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NF: How does one get to be the general chair for the International Microwave Symposium (IMS) Steering Committee?

LD:  Everyone took one step back when someone asked who wanted to chair a future conference. There I was, standing alone, asking, “What was the question again?” Seriously, though, I think that it varies. Being involved in your local IEEE MTT Chapter as well as getting involved in IMS activities and getting to know Adcom members over a period of time sets the stage. Beyond that, unbounded enthusiasm to bring a future IMS to your area—and the ability to rally the troops to get a proposal together for your area—helps a little. In my case, it was mostly arm-twisting by Dick Sparks and the late Dr. K.C. Gupta, at a lunch with Tom Weller and myself, that resulted in our being vice-chair and chair, respectively, for this year’s conference.

NF: What benefits would you say the Tampa, Fla. location offers?

LD:  I know every chair probably says this, but we do have a great venue. Tampa provides a nice mix of a great convention center that is right-sized for the conference, convenient hotels, and a nice waterfront setting. For those who may like to spend a little time in the area before or after the conference or bring their family, the region offers a wide range of fun activities—from world-renowned beaches and theme parks to year-round golf at the nearly 100 courses in the area. There also is a plethora of watersports, boating, bike trails, zoos, museums, and theme parks.  In addition, June is baseball season. The Tampa Bay Rays will be in town for those who want to sneak out and see a game.

NF: How do attendee numbers look pre-show? Do you expect the conference to meet or beat attendance numbers?

LD: Attendance numbers so far are on track with recent shows in Baltimore and Seattle.

Larry DunleavyNF: How many papers were submitted this year? Which categories were most popular in terms of submissions?

LD: According to our TPC Co-Chairs, Scott Barker and Sanjay Raman, we received close to 900 initial paper submissions. After the outstanding work of our IMS 2014 Technical Program Review Committee, approximately 450 papers were accepted for presentation as either regular oral papers or interactive forum poster papers. Continuing the trend of the past several years, the most popular technical topic areas were all things related to power amplifiers (PAs) and millimeter-wave/terahertz technology. Passive components also made quite a strong showing in the submissions this year.

NF: The student papers always get a lot of attention at IMS. Were submissions up or down this year?

LD: We received 266 student paper submissions this year, or about 30% of the total submissions. This is nearly the same percentage that was received for IMS 2013. The accepted student papers were evaluated by the TPRC subcommittees and 33 finalists were selected. These finalists will be evaluated by a cadre of MTT experts at a special poster session Tuesday afternoon of Microwave Week. I would refer readers to the IMS 2014 website, under Technical Program > Student Paper Competition, for more details on the selected finalists.    

NF: Looking at the student and regular papers, what stands out in terms of new or unexpected trends?

LD: A good place to look for new trends is the emerging-technology topic areas. This year, we have emerging-technology sessions in 2D/3D-printed microwave circuits and phase-change material-based switches for reconfigurable microwave circuits. As additive manufacturing techniques, such as 3D printing, are taking off in the commercial market, we are seeing innovators in the RF/microwave community exploiting these techniques for the low-cost, rapid deployment of microwave components. Meanwhile, phase-change materials have been explored for nonvolatile memory applications. But they may also have great promise for low-loss, high-linearity microwave switches.

NF: What do students have to do this year in the design competition? Can you share any details?

LD: This is the 10th year of Student Design Competitions at IMS. The competitions continue to attract significant interest from students and the MTT community as a whole. This year, we have 11 Student Competitions, which equals the highest number of competitions offered since this program was introduced in 2005. The competitions cover a diverse set of topics including transistor modeling, PA design and linearization, oscillator design, filters, communications and radar systems, and even developing microwave software apps. I would refer readers to the IMS 2014 website, under Technical Program > Student Design Competitions, for more details.

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