President’s Message

As the Walter Kelly poem says ‘spring has sprung’! The weather has definitely turned the corner, and those of us who were afraid that the snow might never leave have been thankfully proven wrong…again. Is pessimism an occupational hazard of being an EMC engineer? (“That circuit will radiate like a banshee!”) Or, is the tendency of EMC engineers to be more optimistic? (“I can fix that circuit and save the company money at the same time!”) Which ever it is, both types seem to respond to a bright new spring day exactly as the schoolboy who finds himself daydreaming out the window in the middle of math class. Mother nature can completely over power our intellect and take even the most disciplined mind and sweep all thoughts aside in the surge of our reaction to a beautiful day.

Spring in France!

Given the above reflection on spring, what should we expect to be the reaction of a pair of EMC engineers who experience spring in southern France? Todd Hubing and I had the opportunity to investigate the climate and environmental impact upon the senses when we attended the Workshop on Electromagnetic Compatibility in Integrated Circuits, which was held from March 31 through April 2, 2004, in Angers, France.
For those who are a bit shaky on the geography of France, Angers is approximately 300 km South-South West of Paris. This part of the country is as beautiful as the rest of France, but has the advantage of a warmer climate than Paris. The flowers and trees are already in bloom at this time of year. Between the flowers, bright sunny mornings, balmy breezes and invigorating walks from our hotels to the conference location, we both had sufficient distractions to excuse any lapses in attention that might result.

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However, the subject of the Workshop “Electromagnetic Compatibility in Integrated Circuits”, was so compelling and the speakers so interesting, both Todd and I found ourselves too engrossed in the presentations to even think about the beauty surrounding us outside of the conference center. The workshop had representatives from all over the planet. Every continent was represented. A number of presentations were from university students working on their PhDs, and the remainder from researchers with companies working in the field. All of the presentations appeared to be pushing the edge of their technology envelope. Several really opened my eyes with methods of measuring signals that I would have never anticipated.

The Future of EMC
The first keynote speaker at the Workshop was Michel Mardiguian (past Distinguished Lecturer of the EMC Society), who gave us a most intriguing view of the history of EMC that explored the question of ‘why has it taken us so long to become concerned about integrated circuit EMC?’ The connection between the frequencies in use in a system, and the elements of the system that could become efficient radiating antennas, was the basis for Michel’s thesis. He extended that line of thinking with supporting mathematical analysis, and clearly showed the basis for the shift of focus on the long cables in early systems, to traces on circuit boards in later systems, to circuit elements on integrated circuit chips in contemporary systems.
From an examination of the history of the evolution of EMC, Michel moved us to where we find ourselves now in the midst of an awakening to the fact that contemporary system frequencies can easily find circuit elements on even the smallest of current silicon chips, to use as effective dipole antennas. With that point in mind, the conference went into full swing with significant papers from many contributors, from almost as many countries as their were attendees.

The Future of the EMC Society
Does this mean that we can eventually stop worrying about cables and circuit board traces as the frequencies of our systems continue to increase at the current rate? Well, no! Michel clearly showed that although the contribution of the system’s larger elements levels off as these elements become too long to be truly efficient antennas, they never actually decrease in their potential contribution as the ‘path’ for total system emissions or immunity contribution. So, while our current ‘tool box’ of system and circuit level mitigation techniques will remain necessary in future, faster, smaller systems, and the need to address direct effects from and into the system’s integrated circuits must now be considered when the whole system’s problems are addressed.
So what does this say for the future of the EMC Society? Clearly, we are not ‘on the way out’. However, just as clearly, we cannot rest on our past accomplishments and assume that our current ‘bag of tricks’ will be sufficient to handle all of our future problems. We have significant learning in our immediate future. We also have a responsibility to begin spreading an awareness of these new threats to our membership through technical articles, tutorials, workshops, and with special sessions at our EMC Symposia.
At some future point in time, we will have assimilated this new information into the ‘standard’ tool kit we try to provide to every new EMC engineer. When that happens, I have no doubt there will be something else, as yet unknown or unnoticed, that will occupy our thoughts, pushing us to new learning and pushing us to come up with new solutions. Will this ever end? The process appears to be akin to evolution and growth, so… probably not. We are just witnessing another stage in an evolving process.
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the Workshop, as I know that its two principal organizers, Mohamed Ramdani and Richard Perdriau, will be providing a detailed article for the newsletter within the next few weeks, filled with photographs of the event, and a sense of the ambiance of their region of France, that I can only hint at. Look for their article. I know you will find in engrossing.

Improving Economy
Spring this year also seems to be holding the promise of a thaw in the economic cycle. This will come as a great relief to many who have been waiting, while the so-called economic “experts” tell us what we already know. Times have been difficult for many engineers. But the spring this year seems to also be bringing new opportunities in many areas where our members provide the technical insight needed to make a potentially good product idea into a successful one in the marketplace.

Looking Forward to Santa Clara in August
The full flowering of our symposium in Santa Clara will be a chance for us all to greet old friends, and make new ones. It will also continue to provide opportunities for education, information exchange, networking and just plain fun. I hope to see you all there to celebrate the re-starting of the economic engine, and the return to the work force of many of our members. I also hope to meet many new engineers just starting into EMC as a career path. I have no crystal ball to predict what the next 30 years of a career will hold, except to say that I already have seen some of the leading edge technology of that period, and I know that it will be exciting!
Also remember, if you are an employer looking for EMC engineers and technicians, the IEEE International EMC Symposium is the BEST place to look. The IEEE International EMC Symposium is the gathering place for the best of the best.

Looking Further to Chicago / Portland / Honolulu
Chicago in 2005, Portland in 2006 and Honolulu in 2007, all seem a long way off from where we stand in early spring of 2004, but time has a habit of creeping up on everyone. I predict that these future dates of the symposium will be upon us before we realize it, and shifted into memory almost as quickly. But, notice that you can’t remember it unless you are there. So plan ahead! Be with us at each and every one. EMC

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