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A Look at the European Microwave Association

September 12, 2011
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Professor Heinrich received the Dipl.-Ing., Dr.-Ing. and habilitation degrees in 1982, 1987, and 1992, respectively, from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. Since 1993, he has been with the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut (FBH), Berlin, Germany, where he is head of the microwave department and deputy director of the institute. Since 2008, he has also been professor at the Technical University of Berlin. His present research activities focus on MMIC design with emphasis on GaN power amplifiers, mm-wave packaging, and electromagnetic simulation. Heinrich was General Chair of the 2007 European Microwave Week in Munich, Germany. He became President of the European Microwave Association on 1 January 2010, in succession to the retiring President, Professor Roberto Sorrentino. He is the Chairman of the EuMA General Assembly and the Board of Directors.

MWJ: Please give a brief history of the European Microwave Association (EuMA).

Heinrich: EuMA was founded in 1998, at a time when the European Microwave Conference (EuMC) was at risk due to decreasing attendance to the conference itself, allied to a fading exhibition. The main purpose and focus then was to take over the organisation and revitalize the conference. Since then, EuMA has been successful in establishing European Microwave Week (EuMW) as the premier microwave conference and exhibition in Europe.

MWJ: What are EuMA’s main aims?

Heinrich: As my answer to the previous question illustrates, the running of EuMW has been the major objective from the very beginning. However, the aims of EuMA go far beyond conference organisation. These aims are summed up in the Association’s statutes, which cite the objectives of EuMA as: “Promoting European microwaves, networking and uniting microwave scientists and engineers in Europe, providing a single voice for European microwave scientists and engineers in Europe, and last but not least: promoting public awareness and appreciation of microwaves.”

MWJ: Explain briefly, who is eligible to become a Member?

Heinrich: Our scope is wide in this regard. Anybody who is professionally engaged in RF and microwaves may apply to join EuMA. This includes students and those who are retired.

MWJ: You became President of EuMA in 2010. What attracted you to the role and has the reality matched your expectations?

Heinrich: I became more closely involved with EuMA when I was the General Chair of European Microwave Week 2007 in Munich. It was a very valuable and motivating experience for me, and I was attracted to continue to work on EuMW and to develop it further. In my opinion, the European microwave community has strengthened over recent years and EuMA can play an important role in this process, which is what attracted me to run for President. Did reality match my expectations? Well, I would say yes, though honestly speaking one and a half years is not really long enough to draw definite conclusions.

MWJ: You are head of the microwave department and deputy director of the Ferdinand-Braun-Institut in Berlin and a Professor at the Technical University of Berlin? Are you able to contribute as much as you would like academically now that you are EuMA President?

Heinrich: All the different roles you mention comprise more than what one would call pure academic work, and I do like this variety in my job description. This is true for my EuMA activities as well and, therefore, I do not think my scientific contributions have suffered.

MWJ: What role does EuMA play on the world stage and how important is international cooperation and dialogue?

Heinrich: The microwave community is an international one and, therefore, transnational cooperation and relations are a cornerstone of EuMA activities. The Association takes its role as the voice of the European microwave community seriously and, in my experience, it is respected for that.

MWJ: How important is European Microwave Week to EuMA?

Heinrich: I think the answer to that is clear from what I have already said: EuMW was more or less the reason why EuMA was founded and it is still its most important asset.

MWJ: How has EuMW progressed in recent years and how do you see it evolving in the future?

Heinrich: EuMW has developed steadily over recent years, and been incredibly stable during the economic crisis. The organising teams and EuMA have worked on scientific and technical quality. I think this has paid off and we will continue to follow this track. However, we have to continue to work on the profile of EuMW. One step was to merge the European Wireless Conference into EuMC this year, and to use the new degrees of freedom for a Special Event on Defence and Security.

MWJ: At a time when the downturn in the economy, particularly in Europe, is impacting on industry and research, what is EuMA actively doing to try to make a difference in the RF and microwaves sector?

Heinrich: Honestly speaking, as EuMA we cannot do anything to combat the economic downturn and its influence on the microwave industry and the academic world! In contrast, we are affected because, of course, cuts in funding may result in reduced attendance at conferences and exhibitions. However, sometimes companies use times of economic weakness to increase research activities. Then, we can assist in providing a forum for exchange and networking, but the effect of this is limited I am afraid.

MWJ: How is the Association managing to change with the times and, in particular, making sure that it is engaging with the younger generation?

Heinrich: Keeping your profile and your activities up-to-date is one thing. This is a continuous process that needs significant attention. This is true for EuMW, for instance. Getting the younger generation on board is a different issue. Put simply, one must ensure that there is a good average age of participants in the committees and steering bodies. We are making progress in this regard though there is still a lot to do.

MWJ: What key issues would you like to see EuMA addressing in the near future and how do you see the Association evolving?

Heinrich: Clearly, EuMW is our key asset and will be so in the future. But, EuMA mission goes beyond the Week: The Association should be the European forum and umbrella for microwave activities. This is the target we have to align our portfolio of activities and services to now and in the future.

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