Some critics say that attending IMS is a waste of time for engineers and designers. The popular complaint is that conferences, in general, tend to be long on marketing sparkle and short on technical rigor. Among engineers, I often hear the comment that visiting booths is pointless because booth staff is more intent on tagging your conference badge to get your digits (i.e. email contact) than actually answering your technical questions. Questions about technical performance or pricing are shoved into the inquiry-list abyss, and might be addressed within the next decade.
From this point of view, it would seem that the average engineer is better off staying home and instead use the traditional channels to get technical information and pricing (i.e. blind emails to info@ addresses and reps). HOWEVER…wait for it…I contend that IMS is, by far, the most useful conference an RF engineer can ever attend. The reason is that IMS is, by analogy, a 3 day Farmer’s Market of RF goods and services where you can meet and share ideas with the highest caliber people the industry has to offer.
Why is IMS uniquely similar to your local Farmer’s Market? Simple, the RF business is populated by a dense cluster of extremely talented “specialist” companies that are small in stature but high in quality. Just as your local Market might showcase a vendor with specialty California olive oil or rare heirloom tomatoes, IMS will showcase a vendor who has a particular specialization in something like extremely low noise amplifiers or cryogenic tolerant components (so-called niche markets). Often this specialization represents the engineer’s life’s work and entire companies often emanate from this innovative energy. The fact that IMS summons the small specialist companies (and their founders and lead inventors) implies that in about 4 hours of booth visits you can talk to, literally, the world’s leading experts on everything from amplifiers to packages to oscillators to VNAs. Just as you would pick out the best produce and flowers and cheeses at your local Farmer’s Market, you pick out the best hardware and software at IMS by speaking with the people who invented the product. I have attended a variety of conferences over the years and the communal nature of IMS, with its tight knit group of specialist engineers, is unique.
Why does the RF industry foster highly successful, small specialist companies? In my opinion, the answer is best attributed to the specific business and scientific constraints in which the RF industry operates. Without question, the RF and Microwave industry owes a significant amount of its viability to its military legacy. As is commonly understood, military and defense applications center on “best in class” technologies. The cat and mouse game of electronic warfare, or the ever-increasing need for broadband, secure military communication lends itself perfectly to a business model focused on relentless iteration and dB-by-dB improvement, without the handcuffing paralysis of pricing pressure. The push by military requirements to push technology barriers tends to favor the specialist and the risk taker without bean-counter intervention; these tend to be advantages for small, aggressive technical companies. When multiplied by the “black magic” factor associated with manufacturing GHz technology, one can quickly understand why so many small companies attending IMS find lineage connecting back to the 1970s powerhouses like HP and Watkins Johnson, Marki Microwave included.
These days, of course, one cannot survive on DoD business alone. In fact, I would suspect most traditionally Mil-focused RF companies have decided to penetrate the commercial and test equipment markets to remain busy. In this realm time and cost tend to play a significant role and, fittingly, the smaller RF businesses attending IMS tend to excel in that arena too. By minimizing overhead and bureaucratic interference, small RF specialists enable the much-coveted faster time-to-market. Moreover, the free-wheeling technical support associated with small company specialists provides a needed technical boost to customers who require extra tutelage in the concept and design phases of a new product. It is also common for the specialist company to know when to recommend other specialist companies. In this way, a mixer specialist like Marki Microwave would cross-pollinate with an oscillator vendor or a phase noise measurement vendor since straying too far from our “territory” offers little economic or scientific benefit to the transaction. If you want to make the best salad, you find the farmers who produce the best lettuce, tomato, carrots and vinaigrette; it is rare that the same farmer can excel at all ingredients. Or, if you are my father, you will order a great salad, but only eat the blue cheese. He is, after all, a singular specialist of mixers and never cared much for vegetables anyway.
So, why do I go to IMS? I go because I have a year’s worth of technical questions to ask the world’s greatest RF experts and I don’t like waiting for email responses. Question about a VNA? Talk to Dr. Joel at HP Agilent Keysight. Question about crystal oscillators? Talk to John or Charlie at Wenzel. Question about phase noise measurements? Talk to Jason at Holzworth. Question about a MMIC design? Talk to Paul at Custom MMIC or Liam at Plextek. Question about a mixer? Well…I think you know who I would recommend for that. See you in Tampa!
Christopher Marki Christopher Marki is the Director of Operations at Marki Microwave. He is co-blogger of Marki’s award winning industry blog, lead designer of mixers and passive products, and resident (newbie) guitar luthier. His babies (i.e. his mixers, passives products and IMS inspired guitar) can be found on display at booth #634.
So I know a couple in San Antonio. I know what you’re thinking – I’ve heard all those Texas jokes already. But I really do know a couple in San Antonio. Shortly after meeting this couple the three of us discovered that we were all electrical engineers and so we immediately began to analyze (as good engineers will do) how our various paths in engineering were interconnected. Not only did we have difficulty finding connections, but it also took us quite some time to really understand our various responsibilities and sectors (relational software, aerospace parts tolerance assurance, and RF/microwave design and test). The most interesting of these sectors, I’m sure you’ll agree, is the rapidly expanding RF and microwave sector.
So as we prepare to kickoff IMS 2014, I think it’s great that we’ll be including a STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) program for students beginning to think through college choices. My son (who is a high school junior) and I recently attended the complete engineering tour at the University of Texas as Austin (boy, she sure does mention Texas a lot, I wonder where she’s from?) While there was a great deal of time spent breaking down the various disciplines within engineering, it was very difficult to understand the focus of any particular area such as electrical engineering. IMS 2014 is a great showcase of the work being done by electrical and computer engineers to expand digital communications, improve wireless component design and test, and expand the capabilities of software design to support this growing complexity. While it is a small snapshot of an enormous discipline, I think it is a great opportunity for students to see the output of the industry. This program will include approximately 50 students ranging from high school age to freshman in college and will provide a “day at a conference” experience in addition to two days of optional activities. The goal of the program is to provide students with technical speakers, hands-on activities, and informational tables as well as an exhibition tour. I know my son is looking forward to attending the STEM program to have a chance to meet with the IEEE engineering students to better understand their experiences and long term plans.
So we’ll look forward to great questions from the students and volunteers as they explore the many areas of this year’s show. And remember, there is no need to ask someone if they are from Texas. Cause if they are they’ll get around to telling you - and if they’re not, well, there’s no need to embarrass them! See you at the show-
Phyllis Cosentino Within technical marketing at National Instruments, Phyllis Cosentino focuses on the communication and support of new capabilities for RF, Wireless, Microwave, and Communication products. Prior to joining NI, Phyllis held senior leadership roles within Dell’s Communication Solutions Group, Alcatel-Lucent’s Wireless Division and AT&T Bell Labs RF Services and Wireless Development where she made significant contributions to the development and deployment of CDMA and GSM systems globally. Phyllis holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, completed the Program for Executives at Carnegie Mellon University, and holds several patents in wireless technology.
Bring yourself, your love of the outdoors and no ties to this premier event… the IMS2014 Kickoff Celebration. Why wait until the end of the week when we are all exhausted to celebrate? Let’s get started early. Monday night. Don’t miss it.
Everyone, yes everyone who attends IMS from exhibitors to student volunteers to full blown conference attendees and family and friends of our IEEE community, you are invited.
So get set, get ready and let’s have a great time…water ski show (with or without Larry Dunleavy) is sure to be a hit.
Mark your calendars now for Monday night, June 2nd from 7 – 8:30pm…along the Riverwalk outside of the Convention Center.
IMS was my first conference when I joined this industry way back in 19xx cough, cough. I was young and optimistic, and I stepped into a conference that was marked by an industry that was frightened and wondering what the future held. Most of the companies were what many now refer to as “the old microwave guys” who really only had military customers. And the military orders were drying up. There were whispers on the show floor of this new “wireless” technology. Many scoffed at the term. Heck, wireless was the word used to describe Marconi’s invention. But what if… what if there really was a commercial market for this fantastic technology that we all loved so much. Could there be a brighter future?
Over the years, I continued to attend what we called MTT and then the IMS shows. And, new technologies with odd names followed in the tradition of the whisper of “wireless.” This time, though, they were met with an expectation of success rather than with the hope of a life preserver. They included, RFID, Bluetooth, and ZigBee. I can still see the look of horror on the face of the man in a booth who was happily explaining to me how RFID chips could be inserted into livestock to track them. I looked up, probably contorted my face a bit, and asked, “Hmmm. I wonder how long it will be before they start inserting them in infants at birth.”
The fun of attending the IMS conference is seeing what others are doing with RF/microwave technology and how peers are pushing the envelope (or tracking it!). IMS is rich in exhibitors as well as a deep technical program and applications seminars. The opportunities for contagious enthusiasm and networking are impressive. We’ve come a long way from the bleak faces of yesteryear, before the tide turned and RF/microwave became the enabler of a vast and expanding commercial market. My hearty congratulations to the vanguard who brought RF to the commercial marketplace. And, my continued respect for those who have developed incredibly smart and rugged products that continue to serve the military market. I look forward to seeing what you all have in store for us this year.
Janine Sullivan Love Janine began working as a professional writer in engineering fields more than 19 years ago. Presently at UBM Tech, she is editor of the PCB Design Center on EDN.com and the EE Times Memory Designline on EET.com. In addition, she is taking on a new role as Technical Program Director at DesignCon 2015. During her career, Janine has worked with numerous publications, including Microwaves & RF, Wireless Systems Design, Communication Systems Design, Wireless Design Online, and Global Telephony, as well as with industry leaders in a freelance writing capacity. A member of NASW and ACS, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delaware and a Master’s Degree from Duquesne University. She can be reached at email@example.com or tb_janine on Twitter.
The IEEE IMS show is a terrific place to further one’s education on emerging technologies, state of the art testing procedures and all things related to the microwave industry. In addition to an exhibit hall featuring over 550 microwave industry-related companies, IMS2014 offers technical sessions, interactive forums, plenary and panel sessions, workshops, short courses, industrial exhibits, application seminars, historical exhibits, and a wide variety of other technical and social activities, including both student and guest programs.”
As a long-time attendee of the IEEE IMS show, I’ve come to appreciate the always popular MicroApps stage presentations. They are shown right there, in the center of the exhibit hall, where throughout the day, companies share with their latest and greatest technological accomplishments. At times, this can make for very interesting presenter/ audience interactions, especially when you are giving a show to a room comprised mostly of your main business competitors.
There are additional reasons for attending the show:
Newly graduated college students come to the IEEE IMs show in the hopes that presenting a technical paper that will land them a job. The already employed attend to learn where the industry is heading, and to keep tabs on what their major competitors are up to. An additional benefit of attending involves the multiple business networking opportunities. As the IMS2014.org website suggests, “No other event in the industry offers access to as many technical experts, and product representatives, or provides as good a forum to exchange ideas and meet the people who truly move our industry forward.”
The annual IEEE IMS is a “must attend” event for our industry. A wide variety of technical sessions, workshops and short courses and seminars ensure that all attendees’ needs are met. The MicroApps presentations are designed to be extremely concise, limited to 15 minutes maximum so that you come away with the exact specific knowledge of each topic. You’ll also receive a CD containing a copy of every presentation made and many companies’ also video tape their sessions which are made available on the web for review at your convenience. I like the MicroApps presentation format so much that I even have the honor of giving a presentation at this year’s event titled “A Comparison of Various LDMOS Ruggedness Testing Methodologies”
So once again I am very much looking forward to this year’s IMS event and its accompanying MicroApps presentations. See you there in Tampa, Florida!
Leonard Pelletier work in the Application Support team for Freescale RF in Tempe, AZ and provides technical assistance to the amplifier design community. He has been with the company since 1995 working in this position supporting all RF applications. Prior to his work with RF components, Mr. Pelletier held amplifier design engineering positions with both the Motorola Cellular Infrastructure Group and the Motorola RF Products Division.
Mr. Pelletier received a BA in Electrical and Computer Engineering from California State Polytechnical University, (Cal Poly) Pomona, CA in 1983 and received a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA in 1988. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in the State of California and has been working in the high power RF arena since 1983.
Leonard is married with a son and lives in Scottsdale, AZ. In his spare time, he enjoys boating, motorcycles, ATV’s and beach volleyball.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear MTT-IMS? Geeking out on microwave technology? Jetlag and late-night socializing? Microapp sessions? Free microwave swag? The IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) is the premier annual international conference for technologists involved in all aspects of microwave theory and practice. The conference is held in a different location each year, and attendees look forward to spending the week with peers and microwave gurus who enjoy discussing the latest advancements in anything from MMICs to polyharmonic distortion models. While some engineers reluctantly admit they are not terribly social in the conventional sense, part of the appeal of IMS is the chance to socialize over the aforementioned topics.
But why should this week of socialization be limited to once a year? Continue to interact and engage with your fellow microwave comrades through various IMS social media outlets, including:
Facebook “Like” IMS on Facebook to stay informed of the latest updates on all things IMS—activities to do in Tampa, memories from previous shows, and the latest trends within the industry. Make the move and sign up for Facebook, if you haven’t already. Then, when you “like” the IMS page, it will be the first thing on your profile! You might even see your peers, adorned with IMS swag, tagged in a photo.
Speaking of swag, we are unveiling a commemorative pin this year at IMS in Tampa, which will launch a collector series of memorabilia. Like us on Facebook and you just might be a lucky recipient of this year’s pin.
LinkedIn Not quite ready for Facebook? The IEEE MTT-S IMS LinkedIn group is an excellent business site to collaborate and discuss the technical matters relevant to IMS. Use the group to begin discussions around the most anticipated technical session you want to attend or jump in a conversation on the debate between CMOS versus GaAs versus GaN PAs.
Twitter Prefer your updates in under 140 characters? Follow us on Twitter to get the latest news on IMS and stay up to date with anything and everything related to IMS. Find an interesting topic that you want to share? Retweet it @MTT_IMS—our followers will certainly want to know about it!
Start the New Year right. Join us on any or all of the IMS social media outlets so we can keep the spirit of IMS alive long after the actual event.
Natalie Phillips is in Product Marketing at National Instruments. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she earned a B.S. in Advertising.
To be a better engineer, get Linked-in to the IMS Community.
Diffusion of Innovations is a theory that tries to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through cultures. Popularized by Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies at Iowa State University, in his 1962 book of the same title, the theory states that new behaviors or technologies are adopted (diffused) through “a process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system”. There are four main elements that influence the spread of a new idea: the innovation, communication channels, time, and a social system. This process relies heavily on human capital. The innovation must be widely adopted in order to self-sustain. Within the rate of adoption, there is a point at which an innovation reaches critical mass. The categories of adopters are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Diffusion of Innovations manifests itself in different ways in various cultures and fields of study and is highly subject to the type of adopters and innovation-decision process.
For a technology-minded bunch, engineers are not necessarily the earliest of adaptors. Perhaps it is natural skepticism that drives us to question our surroundings through analytical reasoning, exploration and the scientific process, rather than jump on every new trend. But we are a community, sharing scientific discoveries at conferences and articles for society transactions and/or trade journals. So among the four elements required for diffusion of innovation, RF/microwave engineers have certain common communication channels and social systems. With the addition of time we have adopted numerous innovations in the areas of semiconductor technologies, test instruments, software, etc. But we have also adopted many innovations in how we communicate among each other. Beyond our IEEE memberships, magazines subscriptions and web site visits, many of us regularly sign up for educational webinars, receive eNewsletters and have joined Linked-in communities to stay informed.
Engineers familiar with Linked-in know it as the social networking website for people in professional occupations. When Linked-in began over a decade ago, professionals used the service to connect with colleagues and former colleagues who reached out and asked to join their personal network. For several years early on, a Linked-in request often indicated that someone had been laid-off recently or was looking for a new position. But with nearly 180 million unique site visitors per month, the site has morphed into a major networking tool with many purposes. With the introduction of Linked-in communities, the social network has created a networking opportunity for specialized social systems within its broader user group.
Linked-in communities have proven to be an excellent way for engineers to communicate with each other, allowing us to broadcast important information to the general community, make inquiries (jobs, products, and information) and referrals about people and information. This social network has been adopted by a sizable portion of the RF/microwave industry. The Microwave Journal hosts an RF & Microwave community that started five years ago and now boasts 20,000 members! Similar groups exist for the RF & Microwave community in China, Europe and there is even one for RF power amplifier designers.
For engineers keeping up to date on the latest technical innovations, social networking tools work especially well with “traditional” live networking events with both helping connect individual technologists directly. Consider the International Microwave Symposium (IMS), which is a yearly focal point of our industry’s technical and commercial activity in North America (and beyond). Whether you are presenting a paper, attending the conference or working the exhibition, IMS provides attendees with a live, microwave-centric networking opportunity that is the largest of the calendar year.
Attending IMS combined with online social network tools helps engineers exchange information better than by just attending the event without prior knowledge of who is doing what. And so, the MTT-S has established a dedicated IMS Linked-in community to share information and connect people throughout the year. Being familiar with the people, conference topics, social events, and local offerings helps every attendee get the most out of the conference, exhibition and IMS social functions by providing the chance to plan ahead, filter through topics that matter most and make relationships with potential collaborators, mentors or clients. The IMS Linked-in community has about 900 members, but the IMS 2014 social media committee is committed to growing this number and helping everyone enjoy the benefits of being connected through this powerful networking site.
With all the information that is shared in preparation for MTT-S IMS and post-event info that could be passed to the broader microwave community, it makes sense to join the IMS Linked-in community today.
The more RF/microwave engineers adopt and use social networks, the faster we will share vital information among ourselves and the faster we will diffuse innovation. I’m an IMS Linked-in member. Are you?
David Vye, MWJ Editor, Member, IMS2014 Social Media Committee
David Vye is responsible for Microwave Journal's editorial content, article review and special industry reporting. Prior to joining the Journal, Mr. Vye was a product-marketing manager with Ansoft Corporation, responsible for high frequency circuit/system design tools and technical marketing communications. He previously worked for Raytheon Research Division and Advanced Device Center as a Sr. Design Engineer, responsible for PHEMT, HBT and MESFET characterization and modeling as well as MMIC design and test. David also worked at M/A-COM's Advanced Semiconductor Operations developing automated test systems and active device modeling methods for GaAs FETs. He is a 1984 graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, with a concentration in microwave engineering.
I watched the Teen Choice Awards with my daughter the other week… She was tracking who won and whom she voted for via her iPhone. I was “zoning” out all the noise and wondering what this could possibly teach her. Having moved to LA from the East Coast a few years back now, the influence of “Hollywood” is hard to escape, so trying to instill the message that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is smart and sexy is a real challenge. Referring to myself as a cool geek mom, I am often saying to my kids that science is cool, math is cool, and being a geek is cool!
My kids’ eyes start to roll when I get into my mom teachable moment stance and deliver my mantra of “be the best you can be,” “give whatever you try your best effort” and “education comes first above all else.”
We all go to sleep after the awards show… The next day, I’m bombarded with emails, tweets, and FB posts from friends in our industry telling me to go watch the Teen Choice Awards. Watch Ashton Kutcher’s speech as he tells kids….
“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap!”
Basically I was stunned. This is exactly what our kids need to hear. You don’t get what you want in life through luck, you get it through hard work and applying yourself. This is a universal truth I hope that all of us who attend the International Microwave Symposium 2014 (IMS2014) in Tampa next June believe. And I hope that all of you reading this can get behind it and become involved this coming year in Tampa because a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) outreach effort is going to be underway that pulls “teens” to us and excites them about science and technology so that they want to do great things (high-tech things) as adults.
Let’s work together to change the world by taking our first step toward mentoring a teen into STEM*. If you have a teen yourself, look more into the STEM program for IMS2014. Bring your teen along. We need to inspire this generation so they can inspire us by changing the world.
Help spread the word about the IMS STEM program and other key topics the IMS2014 Social Media Committee (of which I am the chair) will be blogging about in the months leading up to Tampa in June. Follow our blog (http://www.ims2014.org/) and join the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, InstaGram, and YouTube.
*More about STEM
The STEM Education Coalition (http://www.stemedcoalition.org/) works aggressively to raise awareness in Congress, the Administration, and other organizations about the critical role that STEM education plays in enabling the U.S. to remain the economic and technological leader of the global marketplace of the 21st century. The Coalition advocates for strengthening of STEM-related programs for educators and students and increased federal investments in STEM education. We also support robust federal investments in basic scientific research to inspire current and future generations of young people to pursue careers in STEM fields. Members of the STEM Coalition believe that our nation must improve the way our students learn science, mathematics, technology and engineering and that the business, education, and STEM communities must work together to achieve this goal.
Sherry Hess, AWR Corporation Chair, IMS 2014 Social Media Committee
Sherry Hess brings to AWR more than 15 years of EDA experience in domestic and international sales, marketing, support, and management. Prior to joining AWR, she served as vice president of business development at CebaTech, Inc., where she was responsible for taking the R&D stealth-mode EDA/IP start-up to market, which included all aspects of sales, support, marketing, and business management.
For the majority of her career, Sherry served in various positions at EDA software developer Ansoft Corporation. She joined the company in 1990 as a sales and support engineer, and was instrumental in setting up new semiconductor / major accounts throughout North America. In 1995 Sherry was promoted to director of European operations, with responsibility for all company operations throughout Europe. In 2000 she was named vice president of marketing, directing worldwide marketing of Ansoft's high-performance EDA software product lines until leaving the company in 2005. Before joining Ansoft, Sherry spent two years with Intel Corporation, where she worked in the ASIC Group and developed relationships with companies such as Bell Northern Research and Northern Telecom.
Sherry holds BSEE and MBA degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
This program will center on a day of fun and informational activities in association with the June 2014 International Microwave Symposium (IMS). The focus day for this activity will be Thursday, 5 June 2014 at and around the Tampa Bay Convention Center.
Optional Additional Activities: Explore MOSI (Tuesday, 3 June 2014), Fun at Busch Gardens (Wednesday, 4 June 2014).