Phil Kaufman Award Ceremony Moves to DAC

Although both CEDA and EDAC have tried to put a positive spin to this change, this is another sign of the significant transformation of the EDA industry. Moving the Phil Kaufman award to Sunday evening at DAC is like taking two aspirins and calling the doctor in the morning.

Since 1994 the Phil Kaufman award has been the most prestigious award in the EDA community outside of those recognitions presented by the IEEE. The award ceremony has been an opportunity for the industry to come together outside of the noisy and commercial confines of an industry conference and recognize the contributions of one of our peers.

I must confess that this bit of news is quite depressing. Coming at a time when the industry is seeing increased consolidation and lower opportunities for startups, combined with a significant lower profile for EDAC than in the recent past and the overwhelming academic focus of CEDA, it is difficult to notice what positive contribution the change of venue provides.

Holding the dinner the same week as ICCAD seemed a good compromise to lower travel costs in the past, although last year EDAC managed to get this bit wrong as well and moved the dinner to a different week. But ICCAD just does not have the draw since it really does not have exhibitors. EDAC corporate members, of course, should have enough pride in their consortium and in the industry it supposedly represents, to sponsor the event themselves. But in these times, profits, not industry pride, is what counts.

Since its inception the DAC Sunday Night Welcome Reception has been an event in search of a personality. From an analyst presentation followed by a drinks, to a cocktail party followed by a presentation very few people bothered to listen to, to just a cocktail party with a short speech, this event has been symbolic of how DAC, forced by financial concerns, has slid into mediocrity. Before the academic world raises in condemnation, I will continue to defend the technical program associated with DAC, but such an event is small and not financially self-sustaining. It is a portion of the conference whose intent is (may be "was" is more accurate) to profile the contributions of our industry to the rest of the world.

I agree that presenting the award at the Sunday evening reception will finally give meaning to that event, although it may diminish the prestige of the award. After all, to all of us that paid attention, the award was announced and re-presented at the Tuesday morning plenary session already. I assume this practice will continue, since the attendees at the Sunday Welcome Reception are quite different than those at the plenary session.

Kill the dinner in November and save money: there is no other explanation for the change. And may be it is time to save some money since every event on which EDAC has worked lately has existed on the shoulders of volunteers and Mentor Graphics PR funds. I would like to offer a reverent suggestion to the organizers: make the presentation first, then serve the drinks: otherwise, very few people will listen. It has, regrettably, come to this.