Week 47: The Yin And Yang of DAC

With so many things going on, it’s difficult to stay focused.

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In one of my early blog posts I explained that DAC is owned by three non-profit societies: ACM, IEEE/CEDA and EDAC. While the executive committee right now is working on a successful 52nd DAC, planning for future events has already started. Future locations are usually booked years in advance as most of convention center and hotel contracts are signed at least 18 months out. The financial liability of the event lies with the three sponsors, who must therefore extend their focus beyond the current year as they steward the overall health of the conference.

This divided attention is occasionally difficult to navigate. For example, it can be hard to spend time looking years ahead when as the current general chair I want to solely concentrate on the 52nd DAC. Our team and volunteers have created a fantastic program with compelling keynotes; SKY talks; fireside chats; designer and IP track sessions; a research program with EDA, embedded, security, automotive and IoT content; tutorials; workshops and collocated events. I want to spend all my time on promoting the event which is now just a few short weeks away, making sure the word gets out, inviting people to attend. Instead, I need to spend some time on contract reviews, location discussions, and hotel and convention center liabilities, which the sponsors understandably want to minimize. In addition, we have the obligation to deliver this year’s DAC within an agreed upon budget.

Surely all of us juggle multiple responsibilities and competing priorities in our work lives; indeed, such language has been a staple of most job descriptions for years. And without a doubt we work in a great industry, one that on balance continues to make the world a better place. Still, none of us are solely defined by our myriad and demanding professional roles — engineer, executive, student, academic. Many have written about the challenge of trying to succeed in all the roles we play, in families and just as human beings tied to each other around the world in ways too numerous to count or fully comprehend.

I’ve been thinking about these things after spending a few days in Europe at my dad’s 85th birthday. While we were celebrating I happened to be in the kitchen during the news and heard about the terrible earthquake in Nepal. It made me think about the yin and yang of life itself. Here I was in Germany celebrating a birthday with the people I love, and people in Nepal were dying — and are still dying in a devastating earthquake and its aftermath. Some of my closest friends and fellow backpackers have been to Nepal and they all tear up when talking about recent events. We are talking about the poorest of the poor with little infrastructure trapped in a widespread disaster. My heart goes out to the people in Nepal and to all those who have lost loved ones traveling in the country.

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I personally will pledge a dollar to Mercy Corps for relief work in Nepal for each designer and IP track registration we get for DAC until May 5. Which means that you can help by simply registering for DAC. It’s impossible to focus on many places at once, but this week especially it’s important to try.

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