Focus sessions are typically technical in nature and encompass a wide range of topics.† They may include an emerging technology that is of interest to the MTT community or may group together multiple technologies/techniques that have relevance to a common application.† Examples of past focus sessions are:
Special sessions are different from focus sessions in that they may be historic in nature to highlight the technical achievements in a specific technical area, application space or region of the world.† Additionally, special sessions may be in memory of an MTT member to honor the technical and/or service contributions to the MTT community.† Examples of past special sessions are:
The chair of the Focus & Special Session committee is responsible for the solicitation for proposals for Focus & Special Sessions and working with the TPC and TCs as appropriate to vet proposals.† Once proposals are accepted and papers submitted the chair guides the papers through the review and session forming process at the TPC meeting.† Additionally, the chair is responsible for providing a couple of paragraphs to the publications team to highlight Focus & Special Session in the front section of the IMS program book.
A committee of 1-2 people is sufficient for this job.† Involving someone with many years of experience with the MTT-S and the geographic location of the IMS is especially useful since many times one or more Special Sessions are related the microwave history in the area.
Soon after the previous yearís IMS, the call for proposals for Focus & Special Sessions should be posted to the symposiumís website.† July 1 is a good target date and typically coincides with the call for proposals for Workshops and Panel/Rump Sessions.† These calls for papers typically have the same look and feel by using a common template provided by the publications team.† It looks very much like the call for papers for the IMS (CallForFocusSpecialSessions.pdf).† Additionally a template should be provided on the website for proposal submission (IMS2009FocusSpecialSessionTemplate.doc).
The proposals for Focus & Special Sessions are due in mid to late September, typically the same time that proposals for Workshops and Panel/Rump Sessions are due.† Depending on the number of proposals received, it may be necessary to solicit proposals on topics that would be of interest to the MTT-S community.† Once proposals have been reviewed by the committee with input from your TPC chairman, the session organizers should be notified by mid-October so that they can give their authors enough time to write their papers in time for the early December paper submission deadline.
In early December, after papers are submitted, it will likely be necessary to work with your TPC chair and in some cases TPC sub-committee chairmen to swap papers so that they are reviewed by the appropriate SC.† It is also helpful to attend the TPC meeting in January even if you are not formally part of the TPC.† In many cases the paper review and session formation is trivial, for example a Focus Session on Recent Advances in GaN, will be reviewed by the SC on Power Amplifier Devices.† However, it is possible that a Focus Session needs to be split up and reviewed by multiple sub-committees, for example a Focus Session on Phased Array Radar could be a mix of system papers, passive device papers and active device papers and thus appropriate for each paper to go to a different SC.† If this is done, after the papers are accepted, they can be moved in TPMS to the Focus Session SC and as chair you can form the session in TPMS.† You or a committee member should also form the sessions for the Special Sessions.† As these papers are not technical in nature, they do not need to be reviewed, however for paper accounting their sessions still should be formed in TPMS.
After the papers are accepted and sessions formed at the TPC meeting, you should provide a couple of paragraphs to the publications team highlighting the Focus & Special Sessions.† This will be used in the front of the program book (Focus-Special Front Matter).†††
Finally, in the case of the Special Sessions that are a tribute to an individual or historical in nature, light refreshments (cheese, crackers, wine, etc.) are sometimes provided.† If this is the case, provide an estimated head count based on room size to the local arrangements chair and they should take care of it.
After the TPC meeting and sessions are formed, the remainder of the work will be done by each session chair/co-chair.† They will get bios and coordinate their speakers as they would for any other technical session.† Room and time assignment will be taken care by the TPC chair along with the rest of the technical sessions.
The only problem that we had was with the confusion about Focus Session papers being an invited paper.† These are not invited papers and must be of high quality and should be reviewed by the TPC at the risk that they may be rejected.† The problem that we encountered was that a SC rejected a couple of papers that were part of a proposed Focus Session.† The session stayed intact by adding additional papers from the SC, however there were a couple of very surprised and angry authors that received rejection letters when they though that their papers were invited.†
Although the call for proposals was very clear that Focus Session papers were subject to review and possible rejection, the authors likely never saw this because they were receiving their information through the organizer/proposer of the session.† Perhaps one solution would be after accepting a proposal for a Focus Session, in addition to notifying the organizer/proposer via email, the proposed authors could be copied on the notification of the proposal acceptance and in the email make it abundantly clear that their paper could be rejected if it is not up to the standards of the TPC.†††
Overall this job on the Steering Committee has a very reasonable workload, with the majority of the work done in the fall and up to and just after the TPC meeting.