Maybe it's the showgirls. Maybe it's the thousand-and-one ways to blow your paycheck in under an hour. Maybe it's Wayne Newton. OK, it isn't Wayne Newton, but something about Las Vegas has the power to draw thousands of people to the middle of the desert at all times of the year. And for three days in February, it will be the 14th Annual Electric West Show — not some cheesy lounge singer — that will motivate nearly 9,000 members of the electrical industry to descend on Sin City.

Running February 11-13, the Electric West Show boasts more than 250 exhibitors (check out our handy exhibitor list on pages 40-41), all on hand in the Exhibit Hall to show off the latest in electrical gadgets and power quality problem solvers. And if that's not enough to send you scrambling to contact your travel agent, maybe this will: The Electric West Conference program, which includes more than 30 seminars and presentations this year, will cover topics ranging from grounding, harmonics, and EMF electromagnetic design to voice/data security.

This year marks the beginning of yet another NEC cycle, and that means changes to the Code. It's vital for today's electrician to keep up-to-date on applicable changes, so the Electric West Conference program will also include an in-depth look at the 2002 Code — one of its Spotlight Programs — on Feb. 11-12. Presented by Code expert Mike Holt, author of Mike Holt's Illustrated Guide to Code Changes Based on the 2002 National Electrical Code, the Code seminars are sure to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about changes that will affect your work.

Another Spotlight Program sure to be a popular draw is Grounding & Bonding: Understanding the 2002 National Electrical Code. Also presented by Holt, the program will address the fundamentals necessary to understand the grounding and bonding rules contained in the NEC for systems that operate at 120/240V, 208/120V, and 480/277V.

Keeping tabs on the market.

There's little doubt the market isn't what it was 18 months ago, and contractors everywhere need to find ways to save money and cope with the shrinking job market. To meet that need, the Conference program is also offering several sessions on how to run a more profitable contracting business, focusing on issues like claims management, worker shortages, and maximizing project management efficiency.

In addition to the Voice/Data/Signal Pavilion that will showcase products like cable management systems, cable trays, and hand-held test devices, the Power Quality Pavilion, new to Electric West in 2002, combines every power quality product in one location for engineers, designers, and facility and utility managers to view and purchase.

If you go to Las Vegas only once this year, try to schedule your trip around Electric West. There are dozens of ways to spends your kids' college fund in the gambling Mecca, but with exhibitors from across the country showing up to peddle their wares, it's the best reason to make the trip. Besides, don't you want to hear “Danke Shoen” live one more time?