Last week's Certified LabVIEW Architects (CLA) Summit 2011 at National Instruments was a great experience! The topics were deep and informative, and the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other engineers inside and outside NI was welcome.
With those things in mind, I made a list of the top 5 things I brought home from this year's CLA Summit. If you weren't there, this is what you missed!
Justin's Top 5 Reasons to Not Miss the CLA Summit Next Year
1. Other CLAs will explain LabVIEW "bugs" to you.
During my presentation on Public and Private Events another CLA (thanks, Steen!) raised his hand to clarify a point I made. In doing so, he described a LabVIEW bug (or feature, depending on who you ask) that had been stumping me and other JKI engineers just last week! At least five other CLAs also described being afflicted by the same problem, and none of us had ever understood it until now. Even now, the discussion continues over on LAVA. This was by far the most valuable moment of the CLA Summit for me!
2. NI will ask you what you think.
It's no secret that sometimes CLAs feel like NI doesn't "get it" with respect to advanced developers or that our feedback isn't taken seriously. At the CLA Summit that couldn't be further from the truth. The Summit included people from NI's R&D, product management, and marketing departments and they all asked a lot of great questions and solicited a lot of opinions/ideas from everyone present.
3. You'll confirm you're not an idiot.
When you're struggling with a tough software engineering problem, it's easy to feel inferior and that another, more competent engineer could probably solve your issue in a heartbeat. At the CLA Summit, you'll learn that you're wrong to feel that way. What impressed me was that everyone there basically struggles with the Inter-process Communication problem in the same way! Everyone chooses queues, or notifiers, or events, and each solution has its strengths and weaknesses, but fundamentally we're all solving the same problems and experiencing the same pain.
4. You'll get to talk with people you normally only see.
NIWeek is a big place, with a gigantic crowd and a huge number of presentations and social commitments. By contrast, the CLA Summit is a chance to meet some of the same people you've known from NIWeek, but in a more relaxed, more technical environment. Instead of rushing from presentation to presentation, or from party to party, you can sit down and connect with people. NIWeek might be a great way to pad your LinkedIn and Facebook connections, but I'll bet you get more done at the CLA Summit.
5. You might get to give a presentation for Dr. T and Jeff K.
When two of NI's cofounders show up to the CLA Summit, you know NI is taking it seriously.
Dr. T. and Jeff K. popped in several times during both days of the summit for the CLA presentations as well as the NI-led discussions, and also chatted with attendees during the breaks. This kind of engagement directly from the top of the organization is the clearest indication that the summit is as valuable to NI as it is to the CLAs themselves. I was really pleased and surprised to see that level of interest from NI.
This post wouldn't be complete without a special shout-out to Nancy Hollenback and Fabiola De la Cueva, two CLAs who did a bang-up job of planning and carrying off the whole event. Thanks also to everyone from National Instruments who made it a reality. Thanks to all the CLAs who showed up and especially the other presenters. Every single presentation was a real treat, and I know I learned something from every one of you. I can't wait for next year!