From The Editor | May 13, 2024

D.C. Set To Host IMS24

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By John Oncea, Editor

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IMS - the flagship event in a week dedicated to all things microwaves and RF - is a must-attend event if you want to keep up with what’s going on in the industry.

The last time the IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium (IMS) took place in Washington, D.C. was 1980 when the city was home to a thriving counterculture punk scene operating outside the mainstream. It was the beginning of a decade during which seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Void, Faith, Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, Fugazi, and others recorded and performed without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny.

While the hardcore punk scene was getting underway, IEEE was actively involved in several initiatives and activities related to advancing technology policy and the engineering profession. “Effectiveness in managing programs, balance between projects concerned with professional standing and those related to technology policy, and greater influence in government affairs became” the goals of IEEE in 1980, according to IEE USA.

That same year, IEEE became a member of the newly formed American Association of Engineering Societies, opening new avenues for cooperation in addressing national issues related to engineering and technology. IEEE also advocated for establishing a national technology policy and a National Technology Foundation in the U.S. through testimony before Congress and other efforts, hoping to revitalize the country’s productive capacity and support the engineering community.

The first IEEE Conference with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was held in 1980 as well. “More than 350 engineers and managers from industrial companies, utilities, and government agencies met to examine how electronics technology could improve nuclear power plant safety.

“A number of recommendations were subsequently adopted, and IEEE was encouraged to maintain its involvement with the nuclear industry and NRC as a credible third party able to bring in outside expertise. As a result, IEEE joined with NRC and the American Nuclear Society the following year in organizing a project to develop a methodology for probabilistic risk assessment of nuclear power plants.”

While more mainstream today, the modern punk counterculture that began in D.C. 44 years ago remains a defiant voice for the disenfranchised, fusing music with activism and fostering inclusive communities united by a DIY philosophy and opposition to the status quo.

This year’s IMS – taking place June 16-21 – remains a voice of sorts for the thousands of RF and microwave professionals who will be gathering to see the latest research and newest products and services.

Sessions Galore

This year’s Plenary Session, Redundancy from the Sea Floor to Space: Building Reliable Capabilities for the Joint Force, features Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD R&E) Heidi Shyu. She will be speaking about the importance of wideband sensors in highly contested environments as well as how the DoD is prioritizing the development of multifunctional sensors capable of addressing cyber, electronic warfare, radar, and communication threats. Shyu will argue this integrated approach, from the ocean floor to space, will ensure reliability, adaptability, and superiority for the joint force in confronting advanced adversaries.

Technical Sessions will take place June 18-20 and cover topics such as passive components, emerging technical areas, active devices, systems and applications, and field, device, and circuit technology.

The Closing Session, Real-world Performance Measurements of Cellular Networks Using Smartphones, will be presented by Monisha Ghosh, Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of Notre Dame and Former Chief Technology Officer at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

She will be presenting results from detailed measurements of 4G and 5G in the various bands: mmWave, mid-band, and CBRS (3.55 - 3.7 GHz). Ghosh says studies demonstrate that mmWave 5G is severely limited in coverage, especially outdoors-to-indoors, while the performance of 5G in mid-band also depends on network densification, contrary to popularly held beliefs.

She also will be speaking about how studies in CBRS show that secondary co-channel sharing as well as adjacent channel interference from high power deployments pose fundamental challenges for cellular networks in shared spectrum. Finally, Ghosh will share some directions for future network design based on research that will allow 6G to be “sharing native.”

Networking, Education, And Exhibitions

IMS is being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and presents numerous formal and informal networking opportunities throughout the week designed to help you connect with fellow members of the RF and microwave community. According to IEEE, “No other event in the industry offers access to as many technical experts, peers, and product representatives, or provides as good a forum to exchange ideas and meet the people who truly move our industry forward.”

The education opportunities at IMS allow attendees to explore current best practice principles, recent tools, and techniques, learning innovative theories and practices from around the world.

And, with more than 550 companies exhibiting, attendees have an opportunity to talk shop with hundreds of companies, discovering the latest trends and advancements in materials, devices, components, design and test solutions, and services.

IMS Highlights

Small business owners or startups looking to get exposure to customers or funding sources, or seeking advisors, talent, or collaborators are encouraged to check out The Startup Program. This program fosters an environment where ideas meet opportunity, paving the way for fruitful collaborations and groundbreaking partnerships between visionary entrepreneurs, industry giants, and potential investors. IMS is bringing forth a series of events curated to propel startups toward success, all of which embody the excitement and passion that startups are known for and are taking place during the week.

The technical program at IMS aims to bring together a unique mix of international experts presenting the latest theories, strategies, and technologies and include:

New this year is the Future G Summit, a day-long event featuring four sessions throughout the day, each focusing on a different theme:

  • Spectrum Co-Existence and Sustainability
  • Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTNs)
  • Metaverse Technologies
  • 6G Technologies

Each of the themed sessions will feature speakers from the industry describing some of the interdisciplinary concepts enabling these Future G systems. After each session, there will be an interactive panel comprising technical experts who will field questions from the audience and discuss some of the challenges for the realization of Future G networks.

 This And That

The IMS 2024 technical program will feature a wide range of topics, including the Student Design Competitions (SDCs). These competitions encourage students to employ creative problem solving and gain practical design experience by developing circuits or systems to address problems stated in the competition rules while following specified constraints.

The competitions span topics such as electromagnetic tumor detection, power amplifier design, and radar for noncontact vital sign sensing. Winning teams will be awarded cash prizes, recognized at the IMS student luncheon awards, and have the opportunity to publish their designs in the IEEE Microwave Magazine.

The MTT-S President, Maurizio Bozzi, has outlined several priorities for 2024, including continuing to improve the portfolio of conferences and publications, introducing a new online conference called the World Microwave Congress, and expanding membership in Africa. Society also will undertake extensive action to boost its social media presence, especially on LinkedIn, to connect with a broader audience.

IMS 2024 promises to be an exceptional event, bringing together the brightest minds in microwave technology to share knowledge, foster innovation, and shape the future of the industry. With a diverse technical program, exciting new initiatives, and a vibrant host city, IMS 2024 is an event not to be missed for anyone involved in the field of microwaves.