Welcome to the calm before the storm. The Mobile World Congress and CTIA Wireless shows are behind us. The International Microwave Symposium (or MTT as us old school people call it) looms on the horizon. I imagine most of you with exhibition responsibilities are busy hammering out details right about now. For the past three weeks I've been fully immersed in preparing contributions for our May IMS Show issue while the other Journal editors have been putting the wraps on our April issue.

In preparing for May, I have become somewhat of an expert in the history of the microwave industry in Maryland, home to this year’s event. Did you know that the radar system that successfully detected the attack on Pearl Harbor (but was ignored) was mainly designed and manufactured by Westinghouse in Maryland? Westinghouse was a Maryland based defense contractor for 57 years before it was sold in 1995. It’s now part of Northrop Grumman. Did you know that filter guru Leo Young was a graduate student at John Hopkins in Maryland and worked briefly for Westinghouse? Is there a connection between these random facts and the half dozen microwave component companies that have set up shop in the region? This topic was among the many discussed in this month’s cover story: a conversation with the Maryland entrepreneurs who founded K&L Microwave and Reactel – Dick Bernstein and Manny Assurian.

In the Journal we mostly talk technology, but without the right business sense, much of what our industry has achieved would never see the light of day. So it is appropriate, especially when we are focusing our attention on the world’s largest exhibition of commercial microwave vendors, that we examine the business of our industry. And for all our interest in technology, most rank and file engineers that I know are very concerned with business, at least how it impacts their own company’s welfare and related job security. And so, our cover story provides a fascinating look at how such opportunities have been created in one area, the value of hard work and loyalty and the impact of globalization on businesses and jobs today. Dick, Manny and their sons share with us some insightful stories on what it takes to launch a business and keep it flying through good times and bad.

Other show related coverage includes three perspectives on the state of the industry from a leading defense R&D lab in the Baltimore area, a test and measurement equipment provider and an RF semiconductor manufacturer. These perspectives nicely complement our annual contributions from the three conference chairs (IMS, RIFC and ARFTG) on the technical portion of the symposium. In May, we take a little stab at some microwave story-telling with the premier of our graphic mini-novel – “MTT-Stories”. I won’t give away the details here, but look for it in May and hopefully show attendees will help us collect new material for the second installment – “The IMS Wrap-up”. We round out our show coverage with a complete exhibitor listing, with advertisers highlighted in bold text of course. As the largest issue of the year (thanks to your support), we will be able to include a greater number of technical articles and product features, so that MWJ readers who are not attending or interested in IMS will still have plenty to peruse.

June – Our June issue hits the streets the week after IMS, when the industry is still buzzing from the show. This is a great opportunity to reinforce your message by keeping your company’s name and products in front of the people you had meetings with the week before. Editorially we focus on RF/microwave semiconductors, MMICs and RFICs, an area that is always at the forefront of development and business. This year, we will feature a look at the engineering behind developing MMICs and RFICs with our cover story based on a design team case study from M/A-COM Technology Solutions. In a special report from Endwave/Gigoptix, we take a look at the evolving state of application specific, multi-function MMICs and their highly integrated and complex package/module/interconnect technologies. We also have an invited paper from the IBM Silicon fab in Burlington, Vermont on “RFSOI Solutions as a Platform for Wireless Front-End Applications”. IBM processes chips for a number of leading microwave companies, so we are very pleased to hear directly from the foundry technologists about their process roadmap and what it means for designers.

July – This is our annual RF/Microwave Software and Design issue. This year we will focus on the EMC/EMI challenges for applications such as automotive electronics in the days of mobile internet connectivity, GPS and telematics. For this topic, we are soliciting input from several CAD vendors as well as some test and measurement providers. At Mobile World Congress in 2010, Qualcomm and Audi announced that the companies were collaborating to build a 'Wi-Fi enabled' car. The new Audi A8 will feature the Mobile Media Interface Plus in-car navigation system, which will act as a mobile "hotspot", enabling passengers to connect Wi-Fi enabled devices to the internet for real-time route planning, finding location-specific points of interest or local restaurant reviews, as well as up-to-the-minute traffic information. If a gizmo goes into an Audi A8 one year, we can safely predict that a cheaper version of that gizmo will eventually be standard capability in all cars as soon as the price of the technology is brought down. With that in mind, we believe this is a golden business opportunity for front-end chip and antenna manufacturers as well as all the test and simulation technology that supports these designers. So we are happy to investigate what is going on in this area. This issue will also be distributed at the annual IEEE EMC Show, where engineers have been looking into these challenges for several years now. So how’s that for timing.