New venue, manager, greater expectations Exhibit: The Maryland Technology Showcase expects more than 300 displays of high-tech goods and services at the convention center.

December 01, 1997|By Mark Ribbing | Mark Ribbing,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Technology Showcase, the state's annual exhibit of high-tech goods and services, is set to kick off this week with a new venue, a new managerial team and big expectations.

This year the showcase -- the third -- is moving to the Baltimore Convention Center, where it will stretch out over 240,000 square feet in three rooms. In addition, the state is using a private company, American Show Management Inc. of Portland, Ore., to manage and plan the show, which will have more than 300 exhibits, including displays devoted to education, career opportunities and online government services.

Organizers are expecting 8,000 people to attend the event on Wednesday and Thursday, compared with 6,000 who showed up in each of the previous two years at the University of Baltimore.

Dave Humphrey, a state government spokesman, said the showcase will be the largest technology exhibit in Maryland's history.

The showcase is intended to show off the technological accomplishments of Maryland businesses, schools, and government agencies.

The University of Maryland, College Park will have a robotics laboratory in the education pavilion. Maryland Public Television and the Public Broadcasting System are putting on a demonstration of high-definition television, a high-resolution digital technology that delivers extremely sharp images.

ISmart LLC, a computer reseller in Elkridge, will exhibit its USA-PC Trade-In Program, in which state agencies can trade in old computers for newer models, with the old machines donated to Maryland schools. "I'm just excited to present all the different technology to Maryland and to be a part of it," said Eric Stamper, ISmart account manager.

All of this is intended to help make Maryland as well known for computers as for crab cakes.

"Increasingly, people are talking about us as one of the states that are way out in front on technology," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

The showcase's organizers, including the Glendening administration, are hoping the event will help boost this profile.

"Part of this world is showmanship, showing what you've got, showing your strengths," Glendening said. "This is an opportunity to see how extensive our technological strengths are."

The governor said more than 134,000 high-technology jobs are in Maryland, and that "the fastest expansion of jobs in Maryland is in the technology area."

2,000 students expected

Major F. Riddick, Glendening's chief of staff and chairman of the showcase, said 2,000 primary and secondary school students are expected to attend the event, which he called a "hands-on" introduction to current technology.

"There are a lot of people who don't know where technology is going, or even where technology already is," Riddick said. "The showcase will display all of it better than anything else. It makes it real."

He said no state funds were used to pay for the showcase, other than expenditures by the departments that will display exhibits.

The event's chief sponsors are AT&T Corp., IBM Corp., Andersen Consulting and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Other national technology giants, such as Microsoft Corp., Siemens AG and Gateway 2000 Inc., will have exhibits.

Besides allowing Marylanders to glimpse the latest advances in technology, the showcase will allow vendors an opportunity to make deals.

'A significant event'

Peggy Disney, a spokeswoman for American Communications Systems Inc., a telecommunications company in Annapolis Junction, said: "It seems to be a significant event attended by top managers from the Maryland area. Certainly we're out to do some business, too."

The showcase, which will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, is free, although attendees must register in advance or at the door.

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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