Interview: Raafat R. Mansour, 2012 IMS Technical Program Chairperson

Interview by Nancy Friedrich

NF: With the Montreal site, the International Microwave Symposium (IMS) truly is going global. How do you predict that this site will affect the number of conference-goers? Do you think it will be up or down from last year's numbers?

RM: IMS2012 received a record number of paper submissions and I would expect that the symposium will also achieve record attendance this yearparticularly given the location. Montreal combines the convenience of a North American international city and the flair of a European city. It has a special glamour and is an amazing city to visitespecially in summer. We have a very exciting technical program that will be of interest to researchers and seasoned working microwave engineers, as well as students and those who are just starting out in this dynamic field. IMS2012 will have 40 workshops, of which several are jointly organized with the Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) conference, seven short courses, 18 special/focus sessions, four panel sessions, one rump session, 79 MicroApps presentations, and several student competitions.

NF: What about the exhibitor turnout? Does the international location seem to be dissuading anyone from exhibiting? Will needing a passport to travel from the US pose any problems for visitors?

RM: We currently have more than 600 exhibitors registered for IMS2012 from countries all over the world and we are about to fill all exhibition spots available. Of the registered exhibitors, nearly 40 are first-time exhibitors. Because IMS is designed as an international symposium, we attract attendees, presenters, and exhibitors from a wide range of countries, regardless of the symposium location. We have obtained special privileges from the Canada Border Services Agency to facilitate the entry of goods into Canada for IMS2012. The exhibition management team is working to coordinate the shipping of exhibition material through customs directly to the convention center, eliminating duties on any materials sent to the show.

NF: Congratulations on having a record number of papers submitted for the conference. What was the total? And how many of those were accepted?

RM: IMS2012 received 1225 technical papers, the most since the inception of IMS. The previous record of 1094 papers occurred for IMS2003, which was held in Philadelphia, PA. Since 2004, the symposium has received an average of 825 submissions, with 841 papers submitted in 2011. We are also thrilled with the growing response from students, as almost one third of the IMS2012 papers (351) came from student authors, setting yet another record for IMS. Of the 1225 papers received, the IMS2012 Technical Paper Review Committee accepted a total of 612 papers (50%). Of those, 448 were selected for oral presentation and 164 were selected for the Interactive Forum.

NF: Which countries submitted the most papers?

RM: The symposium received papers from 49 countries, including Portugal, Tunisia, and Macau. The United States led the pack with 324 submissionsalmost a 20% increase over 2011. Behind the US was Canada at 134 papers (an 80% increase over 2011) and China, which almost quadrupled its submissions (growing from 27 papers in 2011 to 125 in 2012). Iran also tripled the number of papers submitted over 2011, while Sweden and France more than doubled their submissions.

NF: What were the most popular areas in terms of subjects for which papers were submitted?

RM: In terms of topics, passive circuit elements represented the highest number of papers, 95, among the 38 technical areas. Millimeter-wave and terahertz (THz) components and technologies represented 74 submissions. Topics related to power amplifiers were also popular, with 72 submissions for power-amplifier devices and circuits and 38 submissions covering power amplifiers.

NF: Did you see a lot of submissions relating to work at THz frequencies?

RM: Millimeter-wave and THz components and technologies was our second-most-popular category with 74 paper submissions covering this topic.

NF: What were the other "hot" areas?

RM: Other popular topics included filters, semiconductor devices, monolithic integrated circuits (ICs), and MEMS components and technologies.

NF: What do these trends tell you about the state of the microwave industry right now? For example, is the dip in defense spending causing companies to focus more of their research and development (R&D) efforts on commercial and industrial applications?

RM: Overall, the greatest trend was in the number of papers submitted with a record-breaking year and a 46% increase over 2011. The distribution of papers among technical areas, however, is similar to the distribution we received over the past three years. We can see that the research in RF technology continues to focus on wireless applications. Several workshops at the symposium will cover various aspects of microwave wireless technology, including five workshops on power-amplifier and gallium-nitride (GaN) technology, two workshops on tunable filters and reconfigurable systems, and two workshops on mobile and wireless systems.

NF: The student-paper competition also is a highlight of the conference every year. Can you give us a peek into what we should expect from that competition this June?

RM: Students are the future of IMS. So each year, the steering committee takes seriously the need to provide a program that encourages the professional growth of its future leaders. The program is designed to recognize outstanding technical contributions from individual students and to encourage student involvement in research and development in the areas of the IEEE Microwave Theory & Techniques Society (MTT-S).

It is interesting to note that almost one third (351) of the papers submitted to IMS2012 came from student authors, setting one more record for IMS. This represents a 75% increase over the 204 student papers received in IMS2011. This year, we selected 26 student paper finalists who are invited to present in a special competition session to be held during the symposium (in addition to their regular paperpresentations). Topics range from "A Battery-Less, Energy Harvesting Device for Long Range Scavenging of Wireless Power from Terrestrial TV Broadcasts" to "An RF-MEMS Switch for High-Power Applications."

NF: Of course, IMS is not the only part of "Microwave Week," as both the RFIC symposium and the Automatic RF Techniques Group (ARFTG) conference are collocated with it. Can you provide any insight into emerging trends and developments that will be covered by those conferences? For example, graphene has gotten some attention at other solid-state conferences. Do you expect any reports on graphene devices for microwave use?

RM: The IMS2012 Plenary talk will be given by Steve Mollenkopf, the President and Chief Operating Officer of Qualcomm. He will provide an accurate and authoritative perspective on microwave wireless technology and its business aspects. The closing talk will be given by Thomas H. Lee, Professor at Stanford University. He is a pioneer scholar and outstanding researcher. He will close the symposium by presenting his vision on the future of key research aspects of microwave and wireless technology.

IMS2012 also has organized three important special sessions related to the history of the microwave industry and engineering education and research. NF: Aside from the papers, what special conference offerings will be available to attendees this year?

RM: We're pleased to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the MTT-S during IMS2012. In honor of the event, there will be historical sessions, a panel session with prominent MTT-S members, a retrospective movie, a special gift for attendees, and an enhanced historical exhibit. More information on the anniversary celebration is available on our website (, where we've posted historical documents, photos, and anecdotes. We'll also be offering 60th-anniversary-related trivia on our Twitter account.

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