• Technical Conference:  30 March – 03 April 2025
  • Exhibition: 01 – 03 April 2025
  • Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA

The final countdown until OFC 2014: What to check out besides the main conference program?

By Dr. Ioannis Tomkos

Most researchers attending OFC every year rush to attend interesting talks that are presented at the many parallel conference sessions. The vast majority of people also take some time to visit the exhibition space, check out what new products are on display (by 550 exhibitors!), and observe the exciting live demonstrations at “mobile-labs” and the dazzling booths of the major exhibitors. However most technical conference registrants and especially younger researchers and students, sometimes ignore or simply forget the many other events that take place during the OFC week. In this blog post I would like to highlight some of these parallel events that I believe are worth considering to attend.

I would highly recommend to young students and researchers to open up their minds and look “out-of-the-box” and the narrow set of scientific topics that they typically focus on, by attending events dedicated specifically to them (like the “VIP Industry Leaders Networking Event: Connecting Corporate Executives, Recent Graduates and Students” that is organized on Tuesday, 11 March, 12:00-13:30), but also the “Market Watch” sessions and the “Service Provider Summit”. Research should be targeted eventually to the market needs of the industry and developing an understanding of how industry drives innovation and subsequently research is an important skill that young researchers should possess in order to direct their activities towards higher impact for the society and economy in general.

One of the Market Watch Panels on the “State of the Industry” (Tuesday, 11 March, 12:00 - 14:00) will offer interesting views about what industry needs in the short term. In particular, as an example, I would like to mention that personally I look forward to attend one of the talks by Nikos Theodosopoulos on “Optical Investment Cycle” in order to understand why the optical sector has been so volatile over the years and whether or not the new positive investment cycle that started in mid-to-late 2012 will last for many years.

Another relevant and very interesting event is the “OIDA Review of Roadmaps for the Optical Communications Market and NPI Overview” (that is organized on Tuesday, 11 March, 11:00 - 12:30), which will provide a much anticipated update on the National Photonics Initiative's (NPI's) effort to support optical communications (by OSA Vice President and key co-initiator of NPI, Prof. Alan Willner). This session will also review and compare current technology roadmaps for optical communications.

For those young researchers who aspire to become entrepreneurs, I would urge them to attend the seminar “Advances in Photonics for Optical Transmission Networks” (Thursday, 13 March, 12:30 - 13:30), by one of the major “series entrepreneurs” of our industry, David F. Welch (co-founder and President of Infinera and recipient of the Tyndall Award in recognition of his technical contributions to the optical industry), who will discuss how photonic technologies have changed the domain of optical transmission networks in the past decade and how they will continue to impact the future. I am sure that his talk will be inspirational for many attendees.

Finally, for those researchers who already have some good ideas that they consider a possible basis for forming up a startup company, I would suggest them to participate at the “Workshop on Photonic Startups and Entrepreneurship” (Wednesday, 12 March, 15:30 - 17:00), where the process of starting a company will be discussed and practical guidelines will be presented.

I believe that if you check on your own carefully the entire program you will discover more interesting talks for you. Search it up in advance to take full advantage of your time at OFC!

 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). He is also currently an Adjunct Professor at University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences and at University of Cyprus. Together with his colleagues and students he has authored over 500 peer-reviewed archival scientific articles, including about 150 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: 4 March 2014 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.