The annual conference and exhibit for automotive engineers and managers unveiled several new additions to the event that, coupled with its historically strong base of technical offerings, have many veterans of the meeting singing its praises.
Initial figures indicate total attendance was up 3-4% from last year, in spite of a continued tough economy and some of Detroit's worst winter weather in recent memory. More important to organizers than the quantity of attendees, extensive research conducted in the registration area indicated that quality of the audience was more to the liking of the SAE World Congress exhibitors.
Preliminary figures indicate that half of the attendees worked in product research/development jobs, and approximately one quarter worked at an OEM site. SAE attributes the latter increase to the new OEM technology exhibits and hosting of on-site executive meetings by DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors. Both of these qualitative numbers were significantly higher than last year's.
The SAE Technology Theater, a new exhibit-based automotive business forum that was one of the principal additions to this year's event, soared past pre-event expectations. The enclosed 400-seat area was frequently filled to standing-room-only capacity as participants gathered to catch a first-hand view of business perspectives from automotive industry leaders.