Posted by Matt Register

Brooke Conrad, Communications Director for the  Turbomachinery Lab at Texas A&M University, talks about the upcoming Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia coming to Houston in September. Texas Business Radio will be broadcasting from the event.

** Please note that the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposia has been rescheduled for December because of Hurricane Harvey and the George R. Brown being used as a shelter. **

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. We have a special treat for you. We have a show that were getting ready to start in September that we enjoyed last year. We’re going again this year. This is an industry that, really I grew up in this industry and it’s something that, there’s some pretty exciting commerce going on surrounding this. We’re talking about, of course, the Turbomachinery Show that happens every year in Houston. And we have Brooke Conrad, communication director for the Turbomachinery Labs at Texas A&M University, here in the studio. Brooke Welcome to the show.

Brooke Conrad: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Matt Register: So tell me a little bit about the Turbomachine Labs at A&M because this is a part of the mechanical engineering department, it’s a big deal. Right?

Brooke Conrad: Yeah. So we’re part of the college of engineering at Texas A&M and specifically mechanical engineering. We get a little complicated with our titles here but the Turbomachinery Laboratory is technically part of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station that’s tee’s for short. And so that’s all part of the Texas A&M University system. So the turbo lab itself, we have a laboratory just next to the main campus off of George Bush, out by the airport, in College Station. And then our symposium office is located on main campus.

Matt Register: Now if you’re an engineer or an engineer type, this is really cool stuff. Right?

Brooke Conrad: Yeah! Yeah, this is… So yeah, we’re here to talk about the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposium, which is what the turbo lab puts on. So this show actually started back in the early 1970s on the campus of Texas A&M. And it brought in about 200 people the first show. We’ve since grown over the last 46 years and we average about 5,500 people at the show every year. So…

Matt Register: So, so think gearboxes, think turbines, think pumps, think rotating equipment is really what we are talking about.

Brooke Conrad: Yeah. Basic rotating equipment and pumps. And you can expect to see demonstrations and actual equipment on our show floor.

Matt Register: And this is everybody from, you know, General Electric and big, big companies, all the way down to, you know, small shops to do some service and repair on, on some of this stuff. Talk to me a little bit about who are you trying to attract to the show?

Brooke Conrad: So we are trying to attract engineers and technicians who work on rotating equipment. And so that can span several industries including oil and gas, water, chemical, petrochemical, aerospace. We’re really trying to attract those people to come experience the show because there are two aspects that really make it a worthwhile experience. And so the first aspect is our technical program. The technical program is hand-selected by advisory committees of engineers. And so they work year round to solicit abstracts for the program and then they sift through those and decide which ones of them are worthy of becoming part of the program. It’s, it’s really a program that is revered around the world. And then the second aspect is of course the exhibit hall. Which you got to see for the first time last year. So this year it’s spanning two hundred and sixteen thousand gross square feet. And we’ve got 351 companies as of this morning and climbing. So we’re getting phone calls every day of people wanting to sign up and be part of the show. And I think that speaks to the success and the value of the Turbomachinery and Pump Symposium.

Matt Register: Well, it’s a big show, no doubt about that. And a fascinating show. We go to several shows every year, this is always our favorite. Right? I mean, again…

Brooke Conrad: Do you tell everybody that?

Matt Register: I do tell everybody that. I mean it this time. Just because I grew up in this business. I understand this business. Right? And a lot of the players that are, you know, in this space. You’re talking about smaller mid-sized businesses that have, you know, a very technical bent to them. That are, you know, manufacturing companies and guys that really, we love to help as an investment bank. We love to help these guys. So it’s a wonderful show. Very interesting. So what’s new this year? Every year you add something new and what’s, what’s going on this year?

Brooke Conrad: Yeah. You actually stumped me with this question last year when we were interviewing on the floor because last year was my first symposium. So technically, I was new on the floor, so I couldn’t, I couldn’t really…

Matt Register: Well there you go. That was the answer. Right?

Brooke Conrad: Yeah, exactly. But this year we’re, we’re very excited that the turbo lab is getting a mascot because, because of what… I’ll let your mind run for a second while I slowly answer.

Matt Register: I can’t wait.

Brooke Conrad: So what is the turbo lab without a turbo Labrador. So we’re going to have Sadie the turbo lab in our booth this year.

Matt Register: Wonderful.

Brooke Conrad: Booth 2411. You got to come get your picture with her. We bought a polaroid camera. So we’ll be giving Polaroid photos away. We’re very excited about that. And we’re also partnering with empowering brands, who is our social media sponsor, to do a social media scavenger hunt this year. And so, this is for anybody at the show who wants to participate. Basically we’ve got a list of companies who are participating. They’ve identified an item at their booth. So you go get a selfie with that item or person or dog. Post it to social media with our hash tag get social T P S and you’ve got a chance to win one of three cash prizes.

Matt Register: Well and everybody loves cash prizes and Labradors. So what’s the easiest way for people to learn more information about this and to register to be there at the event.

Brooke Conrad: You’ve got to go to tps.tamu, as in Texas A&M University .edu and you’ll find information on registering, on the exhibit hall. And then we’ve got an event info tab, if you’re just looking for an overview that will leach out to those other spaces on the Web site.

Matt Register: Nope, got it. And we have some tickets as well. Guys if you’re interested in going, contact us, we will have that link. TPS.tamu.edu there at the Web site, Texasbusinessradio.com. In case you’re driving and don’t want to take notes. But it’s a worthwhile show. It’s a great show. We’re going to be there broadcast right off the show floor. It’s one we’re not going to miss. You know, every year we enjoy going back to it and learning more about this, you know, very integral part of the Texas economy. And you know, really part of the, the economy that a lot of people don’t know a lot, a lot about. It’s very technical. It’s, you know, a lot of it, a lot of engineering and a lot of highly technical stuff but it makes the world go round and round and it’s interesting to us. So go ahead and contact us if you wanted a ticket. We have several free tickets we can give out. We’ll give them out till we can or go to the Web site and learn more. So, got it. Anything… you have somebody retiring. All right. Doctor, Dr.Childs has been there a long time. Right? Tell me a little bit about that.

Brooke Conrad: Yeah. Dr. Childs has been with the lab since 1980. He’s the director of the turbo lab and he’s also the chair of the advisory committees that oversee the program. And so, you were talking about this being like, like a, like a well kept secret. It’s a very niche industry.

Matt Register: Sure.

Brooke Conrad: So, if you’re in the industry, it’s quite possible that you know who Dr. Childs is.

Matt Register: Sure.

Brooke Conrad: Because he’s, he’s very well renowned. So we’re sad to be losing him but he’s decided it’s time to retire. So we’re going to be honoring him with a banquet. We always have a banquet on Wednesday night of the symposium. And so this year it’s going to be a tribute to him. And we want to invite people who may not have been planning to come to the symposium to come and check that out. And will, will be selling tickets for people who aren’t going to register for the show but maybe want to show up for that.

Matt Register: All right, good stuff. And this is September 12th to 14th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. Not something to be missed. Guys, if you want to go get contact with us, we’ll get you a ticket or go to TPS.tamu.edu or go to texasbusinessradio.com, we’ll link right there. Brooke Conrad, communications director for the turbo labs at Texas A&M University. Brooke welcome. Thank you very much for joining us.

Brooke Conrad: Thank you for having me.

Matt Register: And we will see you at the show.

Brooke Conrad: Yeah, you will.

Matt Register: Unfortunately guys, we got to go pay a couple of bills. We’re going to be back right after this. Don’t go anywhere.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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