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STAREAST Conference from an insider perspective

From technical testing techniques to communication tips, the most recent STAREAST Conference had something for everyone. Expert attendee Gerie Owen shares her perspective.

The STAREAST Conference was held May 1 to 6, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. About all things testing, it is one of the premier testing and quality assurance conferences in the United States. This conference offered many informative sessions and exciting networking opportunities for everyone from the novice tester to the most seasoned test manager. This year's theme focused on storytelling. The week began with two- and three-day certification classes in Agile testing, as well as training on specific tools including Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Load Runner, Microsoft's Visual Studio and Python.  

Half- and full-day tutorials followed on Monday and Tuesday. Topics ranged from technical tool-driven techniques to innovative test skills to communication and test management skills, and all were presented by the thought leaders of the testing industry. Technical topics included test automation by Dorothy Graham, Bob Galen and Jeff Morgan and testing the Internet of Things (IoT) by Jon Hagar. Testers had the opportunity to sharpen their skills in tutorials including critical thinking presented by Michael Bolton and usability testing by Rob Sabourin. Julie Gardiner offered an in-depth tutorial on applying emotional intelligence in testing.

The STAREAST conference opened on Wednesday, May 4 with a wide variety of tracks including test management, test techniques, test automation, Agile and DevOps, and IoT. David Dang presented a keynote on open source automation. The audience not only learned how to determine if open source automation tools are right for their organizations and how to choose the appropriate tools, but also listened to David's stories of his experiences. Jeffery Payne presented a track session in which the audience was introduced to several organizational models for test management in Agile. The day ended with Lee Copeland's Lightning Strikes the Keynotes. During this forum, each keynote presenter gave a five-minute talk on a testing topic of their choice. The topics ranged from risk-based testing to storytelling; it was not only informative, but enjoyable.

On Thursday, Isabel Evans presented the opening keynote "Telling Our Testing Stories." Using ancient stories and hand-drawn pictures, Isabel showed testers how to present testing results and information on quality to our many audiences including project management, business stakeholders and senior managers. Thursday's track sessions included mobile testing, metrics, special topics including customer experience and data profiling, as well as personal excellence. Marjana Shammi gave a presentation on usability mapping during which she used her own journey from Amsterdam as an example. 

The STAREAST conference also featured a wide array of technical presentations from vendors including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Gallop Solutions, Capgemini, Dynatrace, and Tricentis. New this year, was the addition of Bonus Breakfast Sessions with presentations by TCS and CA Technologies. The final day of the conference included not only the leadership summit, but also a meeting of the organization Women Who Test.

Women Who Test was a full-day event, presented at no additional charge for women to network with other women in testing. Developed by Allison Wade, this program included presentations on personal growth and career journeys, such as Design Your Life, presented by Jamie Newberry, and Building your Personal Brand, presented by Jennifer Bonine. It also featured presentations on influence and communication when you are the only female in the room. The Women Who Test event was initially offered at STARWEST 2015, and, due to its success, it is likely to become a feature at future STAR conferences.

STAREAST offered not only an exciting and varied schedule of presentations, but also offered the opportunities to get to know and talk in depth with the speakers at Meet the Speakers Lunch. At this event, the speakers sat at various tables and conference delegates could choose their table based on personal interest. Presenters One-On-One offered 15-minute consultations with speakers, which were very informative. With over 1,000 test professionals in attendance, the STAREAST Conference is one of the more popular software testing events in the United States.

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