Audio Engineering Society (AES) Conventions occur bi-annually, once in the US and once in Europe. Professionals and students from around the world gather for a diverse technical program of workshops, presentations, and student competitions, accompanied by the industry's largest trade show. AES Conventions are the organization's largest summits, offering enlightening sessions and invaluable networking opportunities.
At the 131st Convention in New York last fall, I was elected Vice Chair of the AES Student Delegate Assembly (SDA) for North and Latin America after serving as President of our student chapter for two years. The new position is a two-year commitment that includes planning and facilitating student events at the US and international conventions.
The five months leading up to AES 132 Budapest consisted of weekly Skype conference calls, periodic blogging, and other tasks delegated by the European Chair of the SDA and our advisor, the Chair of the AES Education Committee. There was a lot of prep work to be done, and I found myself using skills learned in audio classes to prepare promotional materials and knowledge gained in english classes to revise and edit the official rules for the Student Recording Competition. I had to do some research, too; I had never booked a flight, dealt with foreign currency, or used any language other than English to buy food or check into a hotel!
The Convention, held on April 26-29, was extremely successful. All of our events went swimmingly, and we saw a huge turnout of students from England, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, Serbia, Sweden and more. I was given chances to speak at multiple meetings, had an active role in the playback of student projects during the Recording Competition finals, and spoke with prospective scholars while manning the University of Hartford display at the Education and Career Fair. The most stressful part may have been the last-minute planning of the Student Party, which followed my proposal to have the students pitch-in for a boat tour on the Danube River. With some help from our volunteers, we were able to turn a long shot into a reality, and enjoyed magnificent views while bumping shoulders with top record mastering engineers and AES VPs.
I learned that when you travel abroad, you have to leave your comfort zone and depend on things like maps and phrase books; simple tasks like walking to the corner store become bold acts of courage. Once I overcame my initial worries, I was blown away by a beautiful city. Everything about the trip was spectacular -- the plane rides, the monuments, the hilltop views of the city, the Hungarian Goulash soup, the sunset cruise, meeting students from around the world, and taking an active roll in a global community.
Trips like mine may seem like rare opportunities, but they start with getting involved on-campus. The University provides a myriad of clubs and organizations that can really take you places. The AES has done wonders for my professional development, and I strongly encourage other CETA students to join the engineering societies.