Microwave Industry Awards Whip Up the Recognition

Microwave Industry Awards Whip Up the Recognition

With the Microwave Industry Awards, Microwaves & RF provides a forum for industry members to share their appreciation for companies that excel in categories ranging from website to technical support.

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In the fast-paced microwave and RF industry, it is important to recognize the accomplishments of the companies and individuals that are at the forefront of providing and sharing critical information. With this in mind, Microwaves & RF developed the “Best of Microwaves” industry awards. These honors are derived from the community, using polled answers to select the best websites, blogs, videos, educational tools, and more. Of particular importance is the recognition of major individual contributors within the field, who receive the prestigious Living Legends award for their impact on the industry.

Best Website
1. The simple layout and readily available links to useful information are solid features of the Best Website award winner.

In this process, Microwaves & RF’s editorial board combs through numerous surveys to tally up and track down the highest performers and their runners-up in every category. These awards are given out with much excitement and enthusiasm at the International Microwave Symposium every year, and this year’s event in Tampa Bay, Fla.,  was no exception. Companies in seven categories and their runners-up were recognized for their efforts this past June in addition to the 2014 Living Legends award.

The Best Industry Website is awarded to the company that has the most complete combination of aesthetics, usability, and quality information on its site. The winner’s website must feature easily navigable search options so that users can quickly find products and services. For example, Cobham Antenna Systems, this year’s winning site, features a product support section that details the various services offered.

In addition, a sidebar allows users to jump to a different type of technology with ease. The technology pages on the website have straightforward and helpful summaries of technologies with readily available links to more detailed information.  specializes in advanced antenna technology for satellite communications, avionics, radar, surveillance, and other military and commercial applications.

The runner-up in this category, AR, offers EMC and RF testing as well as amplifier systems/modules and receiver systems (Fig. 1). The company’s website features new “Find It Fast” charts in the RF/microwave instrumentation section. This capability allows users to rapidly search for solid-state RF amplifiers and microwave amplifiers as well as TWTAs, hybrid power modules, and antennas. With many hyperlinked items on the home page, AR World turns finding exactly what a visitor is looking for into a stress-free task.

Other highlights of this website include a homepage slideshow showcasing different products and events. In addition, free, downloadable software promises to make testing “quicker, easier, and more accurate.”

Blogging is a productive and quick way to keep a company’s or individual’s customers/fans actively engaged with their products and services. It can even offer a fast-paced avenue for sharing knowledge. The key to successful blogsespecially in an industry as complex as oursis their combined offering of rich technical information mixed with personality, which keeps the audience members coming back.

This year’s Best Industry Blog, which can be found on www.microwaves101.com, is extremely useful and interesting while being refreshingly funny. As the “Unknown Editor” behind the blogging and other information provided on it, Steve Huettner finds ways to relate current topics with microwave technologies, trends, products, and more. In fact, no matter what topic Huettner is tackling, his blog always relates a seemingly unconnected event back to microwaves.

The blogs are written in a casual, yet informed manner that really holds the reader’s attention. Recently, Huettner partnered with the IEEE MTT-S to increase the efforts and resources invested in the site, which serves as an industry resource via its encyclopedia, hall of fame, and other key features such as the blog.

Best Customer Service
2. W.L. Gore, which was the runner-up for Best Customer Service, lists easily found phone numbers so customers can connect to a knowledgeable expert who can answer anything from sales to technical application inquiries.

Of course, dedicated information-based blogs have a place in the industry as well. They can fill a valuable knowledge gap for novice to experienced professionals in a given field. This year’s runner-up for Best Industry Blog, Anritsu’s The PIM Source, covers the issues associated with locating and testing passive intermodulation (PIM), the basics of PIM measurements, and how to prevent/eliminate PIM in cellular networks. The blog features many descriptive entries and photos, which help present information in an at-a-glance manner while providing in-depth technical information.

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Social Media and More

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Just as blogs help companies and individuals communicate in the virtual world, maintaining a firm handle on social media is a strong trend in every market. Be it Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, or another avenue, social media helps companies share the latest news and product offerings with timeliness and style. Agilent, the winner for Best Social Media, has a strong presence on Twitter and YouTube. With highly shareable images that often link to Agilent’s own blog, the company uses a mix of blast-to-the-past facts and the latest technology to engage customers and the test and measurement community.

The runner-up in this category, RFMD, hosts a YouTube channel that includes everything from training videos to product announcements. The company’s Twitter feed is a go-to for the latest in company news with more details provided on the Google+ page. RFMD also uses LinkedIn to further connect with its customers.

Video content is a great tool for communicating complex messages in an efficient and information-rich way. Analog Devices, this year’s winner for Best Technical Application Video, offers videos that range from how to use specific converters to more general presentations on things like motor control, system partitioning, and design. Videos also show how to create new systems with different devices, such as replacing optocouplers and shunt regulators with one of the company’s isolated error amplifiers. The firm’s video library offers demonstrations of products at conferences like Embedded World as well.

The runner-up for Best Technical Application Video, National Instruments, maintains a strong sense of community with its customers via video learning tools and video application notes. National Instruments also shares application videos from users of its products. Most recently, videos focused on National Instruments’ LabView software have provided support for designers working on applications like instrument control/acquisition and the analysis of measurement data.

Texas Instruments
3. Texas Instruments provides an engineer-to-engineer (E2E) forum for collaboration between engineers’ readily available knowledge solutions.

As engineers look to rapidly close project deadlines or find the best fit for a complex problem, they increasingly look to strong technical support complete with technical expertise. Linear Technology, designer and manufacturer of analog integrated circuits, is the winner for Best Technical Support. In our survey results, Linear ranked highly for reliable, easily accessible, and high-quality customer service. The Microwaves & RF audience credits Linear Technology for making knowledgeable people available to them for advice and help in solving design dilemmas.

In addition, response time is highly rated. As a bonus, Linear has both design support and technical documentation located conveniently on its website. The Design Support section features many options, such as design simulations, quality and reliability of information, and technical support. Technical Documentation provides product information, design notes, and a direct link to an online product catalog.

A close second, W.L. Gore & Associates also was very highly rated for technical support (Fig. 2). In addition to helping with product questions, Gore’s representatives are known to provide innovative solutions to fix problems. The firm’s website features a contact form that allows users to ask questions regarding cables and cable assemblies. Gore also offers information about its authorized distributors to make getting help as easy as possible.

Of course, the inspiration behind all of this information and knowledge sharing is the microwave and RF industry, which contains a wide array of technologies with an enormous depth of intricacy. It is virtually impossible to know everything about the industry. As a result, references and tools are critical for the student, hobbyist, and engineer alike.

Texas Instruments, the winner of the Best Online Education Tools award, provides an engineer-to-engineer community that is rich with a wide variety of forums and videos. Subjects covered range from delivering more information about products—everything from amplifiers to microcontrollers and everything in between—to application-oriented information for a wide range of markets (Fig. 3).

Alongside a diverse product portfolio, Rohde & Schwarz—the runner-up in this category—hosts a site with an extensive glossary of technology standards. The site covers standards from cellular to mobile broadcast and satellite navigation to satellite broadcast. The Rohde & Schwarz site also offers webinars, notes, and white papers to teach customers about topics like LTE.

Dr. Stephen Maas
4. Dr. Stephen Maas, this year’s winner of our “Living Legend” award, has written several books on the topics of nonlinear and microwave circuits. He runs a consulting company for nonlinear solutions called Nonlinear Technologies Inc.

Given today’s ever-shortening design and production cycles, another growing trend in this industry is the need for quality custom solutions at a reasonable price and delivered in a timely fashion. The winner of the Best Custom Solutions award, Analog Devices, offers custom solutions that include a suite of design tools and the newest edition of Signal Chain Designer. It helps customers build customized signal chains with access to over 200 tested application circuits.

Adding a sense of community, the beta program allows for the easy sharing of designs as well as simplified ordering of parts or evaluation boards. Integrated design and wizard tools help to complete a bill-of-materials (BOM) report. For all other projects, design specialists are available to help with any necessary customization.

The runner-up in this category, Mini-Circuits, provides an array of RF, intermediate-frequency (IF), and microwave signal-processing products. The firm’s engineers can create custom solutions starting with any Mini-Circuits products. Amplifiers and RF filters are just a few of the customizable products offering quick turnaround time.

When these awards began last year, the highlight was the naming of our first Living Legend, Agilent’s Blake Peterson. This year, Dr. Stephen Maas won the Living Legend award for his work with low-noise and nonlinear microwave circuits and systems (Fig. 4). Currently a chief scientist at AWR Corp. and a consultant with his own company, Nonlinear Technologies, Maas has authored several books including Microwave Mixers and Non-Linear Microwave Circuits. His most recent book, Practical Microwave Circuits, further bolsters his contributions to the community.

Maas, who has served as editor and chairman of the Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, is an IEEE fellow. Maas was previously recognized for a Microwave Prize in 1989 for his work on distortion diode mixers as well as many other accomplishments.

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