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IWCS Completes First-Ever Virtual Event

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IWCS 2020 International Cable & Connectivity Symposium was held as a virtual conference from Monday, Oct. 12 through Friday, Oct. 23, a first for the annual event that was launched in 1952.

How it Evolved

In March of 2020, the usual time of the IWCS Call for Papers, conferences were being canceled around the world because of the pandemic, including the UL and IWCS China symposium in Shanghai, China. IWCS, Inc. proceeded with the planning of the October 2020 IWCS Cable & Connectivity Symposium and was determined to make any necessary modifications because of the COVID-19 coronavirus. All options were being considered, including virtual online methods, for producing a successful conference with the technical integrity that the industry has come to expect from IWCS.

A time to Pivot

In late April, IWCS announced that the symposium would be a virtual event held entirely online. Plans were already under consideration for that possibility when the Rhode Island Convention Center, where the conference was to be located, was converted to a critical auxiliary hospital by the State of Rhode Island to accommodate the overflow of coronavirus patients.

An additional Call for Papers period was opened for those who may not have submitted technical paper abstracts due to concerns and uncertainty around the pandemic. The abstract review and selection process took place virtually by the symposium committee over the next few months.

Research for a Virtual Platform to Include All Symposium Elements

The next challenge was to research and find a virtual platform that could accommodate papers being presented virtually from all parts of the world. The plan for the IWCS 2020 Virtual edition followed the same outline of the in-person conference and contained a strong program with 111 peer-reviewed technical papers in 17 Technical Sessions, 3 Executive Session presentations, an Executive Session Panel Discussion, a Plenary Keynote presentation, 4 Professional Development core courses, 2 Supplier Exhibition days and 20 New Product presentations.

Also required was the ability for suppliers to interact in real time with attendees in a virtual supplier exhibition. Once the virtual platform was chosen, registration was opened at the end of August. The platform was built during August to October at the same time the event program was being planned.

Extended Timeline, On-Demand Visibility, Increased Exposure

For the virtual event, all the elements of the traditional in-person conference were spread over a two-week period to have presentations at times available to the most people in all regions of the world. This schedule enabled attendees to be a part of all the sessions and to network actively with industry colleagues.

This year’s online conference also provided prolonged visibility for Technical Presentations, Supplier Exhibition booths, and New Product Presentations – an advantage to attendees, presenters, and exhibitors alike. Attendees were able to watch all presentations On-Demand and visit the Supplier Exhibition Booths for an additional five weeks after the live conference was over, increasing exposure to products and services for attendees and exhibitors. Registration remained open during this time so those who were not able to attend during the live conference were still able to have access to all of it. Others used that time to go back to review portions or see presentations that they missed.

From IWCS CEO/Director Dave Kiddoo

While all of us wished we had been together in-person, we had many attendees and exhibitors tell us that our virtual platform was effective, dynamic and fun to use. In particular, the networking function – to engage with colleagues and find new contacts by viewing their personal profiles – was greatly appreciated.
Even with a few anticipated technical glitches along the way, the live presentations from all corners of the world were amazing. Presenters and attendees were from 29 countries, which is 2 more countries represesented than at last year’s in-person conference.


Awards and Recognition

Always a highlight of the Plenary Session, the recognition for the best papers and presenters of the prior year was presented by Robert LaRocca, Chairman, IWCS 2020 Symposium Committee, UL, LLC., Melville, NY, USA.

The Jack Spergel Memorial Award for Outstanding Technical Paper on “The Maximum Speeds at Which a Cable Can Be Blown In” was awarded to Willem Griffioen of Plumettaz, S.A., Bex, Switzerland.

The Kitts-Kingsley Award for Best Presentation was awarded to Ethan Bremer and Caleb Breaux of Saco AEI Polymers, Wisconsin, USA for “Low Smoke Zero Halogen Compound Considerations for Copper and Fiber Optic Communication Cables”.

The Outstanding Poster Paper on “Characterization of High Temperature Filling Gels for FIMT Applications” was presented to Andrea Terry and Vijayaraghavan Vembuli of Prysmian Group, North Carolina, USA.

IWCS Board Chairman Scott Wasserman, Chairman, IWCS, Inc. Board of Directors, of Dow, Pennsylvania, USA, honored Peter Pilon, of OFS, Massachusetts, USA on his retirement and years of service to IWCS on the Board of Directors.


From Scott Wasserman, 2020 IWCS Chairman

From concept to completion the IWCS Board, Symposium Committee and staff faced incredible unknowns and unique challenges to bring IWCS 2020 to our attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. Throughout it all, our overriding strategy was to retain the technical integrity that we’ve all come to expect from IWCS while pivoting to deliver some creative solutions available through a virtual platform. Thanks to our presenters and our participants – and trust me, significant effort behind the scenes by our staff and volunteers – we were extremely pleased with this year’s symposium!

It was amazing for us to see the hard work come to fruition to provide the premier technical forum for discussing advances in our industry, and we hope to see everyone again next year in person.

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