DesignCon: Dedicated engineers keep quality high
Martin Rowe- September 28, 2012Over the past few months, I’ve been involved with the technical activities for DesignCon 2013. Proposals for papers were due in late August and the review process is now complete. Each of the 14 tracks has an organizer who assigns reviewers from the DesignCon Technical Committee, a group of volunteers dedicated to maintaining quality in the conference content.
This year, the committee members reviewed 210 proposals for papers. Barry Sullivan of the International Engineering Consortium has, as for about ten years, coordinated the review effort. DesignCon 2013 with be the third year that UBM has owned the conference.
The proposal reviews are complete, with about one-third of the proposals accepted and placed in time slots for the conference. During a conference call, one of the committee chairs noted that “You can easily spot the top third and bottom third of the papers you review. The top third are technically sound, relevant, and well thought out. The bottom third of the papers are may cover old technology or are veiled product pitches.”
Those proposals that fall in between take more thought to decide whether or not to accept. Having now observed the process, I see that it may come down to topic. For example, a paper may be applicable to more than one track. In that case, a paper may be accepted be moved to a different track to better balance the overall technical program.
The DesignCon program is more than just technical papers with 40-minute presentations. The program also includes half-day seminars and tutorials. Panel discussions, 75-minutes long, take place in the late afternoon. I will moderate a panel covering the importance of measurements with high-speed serial links. A similar panel in 2012 was successful enough to hold it again.
Scheduling the times for the presentations is a real juggling act. Sullivan strives to give the conference a good variety at any time slot. As with all conferences, some attendees will have to decide among two or more interesting topics that may occur at the same time.
Throughout the process, conference manager Katie Stern keeps everyone in line, keeps things moving during conference calls, and makes sure that everything is in place come show time. Katie has to deal with everything-- the technical committee, the Web site, the marketing people, the venue, and most important, the food.