SEATTLE – Where were you on the night of August 5, 2012? At this time the Curiosity Rover was landing on Mars.

NASA’s Adam Steltzner was in charge of the landing, and he described his experiences at the ASQ World Conference. A new “sky crane” technology was used to land the rover, which was about the size of a small car. In addition to providing beautiful images of Mars, he also offered practical advice about how to get along better with coworkers. (“Find something to love about each of them.”)

Space exploration and innovation were a few of the big topics covered this year at the ASQ World Conference. A range of sessions touched on quality in the digital age, disruption, and Industry 4.0, along with quality culture, risk management, and standards. And of course robots made an appearance. During his keynote, John McElligot of York Exponential taught an audience member how to program a robot on stage.

No matter how much technology changes, some quality topics remain important year after year. One of these is the culture of an organization. Kathy Lyall of Whirlpool, who was speaking for the fourth time at the event, described how the vision and mission statement should match perceptions of the company.

Even a ladder accident the previous week didn’t stop Boeing’s Alan Daniels from presenting. As part of his work with the International Aerospace Quality Group, Daniels described how quality standards are needed to adapt to a changing world, and said that it helps to always be audit-ready.

Next year’s event will be held May 20-22 in Fort Worth, Texas.