From the floor of Transducers ’09 Day 1

Paul Werbaneth, VP Marketing & Applications, Tegal, is hitting the floor of the Transducers 2009 conference in Denver all this week and will be blogging his experiences. Stay tuned throughout the week as Paul sends more updates.

Day 1 Afternoon: I see Gary Fedder’s still in the spirit of things this afternoon, walking around wearing a Black Bart kind of hat.  With the poster session open there’s steady traffic through the exhibit area, and I make a connection with MIG activities for a couple of attendees from the Northeast.  People are saying, “Why are you at Transducers when you don’t actively make MEMS?” and we say we’re here because Transducers is a bridge between what the younger students are showing in the papers and posters they have up and what we want to put in our commercial products.  I invite my visitors to MEMS Executive Congress 2009, and promise that even though MEC is in Sonoma it’ll look like work because our social event is hiking up Sonoma Mountain.  In the rain, most likely.

They say they’ll take a look.

Off to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science tonight for a social program that includes Egyptian Mummies, North American Indian Culture, Dinosaurs, and …

Day 1 Morning: I take the elevator down to the opening reception; it’s 6:00pm, the bar’s been open for an hour, and the sound of a great party is heard even before the elevator doors open.  Many attendees in Western spirit, meaning clothes, hats, and badges, the last of which are worn by Transducers volunteers Joe Brown, Roger Grace, and Kurt Petersen.  A ten-gallon-hats-off to these tres hombres and their enthusiastic promotional activities on behalf of Transducers 2009.  It worked!

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said “There are no second acts in American lives,” but apparently there are second acts in the lives of Tegal tools.  Ran into some colleagues from Japan last night doing MEMS-based ESD protection devices. Turns out they also have energy harvesting programs going with PZT films, and that the same Tegal etch tool that had been used in FRAM development all those years ago is now finding a second act, in piezoelectric MEMS.

I count at least four ways to accessorize with the bright yellow Transducers 2009 bandanas I see everywhere at the party.  What a great giveaway.

It can be a little cool between competitors in the device and equipment businesses, but there is a large, warm, mixed group of Cal – Cornell – Penn – MIT members comparing notes on topics like AlN, Women in MEMS, moving to Cambridge, and the weather in Ithaca.  I know all of us on the business side have been watching travel budgets this year, but just a sample of the dynamic energy radiating from this party makes it clear there’s nothing like being here in person.  Wasn’t it Woody Allen who said “80% of life is just showing up?”

From San Francisco to Denver: A surprise of fresh snow high on the summer peaks in basin-and-range territory Nevada. Reading Wallace Stegner short stories on the plane, Stegner a Western author, but Stegner’s West arcs from Salt Lake to Montana, up to the Canadian border, and then out to Almaden and Los Gatos, CA, by coming down through the Pacific Northwest.  Denver goes missing.  Which writers then for here?  Willa Cather (The Song Of The Lark) captures some of Colorado, but I decide it’s really got to be Kerouac. His West ends in either Big Sur or North Beach, having started somewhere in the Denver train yards, hopping a freight while the bulls weren’t looking.

Gritty ride in from the freeway to the Sheraton, and maybe that is Dean Moriarty’s father looking out from the peeling casement window in one of the railroad flop houses I see before reaching the hotel.  My Super Shuttle companion is here for Transducers 2009 too; he’s into microfluidics.  “What’s interesting in microfluidics these days?” I ask.  “It’s hard to make money” is the reply.

A lot of that seems to be going around.  “Business has been like a faucet, running wide-open and then suddenly turned-off,” says another voice from the floor.

“Belly-up to the bar” cocktail hour tonight may help. More later.


One thought on “From the floor of Transducers ’09 Day 1

  1. Thanks for the charming/engaging/informative blog from Transducers 2009 – sounds like the MEMS industry is alive, kicking and having a great time! Looking forward to more posts…

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