Tuesday, October 04, 2011


1200 Engineering Students in Pueblo Mexico

Oct. 4. Estoy aqui en Puebla, Mexico. Here I am in Pubebla Mexico for the XIV Congreso Internacional del Ingenieria Industrial—over 1200 people, mostly students, from 6 countries, for 4 days of industrial engineering presentations, visits to companies, tutorials on a wide range of topics, and even some entertainment. Right now, during the pre-conference settling in, 2 mimes (quite good ones) are entertaining the waiting crowd, using the TRIZ concept of “use exiting resources”—they have just disassembled the video camera and are now balancing a fire extinguisher, now using a sort-of volunteer young lady from the audience as part of their act. This gave the distinguished panel an opportunity to assemble behind them, and the conference is beginning in a very good mood.

The student organizers and their faculty advisors have worked for over a year to bring this event to Puebla, a beautiful city of extreme contrasts – the Cathedral which was built starting in the 1500s is visible from the very modern convention center. Local and international companies sponsored the event – Volkswagen and Grupo Modelo, Cinemex, and Prissa, among others. The student organizing committee (more than 40 people!) was hard at work when I arrived from the airport last night, but took a break for photos—organizing this event is a great lesson in logistics, no matter what else they learn.

The theme of the conference is “Change your ideas, build your future.” I’ll report periodically on my changing ideas. One initial observation: gender differentiation is disappearing. Men and women are on the student committees, the faculty, and the list of honored guests (speakers, government ministers, and others whose titles I didn’t learn) – this is a welcome difference from a conference I was at only 10 years ago where I was the only woman in the room, and the host explained that women study mathematics, not engineering (!)

More later…

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