by Jaime Leger, Founder, Leger Communications
Trade shows have been hard hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Fear of the disease has kept people at home when they might normally work in a manufacturing plant or design laboratory. It has been especially hard on trade shows, where people closely gather and create environments where the COVID-19 bacteria can spread. But the human spirit is strong, and the RF/microwave engineering portion of the population has long been known for its spunk and vitality, and it is starting to look like the industry’s life force may get a good chance to shine at the upcoming 2022 IEEE International Microwave Symposium (IMS) in Denver, CO this June 19-24, 2022. The exhibitor list is long and many from the industry are looking forward to walking among the booths to see old friends and, yes, even to visit competitors. COVID-19 may have thrown a wrench into the works in 2019 but the RF/microwave industry, the backbone of aerospace, defense, and wireless communications electronics, plans to exhibit its fighting spirit at the 2022 IMS.
Trade shows have either vanished or become online events. Electronic versions of technical presentations and webinars are convenient and efficient for educational purposes, but there is none of the “live” action experienced from an in-person appearance at an event, such as a baseball game. While engineering exhibition halls may lack the fury of a NY Yankee versus Boston Red Sox major-league baseball game in either city’s ballpark, even technical presentations can have their moments when differences in opinion erupt on the accuracy of a test instrument or the usability of a packaged integrated circuit (IC). And when long-time competitors—and in the RF/microwave industry, there are many—see each other standing in the same exhibition aisle, there is that “magic” moment of recognition and then the instant pondering of which way to go next.
Of course, there are far many friends in the RF/microwave industry. And there is no replacement for seeing them again after some time off since the last show. Denver promises to be a wonderful get-together for the industry and three days of exhibition which will speed by all too quickly. It may come as a challenge to set aside some time to “walk the floor” as in past-years’ exhibitions because booths will not be empty. A new generation is entering the RF/microwave industry, due to the likes of advanced aerospace and military systems, 5G, ADAS, electric vehicles (EVs), space, satellite communications (satcom), and they are curious to know more and to pick the brains of the veterans who have helped make this a unique and invaluable part of the electronics industry. Denver will be that chance to meet face to face.
It will also be a chance to meet before technology changes the way that trade shows are held. The new generation is helping to build a world based on instantaneous mobile communications, artificial intelligence, and VR. That generation is already planning trade shows that will be held in the “metaverse,” a form of virtual existence in which we will meet in the manner of electronic meetings on computers. They may save on airplane fare, but they will not save on memories! Visitors to the 2022 IMS in Denver will have those memories.