Friday, April 19, 2024
YOU ARE AT:AVNation Best of 2020 Awards Best Virtual Event

With 2020 came a whole host of new phrases including Work From Home (WFH). With WFH came learning from home and the virtual conference. An addition to the annual AVNation Awards, we though 2020 was the perfect year to recognize the group that outshone the other virtual events on the Internets.



HETMA Conference

The Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance (HETMA) Conference took place in June ahead of InfoComm Connect. This event brought together a vast array of audiovisual industry experts and luminaries. Even before that event, the group held their first virtual conference before COVID-19, becoming #virtualbeforeitwascool.



Joe Way (Co-founder), director, learning environments, University of Southern California

BC Hatchett (Co-founder), associate director, AV design & support and media services, Vanderbilt University

The Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance (HETMA) was founded in 2019 as an advocacy group for the purpose of building up tech managers who work in the higher ed vertical. HETMA is touted as ‘by the vertical’ and ‘for the vertical,’ offering virtual conferences and community building events. HETMA engages with manufacturer and integrator partners to ensure needs of the vertical are addressed within the greater AV industry, of which higher ed is over $22.6B annually. Co-founder, BC Hatchett, associate director of AV design & support and media services at Vanderbilt University, says, “The purpose of HETMA is to give a stronger voice to the AV professionals that serve higher education institutions. Our skills sets and experiences mirror or surpass the systems integrators that we work with, so it is important that we have a strong input channel into the overall AV industry.”

Joe Way, director of learning environments at the University of Southern California, HETMA’s other co-founder notes, “being recognized as the ‘Best Virtual Event of 2020’ says less about the conference and more about our people.” HETMA’s conferences focus on directly tackling the issues facing tech mangers from COVID response, to vendor relationships, social justice issues, new and emerging technology solutions, and campus life. From its inception, HETMA recognized the value of insight from a wide array of institutions from large to small, public and private. Way adds: “Our attendees are here to learn, share, ask questions, discuss their challenges, and find solutions.”

“The number one comment we receive after each event is how active the chat is, so we encourage participants to interact with one another and allow the sessions to be organic,” explains Hatchett. “Our conferences are really focused on the challenges that face higher education. For example, we held a rapidly organized conference right at the outset of COVID that spoke to what higher education was looking at from both a distance education model and a hybrid model. Because we are a diverse vertical, we were able to bring forth different viewpoints and experiences. If you have a question about a product or scenario, there is someone in the higher education AV community that will have an answer based upon real world experience. And we’re not shy about sharing.”

Way continues, “HETMA is an organization like no other, which also means our events are like no other. We were virtual before it was cool. We are not your typical AV trade show. Why? Because this isn’t a trade show. One thing you’ll notice is that we don’t advertise who is speaking in our sessions. We believe that every person’s opinions and experiences bring value, while at the same time always offering the best SMEs in the industry as speakers.”

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HETMA is honored to present its third virtual conference, “The Hybrid Life,” taking place online February 9-11, 2021. The event will highlight the keys to being successful in the “new normal” with three days of keynotes, tech manager panel discussions, manufacturer solutions spotlights, and networking sessions. The three keynote addresses will focus on glaring problems within the industry: Tuesday, February 9, the esteemed panel will discuss “AV’s Higher Ed Diversity Dilemma.” Wednesday, February 10, looks into the future with “The Hybrid Life: The Future of Hybrid Learning.” Thursday, February 11, features an “AV Consultants Panel” discussion with the industry’s top SMEs.

The tech manager panels will cover areas from departmental leadership, eSports, production quality, relationship building, accessibility, and creating safe campuses. The vertical’s top AV manufacturers will present interactive sessions and demos on the leading technologies for making a safe and successful transition back to campus. The solutions partners include Crestron, Extron, Shure, Sennheiser, Panasonic, Sharp-NEC, Atlas IED, Legrand, Biamp, Kramer, Mersive, WolfVision, Yamaha, Control Concepts, and Starin.

The event is complimentary and open to everyone who serves in or supports AV’s higher ed vertical. Registration, the schedule of events, and general membership information can be found at






Congratulations to the group at HETMA.


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