FORT WAYNE IN — STN Media Group (STN), with the support of the School Transportation Association of Indiana (STAI), school bus engine manufacturer Cummins, Inc., and school bus seating and occupant restraint manufacturer IMMI/SafeGuard, is expanding the North American School Bus EXPO Conference & Trade Show to Indianapolis, starting next June.
The announcement was made Tuesday during a general session at the STAI 44th Annual Conference, where Cummins and IMMI/SafeGuard also announced their sponsorship of attendee educational events at the inaugural STN EXPO Indianapolis. The event will be held at the downtown J.W. Marriott and Indianapolis Convention Center on June 7-12, 2019, about two weeks prior to STAI’s 45th Annual Conference that is scheduled to be held in French Lick, Indiana.
STN and STAI also announced they are collaborating on a special training opportunity for state association members in Indianapolis. Further details are expected to be announced later this year.
The STN EXPO Reno continues as usual, and is scheduled for July 26-31, 2019, at the Peppermill Resort Casino Spa.
The decision to launch a new STN EXPO in Indianapolis, nicknamed the “Crossroads of America,” stemmed from feedback provided by would-be attendees from the East Coast, that Reno proved to be a challenging travel destination. STN staff researched past-year attendee lists and discovered that less than 5 percent of the annual audience originated from east of the Mississippi River. Many trade show vendors also expressed an eagerness to reach customers in other regions.
“Our new conference STN EXPO Indy will give our readers in the midwest and eastern parts of the United States the opportunity to experience STN EXPO’s high quality ‘Content, Community and Commerce,’” said Tony Corpin, publisher of School Transportation News magazine and president of STN Media Group. “We are looking forward to bringing together transportation professionals, associations and industry supplier partners for this best in class conference. Our attendees will walk away with actionable ideas, valuable experiences and lasting relationships to help them Drive Forward their school transportation operations and safety goals. It will truly offer something that’s different from our current conference in Reno, which is unique, new and exciting.”
Exclusive to STN EXPO Indy, Cummins, Inc. is providing attendees with hands-on, school bus-specific training on engines and components. Attendees who take the training will receive a joint STN-Cummins certification of completion.
“Cummins is excited to partner with STN for the 2019 Indianapolis EXPO. We will be offering a special, limited training opportunity in 2019, and are looking forward to supporting a one-of-a-kind school bus maintenance and technician national challenge in the near future,” said Laura Chasse, general manager of North American Bus Business at Cummins.
IMMI/SafeGuard will host an exclusive crash test experience for attendees at the company’s Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE). The facility is home to the world’s largest barrier block, into which IMMI has crashed not only school buses, but also commercial trucks, fire apparatus, motor coaches and train bumpers.
“IMMI is thrilled to partner with STN by offering the leaders in school transportation an exclusive opportunity to witness a safety demonstration which has never been seen before,” said Julie Cooley, director of marketing and corporate communications. “As the leader in child restraints worldwide, IMMI will provide guests with insight on how products are designed, engineered and tested, to meet and exceed safety regulations. It will be an event no one will want to miss.”
STN EXPO Indy will also feature the return of school bus maintenance expert Marshall Casey, who along with a team of trainers, will help STN launch a new national school bus inspection training program. Casey is the retired director of fleet services for the South Carolina Department of Education and is widely respected nationwide for his expertise in school bus technical issues. Casey developed the training from best practices he used in overseeing the maintenance of school buses in South Carolina, the only completely owned state fleet in the nation.
“Those who have taken this class suddenly realized when inspecting buses using this kind of program, that they are finding more defects prior to failure, [which allows] expedited repairs and a more efficient program,” Casey said. “Most people have not been fully trained to perform inspections, keeping in mind the dynamics of the vehicle as it travels down the road. They just rely on Department of Transportation guidance, but that’s not enough.”
The program includes eight hours of classroom instruction, as well as a written exam. It has already been implemented in South Carolina and Georgia. Casey has also consulted with a number of other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Texas, to develop similar training programs for inspectors.
STN EXPO Indy attendees will also take part in breakout sessions and roundtables, as well as general sessions and keynotes, networking events and the STN EXPO Trade Show. Attendees can apply for admission to the Transportation Director Summit, a sponsored leadership event that is specially designed for industry decision makers.
More details on conference education and events will be released later this year.