After the conference (see past blog entry) is before the conference! So the SC committee met last week in the picturesque Hilton Head island in South Carolina. This is the so-called “Turnover” meeting: the outgoing SC committee (SC15 this time) meets with the now-in-charge committee for this year’s conference (SC16) to exchange ideas and experiences, discuss issues and problems and suggestions how to fix them for the next conference. This is one instrument SC uses to ensure quality and continuity over the years although the organizing committee changes from year to year. The other is the SC Steering committee which also meets in the same place for two additional days to discuss strategy and policies.
These face-to-face planning meetings are important for the success of the conference as SC is mainly organized by a large group of volunteers with the help of a few contractors. The typical committee size is around 500 people. Of course, only the committee and subcommittee chairs come to these meetings but this still can be easily 60 to 80 people. (And in case you were wondering about it: yes, the home organizations of the people are paying for the travel and hotel!) Besides exchanging experiences, face-to-face meetings also ensure that the different subcommittees (e.g. technical program, exhibition, infrastructure, finance, or local arrangements) get to know each other better and learn more about the work of the other subcommittees.
The Turnover meeting is traditionally in a “warmer” location (as it is always mid to end of January), and while it was warmer than many places people came from (e.g. in Jülich it was snowing ;-)) it was not as warm as expected: the temperature was more in the single-digit degrees Celsius and with the cold wind it was feeling more like freezing. At least we were not hit by “Snowzilla”, the blizzard which went over the Northeast of the US at the end of the week. A few committee members actually got stuck in Hilton Head Island for a few extra days as there home airport was closed a few days.