IMS attendance exceeds 7,500

More than 7,500 attendees filled the sold-out show floor at the IEEE MTT-S 2014 International Microwave Symposium (IMS) at the Tampa Convention Center June 1-6, marking the fourth consecutive year in which the percentage of first-time attendees topped 30%, according to show organizers, in data released last week. The event comprised a three-day exhibition and full schedule of 160 technical sessions, workshops, and panel sessions.

Organizers said the event welcomed RF designers, researchers, developers, and academics representing 50 countries, with the most participation coming from the United States (65%) and Germany (4%), with China, Japan, and Canada following closely with 3% each.

In an interview at the show, IMS2014 general chair Larry Dunleavy, Ph.D., said, “As a general impression I think we got a great response. I think that we heard positive comments all around. It seems to be a great venue, with people really enjoying themselves. They loved the Monday night kickoff celebration—it put a smile on everybody's face. Everything's running smoothly”—a contention backed up by show organizers' post-event report that show floor was sold out with 902 booths from 587 exhibitors, including 73 new exhibitors. In addition, 35% of attendees were first-time attendees, marking the fourth consecutive year in which first-time attendees.

In addition to exhibits and technical sessions, Dunleavy said, this year's symposium presented a record number of student design competitions. “There's been an uptick this year in focus on student-oriented activities and the younger generation—planting the seeds of the future.”

He noted that the student competition differs from the paper presentation format of typical IMS technical sessions. “You bring your circuit let the experts test it,” he said. “You bring your circuit—not your paper.” He noted that unfortunately one student group successfully tested out an amplifier in the university lab but “…when they hooked it up here it oscillated. They were trying to build an amplifier, but they built an oscillator. It's not the first time that's happened.”

He said IMS also reached out to bring Ph.D. candidates to the symposium who might not yet have a paper to present or funding in place otherwise to attend the event. He said of these students, “We want them to start embracing this conference early and planning to submit papers in the future.”

He noted that IMS was also sponsoring a STEM program, reaching out to teenagers or even students as young as 10 or 11. targeting 13 and over. More than 60 kids from the local area were expected to explore the tradeshow floor and have some fun” with hands-on activities, including searching the spectrum for signals at the booth of Agilent Technologies (which became Keysight Technologies on August 1). Organizers said the program integrated university and industry educational engagement with technical speakers, hands-on activities, informational tables and an exhibition tour. The STEM program will be returning next year.

Dunleavy's own engagement with IMS over the years outlines the various types of involvement people can have with IMS—from student to exhibitor. “At my first IMS in 1980 I presented my own Ph.D. work,” he said, “and then became a faculty member at the University of South Florida in 1990.” In fact one of his students won the original student competition, on power-amplifier design. Then in 2001 he started the company Modelithics, which involves him in the role of exhibitor—not to mention general chair.

Speaking in his role as exhibitor, Dunleavy said Modelithics was founded in 2001 to address the need for more accurate models to make simulation-based design actually work. “It's the missing link between all the great circuit simulators and EM simulators—you still need really accurate models for the components that are being used,” he said. “Our sweet spot is measurement-based models. We have other capabilities—we have EM analysis tools in house and so on. First of all we are measurement experts, and then we are also experts in being able to embed models within the various popular circuit simulators. Today we have represented in our library over 10,000 commercial microwave components. Sometimes people just want measurement services, and we do that too”—such as load pull and other advanced services that can supplement whatever in-house capabilities a customer may have.”

IMS2014 organizers reported that wireless was a hot topic on the show floor this year, with 11% of the total exhibitors indicating that wireless (Wi-Fi, WiMAX, UWB, or other) is the primary end product or service that they focus on in their work.

Dunleavy noted that this year’s ARFTG was combined with Florida’s IEEE Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference (WAMICON), offering broad technical coverage, enhanced paper and presentation opportunities, and a combined exhibitor area.

IMS2014 specifically highlighted women’s contributions to engineering, welcoming Intel Labs vice president and director of Integrated Computing Research (ICR) Dr. Vida Ilderem as the first female plenary speaker at IMS. In Addition, University of California, Davis, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi led the keynote session at WAMICON.

IMS moves to a new venue each year, which, Dunleavy said, keeps the event vibrant as each new locally based committee adds its own spin to develop fresh ideas. Upcoming events will be located in Phoenix, San Francisco, and Honolulu.

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