This year, the 38th International Congress on Applications of Lasers & Electro-Optics (ICALEO), held again in Orlando, FL, on October 6-10, 2019, was promoted as the ‘New ICALEO’ by the organizers, the Laser Institute of America (LIA). It was very different in scope than past convenings, and rightly so—after 37 years, the innovatively refreshed format was welcomed by most regular attendees, even this reviewer who has only missed one ICALEO since it was established. In the opinion of many of this year’s presenters and attendees I met, this was a very successful Congress.
If there was any expressed concern, it was about the widely separate physical layout of presentation rooms on one hotel floor and the exhibition ballroom, which also served as the social gathering point for non-session activities, on another. This made for a lot of walking between concurrent technical sessions and individual exhibitor business meetings. Many attendees found the conflict scheduling of technical sessions on one level and Market Driver Symposia (exhibitor presentations) on another rather fatiguing, so the escalator saw a lot of action because the exhibits were open every day, all day. And the Poster sessions were also in the hall.
The “New” format divided ICALEO into four theme days: Aerospace, Medical Device & Biotech, Microelectronics, and Automotive, each with a plenary session and a full slate of technical sessions on the day’s theme. This worked, as about 250 presentations from 22 countries, heavily weighted by the host U.S. and Germany dominance with about 50% of all the papers. All told, the U.S., contrary to recent past events, supplied 60% of all technical papers (heavily on laser additive manufacturing and nanofabrication) and international speakers contributed the rest. Therefore, the International in ICALEO’s name was well served.
Detailing the subjects covered in technical sessions is beyond the scope of this brief review. The LIA’s General Conference, Technical Conference, and Business Conference Chairmen and their committees did a yeoman’s job, under very tight scheduling, in preparing and presenting a commendable program. A grateful record attendance thanks them.
Because of the hotel layout, the record attendance was only noticeable during certain plenary sessions and social functions, such as the Annual Meeting and Banquet. A personal comment on this aspect, echoed by several others, was the concurrent scheduling of technical sessions on the second level with a number of very pertinent Market Driver presentations in the exhibitor hall. There is a stated LIA goal to expand short-term attendance from the end-user technology sector. The next ICALEO, to be held October 19-22, 2020 in Chicago, IL, will further test the ‘walk-in’ attendance by end-users from a very laser-centric manufacturing sector in the Great Lakes region.
In summary, ICALEO 2019 was clearly a technical success, as the event's international reputation as one of the world's leading laser materials processing meetings was well served.