Wednesday through Friday was the 2008 Magnetics Conference put on by webcom in Denver, CO.
Wednesday was the magnetics boot camp, which was pretty much a one day crash course in magnetics. In theory, this makes up for the fact that neither Josh nor I have any magnetics classes or experience in our background. It was pretty good, from the point of view of someone who didn’t know shit about magnetics prior. Some good ideas were had for what we need to be focusing on and how to make the calculations and measurements we need to properly profile the system. Wednesday evening Josh and I let one of the guys from Invesys buy us dinner at a local steak and seafood place. Very nice and rather expensive. Interestingly, where we sat, we got to see several waiter collisions resulting in plates of food flying onto the floor. Unfortunately, dinner with company reps takes a lot of time and didn’t really give us time to recover on sleep.
Thursday was the first day of the conference. Various companies did presentations on different magnetic technologies, concepts, developments, etc. Some of the presentations were very specific to a company’s application, others were more general as far as standards and measurements. There was also time to browse various vendor booths and meet with more reps. Apparently the Fulton Innovation sticker on Josh’s laptop was noticed by one of the reps from Vaccumschmelze, so we were tracked down and invited to dinner Thursday also. Not wanting to be rude, we of course accepted – second night of very good dinner, but very little recouperation.
Friday was a partial day. Events were pretty much on par with Thursday. One of the vendors we have worked with in the past and who I have ordered some magnets from was there. Josh and I were sitting, waiting for one of the talks to start and he came up and asked if I was Matthew Norconk. It’s very odd being asked that if you’re in a group of about a hundred people and not wearing any form of nametag. He explained that he knew I was a younger person, and Josh and I were probably the youngest people there. It was nice to put a face with someone whom, up to this point, I had only had contact with by phone.
Apparently the entire magnetics industry in the US is aging. There are regulations, mainly environmental, which pretty much keep anyone new from joining the game. This means that the current players in the market are either staying in, getting out or being bought up. The result is an inherently shrinking base of magnet suppliers in the US.
Josh and I stayed an extra day, being we had flown all the way to Denver and the conference ended on Friday. Friday afternoon we went downtown for two main purposes – one was to visit the Flagship REI store, the other was to check out the Confluence whitewater park. The REI store was cool. We spent a few hours wandering around in there, but of course, everything being retail priced, and me being cheap, no purchases were made. The whitewater park was somewhat underwhelming. It didn’t look that well built – all the eddies were moving pretty good and kind of boily. We did go check out the near by kayaking outfitter. Their deal was that for $40 you could rend the boat and gear for the day, and you could bring the boat back and swap for a different one as many times as you wanted to. While this sounded like a good idea – given that I’d like to get a new WW boat – neither of us were that impressed with the whitewater to want to bother. Instead, we drove out to one of the parks and went hiking for most of Saturday. One of the interesting discoveries was that the Denver area is arid enough to support cacti.