Chapter D5

Interactive Forum

IEEE MTT-S International Microwave symposium

Guidelines and Procedures Manual

Prepared by: Darren Ferwalt

Reviewed by: Barry Perlman

Table of Contents

  1. Purpose and Duties
  2. Suggested Membership Structure
  3. Timeline of Events
  4. Description of Events
  5. Problems Encountered
  6. Suggestions and Recommendations
  7. Conclusion
  8. Recent IMS Reports
    8.1 IMS2003

8.2 IMS2004

8.3 IMS2005

8.4 IMS2006

8.5 IMS2009

8.6 IMS2010

8.7 IMS2015

8.8 IMS2017

1. Purpose and Duties

The Interactive Forum Committee is responsible for the three daily Interactive Forum (IF) paper sessions at IMS.  IF papers are selected in the same process as regular session papers, but are presented in a large room with poster boards, allowing one-on-one discussions between the authors and the audience (poster photo). 

IF has grown steadily over the years.  At IMS2002, out of the ~600 papers accepted, 212 were presented in IF sessions.  The table below shows some figures from recent years.


# of days



Total Papers

(by day)

Student papers

# of

sq ft








































Committee duties include:

2. Suggested Membership Structure

The committee is usually composed of 3 or 4 members.  Usually a Chair and Vice-Chair (or two Co-Chairs) lead the committee.  For IMS2002, the Vice-Chair and the two other members each served as session chairs for one of the three IF sessions.  This left the overall IF Chair free to deal with last minute issues outside the IF room. 

Selecting the entire committee early (before the previous year's IMS, if possible) can help spread out the preparation work so no one is overwhelmed, especially between the TPC meeting and IMS.  Having all committee members available during IMS week can help handle peak demands, like during the author setup on the first day.

Often a liaison to the Student Paper Competition committee is present at IF meetings to help coordinate the student IF papers.

3. Timeline of Events

A list of tasks with suggested dates is included in the file IF_Tasks.xls.  A few important highlights to note are:

4. Description of Events

Previous year's IMS

Observe the Interactive Forum and if possible, shadow the IF chair during floor setup and author setup.  The hand-off lunch at IMS is a good time to get a "core-dump" of useful IF information.  This is also a good time to do recruiting for IF committee members.

Pre-TPC meeting preparation

The IF room should be identified early, since it is one of the largest rooms needed.  Put in your request to reserve the room in the IMS daybook.  Typical square footage for previous years is listed in the table above.

Creating a preliminary IF floor plan before the TPC meeting can reduce the post-TPC workload and help in creating the budget.  It can be used to see how many IF papers can be accommodated, without violating fire marshal rules for isle widths, etc.  The floor plan may also be used later for a large sign to be placed on the IF floor, showing booth locations and subject areas (see IF_WE_layout.pdf). It is also the primary way of communicating with the furnishings subcontractor (Champion) when it is time to get a bid.  AutoCAD was used for this purpose in IMS2002. 

The IF portion of the IMS budget should be checked (or provided if requested) before the TPC meeting, to make sure enough money has been allocated for the activities and any food planned.  The preliminary budget should be available from the finance chair or the IMS general chair.  The IMS2002 final IF budget summary is an example of the kinds of expenses involved.

Instructions to authors (the "author's kit") for papers accepted to IMS are now provided on web pages (see chapter D, Technical Program Committee for more details on paper selection and authors kit).  So in advance of the TPC meeting, its good to have any updates to these web pages to the web master, so they can be posted before the authors get their acceptance email (see IF_author_instructions.htm, web_IF_guidelines.htm, and web_IF_request.htm).  Because of the number of authors involved, clear and concise instructions help reduce the volume of email questions later, and allow for smoother execution during IMS week while the authors are setting up.

January TPC meeting

Sorting the IF papers into sessions (days) has been the most difficult task at the January TPC meeting.  It is a complex task, balancing many considerations such as:

Deciding which of these factors are important before the TPC meeting helps speed up the process. 

Assigning a technical committee's papers to an IF day can be done at the end of the TPC meeting, or even tentatively during the session (see IF_day_breakdown.xls).  Sometimes it helps a technical committee during the meeting to know what day their IF papers may be assigned to, so preliminary lists can be posted on an overhead projector during the meeting, if desired.

Shortly after the last committee has completed their paper selection, the final selection of TPC#-to-IF-session needs to be submitted.  This has been necessary because the database is needed immediately to publish the advanced program, and to generate the author acceptance letters (see chapter D).

Paper numbers are then assigned in the database in TPC # order.  Student papers are not included in this numbering, and must be added later.

Post-TPC meeting preparation

Several inputs for the advance program and digest are required from the IF committee.  Short descriptions for each of the IF sessions are needed, and a list of IF papers for each day must be submitted, including the student competition papers assigned to that day (see IF_TU paper list.doc). 

For better grouping by technical topic, student papers at IMS2002 were grouped with the regular IF papers from the corresponding technical committee (at least as much as possible, see IF_topic_grouping.xls).  A special floor plan poster was displayed at the IF each day that showed these groupings, allowing attendees to quickly find where their specialty was grouped, or find specific papers they wanted to see.  In previous years, the student papers were grouped at the end of the list of papers each day, which simplified the floor planning at the expense of grouping by topic. 

At least two to three months before IMS, rental arrangements should be finalized with the furnishings subcontractor (Champion for IMS2002).  A bill of materials should be communicated to them soon after the TPC meeting, along with a preliminary layout.  They will draw up a scaled floor plan based on your preliminary layout, and submit it for fire marshal approval.  It may be desirable to request a quote to compare to the budget (prices fluctuate from city to city).  Any power requests from authors are usually coordinated through the subcontractor.

Its good to check up on any food/drink arrangements around one to two months before IMS, and provide any input the local arrangements committee needs.

To help make the hectic job of the sign committee easier, its best to submit orders for all IF signs at least a month before the show.  Usually there is a list of papers sign for each day, 2-3 signs directing traffic to the IF floor, and possibly a floor layout sign for each day.  Tripod stands are supplied by either the sign committee or by the subcontractor.

Interactive Floor setup

The subcontractor will usually set up the IF floor on Monday or on Tuesday morning of IMS week.  It has been helpful in the past to have a IF committee member present during the first part of setup, to handle any last minute changes or questions. 

Authors breakfast (daily)

Each morning all of the regular and IF session authors for that day are invited to a breakfast so they can meet their session chair and ask any questions.  First time presenters often come, but IF attendance at these breakfasts has been less than 25%, even when special reminders are emailed a few weeks before the show.  Even so, the space allocated for the IMS2002 speakers breakfast was too small and disconnected between several rooms.  It may be worth considering another method to get authors together before their session, possibly a lunch held in conjunction with the authors setup time. 

Author setup (daily)

Author setup is the hour before the IF floor opens each day.  The day's session chair helps authors with last minute requests like scotch tape and scissors, and takes care of any unforeseen problems.  There are sometimes last minute power drop requests, which require a scramble to accommodate. 

It has been helpful for the IF chair or another committee member to also be available during author setup, especially on the first IF day.  This allows someone to leave the room to solve a problem, if required.

IF session (daily)

At the beginning of the session, the doors to the IF room are wedged open.  The paper list for the day and floor layout are displayed at the entrance.  A table is usually set up near the entrance, giving the session chair a place to work from, and possibly distribute copies of the list of papers and floor layout.

Food and drinks have been provided in past years, usually starting an hour after the opening of the IF session.  See below for a discussion about changing this tradition.

Extra chairs and, at IMS2002, tables were provided for people to sit and talk.  This was done to further enhance the IF as a place to discuss technical issues.

An estimate of peak attendance each day can be obtained by estimating the number of people per booth and multiplying by the number of papers that day.  At IMS2002, the peak attendance (maximum number of people on the IF floor at ~3pm each day) was:

Tuesday           350

Wednesday     400

Thursday         320

If the average attendee spends 45-60 minutes on the IF floor, then you could extrapolate the total attendance during the Wednesday session as 900 attendees ( = (400total-100authors) x 3 hrs).  Tracking these estimates from year to year may indicate attendance trends, and the overall success of the IF.

A microphone is useful for making announcements during setup and the IF session, especially when its time to close the session.  It has been difficult to get people to leave at the end of the session, and PA announcements and dimming of the lights have helped.

5. Problems Encountered

There were several last minute electrical requests during author setup.  Apparently some student competition authors did not receive instructions to request power.  This can be avoided in the future by insuring that the student finalists are added to the IF email list for announcements, breakfast invitations, etc.

Fire marshal requirements for isle widths ended up limiting our layout options, but in the end we passed the fire marshal walk-through.  It may be good to get input about fire marshal rules from the subcontractor to save time during the preliminary floor planning .

The food allocated for each day was grossly underestimated.  The food budget was reduced dramatically from the year before, and it turns out that $20k of food doesn’t go very far.  Lesson learned:  always know what the budget was for the previous year’s IF if you expect to maintain the same level of services.  See the next section for further discussion about food.

6. Suggestions and Recommendations

There were some suggestions that having the IF floor open for three hours might have been too long.  There was good traffic throughout the entire three hours, but it would be worth looking this over again to see if its too long for an author to be on his/her feet.

Ending the sessions at 4:30 seemed to work well.  It left time for authors to clean up and still catch a bus for evening activities.

The floor plan signs use at IMS2002 were well received. They took a fair amount of time to make, so you may want to develop a more efficient way to create them, possibly with Visio instead of AutoCAD.

Buffet finger food and drinks (beer, wine and soft drinks) have been provided in past years to help attract attendees to the IF.  Although it undoubtedly increases the traffic flow though the floor, the general consensus is that the Interactive Forum is now well established and may no longer need food to attract attendees.  The limited IF food budget for IMS2002 ($20k total for food) was eaten through in around 30-45 minutes each day, much quicker than anticipated.  A good compromise might be to provide only soft drinks, and possibly beer, wine and relatively inexpensive cracker/cheese trays.  This might help retain the informal environment of the Interactive Forum, and give the authors something to drink during their presentation, while reducing costs.

Another suggestion we were given was to consider a best IF paper(s) competition, possibly one or two for each IF session, and/or for the entire week.  This might motive higher quality presentations, or at least reward a few that put in an extra efffort.

Champion did an outstanding job as subcontractor, and reacted quickly to last minute changes.  They have done this function for several years (Aaron Group, used in previous years, was acquired by Champion in Dec. 2001).

In general, be prepared for a few last minute changes and problems.  Interaction between many simultaneous IMS events tends to forces changes as conflicts are found.  A flexible approach seems best.

7. Conclusion

Organizing the Interactive Forum has been an rewarding (if sometimes frustrating) experience.  The IF has developed into an important part of IMS, encouraging direct interaction between the author and his/her audience.

8. Recent IMS Reports

8.1 IMS2003

Interactive Forum FINALRPT.doc

8.2 IMS2004



8.3 IMS2005

IF 2005 Final Report.doc



8.4 IMS2006



8.5 IMS2009


8.6 IMS2010

IMS2010_Reports\INTERACTIVE FORUM FinalReport.doc

8.7 IMS2015






8.8 IMS2017

IMS2017_Reports\2500.1 IMS2017 Interactive Forum.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\2500.2 IMS2017_IF_Presentation_Guidelines.pdf

IMS2017_Reports\2500.3  IMS2017_IF_Presentation_Template_Part1of2_Printed_Poster.pptx

IMS2017_Reports\2500.4  IMS2017_IF_Presentation_Template_Part2of2_PowerPoint_Slides.pptx