We have a number of new members in this group. Can everyone take a moment to introduce themselves? Please include which user group you are affiliated with and also one thing you've found to be effective in hosting LabVIEW user groups.
My name is Matthew Cate. Please call me Matt. I've been with NI for nearly 14 years, working in a variety of marketing roles. I'm currently supporting our LabVIEW User Group program. Utlimately, I'm hoping to simplify your endeavors, so please let me know how I can help.
My name is Dan Shangraw (ASTDan). I am the owner of Automated Software Technology. AST develops custom LabVIEW applications for folks in Michigan. AST has been in business for 9 years (going on 10!). AST is a National Instruments Alliance Member. I have been a Certified LabVIEW developer for 6 years. I just received my Certified Professional Instructor certification. I am a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Michigan and have a BSME. I have been working with LabVIEW since 1996. I run the West Michigan and South East Michigan LabVIEW user groups.
We have our meetings quarterly. I find that is a great interval between meetings. Our meeting format is about an hour long presentation and schedule time after the meeting for socializing. People really like the socializing aspect of the meeting.
Every year we do a "What's new with NI" presenation by me. This is just the what is new in LabVIEW presentation with my impressions and comments from NI week. I have gotten a lot of positive comments and some great discussions because we try to keep it informal.
Erik here. I manage the Bay Area LabVIEW User Group in Northern California. Our group also meets quarterly and is quite large and active. We typically start meetings with a quick user solution presented by the community (15 minutes), followed by a topic presented by NI, then JKI (Alliance Partner). We also have networking/discussion breaks in the beginning and in the middle of the meeting for LabVIEW users to socialize. The group is diverse in that there are many LabVIEW gurus as well as some newcomers so it is always a challenge finding material that appeals to everyone.
Peter Flores, Field Engineer in the LA area.
I am recently taking over a couple on-site UGM's, including a pretty strong one at UCLA, and am hoping to start a regional, public group this year. I have found that this group is a nice place to grab presentation material and ideas.
Erik, how long are your meetings? Are they in the evening? I like the idea of networking time and having three different topics/presenters...
I helped organize the Advanded LabVIEW Architects of the Rocky Mountains (ALARM) about 6 years ago. Our goal is to provide a forum for advanced users, to complement the activities that NI provides in our area, which are often geared more to beginners. We're independent of NI, but we get a lot of support and encouragement from NI. Since we began, we've met quarterly. We split our meetings between Golden and Boulder - the geographic separation helps attract users from a broader area. Often, folks from the southern end of the Front Range manage to come to the Golden meetings but not the Boulder one, and vice versa for some of the folks who live to the north. We try to have two main presentations each meeting, sometimes with a short third topic. In general, we try to have members make the presentations, but NI has helped out when volunteers are scarce. We've also gotten some great NI presentations from insiders (NI folks on the LV development team) on occasion.
Our latest development is that we're attempting to expand from four to six meetings per year. We'll see how that goes. I'm anticipating that it will work well, since we have more than enough attendees to support it (anywhere from 15 to 30 each meeting), and we have a local CLA who specializes in training who has agreed to spearhead the extra two meetings and ensure that there are presenters.
One thing that NI has done that seems to motivate about half our presenters is to offer a reduction on the NIWeek registration for each presenter. Some folks really go for that. For others (who don't plan on going to NIWeek), it doesn't matter.
My biggest observation about making such a group (or any such organization of more than three people) work is that you have to have that ONE person who is really dedicated and makes sure that things happen. That is more or less true for our group as well, though I'm continually striving to make it less of a reality. We have half a dozen "organizers", who pair up to help organize two meetings a year each. That works pretty well for getting the meetings organized - reserving rooms, lining up presentations, etc. There's still some of the over-all organization (setting schedules, defining how or when things should happen, making announcements at NITS) that still fall mostly to the one person. I'm not sure there is a way around that. (Let me know if you have ideas!)
One final comment - early on one of our goals was to have atour as one of the meetings every year. We did this a couple of times, and it seems like a great idea. Nothing like seeing a big project first hand to really make it interesting. This seems to have been left behind lately, though. Maybe it's time to try it again...
The meetings are ~2.5 hours long, starting at ~6 PM. In addition to our typical marcom-generated reminder e-mail, I keep an e-mail list of the regulars and use a LabVIEW e-mailer program to remind them with a more personal automated e-mail a week before. I also post the reminder on our user group forum ni.com/bayarealabview. You can go there to see an example agenda of our last meeting and our upcoming meeting can be found here.
I hope this helps!
Hello everyone I am Mark Balla,
I am a Sr Test engineer forTecnova. We are an alliance partner with NI. I am a CLA, CPI, and LabVIEW Champion. I am also an administrator for LAVAG.org in charge of the code repository as well as a FIRST mentor. I was recently featured in a article about the LabVIEW community found here http://zone.ni.com/devzone/cda/pub/p/id/1090.
I am a lead contributor and organizer for both the Chicago and Milwaukee User groups which meet quarterly. Currently we have about 20 to 30 people that showup each meeting.
We usually try to separate our meeting into 3 sections as well and schedule them later in the day around 3:00pm to 6:00pm. This seems to be the most popular time slot. I agree with Dan that socializingis a great part of having a User group meeting.
Aside from presentation we try to incorporate things that help users interact with each other like:
One of our biggest challenges is trying to decide what topics to cover. I would be interested to hear what others have seen as successful user group topics.
Some successfull topics we have done are.
LabVIEW tips and tricks
Talking about the new version of LabVIEW
User Interface style
Source Code Control
Noise in Data Aquisition systems
You can see some of our past presentations below
I really try to keep it informal so people can ask questions and debate. That I think has been really cool.
I like your idea about ask the experts. I think that would be a really cool thing. I don't think help with a project would be a good idea. Spending the time from the providers side would be difficult. What if you had 3 projects and 1 helper. From the consumers side you always need help the DAY after the help with the project day. I think the experts panel would cover the help the project. Usually it is some issue that you are struggling with. That issue can be asked to the expert panel. If an issue was figured out the person could share their solution and ask the experts for their take on the problem. You also capture the people who are to shy to ask in this format.
Rishi Lukka here and I'm the local Field Sales Engineer (EIT) for Western Canada's prairie provinces (AB,SK,MB) and I run the Calgary User Group. We hold events quarterly. Our website is here:
The best topics have been:
-- Intro to LV Design Patterns
-- Tips & Tricks to speed LV development
-- Network Data transfer practices.
Typically we run in the evenings (6 to 8pm) on a Tuesday or Wednesday in a local on-campus NI lab at the SAIT college. We do two topics and have had alliance partners guest present a couple topics. We keep things very open and informal and it works well.
I like the ideas of more user solutions, ask experts panel etc. I will try to make that work.
On a side note, WHERE do you guys usually hold meetings? I have 5 cities in my area and I want to expand my efforts but finding a restaurant with meeting space has become challenging.