The 2016 CONSTRUCT Show in Austin, Texas was absolutely amazing. I went to Austin with an agenda: Learn how CSI Memphis can improve and boost its membership, specifically with young professionals; promote the 2017 CSI Memphis BUILD/IT Show and Gulf States Region Conference; learn more about the exciting and ground breaking technologies like virtual and augmented reality devices; and most importantly to network and have fun.
Those of you who know me well are aware that I am a passionate advocate for the advancement of emerging professionals and promoting licensure for aspiring architects. Anyone reading this probably knows that CSI, as a whole, is struggling with membership. This fact is especially true with the Millennial generation and I want to change that. I did however, meet a group of great Young Professionals in Austin and had a fantastic time spending time and getting to know them. What was great about the entire thing was that they came from the four corners of the continent and all worked in different parts of the industry. Some of the Young Professionals I met included: a specifier and an blogger who both hailed from Portland, general contractors from Little Rock and Dallas, two product representatives from Canada, and two aspiring architect from Charlotte and Austin. During the three days we spent together we discussed the professionals we work in, what we want to do in the future, the value we see in our CSI memberships, and how we think CSI can boost the number of Young Professionals in CSI. One thing we agreed on is that the CSI experience begins in school, is sustained by support of the chapter after graduation, and blossoms into involvement and volunteerism when the Young Professional begins to find his or her place in the industry. Subsequently, I believe we need to continue to promote the Dempsie B. Morrison Scholarship Fund and our student chapter, begin sponsor memberships after the students graduate, and encourage Young Professionals to join committees and get involved once they feel comfortable in their professions.
Speaking of the Dempsie B. Morrison Scholarship, one of my main goals was to promote the 2017 CSI Memphis BUILD/IT Show and Gulf States Region Conference. These events will be the biggest fundraising efforts for the scholarship fund of the year. CSI Memphis Past President Mike Zielinski and I are heading up the planning committee for these events. The CONSTRUCT Show floor, regional caucus, and social events gave me an excellent opportunity to promote our annual products show and GSR conference. I have a stack of business cards covered in notes sitting on my desk and I plan on following up on each and every lead I can to insure the success of our chapter. BUILD/IT 2017 will kick off the event on Thursday, April 20, 2017 at the Columns of One Commerce Square in Downtown Memphis. The Gulf States Regional Conference will continue through Saturday, April 22 at the Kress Building at Springhill Suites in Court Square. We have some excellent events planned including a Keynote Presentation by Marlon Blackwell, the architect behind the Heart of Shelby Farms Park and presentation from Memphis Historian Jimmy Ogle. We have recently released our sponsor package and are looking to fill fifty booths. By the time this article is published, we will have already have sold five booths for the products display show and acquired two sponsors for the weekend. I have no doubt that our membership knows the importance of this event and how it will impact the scholarship fund. Please go to our recently-updated and redesigned website, download and print the sponsor packet, and help us pursue sponsors and sell booths; like, share, and comment on the CSI Memphis Facebook page; do whatever you can do to promote BUILD/IT and the GSR Conference. A big push from our members will help tremendously.
I hope to bring in some sort of speaker, sponsor, or vendor that will promote and demonstrate some of the outstanding and groundbreaking technology coming around the bend to the regional conference. I was fortunate to attend two great presentations that focused on cutting-edge technology at the national conference in Austin. I learned about a variety of technologies including augmented and virtual reality hardware, 3D printing, drones and UAVs, photogrammetry, laser scanning, wearable devices that enhance human strength and safety, and much more. These kinds of systems will be common place in the design, engineering, and construction industries within the next five years and I firmly believe that learning how to operate and leverage services and profits from new software and hardware will set the outstanding professionals apart from the pedestrian. If any of our membership can help bring in a presenter on 3D printing or a vendor that will provide a virtual reality demonstration for BUILD/IT or the GSR, please get in touch with chapter leadership, because we would love to have them.
Overall, CONSTRUCT was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t trade what I learned or the connections I made there for almost anything. Austin was an absolutely beautiful and welcoming city that definitely keeps things weird. Maybe it was the weirdness of Austin or the energy of the national convention, but I came back to Memphis with a mission and I have never been more optimistic about the future of our chapter. I would like to close by adding to our Chapter President’s monthly plea: please donate to the Dempsie B Morrison Scholarship Fund. If you find it difficult to donate financially, please donate your time. The chapter board is working diligently to plan a fantastic weekend in April of 2017, but we could always use more help. Sweat equity is just as welcome as financial giving.
Jeffrey Parnell, CSI, Associate AIA
Hnedak Bobo Group, Inc.