Hundreds of members of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) will be remembering the Alamo while taking in five days of star-studded lectures and performances at this year’s MCAA National Convention, slated for March 17-21 in San Antonio.

“MCAA is known within the industry forever for our leadership in offering the best speakers out there,” MCAA senior executive director Cynthia Buffington said. “You’re going to see the most interesting speakers available at the time, and we don’t have our major session speakers twice.”

Buffington said the convention is geared toward fostering leadership, and that attendees come primarily for the lectures and presentations, though she said visitors also attend to network and learn more about other businesses in the industry.

“We really try to address timely issues that are relevant to running businesses better,” Buffington said. “We also strive each year to give our attendees and our members a reason to come so that they’re able to go back home and say, guess who we heard at the MCAA?”

Featured Speakers

As usual, MCAA has lined up several high-profile speakers. Those scheduled to attend include:

Scott Pelley. As anchor of the “CBS Evening News” and correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Pelley was one of the first to learn of President Richard Nixon’s resignation, the fall of Saigon, and other historical, national, and international events.

Frank Abagnale. As the subject of the best-selling book “Catch Me If You Can,” which was later made into a movie starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, Abagnale turned his early life of crime into a successful career as a consultant and lecturer teaching businesses and financial institutions how to protect themselves, their employees, and their customers from forgery, embezzlement, and identity theft.

Greg Ip. In a session on the future of the nation’s economy, Ip, who serves as the U.S. economics editor for The Economist, will lend his perspective and analysis on several aspects of the economy, including the fiscal outlook following the fiscal cliff resolution.

Dan Bulley. In his lecture, “From Star Trek to the Jobsite,” Bulley, MCA of Chicago senior vice president, will discuss the brave new world of emerging technologies and how they can help companies run more efficiently, effectively, and profitably.

Sal DiFonzo. In his session, “Compensation and Incentive Plans,” DiFonzo, managing director of FMI Compensation, will cover recent compensation trends, talent development practices, and principles of effective incentive designs.

Aaron Hall. For the less tech-savvy conventioneers, Hall, executive director, MCA of Akron, Ohio, will lead a session on how to effectively use an iPad at work, at home, and as an everyday tool. He will demonstrate how to set up and use an iTunes account as well as how to open Microsoft Word and Excel documents.

Andy Patron. In his session, “The Lost Generation — Attracting Gen Y to the Construction Industry,” Patron, senior consultant, FMI, will discuss how to find and develop strong leaders and future managers in an industry hit hard by the recession.

The Next Generation

The convention will once again feature the MCAA Student Chapter Competition. This year, 25 student chapters at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada submitted bids, and at the convention, four finalist teams will make oral presentations of their written bid proposals.

This year’s project involved a 50,000-square-foot building that houses NASA’s Space Exploration Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla. Bidders were required to recommend design elements that meet or exceed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum criteria. The project also required that the bids include a post-construction service component.

Chapters that submitted proposals include: California State Polytechnic University at Pomona, California State Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, California State University at Chico, California State University at Sacramento, Central Washington University, Colorado State University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Illinois State University, Iowa State University, McMaster University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Northeastern University, Northern Kentucky University, Oregon State University, Pennsylvania State University, Pittsburg State University, Purdue University, Southern Polytechnic State University, University of Maryland-College Park, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Washington State University, Weber State University, and the Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Time to Relax

The MCAA National Convention will include opportunities for participants to relax and enjoy the amenities at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country resort, which include two 18-hole golf courses at the TPC San Antonio Golf Club, the six-acre River Bluff Water Experience, the Lantana Spa, and seven restaurant options.

Annual sporting events at the convention will also give attendees an opportunity to take a break for a little friendly competition. There will be a golf tournament sponsored by Victaulic Co. and Carrier Corp., a fun run/walk sponsored by Anvil Intl., and a tennis tournament sponsored by Nibco Inc.

To cap off the convention, country music singer Martina McBride will perform during “Margaritas, Memories, and Martina McBride,” a dinner concert sponsored by Daikin. Having sold more than 14 million albums, McBride has won the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year award four times, the Academy of Country Music’s Top Female Vocalist award three times, and a Grammy award.

Publication date: 2/11/2013