"We believe that the [increased] attendance at RAPID 2008 validates the increasing awareness and benefits that additive fabrication is providing the design and manufacturing communities."

And as Jason Dickman, owner of Tulsa-based American Precision Prototyping and RAPID 2008 sponsor also wrote of the event, "The new venue was refreshing...and the open, single level layout of the conference facility made it easier to see all exhibits and connect with other exhibitors and conference attendees."

Along with this more open layout and a new venue at a family-friendly Disney Resort, RAPID 2008 was able to re-energize conference programming by adding new focus areas including Rapid Manufacturing, Rapid Prototyping, Medical Applications, Castings, 3D Scanning, and "What's Cool!"

"Our goal this year was to make these focus areas even more engaging and more interactive not only on the show floor, but with our three invited keynote speakers," said Lisa Dodge, SME RAPID Event Manager.

One of those speakers was Retired Brigadier General Nick Halley, who offered attendees leadership principles and strategies that will enable business leaders to be effective in an increasingly unstable world and competitive economy.

Todd Grimm of T.A. Grimm & Associates kicked off the second day of with his "Progress and Promise" address and informed attendees that "past progress has lead to future promises of dramatic growth in 3D scanning and direct digital manufacturing. [By] leveraging the past and building on the present...questions are investigated to reveal the impact, opportunity and challenge of change."

On RAPID 2008's final day, Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, spoke about the future state of the industry and invited conference attendees to think about, "Where is the industry headed and what does the future hold and which developments and trends are most important to track and understand when making vital business decisions?"

In addition to the keynote speakers, the event also included the Workforce Development Center, which, provided an ideal location for engineers and other manufacturing practitioners to network, search for training, enhance their job skills or even change careers. And while the Workforce Development Center focused on providing new opportunities for current manufacturing practitioners, it also showcased resources for generation next through the Bright Minds Mentor Program.

Bright Minds, an annual and integral part of RAPID, teams local high school students and their teachers with industry leaders and representatives. This year, approximately 50 Orlando-area high school students had the chance to interact with such exhibitors as Alcoa, Bose Corp, Calphalon, Chrysler, Dow Chemical, Fisher Price, La-Z-Boy Inc., among many other companies.

"The kids were absolutely blown away [by rapid technology]," said Dodge. So was an attending teacher, who told her that he was "seriously considering going back to school to change careers."

Dodge went onto say that the success of RAPID 2008 will definitely influence
2009 and she hopes that potential exhibitors and attendees will think of and sum up this event the way Giles Gaskell, director of business development, NVision, the leading manufacturer of HD, SD and digital audio routing systems, put it, "[RAPID]...It's the place to be."

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About SME:

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (www.sme.org) is the world's leading professional society supporting manufacturing education. Through its member programs, publications, expositions and professional development resources, SME promotes an increased awareness of manufacturing engineering and helps keep manufacturing professionals up to date on leading trends and technologies. Headquartered in Michigan, SME influences more than half a million manufacturing practitioners and executives annually. The Society has members in more than 70 countries and is supported by a network of hundreds of technical communities and chapters worldwide.


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