More than 7,500 attendees, 35 percent of whom were first-time attendees, filled the sold-out show floor at the IEEE MTT-S 2014 International Microwave Symposium (IMS) in Tampa, Fla., marking the fourth consecutive year in which first-time attendees topped 30 percent.

The symposium, held June 1-6 at the Tampa Convention Center, featured 902 booths from 587 exhibitors, including 73 new exhibitors. Wireless again was a hot topic on the show floor, with 11 percent of the total exhibitors indicating that Wireless (WiFi, WiMAX, UWB or other) is the primary end product or service that they focus on in their work.

“For the first time, this year’s ARFTG was combined with Florida’s own IEEE Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference (WAMICON), offering broader technical coverage, enhanced paper and presentation opportunities and a combined exhibitor area,” said Larry Dunleavy, IMS 2014 symposium general chair. “The sold-out show floor, strong contribution from new exhibitors, and high level of participation from both the students and attendees demonstrated the growing attention around the field of microwave engineering, particularly as it relates to wireless.”

The six-day event welcomed RF designers, researchers, developers and academics representing 50 countries, with the most participation coming from the United States (65 percent) and Germany (4 percent). There was also strong participation from China (3 percent), Japan (3 percent) and Canada (3 percent).

Along with the three-day exhibition and full schedule of 160 technical sessions, workshops and panel sessions, IMS 2014 included the symposium’s first ever science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-focused program, which introduced more than 60 students to microwave electronics through a “day at a conference” experience.The program integrated university and industry educational engagement with technical speakers, hands-on activities, informational tables and an exhibition tour. The STEM program will be returning to IMS 2015 in Phoenix, Ariz.

IMS 2014 specifically highlighted women’s contributions to engineering, welcoming IntelCorporations’ Intel Labs vice president and director of Integrated Computing Research (ICR) Dr. Vida Ilderem as IMS’ first female plenary session speaker. Additionally, University of California, Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi led the keynote session at the IEEE 2014 Wireless and Microwave Technology Conference (WAMICON), which was co-located with IMS as part of Microwave Week.

The symposium also adopted a more casual tone this year, with General Chair Larry Dunleavy and Vice Chair Tom Weller officially declaring IMS 2014 a “No Tie Zone.” Further showcasing Tampa’s culture, Dunleavy welcomed attendees at the kickoff celebration with a barefoot waterskiing performance alongside the Tampa Bay Water Ski Show Team at the Riverwalk.