The Laser Institute of America's ICALEO conference in San Diego last week was another successful event, with over 500 people from over 30 countries attending. Among the topics that generated the most interest were glass processing and carbon fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs).
One author discussed using glass substrates to replace current manufacturing methods using traditional printed circuit board technology that will allow more functionality in a smaller package. CFRPs are being found more and more in applications such as aerospace, automotive, and consumer products.
I had the honor of giving the first presentation (a short course) at 9:30 on Sunday morning and there were over 40 people in attendance—quite a good showing for early on a Sunday morning. Conference chairs Dr. Silke Pflueger, Dr. Henrikki Pantsar, and Dr. Yongfeng Lu attracted a full roster of quality papers that were presented throughout the week. My only complaint is that there were so many interesting topics that it was sometimes necessary to miss some talks due to schedule conflicts arising from concurrent sessions.
We had a fun time at the Business Forum, with ILS editor-in-chief Dave Belforte and I both giving talks along with fellow entrepreneurs Steve Capp, Gregg Simpson, and Dr. Bjorn Wedel. Even though we had not compared notes, all of the talks were remarkably similar in many respects. One notable point is that when describing why we all got into the laser business in the first place, nobody placed making money as the reason, but more so an interest in the technology and the great people this industry attracts. It was also gratifying to see other successful entrepreneurs in the audience during the talks and to hear their perspectives in the closing discussions.
The Tuesday night vendor reception as usual featured a casual atmosphere to discuss applications with commercial laser and electro-optics vendors. Unlike many other conferences, the ICALEO show does not revolve around the vendor reception, but they are able to show off their goods during a few hours of time on Tuesday night, which does not interfere with the main purpose of the meeting—the excellent technical talks.
This conference is a great place to meet the movers and shakers in the laser industry. Of particular note is the Schawlow award winner, Prof. Dr. Reinhart Poprawe from Fraunhofer ILT Aachen. Dr. Poprawe, like almost all of the VIPs at this conference, is also very approachable and down to earth. If you are serious about a career in the laser industry, this is the conference you want to attend. One bright note is that over 50 percent of the attendees are NOT from the US, but on the other hand this is a bit troubling as well as there really should be more participation from domestic players. Another example of the international flavor of the event was in evidence at our table during the Schawlow luncheon. Of the 10 people at the table, 8 different countries were represented (and by the way, this was not assigned seating!). Next year's goal should be to get more US participation.
Next year, the event will be held in Atlanta. We all hope to see you there!
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