DoD sets the pace at Wescon

Sept. 16, 2004
Government contracts boost Southern California engineering firms as Wescon kicks off in Anaheim.

Companies are more willing to send their engineers to trade shows this year, say Wescon officials. Defense contractors are expected to be well represented among attendees at the Anaheim, Calif., event which kicks off Sept. 21.

The mood is expected to be upbeat as the 2004 version of the Wescon show begins on Sept. 21 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. " Exhibitors seem to have a positive attitude on the economy and that has been nice to see," says Wescon show director James Hungerford. "The economy in the southern California aerospace industry has been fairly strong. We have been seeing a big boom among high-end military and aerospace contractors such as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. So there is more willingness to send engineers to events like Wescon," he says.

Billed as the reengineered industry event for the total design and supply chain, Wescon combines exhibits with industry forums on OEM electronics, nanotechnology, supply-chain management, and net-centric defense industry manufacturing. The event also plays host to the Enterprise Integration Expo and NanoWorld show.

Keynote Wescon speakers focus on state-of-the-art developments and what's on the horizon for new technology. For example, IBM Almaden Research Center staff scientist Kevin Roche discusses spintronics and how electron spin can be harnessed in technology by means of nano and/or spin-engineered materials. (Roche also councils that neither advanced mathematics nor a deep understanding of quantum physics is necessary to understand his presentation.)

Also on the agenda is The Mathworks Chief Market Development Officer Jim Tung who speaks on model-based design applied to system development. The problem, he says, is that today's document-based approaches do not scale well to address increasingly complex systems. They are susceptible to errors from interpretation, translation, and limited information access. In contrast, model-based design approaches integrate algorithm design, multidomain system modeling and simulation, automatic code generation, and integrated acquisition and analysis as key technologies that make possible more rapid implementations that are innovative to boot.

The lead engineer for the Mars Exploration Rover Project is on the agenda as well. Randy Lindemann, leader of the team that designed and built these renowned surface vehicles, will discuss the mission from concept through launch and landing. He will touch on both the engineering aspects of the mission and the science results.

Also on tap is an event called the Autonomous Vehicle Technology Showcase. It discusses design and application aspects of the Darpa 2004 Grand Challenge in which teams built autonomous vehicles that attempted to navigate through an off-road course. Workshop discussions at the show will focus on such topics as mobility, mapping, path planning, GPS navigation, sensors, power, stability, computing, and emergency stopping.

Technical sessions at Wescon concentrate on the areas of design and analysis, testing, power technology, supply-chain management, and business. The NanoWorld portion of the event has its own sessions that deal with nanoelectronics, nanosensors, nanocoatings, nanomechanical systems for spacecraft, and other topics.

There are two special tutorial sessions in the design and analysis track deal. One all-day session covers high-frequency digital design and PCB layout. A half-day session is devoted to fundamental concepts of signal integrity and EMC related to printedcircuit boards. Additional topics include when to use hybrid circuits, design for flexible printed circuits, and built-in self-test considerations.

Highlighting the agenda of topics on testing is a panel discussion delving into the problems of testing high-speed communication signals. Participants are expected to provide helpful hints for effectively deploying test instruments to make quick but accurate measurements of gigahertz signals as may arise in application areas such as UWB communications and PCI Express connections. Other topics in the testing track include best use of oscilloscope features, triggering on elusive events, testing for EMC compliance, and improving measurement performance in the presence of noise.

The power technology tracks are pointed up by sessions covering digital control of power converters, switch-mode and resonant power-conversion basics, ultralow-power MCU applications, and spray cooling CPUs to mitigate the limitations of ordinary air cooling.

Finally, the supply-chain track includes sessions devoted to RFID, supply chain security, and the application of cost-based risk analysis for supply chain security.

Wescon runs September 21 through 23. Show hours are: Tuesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Web site is

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