MIG at MEMS Technology Summit

Contributed by Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

I had relatively moderate expectations for the MEMS Technology Summit held at Stanford University, October 19-20, 2010. Some of my pre-conceived notions were a bit on the snarky-side so I won’t share them with you – but let’s just say I was expecting some sort of 1980’s reunion/love-fest with a lot of old guys reminiscing about the “good old days.”

Well you heard it here first – I was wrong. In fact, I have to take my hat off to the folks who organized this 25th anniversary of the founding of NovaSensor – namely Roger Grace, Kurt Petersen, Janusz Bryzek, and Joe Mallon, with help from Joe Brown and  conference organizer Bette Cooper from MEPTEC.

Of course, there was a lot of reminiscing about the past and a lot of photos of guys who had a few less pounds and more hair, BUT there were also some impressive presentations from MEMS veterans and “newbies” alike. I won’t list the numerous folks who presented (only one woman, Beth Pruitt, by the way) and keynoted (there were a LOT of keynotes). Instead I will share with you my favorites. No offense to those not named here; I just can’t write a five-page blog in good conscience.

My #1 favorite presenter was without a doubt, DARPA’s Deputy Director, Ken Gabriel. As some of you probably know, Ken is a co-founder of MIG and a dear friend. I’ve known Ken for more than a decade and I’ve heard him speak before. But NOTHING prepared me for the AMAZING job that Ken did. I truly was misty-eyed at the end of his presentation when he gave his keynote “Change.” I know that the entire audience was inspired and amazed by the simplicity and clarity of his message: though change may seem impossible, don’t ever give up, keep at it and your persistence will pay off. “You need to take the chance that you’ll fail miserably – it’s an important part of success.” Amen, brother.

Another highlight was the presentation that Mike Judy gave on behalf of Analog Devices. I especially was heartened by the mention of my old, and dearly missed, colleague, Bob Solouff, one of the founders of the MEMS team at ADI. I also enjoyed hearing from another NovaSensor founder, Steve Nasiri who is gearing up for the IPO of his latest company, InvenSense. I’ve seen variations of the presentation given by Steve, but I am still impressed and look forward to seeing InvenSense make more headway in the CE market with their unique motion sensing “complete package.”

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog, I seem to be following SVTC’s CEO Bert Bruggeman as he presents around the country this fall and have had the pleasure of seeing him give the same (or damned similar) presentation at THREE events in the past six weeks. I joked with Bert and Prakash Krishnan that I have formed the unofficial Bert Bruggeman fan club. I am joking. But seriously, I feel obligated to add more to my list of favorite one-liner Bert’isms: “you don’t want a cheapo design,” “you need to go beyond the eureka moment,” “the lucky wafer won’t take you all the way to mass production” and “don’t innovate where you don’t have to innovate; but innovate when you have to.” Thanks Bert – I look forward to the next time I get to hear you present but hopefully it’s a new slide deck.

Lastly, I truly was honored to meet and see the keynote by DLP inventor extraordinaire, Larry Hornbeck, Texas Instruments Fellow, DLP Products. Larry went WAY over his allotted time, but I enjoyed seeing the numerous videos and slides depicting the 20-year journey of the seemingly ubiquitous DLP. I was actually surprised to hear of the initial funding of the DLP research – which was from the US military. It’s not surprising but impressive to see another example of how DARPA has continuously funded programs that have been to the benefit of both military and commercial applications.

Now it’s my turn to gear up for MIG’s signature event, MEMS Executive Congress (www.memscongress.com) November 3-5 in Scottsdale. I hope you’ll join me there – we have an amazing lineup of keynote speakers (just two), panels and attendees. I welcome your blogs, Linked In posts and tweets!

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