When the Honolulu, Hawaii location for this year's Microwave Theory and Techniques Symposium (MTT-S) was revealed some years ago, people reacted with both anticipation and disbelief. Among the folks with whom I spoke, there seemed to generally be a positive, excitement-filled reaction. As 2007 got closer, however, some companies vowed that they would not exhibit if the society stuck to the Hawaii location. In addition, rumors were widely circulated that the location had been replaced. Despite the stir that was created, however, Honolulu stuck. The show, which took place last month, did seem to have somewhat fewer attendees and exhibitors than it did in the past. Yet many conference-goers and exhibitors have still deemed it a success.
Symbolically, Honolulu is a perfect place to have the United States' largest microwave conference and exhibition. This industry took off in World War II, as RF technologies were needed for radar and other applications. Fittingly, the United States' involvement in that war began in Honolulu with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Visitors to Pearl Harbor can even learn about an early form of radar, which was undergoing experiments at the time of the attacks. Although this early radar spotted the incoming Japanese airplanes, the aircraft were assumed to be US B-17s coming in from California. Even though the warning was not heeded, the fact that the radar showed the aircraft led to more investment and development in radar and related technologies.
Hawaii also is a good location for attracting attendees from the Far East. Unfortunately, there did not seem to be a much greater number of Far East attendees. As for traffic on the show floor, it was at times rather light. As is usually the case, most of the attendees gravitated toward the "big fish"—the large companies that always have very sizeable booths displaying numerous products and technologies. Despite slower foot traffic, however, many companies found that they still gathered their usual amount of leads. Yet they were able to do so without having to have a lot of superfluous conversations and collect a bunch of useless business cards.
Rather than being a black mark on MTT-S, the Honolulu location might have actually been a blessing. Even if an employer only sent one person to the exhibition, that attendee was the one who needed contacts for current or near-future designs. In other words, that person is the only one who would have turned out to be a true lead for a given MTT-S exhibitor anyway. It is true that the sandy beaches probably lured many people away from the conference and exhibition. At the end of the day, however, business still got done. As one person said to me, why not Hawaii? Why not a true boondoggle? We are part of a valid industry that has been successful for decades. It is about time that we celebrate a little.