Week 9: Look Out The Window

It’s not only allowed, it’s encouraged.


When I grew up I was considered a rather difficult child. I couldn’t focus on a single task for long and sitting in the classroom, especially in elementary school, was sheer agony. I vividly remember one morning in third grade when, in the middle of a math test, I looked out the window and noticed a helicopter flying by. This was a notably more interesting fact than the numbers and equations on the paper at my desk. So (quite reasonably, I thought) I jumped up, ran to the window, and announced: “Look! There is a helicopter flying over the school!”

My teacher’s response was about what you’d expect, including another call home to my parents who were by then at their wits’ end when it came to managing their bright and inquisitive child who just didn’t fit the mold. I settled down when I was 12, becoming more focused and even starting to shine at school, largely because classes got much more challenging and interesting, and because there were many more outlets for fun as I got older. Then as now my brain needs a lot of stimulation and I don’t do well in stale environments. Good thing I went into marketing in EDA, which is enabling a host of amazing new technologies that, for better or worse, will ensure that none of us will ever lack for stimulation again.

I hear every now and then from vendors not yet exhibiting at DAC that the conference doesn’t appeal to designers working on cutting edge technologies, the kind that eventually wind up making headlines in the mainstream press. I really have to bite my tongue to not ask them “and where have you been hiding these last few years?” DAC is no longer an academic backend IC conference; we are so different now. Of course we maintain our roots in EDA, still a central part of our technical conference. But over the years we have branched out into new areas in design automation. And we have a very vibrant, well-attended designer track to prove it.

Let’s talk about the designer track at DAC: Last year more than 700 designers attended 57 presentations spread across 12 sessions. And more than 100 posters were split across two poster sessions. Designer track submissions were received from 49 companies in 15 countries. Topics this year included 3D design, human-computer interaction in the Internet of Things era, and programming heterogeneous compute architectures. In addition, to broaden the appeal to the design community even more, we added the IP track on Monday, which included a dedicated keynote, six sessions with various presentations and three panels, all 100% IP focused.

What started as a user track five years ago has become a vibrant space for designer-to-designer exchange of ideas without vendor marketing pitches — we save those for the demo suites. The submission process is uncomplicated. By January, you just need to prepare a two-paragraph abstract and 4 to 12 slides. More details on where and how to submit will be available soon. In the meantime, contact information for designer track co-chairs Karam Chatha and Daniel Bourke and IP track chair Michael ‘Mac’ McNamara is available here.

It turns out many of us in tech were distractible kids. (As just one example, take a look/listen to the discussion from about 1:05-1:14 in episode 468 of podcast “This Week in Tech.”) The good news is that we all found our way into an industry where it’s not only allowed, but in fact often required to look out the window for something new flying in over the horizon. Whatever it is, chances are it couldn’t have been built without the expertise represented at DAC.

When you take a break from your work and your tech imagination wanders, what do you see? A topic, perhaps, that we might consider for next year’s conference? Don’t worry, you don’t need to shout it out to your peers. Send your idea to me and I may well do the shouting (or at least writing) for you on this blog in the weeks ahead.


Graham Bell says:

I checked out the “This Week in Tech” link, and at the time-stamp you suggested there is only a sponsor ad that is being touted. I have not seen this show before and looks to be well produced.

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