The Optical Networking and Communication
Conference & Exhibition

San Diego Convention Center,
San Diego, California, USA

The “Disneyland” for Photonics experts!

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos

We have written extensively on this blog about the high quality of the OFC/NFOEC technical program and the many exciting new topics generating innovation. However, another important highlight of OFC/NFOEC is the exhibition and the numerous events that are co-located with the booths. The OFC/NFOEC exhibition is certainly a joyful “playground” for photonics experts (and “geeks”!) and I am sure that many of the event participants would enjoy their visit to the exhibition space more than a visit to nearby Disneyland. There are some good reasons for that!

I remember many times in the past when I had discussions with scientists from other disciplines and their disbelief at the numbers that I was reporting to them (e.g. 550+ companies exhibiting, 12,000 people attending). Indeed we should all feel very lucky if we have the opportunity to attend OFC/NFOEC and be able to see hundreds of new products and network with professionals from so many companies to hear about and explore the commercial possibilities in our field.

For those that have not participated before at any industry exhibition, the huge space with the many dazzling booths of the exhibitors and the colorful brochures of the various companies is certainly a memorable experience. But perhaps the surprise will be even bigger for those participants who have attended other conferences and have a certain standard in mind about what to expect from technical conferences and co-located exhibitions. The OFC/NFOEC exhibition is certainly unparalleled to any event that an optical communications/networking professional has experienced. It is not just the magnitude of the exhibition that would impress many, but it is also the representation of most industry leaders that are present there. The ability of the participants to have a close look at all the new products and showcased technologies, and the chance to “play” with them is another factor that enhances the experience.

When you will visit the OFC/NFOEC exhibition, you should also consider the huge effort that it takes to build all the booths and set up the exciting technology demos that run in many of them. I still remember the excitement of being a member of the team that prepared such demos back in 2001 and 2002 when I worked for Corning Inc. and had a key role in the demonstrations associated with MetroCor fiber and the Wavelength Blocker/Wavelength Selective Switch products. Of course I also still remember the many sleepless nights and stress before the actual exhibition opening…

As mentioned before, what makes the OFC/NFOEC exhibition even more exciting are the many complimentary collocated events like Market Watch, Service Provider Summit, as well as the VIP Industry Leaders Networking Event.. These events are quite unique as they engage the applications, investments, research and business communities in the field of optical communications. If you are a company representative (for example, working as a network architect/designer, or as a components/devices technologist) you certainly want to hear from your partners, competitors and customers about the “hot” topics of the telecom business, which is of course what eventually drives all the developments in our scientific field. Even if you are a representative of an academic institution or a Ph.D. student, I encourage you not to miss these panels and sessions. In some cases you may realize they have just as much to offer you as the technical and scientific sessions!

I hope to meet some of the readers of this blog at the OFC/NFOEC exhibition! Like you, I will be “playing” there, looking after the next product announcement that might change the state of the optical communications industry. Let us know through this blog about the new technologies exhibited that you feel would be most impactful in the future.


Dr. Ioannis Tomkos

(Dr. Tomkos has been involved with OFC/NFOEC in various roles ranging from participant and speaker to exhibitor, workshop organizer, committee member and subcommittee chair).
Ioannis TomkosIoannis Tomkos (B.Sc., M.Sc. Ph.D.), has been with AIT since September 2002 (serving as Professor, Research Group Head and Associate Dean). In the past he was Senior Scientist at Corning Inc., USA (1999 – 2002) and Research Fellow at University of Athens, Athens, Greece (1995 - 1999). Together with his colleagues and students he has authored over 450 peer-reviewed archival scientific articles, including over 120 journal/magazine/book publications and 350 conference/workshop proceedings papers. Dr. Tomkos was elected in 2007 as Distinguished Lecturer of the IEEE Communications Society for the topic of optical networking. He was also elected Fellow of the IET (2010) and Fellow of OSA (2012) for “outstanding scientific contributions to the field of transparent optical networking”.

Posted: 7 March 2013 by Dr. Ioannis Tomkos | with 0 comments

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exposition (OFC)  or its sponsors.

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