SEMI-MEMS & Sensors Industry Group Blog

MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress 2017: Knowing Your Unknowns

By Karen Lightman, MEMS & Sensors Industry Group | SEMI

As in life, knowing everything in MEMS and sensors is impossible. Often the best we can do is to “know the unknowns” because articulating what we do not yet understand allows us to seek answers so that we can stay competitive.

MEMS and sensors supply chain members need to know what is “state of the art” in terms of technology, what the competition is doing, and how to identify the best partners in order to increase revenue more quickly. Bridging alliances across the supply chain is truly the only way you’ll get from here to there.

These concepts are integral to MEMS & Sensors Industry Group’s upcoming conference, MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress (MSTC), Working Together to Solve Technical Challenges and Increase Value across the MEMS and Sensors Supply Chain (May 10-11 at Stanford, Calif.). What will you experience at MSTC? You will get to rub elbows with top technologists from both inside and adjacent to the MEMS and sensors industry as they share their expertise on how to address the most common technical challenges to growth. This year Stanford University’s SystemX is hosting MSTC and they will offer a guided tour of their two nanofabs (one of which recently opened, so this is a special treat).

For this year’s MSTC, we’ve lined up some impressive keynote speakers.

Chris Ré, assistant professor, Department of Computer Science, Stanford University, will present “Snorkel: Ameliorating the Labeling Bottleneck in Machine Learning.” With machine learning an indispensable part of voice-recognition, image search, natural language processing and other applications, Chris will explore new techniques for circumventing the most common bottleneck in machine learning — creating training sets. I think everyone will welcome the opportunity to learn how to snorkel our way through a smarter planet.

Scott Borg, director and chief economist of U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit will present “Understanding Sensor and MEMS Security from an Economic Standpoint.” Scott’s keynote will address the value and opportunity cost of MEMS and sensors devices with respect to cyber attacks, focusing on the value as opposed to the cost. His premise is that “approaches that are purely technical are especially likely to waste resources.” Intriguing, no?

MSTC 2017 will also include breakout sessions that will give attendees an opportunity to roll up their sleeves and tackle some of the most challenging technical issues still affecting both the front-end, middle and back-end of manufacturing. These “known unknown” topics include:

  1. Technology Transfer for Dummies: How to Get to a Stable High-yielding Process – chaired by Mary Ann Maher, Ph.D., president and founder, softMEMS
  2. Back-end Challenges of MEMS and Sensors (Packaging, Testing, & Reliability) – chaired by Mike Mignardi, manager, technology development, Texas Instruments
  3. Integration Opportunities (Technological & Business Considerations) – chaired by Peter Himes, general manager, SITRI Innovations and SITRI Ventures
  4. Emerging MEMS, Sensors, and Systems Incorporating Them – led by Nicole Kerness, vice president, Sensor Design and Technology, Kionix
  5. Piezoelectric and other Emerging Materials for MEMS and Sensor Applications – chaired by Dave Horsley, PhD., Chirp Microsystems

MSTC 2017 has also compiled an impressive lineup of speakers who will address issues such as sensor integration and its benefits (STMicroelectronics Senior Manager, MEMS Product Marketing Jay Esfandyari,). Coventor Vice President of Engineering Stephen Breit, will discuss enabling “easy customization” of MEMS sensors for integrated, high-value solutions. Silicon Microgravity Executive Chairman Paul Vickery will describe new technology that allows us to measure Earth’s gravitational field to an astounding resolution of 1 ppb. Plasma-Therm Business Development Manager Yanick Pilloux will offer insights into the emerging process of plasma dicing technology.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the lack of ingenuity in new power sources, so I am especially looking forward to hearing Excelitas Technologies Applications Engineer Prometeusz Jasinski, Applications Engineer present on a lens-less “SMD thermopile solution for dealing with people motion-detection in battery operated devices.” I’m also a big believer in robotics (because I really need a robotic maid!) and am excited that Tohoku University Professor Shuji Tanaka will share the latest in smart MEMS and sensors for robotic applications. We’ll also include two more presentations on what I like to call “new science”: microspectrometry for new materials analysis by Si-Ware Systems Executive Vice President, W/W Marketing &Business Development Scott Smyser, as well as development of a high-performance micromirror array using the MEMS ecosystem by AMFitzgerald Associate Caroline White.

At MSTC, attendees can further navigate the “known unknowns” by tuning into a panel experts who will discuss how academic research innovations and industrial technological advancements will not only drive current trends but will also dictate the longer term market landscape for systems incorporating MEMS and sensor devices. Our experts include moderator Allyson Hartzell, managing engineer, Veryst Engineering, and panelists: Sanjay Bhandari, Ph.D., CTO and senior vice president, mCube Inc.; Uma Krishnamoorthy, Bosch; and Professors Debbie Senesky and Jon Fan, both of Stanford University.

In this exciting yet challenging era of MEMS and sensors-based applications, MEMS & Sensors Technical Congress (MSTC) offers a technically focused forum on staying ahead of those unknowns. For more information, visit:


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