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102 The PCB Magazine • December 2015 were more eager than ever to meet in person, in an informal setting, that did not impose on their valuable time and strained budgets. So this dynamic pair of women decided to find a way to address this unmet need in a way that didn't include far-away conferences, tradeshows, or PowerPoint slides. So just three years ago, Geek- A-Palooza was born. Tara didn't create a self- serving event that promoted her own sales rep firm, but rather worked with Tanya to create a resource-packed, fun venue for the area's elec- tronics industry—which included OEMs, cus- tomers, principals and even her competitors. Tanya was professionally compelled to direct her full energies on SMTA this year, but she con- tinues be supportive as Tara carries the "Geek" torch forward. The annual event is held at a local country club overlooking a breathtaking golf course—far removed from windowless convention centers and stuffy ballrooms. The event lasts from about 4–8 p.m., and costs a mere $10.00 to attend. In this way, the event offers a minimal time and cost investment while delivering a very high value to its participants and sponsors. Gourmet finger-foods are served throughout the evening and a bar is open for refreshments. There is mu - sic, raffles, a ring-toss (to win bottles of adult beverages) and the non-stop buzz of friendly conversation that magically makes smart phones disappear—at least for a while! A couple of doz- en electronics companies sponsor table-top dis- plays to help cover the cost of the event. There, casual inquires and information gathering can be made in a relaxed, conversational environ- ment without the aggressive sales approach so often characteristic of a tradeshow. New features added to this this year's event included partici- pation by a local University's robotics depart- ment, a STEM table and a drone/videographer. It really had the feel of an industry celebrating it- self—which is a real breath of fresh air in a world dominated by texts and e-mails. (Since a two- minute video is worth a thousand words—click here to see a video of this year's event). Attendance at Geek-A-Palooza has steadi- ly grown over the past three years. The head count has risen from about 200 participants in 2013, to more than 350 in 2015. These are fairly remarkable numbers given the relatively small electronics marketplace that exists in the Twin Cities area. Each year I've met engineers from large Minnesota-based OEMs, designers, distributors, IPC representatives, chemical and substrate reps, and countless others represent- ing the full gamut of the electronics indus- try and supply chain. Geek-A-Palooza offers a relevant and fresh twist on what networking events ought to be in this brave new world we inhabit. Demanding schedules and our heavy use of electronic devices has ironically led us to be both hyper-connected (electronically), yet often under-connected (in-person). While we all may be helping enable the development of robots, we are still human beings that work best in the context of relationships and collabora- tion (and not the kind that come in 140 char- acters or less!). A perfect illustration is the friendship Tara and I have developed since I began attending Judy Warner (left) and tara dunn (right) share business ideas via a "Wine-n-Whine" weekly call. Field noTes ARE LOCAL INDUSTRY EVENTS THE NEW SOCIAL MEDIA?

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