IMS2021 will certainly be a different experience than in past years. Our theme, “Connecting for a Smarter, Safer World,” could not be more appropriate. First, we should explain that IMS2021 is really two events: live, in-person in Atlanta, 7-9 June at the Georgia World Convention Center (GWCC), and virtual 20-25 June. Attendance is expected to be somewhat down in Atlanta due to travel restrictions, vaccine schedules and other difficulties. But we applaud the ~200 companies who will be exhibiting this year live in Atlanta. Many of our non-U.S. authors and exhibitors cannot make it to live event, and we have consolidated our technical sessions to include a mix of live and virtual presenters. However, we have a full program planned for the virtual event!
For those able to attend the live event it is business as usual, except for an abundance of caution and safety measures that will be in place to minimize the risk of exposure. The IMS2021 GWCC venue in Atlanta (see Figure 1) was the first facility in the U.S. to achieve the Global
BioRisk Advisory Council’s GBAC StarTM Accreditation, which recognizes facilities that implement the industry’s highest standards of cleaning for COVID-19. Session rooms will be limited to about one forth capacity, and we have worked with Horizon House to layout the exhibition floorplan to allow wider aisles for proper social distancing (see https://ims-ieee.org/exhibition). We will follow all State of Georgia, City of Atlanta and Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for facemasks and social distancing. Room layout will accommodate social distancing and will be sanitized between sessions. There will be contactless registration and hand sanitizer stations as well.
All Social Events will be held either at the Omni Hotel (see Figure 2), headquarters hotel, or the GWCC to avoid transportation on crowded buses. Hand sanitizing stations will be located in all event rooms and distributed throughout the Omni, the GWCC and other event hotels. We have also confirmed Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President at Texas Instruments Dr. Ahmad Bahai and Chief Technology Officer of Honeywell Suresh Venkatarayalu to present their thoughts in the future of wireless sensing, connectivity and control at the plenary session in the Sydney Marcus ballroom that will be a joint IMS and RFIC plenary session.
In planning the virtual event, we have certainly benefited from the knowledge gained by the IMS2020 Virtual symposium, and the heroic efforts of that year’s steering committee led by Tim Lee. However, we are expanding our investment in the virtual event experience by contracting vFairs and will use their virtual platform that is tailored for large events. The vFairs platform will enable virtual attendees to view and hear pre-recorded papers. It will also allow interaction with the authors via a chat room, as well as networking between individuals and small groups via chat and video conferencing. Exhibition attendees will be able to enter a virtual booth and interact live with exhibitors to hear about the latest microwave products and technologies.
We are planning six parallel technical sessions, 35 workshops, three technical lectures, as well as MicroApps and Industry Workshops. Except for the plenary session and select other sessions to be live- streamed, the virtual event will follow the live event by two weeks. This is done out of the logistical necessity of managing the two events separately. But it allows attendees from all over the world to have on demand access to any Microwave Week event in which they are registered. Attendees at the live event are also eligible to attend the virtual event for free to see all of the sessions and workshops they might have missed.
The MTT Society has also recognized that things will not go back to “normal” after the COVID pandemic is under control. It is expected that the “new normal” will include a virtual component for future symposiums, and this is already under planning within an MTT-S Ad Hoc committee chaired by Nuno Borges Carvalho. So, in a way, IMS2021 serves as a pilot for future Microwave Week events that will include a virtual component.
We hope to see many of you here in Atlanta for IMS2021! We urge you to take advantage of the low early bird prices for the live event by June 4. For those not able to travel, we understand and hope to see you at the IMS2021 virtual event following the live event. It will certainly be a memorable event as some of us gather for the first time in more than a year. Please visit the IMS2021 website (https://ims-ieee.org) for more details and updates.
Steve and John