Survival in business often requires fortitude and vision, and generally a determination to outlast one's competition. Sometimes, survival is simply a matter of being too stubborn to give up on an idea or a conviction. In the current challenging economic environment, some lessons in stubbornness might serve as inspiration for engineers striving for creativity while witnessing cutbacks in budgets, in staffing, and in support.

One of the more inspirational speakers in this industry, Doug Lockie, executive vice-president and founder of Endwave Corp. (Sunnyvale, CA, www.endwave.com), chaired a session on Broadband Wireless strategies and technologies at the recent Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo. Doug has long been fascinated with millimeter-wave technology, in spite of its military association and its reputation for being expensive.

Doug's faith in the future of millimeter-wave technology is infectious, and his many contacts within the industry helped him to assembly one of the better-attended technical sessions at the Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo. Included in those sessions was a presentation of particular note by Dave Stephenson, engineering manager for Bridge Products at Cisco Systems (San Jose, CA, www.cisco.com), who spoke of the tremendous potential for connecting the computer networks of more than 700,000 business buildings by means of millimeter-wave Gigabit class radios (currently, only about 8000 buildings are connected, by optical fiber). The presentation brought a measure of increased credibility to millimeter-wave techniques, with Cisco's obvious interest in the technology.

Another story of stubbornness/perseverance emerged from the humble but ingenious Dr. Richard Ruby, director of technology for the Wireless Semiconductor Division of Agilent Technologies (Newark, CA). His belief that high-frequency filters could be accomplished by means of processing acoustic waves was initially dismissed in the early 1990s by the company's (at that time Hewlett-Packard Co.) management as too impractical. Undaunted, he stuck to his beliefs in the approach, making his own investments in equipment and time for several years until finally fabricating some filters that made management take notice. Ironically, that technology—film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR)—has accounted for shipments of more than 10 million cellular duplexers since the FBAR products were introduced in 2001.

Certainly, there are many more stories like these. They are good examples that great ideas are not always recognized at first, but that sometimes stubbornness can eventually lead to success.