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Who? What? Why? Where? When? and How? Seasonal greetings

Steve Rogerson’s round-up of last month’s news and events, including some which may have slipped under the radar


t is not every company that has its own chapel, but then again it is not every company that has its headquarters in a castle dating back to 1164, but austriamicrosystems is one such company and it is odd to see a state-of-the-art fab sitting next to the old building in Unterpremstaetten near Graz in Austria. Though most of the interior of the castle has been renovated, to provide modern offices, as part of the conditions agreed when the firm bought the castle from missionaries was that the chapel must not be rededicated and as a result the chapel remains as it did in the old days.

While being shown it, I wasn’t sure if

vice president Thomas Riener was joking or not when he said that the CEO sometimes uses the chapel to pray for the share price to go up.

They like preserving the old though at austriamicrosystems as can be seen by the brand new 200mm fab sitting next to the old 100mm fab, which is now used for other purposes. However, when it was decommissioned a lot of the old 100mm wafers remained and a few employees were keen to take them home and use them as bathroom tiles. That caused a lot of anxiety among

the bosses as some of these wafers contained current IP and they were worried about spies from competitors breaking into their employees’ houses and inspecting the bathroom walls, or even some unscrupulous employees selling them on. This did though give the architects the idea of using the wafers for a decorative wall in the office block, and so it came to pass, as can be seen from the picture. The chapel could come in handy at Christmas as well for celebratory carol singing and the like, though I must admit I thought the season of goodwill had come early one hot, sunny day in July while sitting in a nice café by the sea front in Ostend, Belgium, sipping a cool glass of beer. The piped music was suitably mellow until the song changed to White Christmas. If that wasn’t enough, I returned home to find a press release in my inbox from supermarket chain Aldi inviting me to come and sample its Christmas products. Look, I know Christmas seems to come earlier each year, but July? Give me a break. I will continue my policy of ignoring Christmas until after Bonfire Night.

Meanwhile, the whole world seems to

be gripped in George RR Martin fever at the moment with the televising of his novel A Game of Thrones and the fifth book in the trilogy (it was meant to be trilogy but he got carried away) A Dance with Dragons hitting the shelves, albeit at the ridiculous price of £25 (I know it was a hardback, but hardbacks and paperbacks cost roughly the same to produce). It should therefore have been no surprise when I received an email from VoIP News comparing business phones with the headline “Game of Phones”. Groan, true, but it did make me smile.

I should also be smiling next year when I will get the chance to meet said George RR Martin as the fantasy author is a guest as the annual British science fiction convention, which I am helping organise. Called Olympus, the event will be at a hotel near Heathrow over the Easter weekend, but I don’t think about Easter until Christmas is out of the way. And finally, a mention to Doctor Jordan

Boyle from Leeds University. With a name like that, one would expect some breakthrough in the field of gas pressure and volume, but no, he has built a worm. That’s right, a worm. In fact, a 2m long robot worm, future versions of which he hopes one day could be used for helping find people trapped in collapsed buildings and the like. There’s even a video of it here Maybe I’ll get one for Christmas. Sorry, too early.

This wall, made of old 100mm wafers at austriamicrosystems’ headquarters, was built so that employees wouldn’t be tempted to take them and the valuable IP they contain home to use as bathroom tiles.

Steve Neill, managing director of Infineon UK (centre) receives an NMI award for his contribution to the industry from Dr. Hossein Yassaie, CEO at Imagination Technologies (right).

NMI announces 2011 industry awards

NMI has announced that its 2011 industry awards is now open for entries. In its ninth year, the annual programme celebrates organisations, individuals and practices that are helping to generate a healthy and vibrant UK and Irish electronics industry. The electronics industry body has also announced three new award categories: Technology Entrepreneur award. Sponsored by Imagination Technologies, the award celebrates individuals who demonstrate technological innovation and vision into a business reality. The new award category is open to nominated individuals only. Skills, Training and Development award.

This bunch look happy, and so they should. This is the Munich headquarters for TTI, which has just received an award from Bourns for sales growth of its products while Bourns accepted a silver supplier excellence award from TTI. So engrossed were they in mutual back slapping that nobody noticed when the photo was taken that one of the awards was facing the wrong way. Oops!

50 July/August 2011 Components in Electronics

Sponsored by IC Resources, the award highlights organisations that invest significantly in their staff to create world-beating teams. Semi360 award. Sponsored by Cadence, the category reflects a growing need to innovate in both IC and application design. It promotes organisations and their design teams that successfully achieve this feat.

These new categories join a further 9 awards for the year’s best: innovation, R&D achievement,

low power green design, environmental management, manufacturing site, young engineer, product of excellence, supplier and contribution to industry.

Continuing NMI’s tradition of ‘debate then

celebrate’, the black-tie awards dinner will take place after the annual Industry Summit. Both take place on the 3rd of November at the Wyndham Grand Hotel at London’s Chelsea Harbour. “The awards play a very important role for our

industry; raising the sector’s profile and promoting the great work of individuals and companies here,” said Derek Boyd, CEO of NMI. “We invite all industry stakeholder groups to apply for the awards and join the largest gathering of industry professionals at the Summit and the Dinner in November.”

Entries will be open until 28th September; contact Sophie Ericson to submit an award or for further information.

NMI will announce its Industry Summit and

awards celebrity speakers in September. For further details on the industry summit and awards gala, visit Dinner-and-Awards-2011.

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