Imagine you were invited to an intensive course where the most relevant and skilled people you know will be your teachers. Would you reject such an opportunity? Well, I’m in. I’ve been invited to such an event.

To be frank, not exactly invited. We’ve worked hard to gain such opportunity. It has been neither cheap nor easy, but it is a once every two years opportunity.

You read it right, it is not a “once in a lifetime”, but a “once every two years” chance. Like every two years, I meet most of my colleagues who are also researching on structural wood. Can you even imagine how interesting and exciting our chats are? (Imagine something like Big Bang Theory, but talking about timber instead of Physics). Such an event is the World Conference on Timber Engineering. And as you already think (if its name didn’t already impress you), it is really worthy and significant, though of little (or even none) importance for your curriculum.

In a scientific congress, you not only learn: you also share a lot. It is, above all, a meeting between equals. We are all interested and interesting. We all listen carefully to each other and we all have something to say. Indeed, all of us are coming only because the others will listen to us -for sure!-. We bring all of our knowledge and we receive even much more in return. We all teach. We all learn. And if you have doubts, you can always discuss them during lunch with the author himself. And that, I can tell, it is an incredibly enriching opportunity.

You meet really impressive people. You feel part of the scientific community in a pleasant way. At least, much nicer than in your daily life as a scientist: rejected project proposals, articles to rewrite, evaluators, reviewers, editors …

And that is possibly the best part: “It’s nice to put a face to the name”, as a colleague from New Zealand told me when we first met. That simple. That wonderful.

 

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An ironic (and partly true) vision of a scientific conference.

 

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