FF logoI’d normally be writing this week about COFES, the annual engineering software gathering in the Arizona desert, but I didn’t attend this year. Shocking, right? Instead, I played hookey to watch the best collegiate athletes in the US play hockey. Every year the US sports scene is entranced by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball playoffs, aka March Madness, leading to the Final Four games that crown the champion. Typically at the same time, so with less press coverage, is the NCAA hockey championship known as the Frozen Four. We’ve been going to the Frozen Four for over a decade now and every few years that event happens to overlap with COFES. In an embarrassment of riches, choices have to be made; I chose the Frozen Four which was held in Pittsburgh this year. Pittsburgh turned out to be terrific — welcoming, interesting and fun. Great food at the Penn Brewery, ginormous dinosaur bones at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and wonderous paintings at the neighboring Art Museum were just a couple of the highlights.

The Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh holds 18,000ish people for a hockey game. UMass Lowell, Quinnipiac, St. Cloud State and Yale advanced to the semifinals this year. Thousands of fans attend to support these schools but even more fans come regardless of which schools are playing. Picture thousands of people wandering the streets of Pittsburgh in our school’s jerseys (mine says Boston, and means the University not College. I can’t find an MIT hockey jersey or I would proudly wear that!). We see many of the same faces every year from New England, North Dakota, Minnesota, Alaska, Wisconsin and the rest of the hockey-playing US. Locals are often surprised to see us, but Pittsburgh is a hockey town so many people wanted to chat about the teams, the games and the event.

Of course, the hockey was stellar. I’m no sportswriter, so read here, here or here for great recaps. None of the four schools had never won the championship and, with the exception of Yale in 1952, hadn’t even made it to the Frozen Four. Play at this level has been dominated by Boston University, Boston College, Minnesota, North Dakota and other powerhouses; it was great to see new schools reach the Frozen Four. Most notable: Yale won the national championship in a world where college sports are feeders for the professional leagues and sports scholarships often determine which school an athlete chooses. Yale doesn’t award a single athletic scholarship. Their students truly are scholar/athletes and carry a heavy academic workload in addition to traveling for their sport. Makes their win even more impressive.

Enough with the hockey. OK, one more thing: If you find yourself in Philadelphia at about this time next year, do consider going to the Frozen Four. Wear a jersey or sweatshirt with your school logo — you’ll fit right in!

Of course, the engineering software world didn’t stop while I was in Pittsburgh so here are a few quick things you may have missed, too:

Hexagon acquired its Leica Geosystems distributor MANFRA in Brazil and, along with its Posição topography software for surveying. Hexagon says that MANFRA’s turnover in 2012 was approximately €7 million.

Bentley published its 2012 annual report last week, and you can find it here. As the company had previously announced, GAAP-based revenue was up 5% to $550 million. In constant currencies, revenue grew 8% while organic growth was 6 percent.

Still digging out the inbox, so there may be more …

Image courtesy NCAA.