Conversation, Propagation and Good Vibrations

Conversation, Propagation and Good Vibrations

Marcus Walden - Technical Lead, Antennas and Propagation

By: Marcus C. Walden
Technical Lead, Antennas and Propagation

13th September 2017

Home » Propagation

During the summer, I went away on a trip to the USA and came back buzzing. My week away from the office was intense and it was a great experience but I wasn’t on holiday. This was work!

I’d flown to San Diego in order to attend this year’s IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation (pictured above) and my reason for being there was to present two technical papers that I’d written and submitted about nine months earlier. After 5,478 miles and about eleven and a half hours flying time, I was ready to deliver my two ‘babies’ to the antennas and propagation community and hopefully make a small contribution to the ‘book of knowledge’.

You don’t have to write technical papers to attend conferences. There are a number of good reasons to participate including networking, sales and marketing and even self-training. The social events can be fun as well – imagine a dessert reception on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and throw in some fireworks too!

Attending a conference can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time and perhaps more so if it’s a large event. The IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium typically attracts about 1,500 people from around the world. Attendees come from academia and industry; they might be young Ph.D. students, established university professors or professional engineers – a variety of people at different stages of their career.

At my first-ever symposium, I only knew one person to say hello to. The big names in the crowd were obvious – keeping up-to-date by reading technical articles and engineering books makes you aware of the ‘movers and shakers’ in your subject field – but I felt like a little fish in a vast ocean. I could have been the wallflower at the party but I made the conscious decision to talk to people and come back with a stack of business cards. Evidence to show my MD that I had been busy and maybe justification for him to sign off my expenses bill on my return to the office.

Conferences are great networking events. You get to meet people; some have familiar faces and others are new. These new contacts might lead on to future activities; for example, new research topics to explore, academic and/or business collaborations or an important sale or purchase. These activities might be fairly immediate but more often than not they occur in slow time. It’s an investment for the future.

At the end of my first symposium, my one contact had become many. I had been introduced to new people but I also made the effort to approach others. I had technical and/or business-related questions to ask and the coffee and lunch breaks at conferences allow discussions in more relaxed settings. It can be nerve-wracking to ask a question in front of a large audience and a one-to-one chat can be much more fruitful.

The main purpose of my trip to San Diego was to present two technical papers. The first was given in a twenty-minute slot, which included time for questions. I always get butterflies before a talk, so I practice beforehand until I feel comfortable with my words – I liken it to rehearsing for a school play. Awkward questions can be the stuff of nightmares for a speaker, so I try to critique my own presentation from the viewer’s perspective and imagine what questions they might have. On the day, it can help to have some quiet time to relax and water close by can soothe the dry throat should it appear during the talk.

So why would anyone voluntarily put themselves in this stressful position? If the talk is well-delivered and more so if it is well-received by the audience, there can be an immense adrenaline rush. People approach you after the talk – more networking and new contacts. Feedback can be beneficial; both positive and negative with the latter hopefully given in a constructive manner from which you can develop.

If the thought of talking in front of a technical audience is terrifying – my first-ever antennas and propagation talk was at a session with standing-room only – then a poster presentation might be more comfortable. Discussions in front of your poster are usually led by the interests of the visitor but the subsequent one-to-one interactions can be very informative for both parties. My second paper in San Diego was given as a poster presentation and I really enjoyed the experience. You can also find a few more of my papers in the Antennas & Propagation segment of this website.

Presenting at a conference can generate publicity for you and your company. It can raise the profile of your organisation and its capabilities become more visible to the outside world. As a consequence the sales process benefits. Frequently, a job – or research contract – will only sell if there is evidence of prior experience in a given technology field. Publishing papers helps establish a technical reputation and adds credibility to commercial bids.  

An important function of technical conferences is to enable the exchange of information and knowledge; usually a piece of work that is new and/or original. Examples of new work might include simulation or measurement techniques, measurement results or theories. Even if you don’t get to publish papers, attending a conference keeps you informed of current ‘hot’ technology areas and forms an important part of self-training. Where else do you find a gathering of world’s experts from whom you can learn?

Large conferences typically have multiple sessions running in parallel, so it’s impossible to attend all talks. I try to attend as many presentations as I can during the day. Some sessions are directly related to my current work but others are not; I might want to learn about a new technology area or increase my understanding of another and some talks have curious titles that draw my attention and make me want to find out more.

The presentations – including chats with speakers – are a valuable source of knowledge and understanding. I’ve returned to the office armed with ideas that have fed into designs or been investigated further. Some information provides a steer for sales and marketing. Other nuggets lie dormant to germinate at a later stage, some months or years later.

My interests cover antennas and propagation from HF (2–30 MHz) through to mm-wave frequencies, so the San Diego conference provided a rich feasting ground. For me, conferences are more beneficial than training courses. It provides an opportunity for me to recalibrate myself; to reaffirm strengths but also identify new skills and technologies to develop further.

The week in San Diego was intense. I put in long hours, listened to many talks and met lots of people. It was exciting and fun and I learned a lot. No wonder I was buzzing on my return to the office!



Image credit: IEEE Event photo: Regala Studio

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

During the summer, I went away on a trip to the USA and came back buzzing. My week away from the office was intense and it was a great experience but I wasn’t on holiday. This was work!

I’d flown to San Diego in order to attend this year’s IEEE International Symposium on Antennas and Propagation (pictured above) and my reason for being there was to present two technical papers that I’d written and submitted about nine months earlier. After 5,478 miles and about eleven and a half hours flying time, I was ready to deliver my two ‘babies’ to the antennas and propagation community and hopefully make a small contribution to the ‘book of knowledge’.

You don’t have to write technical papers to attend conferences. There are a number of good reasons to participate including networking, sales and marketing and even self-training. The social events can be fun as well – imagine a dessert reception on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and throw in some fireworks too!

Attending a conference can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time and perhaps more so if it’s a large event. The IEEE Antennas and Propagation Symposium typically attracts about 1,500 people from around the world. Attendees come from academia and industry; they might be young Ph.D. students, established university professors or professional engineers – a variety of people at different stages of their career.

At my first-ever symposium, I only knew one person to say hello to. The big names in the crowd were obvious – keeping up-to-date by reading technical articles and engineering books makes you aware of the ‘movers and shakers’ in your subject field – but I felt like a little fish in a vast ocean. I could have been the wallflower at the party but I made the conscious decision to talk to people and come back with a stack of business cards. Evidence to show my MD that I had been busy and maybe justification for him to sign off my expenses bill on my return to the office.

Conferences are great networking events. You get to meet people; some have familiar faces and others are new. These new contacts might lead on to future activities; for example, new research topics to explore, academic and/or business collaborations or an important sale or purchase. These activities might be fairly immediate but more often than not they occur in slow time. It’s an investment for the future.

At the end of my first symposium, my one contact had become many. I had been introduced to new people but I also made the effort to approach others. I had technical and/or business-related questions to ask and the coffee and lunch breaks at conferences allow discussions in more relaxed settings. It can be nerve-wracking to ask a question in front of a large audience and a one-to-one chat can be much more fruitful.

The main purpose of my trip to San Diego was to present two technical papers. The first was given in a twenty-minute slot, which included time for questions. I always get butterflies before a talk, so I practice beforehand until I feel comfortable with my words – I liken it to rehearsing for a school play. Awkward questions can be the stuff of nightmares for a speaker, so I try to critique my own presentation from the viewer’s perspective and imagine what questions they might have. On the day, it can help to have some quiet time to relax and water close by can soothe the dry throat should it appear during the talk.

So why would anyone voluntarily put themselves in this stressful position? If the talk is well-delivered and more so if it is well-received by the audience, there can be an immense adrenaline rush. People approach you after the talk – more networking and new contacts. Feedback can be beneficial; both positive and negative with the latter hopefully given in a constructive manner from which you can develop.

If the thought of talking in front of a technical audience is terrifying – my first-ever antennas and propagation talk was at a session with standing-room only – then a poster presentation might be more comfortable. Discussions in front of your poster are usually led by the interests of the visitor but the subsequent one-to-one interactions can be very informative for both parties. My second paper in San Diego was given as a poster presentation and I really enjoyed the experience. You can also find a few more of my papers in the Antennas & Propagation segment of this website.

Presenting at a conference can generate publicity for you and your company. It can raise the profile of your organisation and its capabilities become more visible to the outside world. As a consequence the sales process benefits. Frequently, a job – or research contract – will only sell if there is evidence of prior experience in a given technology field. Publishing papers helps establish a technical reputation and adds credibility to commercial bids.

An important function of technical conferences is to enable the exchange of information and knowledge; usually a piece of work that is new and/or original. Examples of new work might include simulation or measurement techniques, measurement results or theories. Even if you don’t get to publish papers, attending a conference keeps you informed of current ‘hot’ technology areas and forms an important part of self-training. Where else do you find a gathering of world’s experts from whom you can learn?

Large conferences typically have multiple sessions running in parallel, so it’s impossible to attend all talks. I try to attend as many presentations as I can during the day. Some sessions are directly related to my current work but others are not; I might want to learn about a new technology area or increase my understanding of another and some talks have curious titles that draw my attention and make me want to find out more.

The presentations – including chats with speakers – are a valuable source of knowledge and understanding. I’ve returned to the office armed with ideas that have fed into designs or been investigated further. Some information provides a steer for sales and marketing. Other nuggets lie dormant to germinate at a later stage, some months or years later.

My interests cover antennas and propagation from HF (2–30 MHz) through to mm-wave frequencies, so the San Diego conference provided a rich feasting ground. For me, conferences are more beneficial than training courses. It provides an opportunity for me to recalibrate myself; to reaffirm strengths but also identify new skills and technologies to develop further.

The week in San Diego was intense. I put in long hours, listened to many talks and met lots of people. It was exciting and fun and I learned a lot. No wonder I was buzzing on my return to the office!



Image credit: IEEE Event photo: Regala Studio

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Further Reading

By Marcus C. Walden

Abstract: A lightweight, wideband tapered-slot antenna that uses an antipodal Vivaldi design and provides useable gain from ~5 GHz to in excess of 50 GHz is described. Simulations and measurements are presented that show excellent agreement. This antenna design is currently deployed in handheld test equipment.

I. INTRODUCTION: Numerous designs exist for wideband (multi-octave) antennas that also have good directivity. However, the selection pool reduces if the antenna is to be employed within handheld test and/or monitoring equipment. For example, the relative bulk and weight of standard gain or double-ridged waveguide horns is undesirable, as is their cost.

Microstrip antennas are attractive because they are, by comparison, lightweight and cheap. While a patch array is simple, its feed structure is more complicated and incurs losses, particularly at higher microwave frequencies. For desired operation from below ~20 GHz to above ~40 GHz, a tapered-slot or Vivaldi antenna was considered suitable [1]. Furthermore, an antipodal Vivaldi design was selected because it offers a simple microstrip-coax interface and provides good gain over a wide bandwidth [2].

Inevitably, some engineering design trade-offs are required.

Read more…