Once again, the American Society of Baking (ASB) will host its annual BakingTech conference at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago, IL. The 2012 event, to be held March 4-7, promises to blend traditional content with new ideas under the theme “Rise Up: Community, Company, Industry, Self.”

“For the 2012 BakingTech program, we really have taken to heart the requests of the membership of the society,” said Tom McCurry, Cain Food Industries, this year’s Program Committee chairman. “The loudest feedback we received after the last few programs was a request for more education, more papers. In 2012, we will deliver a program that will really answer that request.”

Part of that answer is an increase in breakout sessions. From 1:45 to 3:45 p.m. Monday, March 5, attendees can choose between Old School sessions including “Oven Energy Reduction,” “Manage Dough Temps” and “Reducing Changeover Cycle Times”; Niche Products/Baking sessions covering “How to Make a Niche Product on Existing Equipment,” “Gluten-Free Production” and “Ancient Grains”; and Engineering papers examining “Team Development,” “What Does a Bakery Engineer Do” and “Problem Solving.”

Breakouts will continue on Tuesday, March 6, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. with Today’s Bakery, offering “Building Envelope” and “ROI — Sustainability.” Attendees wanting to know more about ingredients can attend “Sweeteners Technology — All the New Choices” and “New Enzymes Technology,” and those interested in safety and sanitation can choose “Where is BISSC Going?,” “Traceability” and “How to Make Sense of the Food Safety and Sanitation Alphabet.” There will also be a Logistics/Supply Chain session on “Logistics Software RFID on Trays — A Case Study Managing the Co-packing Process.”

This year’s keynote addresses will focus on education as well as entertainment. “This is another chance to give the membership what they want with additional learning experiences,” Mr. McCurry said. “I am really excited about this redirect and how it expands the program to fit our ‘Rise Up’ theme.”

The opening general session from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday will include a keynote address from David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group. One of America’s foremost authorities on communication inside organizations, Mr. Grossman works with Fortune 500 companies to improve strategic internal communication to engage employees and drive performance.

Paul White, PhD, will deliver another keynote address at 12:45 p.m. on Monday. Dr. White is a psychologist, author and consultant who specializes in making work relationships work. He is coauthor, with Gary Chapman, PhD, of the recently released book <i>The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace</i>.

At 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, attendees can hear Klaus Tenbergen, PhD, deliver another keynote address. A baker since 1977, Dr. Tenbergen is an assistant professor in the department of food science and nutrition at California State University, Fresno, CA. He teaches hands-on courses in the Culinology program, which he leads as its director, focusing on multiple culinary and scientific areas.

Tuesday’s program will also feature a special section from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Market Demographics. Topics include “How is the Ethnic Market Changing?,” “Generational Consumer: iNow Generation of iWant-it-now” and “Non-traditional Retail Outlets — Not Just the Supermarket/Grocery Store.”

“I am looking forward to seeing the faces and hearing the comments of our members as they leave each session, which is intended to energize them like never before,” said Jeff Dearduff, 2011-12 ASB chairman. “I am hopeful that we truly bring the importance of Industry, Workplace, Community and Self into focus for each member who choses to join us in March.”

This year’s BakingTech will revert to the tried-and-true format of the MarketPlace networking and exhibition sessions, with three traditional tabletop sessions from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The deadline for early registration is Feb. 3. Registration is now open at www.asbe.org, where attendees will also find updates to the schedule and speaker lineup. Registration is also available for the March 6 Allied Trades of the Baking Industry (ATBI) Early Bird Breakfast, during which Alan Williams, author of Teammates Matter, will explore the qualities and character needed to be a valued team member in today’s competitive world.

“I think we have created a program that really takes into account what the membership has called for by increasing the amount of papers and the types of presentations that will be given,” Mr. McCurry said. “It really should draw a great crowd for the Best Week in Baking.”