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Industry News

Trending the Conference

May 8, 2011
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Around this time of year, i.e. MTT-S IMS season, I often find myself on one side or the other of the following question – “So, what’s new in the industry.” In actuality, the big picture does not really change much; communication systems (their devices and supporting infrastructure) are increasingly ubiquitous and defense systems are continually evolving in response to a complex and dangerous world.

If you Google "The more things change, the more they stay the same," you will learn that the phrase is attributed to Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr (or as he put it ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’). For Karr, turbulent changes did not affect reality on any deeper level other than to reinforce the status quo. So what is our status quo? I would say this year’s technology is expected to do more than it did last year…only for less money. And I am sure to be saying the same thing next year.

The meaningful part of the question “what’s new” is more about specifics; as in “What will be the improved power added efficiency with that low loss switch?” or “What is the state of the art in dynamic range for a spectrum analyzer?” and are either worth the extra cost. In addition to finding out about the latest research and technical advances, a good number of microwave professionals are equally interested in new products, market trends, applications, mergers and acquisitions, appointments, and who won what contract or got promoted. It is wise to take an interest in such developments. Technology makes our business possible and vice versa.

I have come to believe that one of the most valuable functions of IMS and the exhibition is to provide answers to the “what’s new” question, on all fronts. The technical program provides part of the answer in its organized workshops, panels and sessions. The remaining part is found in the exhibition hall, which is more akin to parallel processing or should I say, connecting to ‘the cloud.’ Information overload is inevitable.

Anticipating a large captive audience and the media spotlight, exhibitors usually schedule their major product releases right around this show. Absorbing all the “what’s new” information from over 500 exhibitors, on top of the technical program is a daunting if not impossible task. Our goal for this month’s IMS show issue editorial, as well as our series of show related electronic newsletters, exhibitor preview and dedicated IMS online show coverage is to provide readers with enough advance coverage to help them sort through all this information and prioritize that which is most important before heading to Baltimore.

For this issue, my predecessor Harlan Howe used to scribe his annual “Attending the Conference.” Playing off that title, we have solicited content that looks at industry trends heading into the conference. Trends are mapped with data points over time. And so we begin with our cover story based on the reflections of two well-known entrepreneurs who launched very successful microwave businesses in Maryland and were largely responsible for developing the region into a hotbed of filter companies.

Our show coverage also includes a welcome from this year’s conference chairs (IMS, RFIC and ARFTG) as well as pre-conference perspectives from industry and defense research – Opportunities and Challenges in 2011 by Greg Peters of Agilent and Microwave Technology Development at the Naval Research Lab by Jeff Pond of NRL.

IMS is made up of many events within the event and so we have asked the organizers of this year’s MicroApps and the ‘Women in Engineering Reception’ to provide a preview. Speaking of MicroApps, the Journal is pleased to be co-organizing the MicroApps marquee event and keynote, an expert panel on nonlinear device characterization featuring an open forum with presenters from Agilent, Anritsu, Rohde & Schwarz/NMDG and Tektronix/Mesuro. Advances in measurement equipment and nonlinear modeling promise to make this event educational and lively. The Journal will cover the action via a live webcast so that even those not attending IMS will be able to watch and participate in the Q&A.

For your guide to exhibiting companies and new products, we feature the complete exhibitor listing with an index to their ad location in the issue and the new products section is exclusively dedicated to items you will find at the show. The exhibitor listing, new product section and advertisements placed throughout this issue undoubtedly represent the most comprehensive pre-show snapshot of who’s introducing “what’s new.”

With the IMS technical program available online and printed in the conference guide, it would be redundant to publish the schedule in this issue. The same is true for a guide to tourist spots and restaurants in the host city, where the Internet can provide a more comprehensive list. Removing these items has created space for us to do what we do best—deliver show and industry related content and perspective. I hope you find this month’s special editorial insightful, informative and even entertaining (check out the animated MTT-Stories). We began implementing these changes a few years ago, and I am confident that it has been a worthwhile disruption to the status quo.

As engineers, you make your livelihood from being inventive. You should expect no less from your reading material. How we access and absorb information was forever changed by the Internet. We at the Journal are constantly thinking of new ways to utilize all forms of media; each has a particular strength. So look for our IMS related newsletters in your e-mail, visit our website for online show coverage and take the next three weeks to leisurely read your show issue, hopefully cover to cover. Then you will be better prepared to discover what is most significant to you from among all the “what’s new.” As Robert Gallagher said, “Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine.” You might as well be ready for it. Safe travels and I will see you in Baltimore.

Recent Articles by David Vye, Editor, Microwave Journal

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