"Scientists prefer to meet in physical events"

Interview with Prof. Magd Abdel Wahab, Chairman of the 9th International Conference on Fracture Fatigue and Wear (FFW 2021)

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you have decided to host the FFW Conference, which was supposed to take place in Ghent, virtually. What sparked the decision to host an online event instead of postponing the in-person Conference to a later date?

The restrictions in international travelling due to COVID-19 are the main reasons to switch FFW 2021 from physical to virtual conference. At the time of taking this decision in February 2021, it was not obvious whether postponing the physical event to a later date was feasible or not.

How had the planning and organisation for a virtual event to be changed?

The booking of the hotel where the physical event was cancelled. Potential participants have been informed that the conference will take place online through MS Teams.

Can you give us an impression of what the virtual Conference will look like for attendees?

The online FFW 2021 consists of three parts: 1) publication of papers in the conference proceedings, 2) online presentation of papers at the time of the conference via MS Teams, and 3) a pre-recorded video or ppt/pdf presentation with audio, which is posted online and used for the evaluation of best presentation award.

Going back to large in-person events will take some time to get used to. Are you concerned this may affect the number of attendees in the future?

Sure, I am very concerned. I noticed a significant drop in the number of participants in FFW 2021 compared to FFW conferences in the last few years, when physical conferences were possible.

The MICE industry has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do you think this will change our industry, and what measures can be taken, in your opinion?

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 Pandemic has negatively affected the MICE industry. Scientists prefer to travel and meet their international colleagues in a physical event rather than from behind their computers.