Greatest Conferences?

Started by stephaneb 7 years ago5 replieslatest reply 7 years ago492 views

I have been juggling with the idea to organize a DSP+Embedded+FPGA conference for a while now.  But I won't do it until I feel I can organize an event where everyone who would attend would make new friends and leave the conference informed, energized, motivated and very happy to have chosen to attend.  

As the vision of such a conference continues to evolve in my mind, I would greatly appreciate if you could share with me your thoughts on what you think are the particularities of the best conferences.  Have you been to one or more conferences that really stuck out for some reason(s)?  Was it the location and/or venue that made it great?  Or maybe the quality of the talks and speakers?  Anything else?

Thanks a lot!

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Reply by antedeluvianDecember 24, 2017


The only major experience I have had is at ESC (through its various name changes). I have been to three in San Jose and one in Boston and they have gradually degraded. I actually received permission to go to ESC Silicon Valley this month and I abandoned it when I saw that there were less than 40 exhibitors. The only semiconductor manufacturer is Maxim. There are very few of the stalwarts who were always there.

I don't know the reason for this, but if ESC isn't dead, then it is certainly dead to me! Embedded World (I believe you went recently) in Germany has over 400 exhibitors. It appears quite attractive. At my stage in my professional life (near retirement, and working at the tail end of technology in a small company) new products are interesting, but learning completely new design philosophies like Agile is not going to get me to a show. I feel the the content at ESC this year is also very focussed- embedded is much more that IoT and security.

What would make a show attractive to me would be the content (more for the junior engineers at my employer), and the number and variety of exhibitors. Closer to home (Toronto) it is of course easier to get permission, but certainly no show stopper (pun intended).

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Reply by stephanebDecember 24, 2017

Thanks for this Aubrey.  Do you see the presence of vendors (exhibitors) as essential to make a conference attractive? If the conference consisted of only a number of quality talks and workshops, could that still be attractive to you? Thanks again.

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Reply by antedeluvianDecember 24, 2017


Do you see the presence of vendors (exhibitors) as essential to make a conference attractive? 

To me yes, especially if they are presenting information (albeit biased to their products) as Microchip and TI used to do at ESC. The swag (especially demo boards and the like) is also a consideration.

If the conference consisted of only a number of quality talks and workshops, could that still be attractive to you?

It would be more attractive to the junior guys who work with me. (As an aside, they really don't learn much at university and anything that would get them productive would be good.) However, I could think of some topics that would attract me.

I am at a stage where I feel I should be presenting something, but motivation for that is lacking.

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Reply by adamt99December 24, 2017

Conferences are very tricky in my view to get right, you need to demonstrate to the management of engineering companies why they need to send their employees.The cost is always way more than the entrance price (flights, accommodation, etc) but also time out away from delivering on projects. Without attendees your in a lot of trouble. Too many conferences these days are focused on buzzwords (big data, IOT for one) and not realizing that embedded systems covers a wide range of applications and that it is basics time and time again engineers and companies get wrong and that is what impacts them. Speaking as an engineering manager I want people to come back with key take always and better ideas and cross fertilization of ideas from different industry areas. This means technical sessions which are technically deep and not power point deep from marketing people.   

You also need to get the major vendors to attend / be involved - for FPGA you need XILINX and Intel, for processors its ARM, ATMEL, MICROCHIP, ST, INTEL etc. Plus then the tool vendors. 

Interestingly I find embedded world a good demo area but a poor conference, two good FPGA conferences are FPGA Forum (Norway) and FPGA Kongress ( Germany) sadly the UK does not have one either, and I have thought about trying to arrange a get together of like minded FPGA people at times. 

One idea might just be a workshop of good quality technical papers, if so count me in to help however, I can. 

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Reply by jt_eatonDecember 24, 2017

Yes ,We really need this. Traditional trade shows that are sales events are dying and a new user-user style event is beginning to form. We are seeing a lot of designers are forming into virtual teams over the internet and conferences are a good place to meet up face to face. 

The greatest thing that I have ever seen has been the Birds-of-a-feather sessions where various groups could get a room for presentations with Q+A sessions. We now see conferences with demo rooms were a group can man a display area and show off their creations to any one who walks by. You want an area where discussions can take place.

I would love to go to the ORCONF in Europe but don't want the 14 hour plane ride. That conference focuses on opensource and is something that you should consider.Contact FOSSI (they run ORCONF) and ask about doing a ORCONF USA with them. They have a huge audience that will insure a nice attendance.

Keep it low budget. Find a university somewhere for the site. I see that work with a lot of linux user conferences. You can have sponsors but keep the price to exhibit or attend low. 

Invite various groups to set up and man demo areas. Give them a table with power and internet and they supply volunteers.

John Eaton