Indianapolis is known for the Indy 500, the Colts, the NCAA Hall of Champions, and the Electric Show — at least it will be this year. For the last 18 years, this trade show and conference traveled up and down the East Coast from Boston to Orlando, Fla. This year, it's treading into unfamiliar — but friendly — territory as it makes its Midwest debut May 25-27, with a few Professional Advancement courses May 24.

Around 250 exhibiting companies and more than 8,500 attendees are expected to pack into the Indiana Convention and RCA Dome to see the newest products, equipment, and developments in the electrical industry, as well as listen to industry experts talk about all things electrical. This year 32 scheduled informational sessions will cover topics like the NEC, power quality, lighting, and maintenance. Everyone from a principal engineer to an apprentice can learn something new.

You might ask yourself, Why should I attend the show? Allow us to help:

  1. Is the word “electrical” anywhere in your job title?

  2. Do you know that UPS stands for something other than United Parcel Service?

  3. Does the name Mike Holt ring a bell?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, pack your bags. The Electric Show is where electrical contractors, electrical engineers, electricians, plant and facilities managers, company owners and presidents, buyers, and sellers go to remain in the lead lap. And this year, you can get more bang for your buck. The Electric Show is sharing space in the convention center with the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) World Expo and Conference, an event for power delivery professionals involved in all phases of the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of power transmission and distribution equipment and facilities. All attendees have access to both shows.

Scott Unger, president and chief officer of Constructware, will kick off the conference sessions at 9 a.m. on May 25 with his keynote address “Using New Technology to Better Your Business Processes.” The electrical industry has been slow to adopt Internet-based management tools, so Unger will highlight the ways in which these programs can benefit a company, such as improved information and document management, easy access for all qualified personnel to pertinent information, and what you can expect to see in the future.

Another crowd favorite at the show is sure to be the “Ask the Experts” session scheduled at 12:30 p.m. on May 26. Don't miss your opportunity to see John Dedad, editorial director of Primedia's electrical and energy group, and Mark McGranaghan, vice president of consulting services for EPRI-PEAC, tackle pre-submitted power quality questions. The duo will cover topics like harmonics, transients, grounding, waveform distortion, waveform signature analyses, power quality installation techniques, and lightning protection.

In case you forgot, the National Electrical Code is changing in 2005. To keep you up to speed, Joe Tedesco, EC&M's NEC columnist, will host “The New 2005 NEC Review” session at 10:30 a.m. on May 27. Tedesco will also discuss the electrical inspection of premises wiring systems, inspection procedures, and requirements as they relate to the NEC, and rules to minimize the risk of electricity as a source of electric shock and as an ignition source of fires and explosions. He'll also review electrical requirements found in product standards, as well as inspection procedures for industrial, commercial, and residential systems.

James Benya, principal, Benya Lighting Designs, will keep the Code conversation going with the “Lighting Codes Update” session at 11 a.m. on May 25. Benya will talk about how several standards, including the NEC and the International Dark Sky Association's rules, affect lighting design.

During the “Interpreting Your Power Quality: Approaching and Addressing Problems” session at 1:30 p.m. on May 25, Paul Hartman, vice president, Sigma Six Solutions, will shed some light on analyzing power quality data, determining problems, and identifying their potential causes.

Today, more than ever, it's imperative that an electrical team stay up-to-date on maintenance techniques to allow for little downtime when making repairs. That's the message Ted James, professor, engineering and technology division, Pasadena City College, will present during his “Tips and Tricks for Electrical Maintenance” session at 9 a.m. on May 26. He'll focus on the importance of learning what's new and retaining that information in order to stay competitive.

If all that isn't enough to have you scrambling for your travel agent's number, maybe this will convince you. If you're feeling lucky, you can try your hand at a slot machine that will be located in the Exhibit Hall. All attendees get one pull and a shot with lady luck to win $25,000, tickets to this year's Indy 500, and other great prizes. But that's not all. In the midst of all the products in the Exhibit Hall, EC&M is going to announce the Product of the Year Platinum Award winner at the close of the keynote session. The votes have been cast, counted, and confirmed. Who will walk away with this prestigious prize? You'll never know if you don't go to the show. Okay, so we'll probably tell you in an upcoming issue, but we probably won't be able to capture the emotion and anticipation of the live moment.

In the words of the Saturday morning School House Rock PSAs, knowledge is power. That's the theme of the Electric Show. It's the easiest, quickest, and — dare we say — most fun way to learn about what's new in the electrical industry. In no other place can you learn about so much in so little time. Don't think of the trip as a company expense, but as a company investment.