CEC General Chair Guide

The General Chair oversees the entire conference, in collaboration with the CES officers and the CEC planning committee.  The general chair is appointed by the CES officers.  Besides using the guidelines below, the general chair should also look over the registration packets and schedules from previous conferences, for reference.

One year before conference

  • Pray
  • Select site
    • Recruit local site coordinator
    • Recuit registration chair
    • If possible, select college or university as site where we have at least one CES member. That often allows that institution to cover the conference attendees with their own insurance with no extra cost to us.  When the site is completely independent, we have often found the insurance cost is quite high.  
    • Determine transportation -- if site is in vicinity of the ASEE conference, normally need to arrange vans or bus to bring attendees of ASEE to the CES location, and then back to airport
  • Select dates
    • Avoid other conferences that our members might also attend such as ASEE, ASA, ACMS
  • Recommend program chair, who is appointed by the CES officers
  • Identify a planning committee (should include the prior General Chair and the CES officers in addition to recruiting others)
  • Arrange publicity for conference (if possible, recruit publicity chair)
    • Make initial announcements on CES website, facebook, LinkedIn.
    • Consider paid (but hopefully low cost) advertising

9 -12 months before conference

  • Work with Program Chair to send out a Call for Papers
  • Identify guest speakers, in coordination with program chair
    • Some past conferences have not had any special guest speakers, but we usually have at least one plenary keynote, and sometimes multiple invited speakers.  One model is to have a main plenary speaker, and then one or two invited speakers who are local to the conference.
  • Publicity
    • Begin advertising to CES members and identify someone to handle other
    • Advertising (such as local to the conference)
  • Identify local help for the conference (hopefully this is done by your local site coordinator)
    • Determine if a tour of the conference venue will be provided (such as the engineering labs and classroom facilities at an academic institution).  If so, need multiple tour guides in order to break up into groups of 10 or so.
    • Determine if any invited speakers will be from local area, need to identify them, invite them
    • Identify local activities for families coming along with an attendee
  • Plan worship time
    • Recruit a worship time coordinator if possible
    • Arrange musicians and vocalists
    • Coordinate any instrument needs - may need to borrow local guitars, need to arrange for a piano or keyboard
    • Prepare a program that interweaves songs and Bible readings
    • Working with local site coordinator, arrange AV for the room
    • Normally invite families of attendees to also attend this
  • Plan banquet dinner
    • If an opening banquet is included, work out room details, perhaps have the local site highest official offer a greeting or devotion, etc.
    • Normally invite families of attendees to also attend this, but need to charge them for it
  • Pray for the conference, suggest specific prayer requests related to conference to the steering committee

Budget

Work with your registration chair to formulate a budget for the conference. Begin identifying costs and locations for the following – and reserve the meals and lodging spaces. The goal in the past has been to keep costs for the entire conference at or lower than roughly $300. 

  • Meeting Room(s)
    • Check with site in case AV or other items are extra
    • Presentation room requires a speaker microphone, computer projection system and screen
    • Worship time venue requires more AV for musicians and vocalists, plus projection system (or else plan on printed song sheets)
  • Lodging
    • Provide multiple options for type of room
      • Single (private room)
      • Single (shared dorm style)
      • Married 
      • Married with kids?
    • Ensure site provides basic toiletries and linens for the room (we had a mix up with this one year, so double-check!)
  • Meals
    • Opening night banquet
    • Other meals (normally breakfast, lunch, dinner throughout rest of conference)
    • Snacks for each break, including beverages such as coffee/tea/soda/water and food such as muffins/cookies/fruit.  Nice if coffee/tea is available throughout day.
  • Guest speaker
    • We usually cover all costs (lodging, meals, transportation) for guest speakers, plus a small honorarium (around $500 currently for a plenary keynote speaker).
  • Registration
    • Cover cost of any registration system or tools you select
    • Contingency 
  • Paper fee
    • If we use a paid paper management system, then need to build the cost into the registration, either in general, or per-paper
  • Transportation
  • Parking
  • Printed and bound proceedings
    • Postage to mail to attendees (we often hope to hand out at conference, but often miss that deadline, so budget for postage)
  • Wireless access for guests
  • One year membership in society
    • We include a one year membership in the society as part of the base registration fee (required, not optional), and then give a "discount" to those who are already members.  This is similar to how ASEE does it.
  • Other
Prepare a spreadsheet to determine the registration fees for each attendee.  Determine a base registration fee to cover all general costs, plus a small contingency for unexpected stuff. Then allow for variations per guest, such as type of lodging, meal plan, parking, etc.  We almost always find that trying to simplify to a few plans doesn't work because you then get too many folks legitimately asking for creative exceptions, so best to just build in a diverse menu of registration options from the start.

Have the CES officers review your budget plan and approve it before publishing the registration form and fees.

Registration and Payment Method

  • Identify a reservations method. 
    • We have tried paper forms, Google docs forms, and paid registration systems in the past.  
    • It often works best to have the local site conference office handle the logistics of the registration, particularly payments.
  • Registration Form Info
    • Provide overview information of the conference
    • Include fees information and payment methods
    • Ask for emergency contact during conference
    • Indicate where attendees should go first when arriving on site (normally a conference registration desk)
    • Provide contact info for questions
  • Determine how payments will be received.  
    • Best if the local site conferences office can do it.  
  • Determine overall means to manage expenses
    • Hopefully your budget estimates cover the cost of the conference with a little spare for contingency. However, if you unexpected go over budget, the society can cover overages (within reason) out of our general account.  If you go under or do not use contingency, the remaining funds must be transferred to the society general account (coordinated by the society treasurer).
  • Provide receipts to attendees. Note that this is not a charitable donation, as they are receiving services.  

Paper Management

Work with the Program Chair to identify a paper management system.  We have sometimes used an entirely manual system of emailing back and forth, but also tried some paper management systems (which must be budgeted within the registration fee).

3 to 6 months before conference

  • Arrange for reservations
  • Arrange food and lodging details
  • Oversee the advertising
  • Work with program chair to finalize the overall schedule.  Program chair is responsible for technical sessions, but general chair helps coordinate all the other elements of the schedule, such as worship time, meals, local site tours, keynote speakers, etc.  The schedule must include a slot for the CES business meeting (led by the CES president).
  • Pray for the conference, suggest specific prayer requests related to conference to the steering committee

2 to 3 months before conference

  • Collect the money
  • Manage reservations
  • Arrange the local transportation
  • Finalize food for the conference
  • Finalize the conference schedule with the Program Chair
  • Work with the planning committee and local help to arrange the first evening
  • Finalize the on-site registration and arrival plans
    • Use the local site conference office if possible
    • Have a registration table ready for arriving guests where they pick up lodging keys, meal tickets, registration packet, name tags, etc.
    • Recruit steering committee members to be available near the table to greet and help arriving guests 
  • Pray for the conference, suggest specific prayer requests related to conference to the steering committee
Conference Packet
Have printed and ready to hand to conference attendees:
  • Conference schedule
  • Maps
  • Lodging info
  • Meals info
  • Parking info
  • Worship service song sheets and liturgy
  • Name tag (including for spouse or other guests)
  • Overview of the Christian Engineering Society
  • Contact info (mobile number for someone in charge of the conference, such as general chair)

During Conference

Arriving

  • On the first day of the conference, ensure registration table is available for multiple hours before the first event, and be sure late comers can still pick up registration materials even while first events are ongoing.
  • Be sure sufficient signage is available for guests to find registration table, meeting rooms, etc.

First Event

  • Give a greeting to all participants at the first event of the conference (often a fellowship welcome banquet).  This might include an opening devotional. 
  • If a site official is providing a greeting to the conference, provide an introduction of them to the audience

After Conference

  • Update this web page with lessons learned
  • Send out thank-you notes to everyone that provided leadership and help for the conference
  • Write a summary article about the conference for the next newsletter, including a link to the proceedings

Past General Chairs

  • 2019 Justin Vander Werff
  • 2017 Bob Chasnov
  • 2015 Melani Plett
  • Prior years: Steve VanderLeest

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