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The following text was written by Georg Gläser, one of the organizers of the edaBarCamp.de events, who also was co-organizer of the BarCamp @ DATE event. Thank you, Georg, for all your help and for this text.
The BarCamp was an interactive open research meeting, that was part of the Young People Program at the DATE 2021 conference. It was driven by the Cadence Academic Network, especially Anton Klotz, and the edaBarCamp Team, Kim Grüttner, Gregor Gläser and Georg Nitsche, who have previously hosted several BarCamps for PhD students in microelectronics in Germany:
Usually, these BarCamps thrive from the open atmosphere created by spontaneous sessions and collaborations. Porting this to the world of virtual meetings was one of the biggest challenges we organizers had to face. But, it worked! Thanks to Zoom breakout rooms, we were able to create parallel sessions. For collaboration, we used MIRO boards for in-session interaction combined with Slack to provide contact beyond the fixed time frame.
After an introductory session, all participants (or particibutors as they are called in BarCamps because everyone is a participant and contributor at the same time) had the opportunity to propose and pitch topics for the agenda. The agenda is based on (Zoom-enabled) voting after the pitches from the particibutors and created together in the second step. For non-BarCampers, the absence of a formal pre-event agenda can cause irritation because they don’t know what to expect or the benefits of the session, but we see it as one of the strengths of BarCamp!
In a BarCamp, since the agenda is made by the particibutors, all are interested in the session topics and are contributing to it – either by presenting, arguing, drawing pictures for a common understanding or any other helpful way – making it a success. Topics with a bigger audience are scheduled with priority and therefore, an interested audience or contribution staff is ensured.
At the 2021 DATE BarCamp we were honored by our particibutors to give us all that: Interesting session topics, great discussions, new contacts, and ideas for collaboration. We discussed highly relevant topics like “Test driven verification”, “EDA for AI” and many others. The results were documented on interactive MIRO boards and an additional Google doc. Even though all of this was happening in video conferences multiple breakout rooms, partial lack of visual contact, etc., many people were actively participating and contributing to sessions of their own or others!
“I love BarCamps - especially if it is in the heart of my technical area, which is hardware development. I just hosted two sessions on the #edaBarCamp, great interactions with a lot of people and it seeded at least two great ideas for collaboration on new projects.” - Bodo Hoppe, IBM
We as organizers enjoyed the experience of our first online BarCamp and are looking forward to doing it again. Hopefully, we can meet in person – but if not, we now know how to organize an interactive BarCamp in the Zoom domain.