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Generation Next sees tech preview of bright mechanical future

Generation Next sees tech preview of bright mechanical future

by TODD STOLARSKI | Oct 10, 2015

Rocking the town that Lebron James now calls home (again), the Mechanical Contractors Associations of America (MCAA) this month welcomed the best of the next generation to its annual student chapter summit. For two-plus days, Oct. 1-3, over 200 college students from across North America competed for prizes and enjoyed a deep exploration of the new technology driving the work of today's mechanical specialty contractors. Fortunately, BuiltWorlds was there to record the event, and we even brought along a bunch of tech for the students of varying design and engineering disciplines to test drive.

"This was a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our cutting-edge community of tech innovators to the implementers of tomorrow," said Matt Abeles, BW co-founder and managing director.

On the opening night of the summit, BW took the main stage with its Tech Toy Test Drive, starring some very special guests. At the wheel for this thrill ride were veteran powerhouse Milwaukee Tool, drone capture specialists Lift Technologies, all-around visual experts MasterGraphics, and makers of an augmented reality safety helmet, GuardHat

In between presentations, the youthful attendees had the chance to go 'hands on' to test drive the ground-breaking tech our guests had brought, some of which weren't even on the market yet! 

After a whirlwind educational session (literally -- a drone flew overhead in a packed ballroom; a super-cool moment for most, bad hair moment for all), students and their new friends made their way downtown in anticipation of the following day's keynote speech by human whirlwind James Benham.

No stranger to rock stars, Cleveland entertains more every year when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts a new crop of iconic legends. But nobody told the hall that Elvis had re-entered the building on Friday morning, when Benham bounded on to the stage to kick off Day 2 of the summit.  

As always, the CEO of Bryan TX-based JBKnowledge Inc. --himself a guest lecturer at Texas A&M University-- delivered a captivating speech on emerging tech that arrested everyone within earshot. Preparing to host his own Back-to-the-Future Day celebration later this month, Benham immediately took the students back in time, following the history of wearable technology to where we are now. There, he showcased new tools and future products destined to improve the prospects of future generations. Marveling at the integration of tech into every aspect of our lives, he noted, "My oldest daughter is eight years old, and I don't think she'll ever drive a car."

My oldest daughter is eight years old, and I don’t think she’ll ever drive a car.
— James Benham, CEO, JBKnowledge

Inspired by Benham's bravura performance, BW is now that much more excited to be collaborating with him on Demo Night: South, a fast-approaching joint production set for Oct. 22 at JBKnowledge HQ in Bryan/College Station TX. Yes, Abeles & Co. will be reprising their road show deep in the heart of Texas. Much of the cast may be different, but the program there promises to be just as riveting as it is revolutionary for the built environment. 

Now a word about the students... With the best of "Generation Next" hand-picked for Cleveland, MCAA showed a keen eye for what – and who – may best position the profession for all that is yet to come. Not only did attendees compete and learn the basics as classmates, but they took the critical step of hands-on experience in a field where the only constant is change. 

Just as quickly as the hundreds of students swooped into Cleveland, they left. For many, the friends they made will soon become colleagues. The overarching theme of this year's MCAA's Student Summit was “Great Futures.” Seeing all of those exuberant students amid technological advances in mechanical engineering, it seems clear that great futures await them all.  

Still to come, a video recap of our time at the summit!

Make no little... At BW, we still have a soft spot for the legendary Daniel Burnham. Happy to find him in Cleveland, too.

Make no little... At BW, we still have a soft spot for the legendary Daniel Burnham. Happy to find him in Cleveland, too.

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