Organizing an ECI Conference

Welcome to ECI Conferences, organized by a group of dedicated professionals committed to providing a forum for important engineering topics.

The Engineering Conferences International (ECI) conferences program is the successor program to the United Engineering Foundation conferences program that was established in 1962 to initiate and/or facilitate small, leading-edge interdisciplinary conferences.

Today’s conferences are international and bring together participants from different societies and a variety of professions. Over 900 conferences have been held to date with an average attendance of 75. The Conferences program is designed to be financially self-supporting.

The format of the conference provides morning and late afternoon or evening sessions in which major presentations are made. Poster presentations are typically an important part of the conference. Free time is included during the afternoons for ad hoc meetings, informal discussions, and/or recreation. This format is designed to enhance interactions among participants and to promote dialog on the meeting as it develops. The conferences have been instrumental in generating ideas and disseminating information to a greater extent than is possible through more conventional forums.

All participants are expected both to attend the entire conference and to contribute actively to the discussions. The recording of lectures and presentations is forbidden as is the photographing of posters. As ECI conferences take place in an informal atmosphere, casual clothing is the usual attire.

ECI is ready to work with you in two complementary ways. First, an experienced member of the Conferences Committee will act as your technical liaison from the proposal stage through the conference itself. He or she is always available to consult with you on any conference issue. If you are not already in contact with a technical liaison and would like to be, please get in touch with Barbara Hickernell, ECI Director (

Second, after your proposal has been approved by the Conferences Committee, the ECI staff will assume responsibility for the administration of the conference. Your primary responsibilities will be recruiting the organizing committee, developing the technical program and securing third-party funding necessary to support the travel of key speakers. The responsibilities of ECI’s “full service” staff include — but are not limited to — the following:

  • Publicize via electronic and print media.
  • Research and provide advice/recommendations for possible conference sites.
  • Negotiate, contract and make substantial deposits for housing, meals, meeting space, A/V equipment and tours.
  • Maintain web sites for the conference and for submission of abstracts.
  • Prepare, distribute and process announcements, invitations and registrations.
  • Administer all finances including grants, contributions and purchase orders. (ECI makes grant funds available as soon as a grant is approved.) There is no need for chairs to set up a conference bank account or file tax returns for their conference.
  • Produce a bound program/abstracts book.
  • Contract for the publication of print or electronic proceedings, if any.
  • Provide on-site staff during the conference.
  • Ensure that any unspent contributions are carried forward to the next conference in the series.

The Conferences Committee not only consults with chairs and carefully screens proposals but also works actively to identify important inter-engineering and inter-professional areas which would benefit from the holding of an ECI conference. The Conferences Committee, therefore, not only encourages you to submit a proposal for an ECI conference but also invites you to suggest topics and leaders for additional conferences.

This information covers the major aspects involved in organizing an ECI conference. You are encouraged to obtain a copy of the more detailed Manual for ECI Conference Chairs before drafting a proposal. Ideally, proposals should be submitted from 18 to 24 months in advance of the conference although the staff can work on a shorter timeline.

Attendance typically ranges from 50 to 150, including an average non-US participation of 50%. Currently there are approximately 25 continuing series of conferences, usually meeting every two to three years.

The recommended conference lead times are 18 months for the first publicity and 16 months for the general announcement/call for papers. If funds are to be raised, this process should begin as early as possible so that speakers can be assured of support and a preliminary program can be ready for the mailing of registration material at the six-month mark.

Formats and Sites

The traditional format for an ECI conference calls for conference check-in on Sunday afternoon with technical sessions held each morning and late afternoon/evening through Friday noon. Afternoons are used for informal gatherings, poster sessions, field trips, subgroup meetings and recreation. This format has served well to build important professional networks in many areas. ECI welcomes proposals for shorter conferences and for conferences which span weekends in order to reduce the number of working days participants are away from their offices. Typically all meals are included so as to promote interaction among participants.

The following is a list of sites which Engineering Conferences International either has used for conferences or has inspected and found to be suitable in certain circumstances. Our typical conference site provides a fair degree of isolation yet is reasonably convenient with respect to transportation. Our most cost-effective sites are those we can utilize in off-season or other slow periods. Please contact Director Barbara Hickernell to discuss individual conference needs.

The following locations are among those which have received the most positive feedback:

United States
: Anchorage, Girdwood (near Anchorage)
: Lake Tahoe, Monterey, Newport Beach, San Diego, Santa Barbara 
: Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Keystone, Vail
: Destin, Naples 
: Kauai, Kona (Big Island), Maui
: Boise
: Rocky Gap
: Hyannis
Montana: Big Sky
New Mexico
: Santa Fe (best prices in winter )
New York
: Catskill Mountains, Upper Hudson Valley
South Carolina
: Charleston
: Park City, Salt Lake City, Snowbird
: Burlington
Washington: Seattle
Wisconsin: Lake Geneva

Canada: Banff, Halifax, Lake Louise, Montreal, Quebec City, Vancouver, ,Whistler,

Caribbean: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico
Central America
: Costa Rica
: Cancun, Puerto Vellarta
South America
: Brazil, Chile

: Graz, Hernstein, Innsbruck
Czech Republic: Prague
: Naantali, Porvoo
: Brittany, Deauville, Lyon, Nice
:  Barga (Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco-Oct through February), Calabria, Orvieto, Otranto (Puglia), Sicily
: Berlin, Dresden (Pillnitz), Irsee, Potsdam
Iceland: Bifrost (rustic)
: Noordwijkerhout
: Krakow, Zakopane
: Algarve, Porto, Tomar
: Bilbao, Lanzarote (CI), Mallorca, Seville, Tarragona
: Davos, Les Diablerts (near Geneva)
: Cambridge, Edinburgh

Asia and Pacific Rim
: Coolum, Fraser Island, Gold Coast,  
: Beijing, Suzhou, Xi’An
: Awaji Island, Kyoto, Toyama
Korea: Gyeong-ju, Jeju Island
New Zealand
: Christchurch

: SunMoon Lake, Taraka National Park


It is customary to provide participants a bound program book containing abstracts of oral and poster presentations. Chairs may also ask presenters to bring a copy of their presentation for each participant, and chairs may elect to have published proceedings or to publish conference papers in a special issue of a technical journal. ECI has cooperated with most major publishers of technical books and journals.

For chairs considering a publication, ECI also offers the option of an electronic publication through Berkeley Electronic Press.


Conference fees are set so that the entire conferences program breaks even. A conference fee is established by adding a registration fee to estimated site costs for room, meals, publication, and equipment. The choice of site and hotel as well as time of year (high season vs. low season) are the factors most affecting the final cost of a conference. In order to keep costs manageable, the ECI staff recommends cost effective sites.

ECI actively discourages attendance by participants who stay less than three days but recognizes the need for a few featured speakers who cannot participate fully. A reduced conference fee is charged in such cases.

ECI administers grants and donations without charge and makes funds available as soon as a grant is approved or notice of a donation is received.

Proposal Guidelines

Please use these guidelines when preparing your conference proposal. Include each section listed below in order.

  • Suggested title of conference
  • Preferred dates/location
  • Name, title, organization, mail/e-mail addresses, phone/fax numbers of Chair and Co-chair(s)
  • Membership of Organizing Committee (name, affiliation, address, phone/fax/e-mail numbers). At the time the proposal is submitted, this committee should consist of at least five members in addition to the chairs. At least three of these should be committed, not merely “to be invited”. If the conference is an international one, there should be committee members from Europe, the Pacific Rim, and North America, as appropriate.
  • Synopsis: This is a short perspective explaining the intended scope and thrust, the major reasons justifying the conference (timeliness, importance, desired accomplishments, etc.)

    In this area there should be a paragraph that details who should attend this conference and what they will gain from the conference. This will be used in conference publicity and is particularly important as potential participants can point to this information when asking superiors for permission to attend

  • Outline of the program as now visualized. (We realize that many of the speakers will be “expected” or “invited”, rather than “firm”.)
  • Chairperson’s prior experience in conference organization.
  • Technical co-sponsorship with professional societies or government agencies. Have or will any of them be approached as a possible technical co-sponsor or cooperating society? (This usually does not mean financial aid, but rather publicity or other aid that broadens awareness of the conference.)
  • Proposal review: Has the proposal for this conference been reviewed by any organization before? If so, which one(s) and what was their response?
  • Other proximate conferences (within approximately 6 months) that might conflict in content or compete for attendance. Please explain.
  • Estimated number of attendees and what percentage will be from industry, government, and academia.?
  • External Funding (in addition to the Chair’s Fund) to be sought: amounts, sources, chances of success. Could the conference be held if funds were to be denied by one or more of the expected sponsors?
  • Are there proprietary bars to a full exchange of information? If so, please explain.
  • Pre-conference publications – abstracts or proceedings (if any).
  • Post conference publications – extended summary or proceedings (if any).
  • Please include a list of potential speakers with affiliation – even if no commitments have been made. This will be helpful to Conferences Committee members who review the proposal.
  • Publicity suggestions: Publications and societies.
  • Potential participants: A list of approximately one hundred potential participants with their addresses. Each member of the organizing committee should contribute to this list.

Engineering Conferences International, Inc.

Engineering Conferences International is incorporated in the State of New York as a not-for-profit corporation. The purposes for which the corporation is formed are as follows:

  • The advancement of engineering arts and sciences by providing a forum for the discussion of advances in the field of science and engineering for the good of mankind by identification and administration of international interdisciplinary conferences.
  • To work with engineering, scientific and social science societies and the interested general public to jointly sponsor conferences and to take other actions that will foster complementary programming.
  • To initiate conferences that will have a significant impact on engineering education, research practice and/or development.



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