Traveling to MWSCAS 2013

-September 04, 2013

Traveling at this time of year, even for vacation, is not something I like to do. Yes, I am probably becoming the poster child for a “grumpy old man.” The problem I have with trips this time of year is traveling with “infrequent travelers.” The upside is the children. Their excitement is infectious and they look so proud pulling their luggage down the corridors. The downside is the adults. I have several pet peeves. The first is how these travelers use luggage carts. They seem to think they are like shopping carts and you should leave them at the spot you are finished with them.

On my recent trip, a fellow passenger left the cart at the bottom of the escalator. I guess they thought this would be a warning not push the cart onto the escalator. While I was waiting in the parking lot doing email before my flight, a returning passenger pushed their cart up against my truck. After I honked at them and giving them a startle, they moved the cart to the next vehicle.

 

Another peeve occurs during the boarding process. The gate agent requests everyone to have their boarding passes ready for inspection. I believe some passengers think that the gate agent will remember them from last year, so they can just keep the boarding pass in their pockets. Then there are those passengers who insist of “defragging” their brief cases or purse while standing in the isle of the plane. These people seem to think that this will either reduce the weight of their carry-on baggage, or that their fellow passengers appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs while waiting for them to finish compacting their personal items.

 

Well, I survived the journey to the 2013 IEEE Midwest Symposium on Circuits and Systems (MWSCAS).1 This was actually my first time to visit Ohio State University. As much as I do not like traveling this time of year, the trip was well worth it. The symposium was very well run and I would put it in the top five conferences over the last decade.

 

This IEEE event has quite a history. The first symposium was in 1955. There have been 56 MWSCAS, skipping only 1957, 1960, and 1962. This year’s event attracted an estimated 400 attendees. The sessions covered a broad range of topics from analog and mixed-signal circuit design and power management, to bio-inspired green technologies and university and industrial training in the art of electronics. My favorites were power/energy management related sessions and the session on the art of electronics.

 

There were four sessions covering power and energy management. The topics were broken down as shown in Table 1. Energy management was the most covered topic in these sessions with a total of eight papers. So what are my picks of the litter?

   

I have a couple of picks. The first is “Steady-State Analysis of PWM Quadratic Buck Converter in CCM.”2 The “quad-buck” topology is not new and the analysis has been performed to a degree before. This particular paper does a good job in optimizing the inductor and capacitor values. This topology is applicable to any high conversion ratio and is particularly important for high-frequency applications such as those enabled by GaN devices. I was also impressed by the reported peak efficiency of > 93%. The conversion ratio was not all that special being 24VIN and 9VOUT.

 

My other pick is “A Cross-Regulation-Free Triple-Output Switched-Capacitor DC-DC Regulator for Energy-Harvesting Applications.”3 This triple output regulator achieves nearly 90% efficiency, which is quite high given the low-power output of only about 75 mW total while running a 1 MHz clock. The regulator uses a constant on-time modulation scheme. The output voltages are 2V, 3V, and 4V with just over 30 mV of ripple. A single-input, multiple-output converter has many applications in wireless sensor systems. These systems will have multiple voltage domains. Having a single solution for three domains helps reduce the power management solution size particularly when high efficiency can be maintained.

 

Power Topics

Paper Count

Switched Cap Converters

3

SMPS

7

LDO Regulators

2

Energy Management

9

Wireless Power

3

Other

1

Total

25

 

Table 1: MWSCAS 2013 Power and energy topics

 

As stated earlier, I liked the “Art of Electronics” session. This was an interesting topic for an IEEE conference. The discussion started around a “lab in a box” that could be used for undergraduate classes, particularly for on-line courses. The sessions started a general discussion on how this methodology prepares students for the workforce as applications or test engineers. For graduate students, I mentioned that typically it takes three to five years for a new collage graduate hire before a product line feels comfortable in placing them in the critical path of product development. This raised a few eyebrows! We discussed how many graduate programs stress “invent and creative engineering,” and do not offer much in how to reuse IP. This discussion will continue next year at Texas A&M.

 

If you had a chance to attend or can get access to the papers of the 2013 MWSCAS, it would be worth the effort to look them over. Please be thinking about how we could better prepare the new workforce for an industry that is stressing execution along with innovation. What do you think we need to suggest to our universities in order to help prepare our future workforce? I’d really like to hear from you on this.

 

By the way, I will be driving to 2014 MWSCAS. Even though it is not a short drive, I will be the only passenger that I can complain about. Ah, yes, no luggage carts, no boarding passes, and no other passengers – but I will miss the kids.

 

For more information about this and other power topics, visit TI’s Power House blog: www.ti.com/powerhouse-ca.

 

References

 

1. MWSCAS 2013: http://secs.ceas.uc.edu/mwscas2013/

2. Agasthya Ayachit, Marian Kazimierczuk, “Steady-State Analysis of PWM Quadratic Buck Converter in CCM,” Wright State University, MWSCAS 2013

3. Zhe Hua, Hoi Lee, “A Cross-Regulation-Free Triple-Output Switched-Capacitor DC-DC Regulator for Energy-Harvesting Application,” University of Texas at Dallas, MWSCAS 2013

 

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