AWR Design Forum – Creating an Ecosystem Beyond Software
When large software companies want to remain large, they tend to do at least two things: Develop their software and teach their users how to use it. The companies organize courses and webinars and create video libraries to answer the endless FAQ lists.
Since there is fierce competition of both customers and fresh ideas, most companies usually organize this kind of trainings by themselves. But I have an exception for you.
The National Instruments-owned AWR has a product called NI AWR Design Environment, a software platform for RF, microwave, circuits and system design. Since 2010, AWR has organized their annual AWR Design Forum (ADF) with the intention to bring together their NI AWR users to learn about the latest release, to network, and to have a dialogue about technical ideas and design challenges. This autumn, the ADF has toured around a dozen locations in Europe and Asia with a one-day event gathering roughly 50-100 participants each.
The core of the ADF is simple: AWR specialists give practical talks about how to use the next software release more efficiently regarding, for example, mmWave phased arrays or matching circuit design. In many events, this might be not only the core, but all there is. Luckily, the ADF has more to offer.
Making antenna, filter or PCB design is necessary, but at the same time they are quite small steps in creating hardware for a new wireless network. In a wider context you need mechanical design, industrial design, manufacturing, measurements, interference evaluations and so on.
When you get the wheels of this whole ecosystem spinning, each individual building block (such as a software company) will have a more stable ground to build their future developments on.
Bearing this in mind, it has been great fun to witness the ADF this autumn. Although Premix is purely an RF material manufacturer, we were kindly invited as a speaker to present our view of 5G material demands. And we are not the only non-AWR speaker during the ADF tour – expert talks are also given by, e.g., Toshiba, Commscope, Qualcomm, SARAS, and Honeywell. In each location there are more than 30 companies present (speakers, exhibiting companies and ADF participants), representing the telecom sector, consumer electronics companies, test and measurement device makers, microwave component manufacturers, space research centers as well as universities. I was referring to an ecosystem before – this is it.
To get an idea about how ADF has evolved to the event it is today, we had a quick chat with the event director Antti Lautanen, who works as a Senior Marketing Manager for AWR Group.
How has the ADF changed over the years?
The event has evolved from early days to become more of a joint event with partners and customers. As our customer base has grown worldwide, so too has our list of venues. We have focused our efforts on providing high quality partner presentations that cover different application examples.
Which new locations will get their ADF event in the coming years and what is your vision for the future?
This is a good question! We have not yet selected the cities for 2019, but we try to organize the events in locations where there is a strong local RF/MW industry presence, such as Tokyo, Seoul, and Munich. We are looking at possibilities for expanding it in some locations to include hands-on training sessions as well as circuit, system, and EM design.
Final question: What is your superpower?
I am a pretty good skateboarder. I can do kickflips.
Next, Antti will grab his skateboard (and the ADF) and move on to Germany, China and Taiwan, where the events are free to attend.
We will be there, will you? Check out the details and register!