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The 2016 International Microwave Symposium (IMS) is taking place May 22–27 in San Francisco. I spoke with IMS’s Amanda Scacchitti about the upcoming show, the keynote speakers, and how IMS continues to put an emphasis on STEM education with their own STEM program for kids.
Barry Matties: Amanda, tell me a little about what you do.
Amanda Scacchitti: I am the marketing and publicity consultant for the International Microwave Symposium, which is an IEEE conference and trade show that is sponsored by the Microwave Theory and Technique Society.
Matties: Please give me a few highlights of the show, which is coming up next week. Who should attend, and what should they expect?
Scacchitti: The show is primarily focused on RF and microwave engineering practices and concepts, in addition to a symposium with technical papers, workshops, and ways for practicing engineers to reeducate and also learn new skills. We also have a large trade show component. Over 600 companies will be present and we have almost 1,000 booths this year. It's a record-setting event. Really, anybody who's in RF and microwave, working in wireless, millimeter wave, or terahertz, this is the show for them.
Matties: I went to your show last year in Phoenix—my first time—and it was a great show. Last year, you had a really interesting feature that caught my attention, which focused on the STEM program. You dedicated quite a bit of square footage of your halls to this space. Tell me a little bit about that. What's your thinking?
Scacchitti: Beginning in 2014, IMS started a STEM program targeting children anywhere from late elementary school, fifth and sixth grade, all the way through high school. We'll be doing that again this year. STEM will be located in a theater on the show floor, so we'll be doing keynote talks and also some hands-on learning within that facility. Then they will also be going around the show floor and a lot of our exhibitors will be contributing different STEM-related activities at their booths to get kids excited about engineering, specifically RF and microwave engineering.
Matties: It’s a booming market. So who should come to IMS? I know you said anybody that's involved in RF and microwave, but is it mostly OEMs?
Scacchitti: If you think about it, so many of the companies we hear about every day, and especially so many of the companies in the Bay Area, have engineers who are working in RF and microwave, but they’re just not talked about. If you look at Facebook, Amazon, or Google, all of these guys are looking at data transmission and what the future of wireless holds, whether it's 60 GB, 5G, the internet of things, and so on. It's really for anybody who's looking at those future technologies and wants to see where we could be 10 years from now.
Matties: You have a strong technical conference that goes along with this, correct?
Scacchitti: Yes, we do. There are workshops which are more for the practicing engineer, and then we also have technical papers, which are given from both industry and academia. Those are very forward-looking papers really intended to kind of design the next great thing within this industry.
Matties: What about the keynotes? Can you share who will be speaking for those?
Scacchitti: Monday night will be our opening keynote—Dr. Martin Cooper, also known by many as Marty Cooper—who is the father of the cell phone. He will talk about how he sees cell phone technology being used in the future, and how he sees that further affecting our society.
Matties: That's a scary topic for many. It will be quite interesting to hear what he has to say.
Scacchitti: Yes. I have a feeling the question and answer portion of that may be heated. On Thursday night we have Dr. James Truchard, the CEO and co-founder of National Instruments. Dr. Truchard will be focusing on 5G. We also have Dr. Jan Rabaey from UC Berkeley, and he will be talking about the human internet and the idea of taking some of this technology and actually putting it in human beings. He’ll be talking neuron to neuron and about implanting chips that are the size of biological cells.
Matties: Amanda, this sounds like a show that's worth attending and that’s shaping up nicely. Thanks for sharing your time with us today.
Scacchitti: Awesome. Thanks, Barry.