Legos, drones, rockets, and baseball: sounds like a kid’s dream come true, right? Or, what about topics covered at a full-day tech conference? At Centric Consulting, it’s both.

Last week, Centric hosted their ninth CampIO, an annual full-day tech conference, where employees learned how to use facial recognition software on drones, build a computer program to find cheap Lego pieces, predict baseball scores using machine learning, get a bottle rocket to soar 500 feet into the air, and much more. The idea was to get Centric employees and experts excited about innovation, inspiring both the technologist, and the kid, in all of them.

“This year’s CampIO was an absolute success,” said Centric Consulting President Larry English. “I am always blown away by deeply intelligent people that we have in the company and their depth of knowledge in technology. It always inspires me.”

Centric created CampIO in 2010 as an outlet for consultants to convene and share insights on new and exciting technology that they weren’t necessarily working on at client sites. While the format of CampIO — a day of tech presentations preceding the company’s annual Summer Meeting — hasn’t changed much since its inception in 2010, the amount of presentations has increased, and the audience now represents a wider cross-section of the company.

“The push our company has been making is around innovation,” English said. “Technology is changing so fast, we need people to be leading the market as thought leaders. It is important that we do this, that we are exploring the new things that we can bring to our clients.”

This Year’s CampIO Tech Talks

At CampIO this year, 12 employees gave presentations, while more than 150 people joined in the audience. The day flowed with the witty banter of first-time MC Claire Van Fossen, software developer from the Seattle Business Unit, who enjoyed leading the show.

“MCing was super fun! CampIO is definitely the place to test out being on stage since it’s a very chill day/program,” she said. “I hope I get to do it again next year!”

During the conference, the audience kept abuzz on the new company-wide social communication app, Whova, sharing thoughts about the day and also live tweeting commentary on their favorite presentations.

“How about skyscrapers in the virtual world?” tweeted Cleveland Practice Lead Kevin Bracy in response to Brain Schwartz’s presentation, “Design for Developers.” “#Architecture and #Design are just as important to your applications as they are to buildings in the physical world.”

“I tested out of math for college and never looked back!” tweeted Senior Manager Raquel Richardson during Carmen Fontana’s spiel on deep learning. “#DeepLearning #lotsofmath, and I agree that #cats are awesome.”

As the audience interacted on social media, they were also able to cast votes for the best presentations. Crowd favorites included “,” “Deep Learning,” and “Image Recognition with Drones,” but it was Columbus software architect Joe Setiabudi’s exposition on “Building Legos on the Cheap” that took home the coveted CampIO Excellence Award.

He taught the audience how to use a computer program to identify all the individual Lego pieces needed to build a full Lego piece, sort through all the pieces you currently own, and find where you can buy the individual pieces you may need to build specific models. This approach makes it much cheaper to put together models like the Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego set – which sells for upward of $800 on eBay – and the audience loved every minute of it.

“I was not expecting at all to win – since my talk was not technical or has very little with Centric tech – and other speakers were top notch,” Setiabudi said in regards to winning the Excellence Award. “But, I was glad to win – it also shows a lot of support from Centric community and how awesome it is to be involved in Centric tech group.”

Let the Planning Begin for Next Year’s CampIO

As they begin to make plans for next year’s CampIO, Van Fossen said she is most looking forward to the collaboration and sense of community that comes with it, especially as an employee of a virtual company where employees don’t often get the opportunity to come together.

“Camp IO, like the summer meeting as a whole, is a great way to meet fellow Centric techies with similar interests in person,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun (to me at least) to sit at a table and discuss all the possible projects that could happen across business units, using the new technologies that are talked about in Camp IO.”