The STAC 2021 Conference & Exhibition is in the books and we are excited to report back on a successful event that appears to have blown away all expectations.
From a schedule that was both fun and educational, to a lively exhibit hall that featured virtual chats and games: STAC 2021 offered something for everyone over the course of five days from April 12-16.
Here are some of this year’s highlights:
By The Numbers:
STAC was thrilled to welcome 417 attendees to our first virtual conference, putting the event roughly on par with our last in-person event in Montreal in 2019.
Most conference sessions saw approximately 150 people joining the session live, while a handful topped out over or around 200 people. The opening keynote, “Building a Safety Culture,” brought in nearly 300 unique viewers.
STAC 2021 also featured 24 exhibitors and 13 sponsors, including our two incredible keynote sponsors: Gap Wireless and Varcon.
STAC 2021 also awarded more than 30 different raffle prizes, including gift cards awarded to one attendee of each of the 24 conference sessions and seven end-of-conference raffle prizes that included a treadmill, a GPS watch and noise-cancelling headphones, among others.
For the first time at a STAC event, this conference also offered participants the opportunity to collect points (by attending sessions, booths and product pitches, among other ways) to compete for the title of “Ultimate Conference Champion” and the opportunity to take home their choice of end-of-conference prize. Congratulations to this year’s champion, Mike Mclaughlin from Turris, who collected 985,000 conference points – and edged out two other competitors by just 12,500 points – to take home the prize.
STAC 2021 featured perhaps the most diverse schedule of any STAC conference to date. The conference schedule included the traditional tower safety and tower engineering sessions on hot topics in the industry, as well as more novel sessions on driving safety, corporate culture, the impact of COVID-19, healthy living, mental health and even Canadian competition law.
Some of this year’s most attended sessions included:
Building a Safety Culture
Our STAC 2021 opening keynote presentation focused on discussing the concept of a safety culture and what it means to actually uphold safety as a value within an organization. Among other areas of discussion, presenter and former STAC member Aimee Arsenault from Transmit Safety showed attendees how to build a better more productive workforce by using the right HSE metrics to achieve their safety objectives.
Lessons Learned from Tower Failures
This year’s version of the always-popular annual session on tower failures focused on a pair of monopole failures in early 2020, the wide-ranging root cause analysis and investigations that followed, and the results of those investigations and what they mean for the Canadian tower industry. Pivotally, this session outlined steps the industry can take to further reduce the risk of tower fatigue.
Updated Federal Fall Protection Regulations
STAC was thrilled to secure a speaker from the federal Labour Program to provide an overview of the July 2019 updates to Canada’s federal fall protection regulations, with a particular focus on how the changes affect the communications tower industry. This session focused on a range of new regulatory requirements, including those relating to fall hazard zones, fall restraint and fall arrest anchorage, and the new requirement that PPE be certified to the requirements of the latest version of certain CSA standards.
Keep Fit and Have Fun
As STAC members continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic, the STAC 2021 planners made efforts to ensure conference attendees had the chance to step back from their computers and have some fun while getting a little physical activity. “Body Break” legends Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod provided the perfect opportunity. This incredibly popular 60-minute keynote presentation included a detailed look at the Body Break’s history and helped teach attendees different exercises that will help them keep fit: even while working from home.
A trio of team members from the STAC Anchor Shaft Corrosion project provided a detailed presentation of STAC’s newest resource document, the STAC Dig-to-Block Inspection Checklist, which was released just in time for the conference. This presentation included a step-by-step overview of the new checklist and included discussion of some of the new best practices implemented in this document, such as the use of the Corrosion Severity Rating system.
Tower Damping Ratios: Numerical Simulations and Field Test Results
This widely-viewed session was the first of three to address one of the industry’s most pressing tower engineering issues of recent years: predicting – and protecting towers against – potentially catastrophic fatigue caused by rare wind conditions. The first part of this session focused on demonstrating mathematical modelling to predict vortex shedding on new towers, while the second half relayed the preliminary results of result field tests determined to identify a method of procedure for measuring accurate tower damping ratios on existing towers.
Vibration Mitigation Solutions
The second conference session focused on tower fatigue caused by rare wind phenomena, the Vibration Mitigation Solutions session brought together experts from Canada and Europe to discuss existing tower damping solutions that have actually been deployed on different tower sites around the world. This session covered the theory behind liquid and tuned mass dampers as well as the thought processes around designing site-specific dampers and the installation challenges.
“One More Day” – A Conversation with Corey Hirsch
Another keynote offered at STAC 2021 focused on a significant but often-ignored aspect of personal health that may be more important now than ever – mental health. Former NHL goaltender and Olympic Silver-Medalist Corey Hirsch shared an intimate account of his own battles with mental health and offered potentially life-saving advice to those facing their own troubles, or who suspect someone around them may be struggling.
With two dozen amazing sessions across the five-day conference, there are simply too many to recap them all here. Conference attendees can now access recorded copies of each conference session to review at their convenience via the conference platform.
Virtual Exhibit Floor:
STAC 2021 was also incredibly fortunate to have such an amazing group of venders to fill out the virtual exhibit floor. While nothing can replace the value of connecting with industry colleagues to talk shop in-person, this year’s virtual floor offered the next best alternative, with the option to pop by exhibitor booths, request information on specific products, and even to join a live video chat with up to 25 people.
Exhibitors also helped to make the floor more fun by customizing their booths to include different games, puzzles, raffles and other activities.
Attendees were also rewarded for visiting exhibitor booths by collecting points that contributed to their end-of-conference raffle entry and to the competition for Ultimate Conference Champion.
Thank you again to all of our informative speakers and moderators as well as our incredible full conference sponsors – Varcon and Gap Wireless – and all of our other sponsors and exhibitors who helped to make STAC 2021 a success. We’ll look forward to seeing you all again in-person next year at STAC 2022 in Vancouver!