IEEE Tech for Humanity Party at SXSW

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I had the opportunity last night to attend the “Annual SXSW Party #PartyLikeAnEngineer” event sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and held at the historic Driskill Hotel in down town Austin.  This is the first time I had attended any
of the SXSW events. The event was all that I had expected and then some.

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There was a large crowd and an interesting mix of participants. Several members of the IEEE Central Texas Section were in attendance, as well as a large number of guests from the Austin area and the rest of the country.

I was fortunate to be invited to the VIP portion of the event which allowed me in early. Not only was there an open bar, but hotel staff were circulating with trays of tasty appetizers. As the evening wore on, the crowd grew and it became difficult to move through the space.

IEEE had arranged for some exhibits and games at the party. One group showed a large scale 3D printer that could be used to print prosthetic hands for kids. A table demonstrated how to produce a hologram from your iPhone. Another area hosted a display of solar powered lighting for developing countries. One of the best displays promoted kits for teaching about lasers as part of the STEM initiative. Not only was that pf particular interest to me because of my participation in Discover Engineering (an Austin area STEM outreach group), but it was the best place to feel a very welcome breeze of cool air from the
burdened HVAC system.  There were also games including a popular horse race game where the competitors powered their race horse avatars across the screen by setting on and using rocking horses. It was amazing how many exhuberently returned to their youth and rocked wildly to win their race.

As you would expect there was music playing (Often so loud you could hardly hear the person you were talking to) through out the evening. Tables around the room sported a variety of 3D puzzles for the guests to challenge their problem solving skills. It was a fun and entertaining evening. It allowed many of us to reestablish old friendships and make new ones as well. I look forward to returning in 2017.

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