Technical Tours to Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Baltimore

As seasoned veterans of ASSE's PDC & Expo know, one of the ways to get the most out of the annual event while simultaneously upping its educational ante and broadening horizons in a personal, memorable way, is to participate in one or more of the technical tours organizers have gone to sometimes significant trouble to set up. It's also a way to see more of the host city than its convention center, usually in a behind-the-scenes way. Those veterans will be pleased with this year's eight opportunities in Baltimore -- especially if they were in-the-know enough to sign up for the two tours that have, according to the ASSE website, already sold out.

As usual, the lineup of sites participants can visit this year is extremely variegated. The two sold-out tours, both happening Wednesday, June 16, include a trip to the John Paul Reed Smith Guitar Manufacturing Site, where craftsmen will detail the safety processes involved in transforming a block of wood into an instrument worth $20K or more, and a tour of the USNS Comfort medical treatment facility. The Comfort is one of only two military ships that respond to world crisis situations to provide medical aid.

The remaining six tours -- three on Monday, June 14, and three on Tuesday, June 15 -- still have space, as of this writing. Monday's outings include a trip to Wheelabrator of Baltimore, a facility that takes 250 tons of trash and turns it into energy every day. The Wheelabrator bus will depart from the Baltimore Convention Center for the facility at 9:15 a.m., which is the same scheduled departure time as the tour heading to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, an outing designed to show the safety standard operating procedures for Space Department operations, including a guided peek into a hazardous waste storage facility and a test facility where auto crash and potential high-pressure testing is done. The third Monday tour, scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., is to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), where participants will experience the state's emergency operations center in a hands-on way.

Tuesday's technical tours include a morning outing to Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles. The tour will includes all areas of the park, including suites and press boxes, as well as a discussion about safety and the evacuation procedures for large events. (This tour will happen again on Wednesday at the same time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:20 a.m.) The other two Tuesday trips also take place in the morning, one to the Clark Construction Site at Johns Hopkins Medical Campus and the other to Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems for a look at the defense contractor's safety practices and procedures, as well as the radar, communication, and electronic countermeasures equipment at this VPP Star site.

All technical tours have limited capacity and except for the ones to Camden Yards require a $30 advance payment per person. No cameras, video, or other recording devices are permitted. For more details and registration, go to

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