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The History And Evolution of European Microwave Week

As European Microwave Week (EuMW) returns to its inaugural host city of Amsterdam, we would like to take the opportunity to outline the history of EuMW, the role of the European Microwave Association (EuMA) and the latest developments. The story starts with Peter Clarricoats who, on joining GEC in 1953, began work on microwave ferrite devices and continued to do so when entering the university arena in 1959. However, at that time, there was also interest in gaseous plasmas in the context of the re-entry of manned space vehicles that lost communication signals during a critical period. There was a suggestion that the application of a magnetic field could, as with ferrites, change the properties of the plasma and allow signals to propagate and communication to be restored.

Because of the similarities between ferrites and plasmas, Clarricoats suggested to the IEE, now the IET, that an international conference should be held. In the early 1960s, an international conference was a totally new idea for the IEE, but Clarricoats’ powers of persuasion prevailed, and he organised and chaired the International Conference on Ferrimagnetics and Plasmas. It was a success, attracting some of the most famous microwave names of the day from both the US and Europe.

In 1967, when the IEE committee came to review the concept of a second conference on ferrimagnetics and plasmas, Clarricoats suggested that they should hold an International Microwave Conference instead. Another member of the committee, Eric Ash, went a stage further and suggested a European Microwave Conference. The Committee Chairman and natural microwave leader in the UK at that time was Professor Harold Barlow of University College London, and he was designated as Conference Chairman. Later, Ash became co-chairman. The members of the Organising Committee represented various institutions, with large numbers of corresponding members, resulting in an impressive group of individuals. The opening ceremony of the 1st European Microwave Conference (EuMC) was held in September 1969 at the IEE, Savoy Place, London (see Figure 1). Interestingly, the conference fees were £15 for members of sponsoring bodies for the five-day conference.1

The conference was a success and the IEE made the decision to take the next EuMC to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1971. It is worth mentioning that in those days there were two chairmen: the General Chairman and the TPC Chairman. The former took care of everything, including the receptions, general organization, hotels, etc., while the TPC Chairman was, together with his committee, in charge of the ‘scientific part’ — evaluating the paper submissions, selecting the accepted papers, organizing sessions, appointing session chairs, etc.

Figure 1 The first EuMC handbook from 1969.

During the conference in Stockholm, it was proposed to host the EuMC in Brussels, Belgium, in 1973. R. Marriott offered its services to set up an exhibition and organize the conference, which came to fruition in Montreux, Switzerland, in 1974, and is described in detail in this referenced article.2 The EuMC had now become an annual event and was organized with the support of a professional conference manager (MEPL), in association with an exhibition of manufacturers of microwave components, systems and test equipment.

Looking back, it is amazing to see how just a few dedicated people were able to set up the EuMC, especially when you realise that in Brussels in 1973 there were more than 700 registrants. The EuMC was very successful, very quickly. When we consider that today European Microwave Week attracts around 4,500 attendees — delegates, exhibitors and visitors — it is even more successful now.

There are certainly many reasons for such success. Besides, of course, the importance of microwave research and industries in Europe, one reason is certainly that the founders of the EuMC based the organizing structure of the conference, i.e. its Management Committee, on a strong and wide European representation, with members selected by a variety of organizations such as national societies, national committees of URSI and IEEE/MTT Society chapters.3 The other key to its success is the combination of a high level and selective scientific conference with a technical exhibition, that was originally held every second year in conjunction with the EuMC.

A somewhat declining period began in the early 1990s with the reduction of investments in the military sector worldwide. After Roger Marriott withdrew and the professional organization of EuMC was put in the hands of other companies, the attendance started to decrease.

In 1995 the EuMC was held in Bologna, Italy, under the efficient chairmanship of Vittorio Rizzoli, but with virtually no exhibition. The Management Committee (MC) then decided to take suitable actions for the revival of the conference. It thus appointed a task force made up of four people (Vander Vorst, Raisanen, Madjar and Landstorfer) who drew the lines for putting the EuMC back on track and strengthening its role. Basically, a six-member Steering Committee (StC) to be elected by the MC (with one exception) was established as a more agile governing body; the EuMC was to be held only in five large European cities/countries with a significant microwave industry.

One member of the first StC was to be appointed by the Administrative Committee of the IEEE MTT Society, with the scope of establishing a good cooperation with MTT.

The first StC was formed in summer 1996. Leo Ligthart, Asher Madjar, Holger Meinel, Steve Nightingale and Roberto Sorrentino, the last as the Chairman, were elected by the MC, while Rolf Jansen was appointed by MTT. He resigned after one year and was replaced by André Vander Vorst.

One of the significant initiatives agreed by the MC was to organize a European Microwave Week, the core being the EuMC. The first European Microwave Week was held in Amsterdam in 1998 by adding to the well established EuMC two additional conferences in related areas, the Gallium Arsenide Application Symposium (GAAS) and European Wireless. After 10 years EuMW is recognized as the most important microwave event in Europe and the second in the world. It presently comprises the European Microwave Conference, the European Microwave Integrated Circuits Conference, organized in collaboration with the GAAS Association, the European Wireless Technology Conference, organized in collaboration with the IEEE-MTT Society, and the European Radar Conference, as well as tutorials, workshops and the European Microwave Exhibition.

EuMW is organized on a five-year cycle throughout Europe. The IQPC Military Radar Conference will be collocated with the EuMW in Amsterdam in 2008 and Horizon House is organizing the event, in conjunction with the EuMA, for the sixth year.

The minutes of the StC meeting held in Munich, Germany, on 25 January 1997, record that, “The Chairman reported that he had discussed the creation of a legal entity for EuMC with Professor Vander Vorst. He intended to discuss this further and report back to the Committee at its next meeting.” This was the beginning of EuMA.

In 1998 the European Microwave Association was officially founded in Belgium as an international association with a scientific, educational and technical purpose. The aim is to develop on a non-profit basis, in an interdisciplinary way, education, training and research activities with the following goals: To promote European microwaves, to network and unite microwave scientists and engineers in Europe, to provide a single voice for European microwave scientists and engineers in Europe, to promote public awareness and appreciation of microwaves, to attain full recognition of microwaves by the European Union, to organize European Microwave Symposia and, in particular, the EuMC, as well as the EuMW and all the associated events, and to circulate information among European microwave scientists and engineers (

The General Assembly is the highest governing body of the EuMA. Since 1998 the number of members has been increased to take national developments into consideration. It has recently been decided to include representatives from North America and Asia Pacific. This is a first step towards the creation of a truly trans-national association. We expect that this move will trigger similar and coordinated actions by other technical communities in Europe with whom EuMA has various collaborations.

Also, since its inception, EuMA has undertaken initiatives for better serving the microwave community worldwide. In 2003 the Association was opened to general membership, so that microwave engineers from all over the world could join as Members or Student Members. As a result, many EuMA members now come from the US and Asia. Members are entitled to discounted fees for attending EuMA and EuMA sponsored conferences and workshops, participate in EuMA activities, receive the EuMA Newsletter, and pay a discounted price both for the two EuMC DVD Archives that include all papers from the EuMC (1969 to 2003 and 2004 to 2008, respectively) and subscription to the EuMA Proceedings, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal, which is currently being revamped.

During European Microwave Week, EuMA is proud to acknowledge those individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the microwave community. In 2004, the Distinguished Service Award was established to, “recognize an individual who has given outstanding service for the benefit of the European microwave community and, in particular, for the advancement of the European Microwave Association.” In addition, a new award, the Outstanding Career Award, will be presented for the first time in 2008 to recognize an individual, “whose career has exemplified outstanding achievements in the field of microwaves.” Both awards will be presented during the opening ceremony of EuMW 2008.

As well as recognising the achievements of individuals, the EuMA also acknowledges the important position that European Microwave Week has established within the RF and microwave community and will endeavour to see it evolve and develop to meet the future needs of the industry.


1. A. Vander Vorst and P.J.B. Clarricoats, “The Early Days of the European Microwave Conference,” Proc. European Microwave Association, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 2006, pp. 107-109.

2. F. Gardiol, “Thirty Years Ago...,” Proc. European Microwave Association, Vol. 1, No. 1, March 2005, pp. 55-58.

3. A. Vander Vorst and R. Sorrentino, “The European Microwave Association,” IEEE Microwave Magazine, February 2006, pp. 54-56.

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