FAQ about the Silicon Valley Automotive Open Source Group

For Presenters

Q: How do you find potential speakers?

A: Some volunteer, and some we learn about through news media, conferences and conference proceedings, academic journals, social media, podcasts or acquaintances.

Q: Can I or my colleague speak about XXX?

A: Is XXX related to automotive technology or intelligent transportation systems? Or perhaps related to legal, policy or history of automotive technology or ITS? And you're willing to speak in person for free, on a weeknight in the San Francisco Bay Area? Note that facility tours or technology demos are even better than presentations. See the list of previous meetups for some examples.

Q: What are qualifications for speakers?

A: Do you know more about an appropriate topic than the audience, and are you credibly able to produce an informative and entertaining talk?

Q: Can I mention my company's product?

A: Certainly, as long as it's relevant to the talk topic and the presentation is not a flat-out sales pitch.

Q: How long should a presentation be?

A: Our audiences ask a lot of questions, so usually about 40 minutes is best, as the resulting presentation will be in total be about an hour.

Q: I'd like to present, but don't want to take the whole hour?

A: Let us know and we can organize a split bill or a panel discussion.

Q: I don't want to speak, but I'd like to display a demo.

A: Please do before the main speaker. I recommend staging your demo near the refreshments for maximum exposure. Show up early, as early attendees will then be all yours.

Q: I don't want to speak, but I'd like to make an announcement.

A: Anyone is relevant to make an announcement at the start of each meeting.

Q: Who is the audience?

A: Members need not explain themselves in order to participate, so we only know when people self-identify. People who have done so may be working in the auto industry, working in other tech fields, entrepreneurs, retirees, venture capitalists, IP attorneys, regulators, individual software developers, faculty, students, unemployed or overseas visitors.

Q: What technical level is appropriate for the presentation?

A: It varies. As long as the talk title and abstract are an accurate description of the presentation, attendees will self-select. SVAOS draws decent audiences for business, technical and regulatory/cultural talks.

Q: What about a scooter, electric bike, smart skateboard, truck, bus, autonomous shopping cart . . . talk?

A: Certainly. We once had a successful event that featured smart wheelchairs.

For Facility Hosts and Underwriters

Q: How large a facility is needed?

A: SVAOS has met everywhere from auditoriums to rooms seating 50. For facility tours, a capacity of 10 or 15 is fine.

Q: What should we plan to provide?

A: A room with a projector and chairs. Refreshments are suggested, as they increase attendance, and blank adhesive name badges are great if they're readily available.

Q: Is it okay to present a little bit about our company or product?

A: It's encouraged. If hosts want to present for more than 10 minutes, we should consider a separate event.

Q: Is it a problem that our facility can only admit attendees who preregister with full names, or attendees who show ID?

A: It's fine as long as we add this requirement to the announcement before opening registration.

Q: We have no facility to offer, but we'd like to underwrite a meeting.

A: Corporate sponsors are welcome to underwrite refreshments at a meeting hosted by another entity, such as a student group, which has no funds for refreshments.

For Organizers of other events

Q: Could we offer the event we've already planned as a joint meeting with SVAOS?

A: As long as the event meets the other stated criteria (on-topic, in Bay Area, reasonably priced), it's fine.

Q: Can we announce our upcoming conference on the mailing list?

A: Any group member can post to the list. Please keep announcements on-topic, as previously described, and limit to one per event.

Q: Can we announce our upcoming conference at a meeting?

A: Please do.

For Everyone

Q: What is the usual schedule for meetups?

A: Typically, doors at the venue open at 6 and light refreshments are on at 6:30. The formal meeting begins with a few minutes of announcements at 7. We usually vacate the facility by 8:30. These times are all flexible. Indeed, we once held an event at a car dealership on a Saturday.

Q: Why aren't there videos or live streams of the talks?

A: Because we need a volunteer to create and post them, and no one has come forward.

Q: You must be making a lot of money on these events!

A: 100% of the door fees goes directly to student groups (except meetup.com and PayPal charges) usually the Formula SAE Spartan Racing Team at San Jose State University.

Q: Can members suggest or organize meetings?

A: Sure, as long as they're on topic (about automotive or intelligent transportation) and in the Bay Area and reasonably priced. Examples: book discussion, short course, happy hour, luncheon, lightning talks, picnic, hackathon, poster fair.

Q: What is the Group's purpose?


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