High-frequency engineers are making their travel plans this June for Fort Worth, TX, to attend the industry's largest trade event, the IEEE Microwave Theory & Techniques Symposium (MTT-S). But there is another trade show that month that may have increasing interest for RF and microwave engineers, especially as the high-frequency industry matures and branches out into industries beyond the traditional commercial and military areas. That trade show is the Medical Design and Manufacturing East (MDM East) Conference and Exhibition.

Admittedly, the MDM East (www.mdmeast.com), scheduled for June 14-17, 2004 in the Jacob Javits Convention Center (New York, NY), is no MTT-S in terms of conference content. What the MDM East does offer is an exhibition floor that has grown steadily during the last few years with devices based on RF/microwave technology and with exhibitor booths from companies offering contract design and manufacturing services.

Apparently, developers of medical devices and equipment are not RF experts, although they recognize the value of embedded RF capability within their products. Several exhibitors at last year's MDM East, for example, showed telemetry systems based on the Bluetooth 2.4-GHz short-range communications protocol.

The growth of the MDM East (and its sister event, MDM West) is in no small part tied to the aging of this country's large "Baby Boom" generation and their vested interest in health care. Last month, the event's organizer, Canon Communications (www.canontradeshows.com) announced that sales for exhibit space were already 15 percent ahead of last year's final exhibitor count, and that a sellout of the show's exhibit floor space was imminent. The organizers expect 1750 exhibiting companies and more than 32,000 attendees.

Of course, the majority of the exhibitors offer labeling equipment, molding services, and pharmaceutical packaging. But within the mix is a growing group of electronic contract manufacturing and design companies, as well as electronics suppliers who recognize the opportunity in the medical industry. For example, last year's event featured a number of electronics firms, including materials supplier ARC Technologies (Amesbury, MA), electronic components distributor Mouser Electronics (Mansfield, TX), contract design specialist Pinnacle Electronics, and PCB prototyper Rapid Circuits (Levittown, PA).

The growth of the high-frequency industry depends on diversification into automotive, industrial, and medical applications. While our editors will be covering the MTT-S, they will also attend MDM East, and offer a wrap up in the August issue of Microwaves & RF.