By: Antonio Triventi

When reading workshop overviews, we always encounter a lot of emphasis on the words “opportunities for networking”. But the social aspect of a workshop is just a small component of the entire experience. Think about it, typically the attendees spend most of their time sitting on a chair and listening to a bunch of presenters. So how would you call that? Rather, “opportunities for relaxing and couching”, right?

Although the chances for meeting old friends and making new ones were maximized by the number of recreational breaks perfectly distributed during the day, snacks and drinks strategically located and available all day long, and night-out events brilliantly set and interestingly organized, I firmly believe that the 7th Annual DOE Laser Safety Officer Workshop held at the MIT on August 2-4 will not be consigned to history as another good opportunity for networking but as the best opportunity for learning of the year 2011. With its 30+ talks that touched topics above and beyond laser safety in research, clinical and industrial settings, the meeting delivered useful contents and tools for newly appointed LSOs as well as more experienced ones. The speakers, all hands-on experts, presented a variety of subjects including the latest updates to the ANSI Z136 recommendations, the latest revisions to MPE values and ocular lesions, and examples of structured laser safety programs in research facilities, hospitals and industry. A panel session on performing effective laser safety audits led to a thorough discussion and active audience participation. A presentation on developing a laser safety culture introduced a novel approach to the interpretation of the role of the LSOs and laser safety management systems in big Organizations. A presentation on modern holography techniques applied to the world of art showed one more outstanding use of laser beams reinforcing the fact that the range of laser applications is extremely wide, numerous and heterogeneous.

Also, the program encompassed a technical “lunch & learn” session of mini-workshops. BLS Executive Director Barbara Sams gave a brief talk on the professional certification programs for Laser Safety Officers. Needless to underline, her presentation was the perfect fit for the meaning of the meeting: the CLSO and the CMLSO credentials are synonymous of commitment to learning.

Now, dear friends, it is time for networking and for driving excellence by following up on our learning experience by creating and diffusing new knowledge!