Hindsight Attending MSUG Annual Conference 2013

Mike Allen's picture

I'll be attending the Michigan Simulation User Group (MSUG) 2013 Annual Conference at the Management Education Center in Troy, MI on Wednesday, October 16.

If you are planning to attend and would like to meet up, please call me on +1 (313) 451-4001.

This is my sixth—and final—conference as a member of the MSUG Steering Committee (SC), and looks set to be by far the biggest and best yet. With just under a week to go, we already have 70 attendees signed-up. To put this figure into perspective, I think our biggest previous event was last year, when we had 50 attendees in total. This builds on our recent trend of significantly increasing attendee numbers each year:

I expect the number to be higher on the day, as we usually have around 5-10 people show up at the door without pre-registering.

I've enjoyed my time on the Steering Committee. The majority of my fellow SC members have, like me, spent their careers using simulation to understand, analyze and improve complex systems, boost productivity and reduce costs. I've learned a lot from meeting and interacting with them over the years, and discussing how we can promote simulation to a wider audience. I've also gotten to know just about every simulation practitioner in the State of Michigan, which is no bad thing either.

My most obvious contributions as an MSUG SC member have been in terms of our technology. I replaced the difficult-to-use original web-site, which consisted of hand-written HTML files, with a modern content management system that allows anyone to create and edit the site's content. I setup email services, providing SC members with email accounts (by name and by role). I created a collaborative, on-line document management system for capturing and distributing meeting minutes, speaker lists, financial statements, etc. I started up many of the MSUG social media services, including Twitter, Google+ and Facebook—another SC member beat me to the setting up of our LinkedIn group—to promote MSUG events. Finally, I overhauled the MSUG mailing list, replacing the previous manual list with a fully-automated system that has now grown to nearly 270 subscribers.

Each SC member is assigned a specific role each year. I started off as Secretary, then spent three years as Webmaster, followed by a year as Program Manager, and—this year—Newsletter Editor. I've particularly enjoyed the Newsletter role, which has given me an opportunity to reach out to the membership more than in other years. However, I confess to being a little disappointed by the lack of articles, vacancies, product news and opinions that I've had to work with. I think that part of the problem was that we hadn't done a great job of publishing newsletters in past years. Instead of publishing one each quarter, we would issue one or two a year at best. So why contribute to a newsletter that may not even go out? That's why I vowed to publish one issue each quarter, on the 15th of the third month of each. So far, I've maintained that schedule, and my last issue is due to go out on December 15. Things are slowly improving, and I hope to handover a more credible newsletter to my successor. (If you'd like to contribute to the next issue, please contact me at newsletter@m-sug.org. The cut-off date for contributions is November 21.)

Whatever your level of interest or experience using simulation, I can recommend our Annual Conference as a great way to learn about new approaches and products, and to network with fellow simulationists. We also have a large number of vacancies on the SC this year, so please give some thought to standing for election to that too.

I hope to see you there!

Mike Allen

President, Hindsight Consulting, Inc.