Large-conference packing strategies.

29 November, 2019

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This year I attended two large conferences. The first was ICRA – International Conference on Robotics and Automation – in Montreal, Canada in May 2019. The second was CVPR, the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference, in Long Beach, California, in June 2019. ICRA had 4,000 attendees, while CVPR had 9,000. As an attendee at both conferences, I saw the major problems of both as :

You might notice from its location twice in the list, that my biggest gripe concerned the water situation. I require more water than the average person – I get these 12-hour headaches – and from extensive troubleshooting it seems that more water helps. Considering the average attendee though, the dehydration from flights, coffee, hot rooms, long walks, > 4,000 humans, and the available water (or cups!) was quickly gone. No drinks were offered at lunch, either … which seemed extremely strange.

Given all of this, I am beginning to think of these types of conferences like academic camping. Do not assume that typical things will be there, because they might not. I will also mention that at one invited talk, the campus had banned plastic water bottles, so no water was offered there either except from fountains (“Yes, that’s a great point. Excuse me while I go down the hall to this water fountain and then we can pick up the thread ….”). So now, I always bring my own water or confirm that this basic resource will be there.

My massive-conference packing list:

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