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Reinventing the SAE World Congress

by on Apr.27, 2010

The annual gathering of auto engineers, the SAE World Congress, has been shrinking for years. But the 2010 event was intentionally downsized, claim its organizers.

If the SAE World Congress looked smaller to those attending the industry’s premier automotive engineering event at Detroit ‘s Cobo Center earlier this month, that’s because it was smaller – by design, according to conference organizers, though recent history shows the once massive event has been shriveling on its own for a number of years.

Some 300 companies exhibited at the event last year but the 2010 World Congress saw just 103 firms on the floor, according to Andrew Brown Jr., chief technologist at Delphi Corporation and president of the SAE for 2010. The number of papers presented at the conference was smaller, as well – about 1,090 versus 1,370 in 2009 – and attendance was down from 16,000 to somewhere beyond 10,000.

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“The food court was nearly as big as the displays,” complained one participant, asking not to be named, but echoing a comment heard repeatedly during this year’s show.