Welcome to my first column for the FLC Digest, where I’ll provide readers an inside look at the work being done at the Federal Laboratory Consortium. I’m going to start by highlighting the volunteer efforts that are so important to the FLC and how you can get involved.
If you don’t know, the FLC is run by an Executive Board of federal lab volunteers. If you’re interested – the nominations are open right now for the upcoming Board elections, including Finance Officer, a Member-at-Large, and regional positions. The Board is currently led by Chair Linda Burger from the National Security Agency, and Vice Chair John Eisemann from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, the FLC Board includes three Committee Chairs, Coordinators for six Regions, a Finance Officer and Members at Large.
While Executive Board members give generously of their time during two-year terms of office, there are many other opportunities for volunteerism that involve a much smaller commitment. Each of our main Promote, Educate, and Facilitate Committees is volunteer based. If you are interested in having a voice and steering these programs, please let us know. The time needed is only a few hours per month and you don’t need to run for office to participate. Similarly, we’re always looking for new volunteers to bring fresh ideas to our Regional Programs.
Our Promote Committee oversees all the FLC’s materials and digital platforms. These include FLC’s website, the FLC Digest and the Annual Planner calendar (want a copy? Get on our subscriber list). This committee also manages the FLC Awards program. We’re rebuilding the FLC website right now, including a reboot of FLC Business. Volunteering for any of the Promote subcommittees – Website, Communications, or Awards – is a great chance to have a huge impact on the future of the Consortium.
Our Educate Committee is also very engaged. This committee may be best known for producing our National Meeting. We plan to see each other in person in Cleveland, Ohio, from April 5-7. The Meeting features a full agenda and a great slate of training courses. It is the FLC’s signature event each year, and despite COVID variants, we are hopeful you will be able to join us as some agency travel restrictions loosen. Registration is open if you want to dive in!
The Educate Committee is also building a new online learning center, hosting a full webinar series to take advantage of the remote capabilities we have all gained in the last two years, and conducting a full needs assessment to explore micro-certifications based on our training. If you’re interested in building the framework for training the tech transfer community, please let us know. If you’re interested in being a trainer, we’re always looking for great content. While the National Meeting has been our primary educational event, we have branched out with many other professional development opportunities and are implementing a robust plan to increase our online training offerings throughout the year.
Our Facilitate Committee and Regional Programs are where we plan to really engage with labs and potential partners on the business of tech transfer. This year we’re opening new opportunities to bring people together around interesting technical topics with the intent of creating more shots on goal for tech transfer. We’re partnering with national and regional organizations that can extend our reach to potential new partners and help federal tech transfer offices in their efforts as well. We recently held a Water Technologies Virtual Partnering Forum with our partners at the Water Council. In addition, we have plans for a series of similar events focused on other priority tech sectors, including climate. Two of our regional meetings switched gear last year to pilot this effort through industry engagement events. We had a very successful event on western wildfires and another on artificial intelligence. We plan to continue and expand this effort in the FLC Regions.
It’s because of COVID-19 that we’ve significantly grown in our ability to host virtual meetings. We have had record attendance at our virtual events, and plan to keep that going strong. In addition to the technical series, we also plan to continue our Lab Showcases to highlight the great work being done around the country, and a Member Connect series for additional networking.
There is a lot of activity at the FLC – and we really need you! If you have the bandwidth, share some of your time with us by volunteering and taking advantage of the many meetings and courses we offer. We’re here to support you!