The 2018 CSTA Annual Conference is only days away, and I am looking forward to welcoming everyone to Omaha. We have an exciting conference planned, with workshops on Saturday and Sunday (along with a Chapter Leader Summit), birds-of-a-feather session on Sunday afternoon, and keynotes and sessions on Monday and Tuesday. There are numerous social and networking events, including a big reception on Sunday evening and a tour/reception at the University of Nebraska Omaha on Monday. This looks to be a record-breaking conference in a number of ways (no spoilers) and we locals are working to make it the friendliest as well.
Some last-minute pieces of advice as you prepare to come to Omaha:
- The convention center and conference hotels are only 3 miles from the Eppley International Airfield, and both the Hilton and Marriott have free shuttles. If you choose a cab or ride-share, we are still talking 5-10 minutes to get from one to the other. Pay attention on you ride from the airport and you will notice that you briefly pass from Nebraska into Iowa and then back to Nebraska. It’s an interesting historical fact that the Missouri River, which forms the boundary between the two states, changed its course in 1877, leaving a small piece of Iowa stranded on the Nebraska side.
- There is a lot to see and do around the convention center and hotels. If you are a baseball fan, TD Ameritrade Park, where the College World Series is held every year, is just next door. There are restaurants, bars and a movie theater adjacent to the park. The Marriott is connected to the new Capitol District, which also has restaurants, bars and shops and an outdoor social space. Within easy walking distance is the Old Market district, which has all kinds of dining, shopping and social establishments. If you are considering dinner some evening, I would recommend getting reservations ahead of time, as it is a busy place.
- If you have time to explore Omaha, I would recommend downloading the Omaha Savings app from the Omaha Visitors Center (https://www.visitomaha.com/savingsapp/). It has discounts on museums, restaurants, and the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. The Doorly Zoo has been named the #1 zoo in the world by TripAdvisor, and is well worth the trip (it is 6 miles from downtown, and can be reached using the hotel shuttle). My institution, Creighton University, is less than a mile to the west of the conference hotels. It is a beautiful urban campus, so if you are looking to stretch your legs, I would recommend checking it out. We will have maps of the downtown area available at registration.
- This has been a hot summer across the country, and Omaha has been no exception. The weather forecast calls for highs in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s. Currently, there is no rain in the long-term forecast, but that can certainly change. If you are staying in the Hilton, there is an enclosed walkway that goes directly to the convention center, so you won’t have to go outside if you don’t want to. The Marriott is on the adjacent block, and many other hotels are close by as well. Plan to bring some warm-weather clothes and get out. In addition to the Old Market, you’ll want to walk across the award-winning pedestrian bridge that crosses the Missouri River to Iowa. There are many walking and bike paths along the river and over on the Iowa side. There are several bike rental stations in the downtown area, including one right by the pedestrian bridge.
- Omaha is a clean, vibrant, and friendly Midwestern city. The population in the metropolitan area is around 930K, but it still has the feel of a small-town. The area also has a rapidly growing tech-sector, earning it the title Silicon Prairie. If you have never visited here before, I know you will find Omaha welcoming and engaging. Enjoy your time here!
On a personal note, this meeting marks the end of my term on the CSTA Board of Directors. I have made so many great friends and colleagues over the past nine years, and want to thank you all for the hard work and passion you bring to CS education. I look forward to continuing to work with you all, and I know that CSTA’s future is bright with Jake and Fred at the helm.
CSTA Board Member, Past-Chair