Much of the success of the IMS is the yearly draw of the industry’s high achievers, engineers attending the conference whose technical program is second to none. The volunteers of the technical program committee do a fantastic job of selecting which papers make the cut. Scanning the schedule of this year’s technical sessions, workshops and panel sessions, it seems clear that IMS will once again deliver, attendance is reported to be up over last year's event. In turn, the commercial side of the event, aka – the exhibition, can usually bank on decent traffic as a proportion of engineers attending the conference venture onto the show floor to investigate how technology is churned into products.

Apart from those times when conference delegates take a break from the technical session to roam the exhibition floor, another occasion when the conference attendees and exhibitors mingle is during the opening night reception cocktail party. Held outdoors on the Sunset deck of the IMS headquarters hotel (Hilton), this year’s reception was among the finest. The outdoor setting was certainly a welcome break from the usual hotel ballroom and the southern California spring evening provided an inviting backdrop with ample sunshine and fresh air.

Looking around the gathering, one could find many old (recognizable) faces and an encouraging number of new ones. Our industry, notoriously “male and pale”, is beginning to show some signs of diversity in race, gender and age. I’m not sure if the steering committee keeps track of this type of information, but it would be worthwhile to see how well our ranks are being renewed. I’d venture to guess that many of the below-30 crowd were engineers attending the conference and presenting materials. I’ll know more definitively, as I walk the exhibition floor and gage the approximate age of exhibitors by tallying who is working the booth and who is collecting information and give-aways.

Innovation may be youth’s domain, where fresh perspectives and relative inexperience support new ideas, a different approach, and creative solutions. Wisdom is the realm of those with age and experience. IMS is one of those much needed opportunities where these two groups intermingle and share their knowledge, perspective, creativity and enthusiasm. This inter-generational sharing is the lifeblood of the industry. I can report that the industries self-preservation seems to be on solid ground.