We dig deeper into the 2023 AASHTO re:source Technical Exchange draft agenda, sharing highlights, and attendee favorites.
AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript
Season 3, Episode 37: Inside AASHTO Publications
Recorded: January 20, 2023
Released: January 24, 2023
Hosts: Brian Jonson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager; Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source
Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics.
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00:00:02 ANNOUNCER: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials, testing, and inspection with people in the know from exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here our host, Brian Jonson.
00:00:21 BRIAN: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q&A. I'm Brian Johnson.
00:00:24 KIM: And I'm Kim Swanson, and what are we talking about?
00:00:27 BRIAN: Well, we're going to talk about the technical exchange a little bit more. We covered this in a more lengthy way with Bob and Tracy as we were putting things together. But now that we've got an agenda out on the website, we want to hit some high points for people, so they know what to expect. I just got an e-mail yesterday from somebody who was talking to someone else. About the technical exchange and there was a group of people that were interested, they thought, but they weren't sure and maybe this will help them and others who are like them.
00:00:57 KIM: The technical exchange or TechEx as you'll hear us referred to it as is March 27th through the 30th in Fort Worth, TX. The official agenda starts on Tuesday, March 28th, but we do have some preconference sessions on Monday as well as that's when you can register and then we have an icebreaker event in that evening. But the things don't. Really kick off until Tuesday if that. Helps for traveling, but what do we have going on Monday?
00:01:25 BRIAN: Well, Monday is the opening day, but it's kind of an important day for people who have never been there because we have a session on beginners guide to actual resource and how to TechEx. So, it's a way for people who are new to introduce themselves to other attendees. And learn about how the week is going to go and plan their week accordingly. So if you're a new attendee, that is a an episode or an episode, that is a session that you will not want to miss.
00:01:53 KIM: Correct, that is at 1:00 o'clock local time on Monday the 27th and it's beginner guide to AASHTO resource and how to TechEx is the name of the session, and Tracy Barnhart is scheduled to present that and I think it's going to be a great session. She's done something similar to it in years. Asked so I think that's. Really good, but what I think a lot of our listeners would be excited about is what's happening a little bit later, which is equipment calibration, standardization, and check. So that is also a pre-conference session happening in the afternoon on Monday, March 27th. I think that one is going to be a highlight for people. What do you think?
00:02:33 BRIAN: I think so too, because often people have questions about that topic and it's nice to get that out there. Early on, and hopefully they attended the session before that, and they're feeling like they're ready to talk because it is a technical exchange. You're going to hear that throughout the week, and we encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas with others. It's not just about people standing in front of you talking at you or talking to you or conveying their message that they wanted.
Like convey it's about you being part of the you know you're part of the presentation by sitting in that audience and asking questions and sharing your ideas. And then of course after that is something everybody loves the icebreaker reception. That's a chance where it's an unstructured activity and you can have some fun and catch up with people that you haven't seen in a while that attend and meet some new people.
00:03:27 KIM: Any of the icebreakers and some of the downtimes is a great place to engage with some of the vendors and exhibitors that we have as well as ask for resource staff. I think that is a great place for attendees to, you know, get to know people in a little more personal setting, and it's not necessarily work, work, work, work, work like it's a little more fun, and I think you get to really get to know the staff and people that you may be interacting with and have emails with and things like that. So, I think it's a good that's a good chance for everyone to just, kind of have fun and really kick off the week. So, that is, on Monday, March 27th, and we have that scheduled at 5:30. So you definitely want to make sure you are in Fort Worth for that.
00:04:10 BRIAN: I also want to mention that Trudy Eckstine, one of the quality analysts who has been a a mainstay at AASHTO resource for a really long time. She is the quality analyst assigned to Texas, so for I think a lot of the Texas labs they will know Trudy Epstein's name and she will be around. She'll also be. I think she's going to be in that beginners guide Right? Too, so there will be plenty of opportunities to catch up with Trudy during the week, and especially at those two on the first day. So don't miss that if you are at Texas lab especially.
00:04:41 KIM: Yep, and then on Tuesday we kick things off. We have breakfast. I will say breakfast and lunch is included with registration every day. So I mean, if that wasn't if that wasn't a pull, maybe it is now for you, but we have our opening session starting off at 8:00 AM. Breakfast is at 7, so we start early. We want to get caffeinated and ready to go. To kick off the week on Tuesday. Our big boss, Jim Tymon, the executive director of AASHTO. We'll be having some opening remarks as well as. Can we say who are keynote speakers? We have it up on the website. I don't know why we wouldn't but Jamie Myers from Atlas will be there as well and she is the Chief Diversity Officer of Atlas and so she's going to give a brief keynote address for that. And we're going to really kick off the day with a bang I think.
00:05:31 BRIAN: Yeah, I think so. I did notice that on the schedule it just says opening session and, but if you go down and get into the session abstracts you see a little bit more information on our website.
00:05:43 KIM: You can go to aashtoresource.org/Events and then click the link from there So, we have 3 breakout sessions scheduled for the rest of the day. For all of the days, there's three breakout sessions going simultaneously, so this is also a good time to if you are planning. To go with a colleague maybe divide and conquer. Don't go to the same session. Divide and conquer because we have 3 going on at once, so we want to make sure that you get the most out of tech X so you can look at the agenda and session abstracts to see what sessions were going on. But just on day 2 in general, what are you most excited about, Brian?
00:06:24 BRIAN: On day two, I would say that I am most excited about the PSP report sessions. Those are often really well attended. People always have questions about proficiency sample reports. This time we've got kind of a two-parter we've got in the afternoon on day two, PSP reports explained, so that gets into the analysis and reports and all that and then a follow up to that session is another one on corrective actions. For PSP and the idea around these sessions, well, I'm going to. Also, back to the morning session there is a session on root cause analysis and collaborating on that and the idea I already talked about how people should be part of the presentation. You know and share their experiences, what we really want in all of these sessions is to get people talking about the issues they're having and try to solve these problems together and share their experiences. So both of those corrective action sessions you're going to have an opportunity to talk about what you're experiencing in your lab here.
What other people are experiencing too. But we always try to make it such a welcoming experience for people and a place that they can just say pretty much whatever they want to say. In the group, as long as they don't go on too long about. It of course like this. We all just have the right to cut it off if it, if it.
If you're dominating too much, but yeah, those are going to be really interesting ones for everybody who attends.
00:07:48 KIM: Yeah, I'm not able to go to TechEx this year and I'm kind of bummed about that. I'm more than kind of bummed. I'm really bummed about that.
00:07:53 BRIAN: Me too.
00:07:55 KIM: Really bummed about that, but if I were going, I would be most excited about. For day two, I think the trends in the asphalt industry. It's led by Brett Williams from Napa and just reading the abstract that he sent over. I'm excited about that in general, so I'm sure we're going to hear good things about that one.
00:08:14 BRIAN: Yeah, I think so. He's covering a lot of topics in the asphalt industry and one thing if you're an asphalt person or state dot, he is going to be touching on balance, mix design and that's been a really hot topic over the last couple of years, so you won't want to miss that.
00:08:28 KIM: All right, let's. Go to day three now. Wednesday, March 29th. We have a lot of sessions on Wednesday again 3 breakout sessions going simultaneously. What are you most excited about out of that on Wednesday?
00:08:40 BRIAN: Well that day I think the one that I'm excited about attending is the panel with TexDOT. So they are. Going to talk about the CFR requirements for qualifications and certifications that is an issue that we have cared a lot about over the years. What are the states doing to fulfill their requirements from the highway administration for qualification labs certification of technicians. And I think there will be a lot of laboratories that will be interested in hearing what textile has to say and other states who want to kind of share their experiences with TexDOT hopefully during that session, so I have circled that one on my own schedule because I want to be there to hear what they have to.
00:09:29 KIM: Say yeah, I should say that you are also presenting. Two sessions that day correct? Are you doing the R18 three? You got three. That's a busy day for you.
00:09:36 BRIAN: 3 I it's a. It's a busy morning for me. On Wednesday I've got part one and two of Ashton R18. I used to do one session on R18, but it was much like a speed reader. Type situation where I was trying to get through so much so fast and I would have loved to spend more time with the attendees to talk about what they wanted to talk about. And let them share more. So what we did this time is we split it up into two sessions where the part one is going to be covering the first part of our 18 up to Section 5.
If you are really into 18, you'll know what that means, and if not, that's OK, and Part 2 will be focusing more on section 6 which that gets into more of the technical stuff, so that'll be good and then cover accreditation 101. In that follow the third session of the morning for me, and that's going to be great for somebody who is learning about accreditation that is not going to be a time for you to say things like, hey, why are we suspended or why like? What happened in this particular thing? It's more of an informational session for people to learn about accreditation. You can certainly ask questions, but I don't think we want to air anybody's dirty laundry in that one.
00:10:59 KIM: Yeah, that definitely seems to be geared towards new people in the industry, so whether your laboratory is newly accredited or that you are just in the role now that you care about.
Accreditation maybe you only. Or maybe you got promoted from a technician where accreditation wasn't on the top of your mind and now you're a laboratory manager where you need to learn.
About that It definitely is. For newer people in in the accreditation.
00:11:23 BRIAN: Yeah, and I think there are people like that that attend the technical exchange. That's a good one. What about you? What are you excited about that day?
00:11:30 KIM: I'm excited about the quality control charts. I just have loved the idea of using. Charts to extend the intervals that are required for some maintenance and calibration, and it's a weird thing for me to care about because I have no technical background, but I've just been hearing bits and pieces of about control charts over the years since working here, and I always thought that it was such a great concept as a way to stay within the requirements. Of the standards, but that you can, you know, work smarter, not harder. Kind of thing is what I take out of it. So, I'm actually really excited for people to learn about that. And I'm glad we actually have. A session just on that.
00:12:09 BRIAN: I had no idea that you were excited about control charts.
00:12:11 KIM:I know.
00:12:11 BRIAN: This is quite a quite a revelation for me.
00:12:13 KIM: It seems it. Seems like I wouldn't be because I've just, but like I've heard just enough information over the decade plus that I've been here. And I'm just like I want to know more about it.
So I'm like if I were attending, I would definitely attend that and has no impact on my day-to-day working. But I just think that concept is so interesting. Of how you can track the data and make sure you know really only do what you need to do and only service the equipment when you really need to service it and not do. Doing it, you know, just because it's a requirement that you're doing it smart so.
00:12:48 BRIAN: Yeah, that makes sense and and people definitely don't take advantage of that concept very often. It's been out there for a while and you rarely see it because people. Don't want to. They don't want to make a mistake and then have a consequence right? So they they kind of tread lightly. But we're always here to answer questions, and if you're you're curious about that, like him is show up that morning at 8:00 and. And learn some more about it well. You know what else is going? On that day our our friend. Gary, that's a presentation.
00:13:15 KIM: Yes, and I love the name of it. That's like so I'm glad it's not going on in another time for the control chart so I can plug this as well. It's not conflicting with that, but how a superhero performs field density testing just the title of that. I want to know what's happening there, so Gary I'm sure is having a great presentation. For that he is always a great presenter in past events, and again a frequent guest on the podcast. So a shout out to his session on Wednesday.
00:13:43 BRIAN: Yeah, that's Gary Pasquarell from Froehling & Robertson and he was most recently on our ASTM E11. So I do want to mention that that does conflict with my part. Two of our 18, and if anybody decides that they want to go to Garry's instead, I will understand and I will not hold it against you. So I just want everybody to get the most out of the session.
00:14:04 KIM: For the staff that are presenting we have AASHTO resource staff and then we have some guest speakers. I mean, and I personally if I were attending would favor the guest speakers because I know I can always reach out to AASHTO staff. And ask them questions about whatever they were presenting on, so that is how I would look at it. I don't know if we want to share that with anybody else, but I know I personally would prioritize guest speakers versus staff presenters.
00:14:33 BRIAN: I agree with that completely. I mean, anybody can reach me anytime and ask me a question. And I will. You know, eventually get back to you or we'll just have a podcast episode about it and I won't answer it at all. And just talk about other stuff. So yeah, you can reach out to us anytime you want, but these guest speakers put a lot of effort into it and they've volunteered their time and they're all busy people to share information because they're passionate about it. I think it's really a great thing to support them and show up for their sessions and. Being engaged as audience members.
00:15:06 KIM: Also Wednesday night. This is a highlight for a non-session we have. An offsite reception happening Wednesday night. I do not know details about that, but we will have something happening Wednesday night so.
00:15:19 BRIAN: Our offsite events are usually pretty fun and there is low key as you wanted to be, so depending on what your interest is and some of these offsite events, you could just hang out and chat with people. Or you could be engaged in whatever those activities are. So even if it sounds like something you're not that excited about, I would still go and just if you couldn't notice, I'd talk a lot.
So, I will be around talking with people pretty much the entire time, so that week I get pretty exhausted by the end. But I love it. I you know, it's a it's great. Opportunity to meet. People and just engage with people in the industry. And I always learn a lot from them.
00:15:55 KIM: Looking at our last day on Thursday, March 30th, we only have sessions in the morning, So what are you most excited about on Day 4?
00:16:06 BRIAN: I would have to say culture of quality panel. I think that having a a strong quality culture is #1 in being able to maintain accreditation and just do good work. I think when laboratories really struggle with accreditation, that's usually the missing ingredient. You know they're regularly suspended, or just can't seem to get things done. Somebody's not engaged somebody's not, you know something is missing, right? So if if you can listen, go to that session. If you're struggling, listen to kind of some of the tips or some of the topics that they talk about in this culture of quality panel and see what might work, and maybe that will trigger some ideas for you. And how to make things better? Or if you're already, maybe you already have a good culture of quality and it can always be better, right? Because part of that culture of quality is continual improvement.
00:16:59 KIM: Even if you are. Seeing this and you're like Oh well. I think we have a good culture. Then go and share your lessons. Learned right. Share your. You're farther along on the quality journey then which is amazing. But then there might be somebody else in there that could really benefit from what you are doing. Your organization and how you have built the culture of quality.
00:17:16 BRIAN: Yeah, that's true. And and is that also your answer for day 4.
00:17:21 KIM: I like that, but I'm. I was be interested in the corporate QMS which is happening at the same time but again I think it's one of those things work smarter not harder. That is definitely like the efficiency, so I think corporate quality management systems can be really beneficial and are underutilized. So I would maybe favor that. That would still that be a game day decision for me, I'm not quite sure in that between these two.
00:17:44 BRIAN: Yeah, it depends on your role too, right? Like some people it it might. That might not resonate with them as much. And and if it doesn't, you're going to learn something from culture quality.
So 2 great options. So that's the day where we only have a two sessions at a time on on the last day.
00:17:58 KIM: Mm-hmm and I. I think we kind of skimmed over something that I know is a favorite from the past, which is the lab manager 101 which happens on day two, and then we have lab Manager 201 happening on day three now. We both didn't pick those, but those are returning favorites, so if this is your first time to TechEx and I think you know those would be really useful because we get great feedback from that from Tom Taylor, who is the guest presenter on those. And he has been doing that every year, I think since we've started holding this event and every year we get positive feedback for that and so many people are like I can actually go and implement some of these things in my laboratory immediately. We glossed over those just because those aren't our favorites. Because we have seen them for years, but if you're new I definitely would say that those are highlights.
00:18:50 BRIAN: I don't want to diminish any of the other sessions either. You know, we just we didn't want to make this episode 2 hours long talking about every different session. But, uh, Tom Taylor's lab manager sessions have been typically highly rated. We get feedback after all the sessions and people. Brave about those. So if you're a lab manager or prospective lab manager, want to be one one day I would not miss those.
00:19:15 KIM: And we have a lot of different sessions and we talked about this in the previous episode about the difference of between them. But we have workshop breakout sessions. We have roundtables, and we have panels, and they are all clearly labeled on the draft agenda. But I think you can tell what they what each one is by the names of them. But I think the round tables I would be most excited about going and wanting to attend. I think as well in general just because I like that kind of dynamic, but there's something for everybody for sure.
00:19:45 BRIAN: Yeah, we started round tables last year and I remember hosting one and. Wasn't sure how it was going to go and it was the as a moderator. It was probably the easiest. Session that I've ever moderated, because people had so much to talk about and I just kind of started it off and then everybody had so much to share. And it's really an unstructured discussion where the people in the room are just asking each other questions, talking about whatever they want to talk about. It's a great opportunity to share information.
00:20:20 KIM: Also of note, I want to say if you're thinking about registering for this event, it is an in person only. We do not have a virtual option. I have had some questions about that, so it is in person only. I did want to make a note there is no deadline to register. You can register same day if that is what works for you. But I will say. We do have a deadline for hotel rooms, so if you want to stay at the hotel that we're having the event at the Hilton Fort Worth. The room block closes on March 6th or sooner, depending if it's full. So I just want to make note of that that there. Is some time. A deadline in that regard, but there is no deadline for registering. If you're still a day of if you're local to Fort Worth and you just want to pop in for a day, you can just register for one day of the event and you don't have to register for the whole thing. But the website explains all of those details. As well, I just wanted to kind of. Throw that one out there.
00:21:15 BRIAN: Yeah, I'd also like to mention when you sign up for the technical exchange, there is an area on the signup sheet where they have you read over the expectations for behavior and requirements and kind of standard for behavior at these types of sessions. I really like people to read that and take note. Because we want to continue to have this be a positive experience for every attendee. So please take note of that and if you have any. Questions let us know.
00:21:45 KIM: Anything else you wanted to say about the event?
00:21:46 BRIAN: Well, yeah, there is something I was thinking about and I only started thinking about this because last week or the week before. I went to the Transportation Research Board meetings and not meetings with convention in DC and I had gone to that off and on in the past and I and I found it to be. You know, sometimes good. Sometimes I didn't get a lot out of it, but a lot of that had to do with the choices I made in which sessions. I attended as a more experienced attendee. I tried to mix it up a little bit this time and I went to some things that I was moderately interested in. Maybe they're not exactly what I do for work, but they were kind of interesting sounding topics and I had my best experience at the Transportation Research Board conference this year by mixing it up. And I would say if you're not really sure what to do, don't always just go with what you know on the agenda. Try to broaden your horizons a little bit, and I I suspect you will have a similar experience that I. Did is just some food for thought, as you're planning your week.
00:22:51 KIM: In that same vein, I think reading the session abstracts, looking at the learning objectives beforehand is really helpful, as well as like sending me intention of what are you going to take away that you can implement right away. So I like to attend these kind. Of workshops. With a notepad of like after each session, I take the notes or. Or not, if I don't need to, but like what's my takeaway for that session that I can try to implement right away and then looking back at those after the fact has been really helpful for me to make sure that I get the most out of the session, so.
00:23:24 BRIAN: Well, that sounds great and very well organized and well-intentioned. So that's if you can. If you can pull that off. I salute you. I've never. I've never been great at that, but I admire your effort.
00:23:32 KIM: Yeah, if anything. And then just just saying that's what works best for me. Everyone is different. But if you are. Excited about this content and this event, we kind of have a teaser in February. We have a free webinar on internal audits that if you want to. Will attend, it's a free hour long webinar and you can. Go to AASHTOresource.org/events and it's internal audits. What's the point? And on February 16th at 2:00 PM Eastern Time and our very own Tracy Bernhardt is going to lead that presentation and she said it's kind of a light version of what she's going to be presenting at TechEx, so perhaps you can't. Go to techex this year, but you're still interested, or perhaps you want to just get.
More information on internal audits before you go, so you before you can dive right into her session at TechEx you have this webinar for free in mid February, so check that out as well.
00:24:32 BRIAN: Yeah, that don't miss that opportunity. I know I've seen a lot of internal audit records and I know that people need some help by hearing about what can work well and some best practices.
I think you can get better at that too. Tracy does a fantastic job with our internal audits. She's very thorough, very detailed and and the results are always meaningful and bring about meaningful. Changes to the way we do things. So please check that out.
00:24:57 KIM: Yep, and even if you can't attend, we do record the webinars so the webinar you'll get a recording of and again for the actual technical exchange, we do not record anything. There is no virtual option. It is in person and. I will say, we do not provide slides from all of the sessions as well. I know that's a question. You get some time, so at TechEx you will not be able to get the slides from the presentations and the workshops in the session. But there'll be handouts and other job aids that you can. Take as well.
00:25:29 BRIAN: Yeah, that's one of my favorite questions that I hear at a meeting, and I think every time I've ever gone to something that has a presentation, there's always someone in the room that says can I have a copy of those slides? And I always wonder. What are you going to do with that are you what are you going to go on a tour and give that presentation. Are you really going to go back and look at that? You probably are not. So instead of doing other things and not paying attention in the session. And thinking you're going to look at this presentation later. Maybe just live in the moment and experience it like I've and get the most you can't out of it there.
00:25:58 KIM: I know, and some of our sessions will also have workbooks and worksheets and things that you can take notes on that will actually be better than slides with no context. Right slides without a presenter. Don't do that much good, right? Because they're meant for presenting.
00:26:15 BRIAN: Especially mine.
00:26:16 KIM: Yeah, oh, no don't even get me started.
00:26:17 BRIAN: I make a point. I make a point for my slides to be completely worthless to somebody who doesn't know what the presentation is.
00:26:24 KIM: Yes, which is great when somebody has to fill in for you as well.
00:26:28 BRIAN: Yeah, I don't think about that person very much unfortunately. You know, we all have our faults and that's one of mine.
00:26:34 KIM: Oh goodness. Well, I hope we shed some light and got some people excited about TechEx and again the draft agenda is getting updated pretty much every week. Once we have new information and new things. So take a look at it and you can again go to ashtonresource.org/events and then click on either the logo or the link for the 2023 AASHTO Resource Technical Exchange, and again those dates are March 27th through 30th in Fort Worth, TX.
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00:27:06 ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to AASHTO re: source Q & A. If you'd like to be a guest or just submit a question, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Brian at 240-436-4820. For other news and related content. check out AASHTO re:source's Twitter feed or go to ashtoresource.org.