From the Editor: The future is now


A lot can happen in ten years. Certainly 2005 seemed a long way off when I wrote the editorial for the December 1994 special forecast issue of CleanRooms. But now, as I look at the theme and the broad range of conference content at our CleanRooms Contamination Control Technology (CCT) Conference & Exhibition this month in Boston, I’m pleased to see that I didn’t get it all completely wrong. I thought you might enjoy this trip back to the future as well.

Cleanroom 2005-Using our imagination

For anyone involved in an advanced-technology industry, looking into the future is an exciting and uplifting experience. Although we realize that any particular problem may be an impossible technical challenge today, we know that the future will bring a solution. This isn’t an assumption, it’s an expectation-and it’s an expectation we see as neither bold nor arrogant. Resources, desire and imagination are the only requirements for success.

As straightforward as this sounds, and as confident and optimistic as scientists and technologists generally are, we sometimes fail to recognize that imagination itself is not a discrete commodity-certainly not a tangible budget item that can be identified and allocated to the “Technological Progress Department.” Imagination is a complex process-built upon knowledge and experience; exposure to different concepts and approaches; and requiring a deep level of understanding and insight into whatever subject matter is being explored. In fact, some say genius itself is not the result of pure cranial horsepower, but rather the ability to comprehend and connect multiple concepts from widely separate and seemingly disparate disciplines.

By its very nature, the advancement of contamination control technology will require people capable of this kind of imagination. For some time now, experts and innovators have been thoroughly exploring the science of contamination control for the benefit of the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries-and with tremendous results. But today, because so many different user industries are requiring contamination control technology (at all cleanliness levels and for any number of different applications), industry visionaries will need to move to a higher level of comprehension-to simultaneously see deeply into a large number of user industries.

Today, the contamination control industry is on the brink of a new era of innovation. As companies grow and combine to gain multi-industry experience and critical mass, the benefits of common-technology development will become more and more apparent, and the industry’s well-rounded, multidisciplinary imaginations will indeed be energized. While it’s only a decade away, the cleanroom of 2005 may be a far cry from those we envision today-designed, built, controlled and equipped by an industry no longer working largely to meet requirements, but rather on the leading edge of critical enabling technologies for multiple industries.