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The NGCAS 2017 conference (New Generation of Circuits and Systems) is the first conference from IEEE CAS Society which is targeted at Young Professionals, i.e. on postdocs, who are still in academia or at YPs, who just started working in the industry, but still are active in research community and miss the feeling of attending a conference. The conference took place in Genoa, Italy, the hometown of Christopher Columbus and still today there is a huge harbor in Genoa, where the ferries depart towards Tunisia, and huge cruise liners are spilling out thousands of tourists, who are envisioning the remains of what once was the richest city on earth. In total the conference had around 100 attendees and an acceptance rate of 66%.
Cadence was invited to attend the panel discussion “Young Professionals Boost Innovation into Society”, how YPs can survive in the modern engineering world, which is quite merciless to the latecomers, where it can be taken for granted that somebody in the world is working on exactly the same topics, where the amount of immediately available information is overwhelming. Other panelists came from academia and industry and several points of conflict could be identified. Both parties are heading in different directions, while academia is searching for wisdom, industry is searching for profits and is able to throw millions of research dollars on a promising topic. Also the industrial research is more efficient and therefore faster.
The cooperation between industry and academia is often difficult because of the fear from the industry to disclose their IP to the academia. As a result, academia doesn’t get the real life challenges from the industry to work on. The industry representatives responded that it doesn’t make sense for academia to try to compete with the industry in the areas that have been identified as profitable. However, there are still lot of areas, where it is not clear if they will become profitable in the future. These topics are not evolutionary like following Moore's Law, these are revolutionary topics like connecting electronics with biology, which was demonstrated in several talks. Research also means making mistakes, and industrial research is under delivery pressure, so mistakes are very costly in terms of time-to-market and money. Academia is more relaxed here, it has enough time for careful research, which is not a straight road, but full with roadblocks which must be circumvented.
Regarding the IP issue, the panelists agreed that there are possibilities to formulate a task for academia in the way, so that the outcome is still valuable for the industry, but which does not violate any IP and can be published. But in order to formulate such task bright minds are required on both sides, R&D managers, who have an overview about the topic their team is working on, and professors, who understand the importance of the task, which might sound abstract and not interesting at first sight. However, there is also a trend, where industry is using academia not for research, but for development of the next generation products, but as panelist from TI Maurizio Granato said, in this case the companies need contractors, not students.
The following day, Cadence provided a workshop on IC packaging, giving a general overview about design techniques and simulation methods based on a real layout example. The workshop was held by Marco Rocca, who is a perfect example of a young professional employed by Cadence. Marco is born in Genoa and has been working at Cadence for 7 months. He took the opportunity to represent Cadence by introducing the topic he is working on in the frame of Young Professionals. Bravo, Marco!