Not so small after all
“At issue is whether content is conceived with a perspective that is as global as the contamination control business.”
Pop quiz: how many contamination control industry-gathering events were scheduled through the summer of 1999, and in how many different countries?
George D. Miller
Here`s the list: 6° Forum Contaminexpert to be held in Paris this month; CleanRooms East in Philadelphia this month, sponsored by PennWell, the parent organization of CleanRooms magazine; Semicon Europa in conjunction with the European Contamination Control Conference in Munich in April; the IEST`s annual technical meeting in Ontario, CA, in May; Cleanrooms Ireland `99 in Dublin, sponsored by the recently formed Irish Cleanroom Society in May; the International Conference on Indoor Air Quality in Denver in May; the Scottish Society for Contamination Control`s annual technical meeting in Birmingham, UK, in June; and PennWell`s CleanRooms Europe and CleanRooms Asia to be held in Frankfurt and Singapore, respectively, in June and July.
That`s nine events around the world in only five months. And that excludes most pharmaceutical- and semiconductor-specific events, many of which also contain some contamination control content.
Many people whom I talk to — on both the user side of cleanrooms and the supplier side — are surprised at the quantity of these contamination control events and their geographical reach. It`s true that not all of these events happen every year, and some are in only their first or second run, but the trend is inescapable: more and more users are adopting contamination control technology. As a result, the need is growing in different geographic regions for information on contamination control products, processes and practices.
The spread of these events is not the issue here; indeed, arguing against this spread would be akin to arguing against improving our schools or providing healthcare assistance for the elderly. Rather the issue is the content at these events, and whether it is conceived and executed with a perspective that is as broad and deep and global as the contamination control business is today.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with developing a conference program tailored to the industry preferences of a particular region; in fact, it is essential to do so for business success. But in the process of doing so, it is also essential to present the global perspective on the industries highlighted. In the absence of such a broad perspective, the risk is that regional pockets wind up with a distorted view of contamination control technology, one in which their knowledge and ability to tie the technology to their application is stunted due to lack of exposure to the global experience. Imagine some freeze-drying industry emerging in the cold reaches of Antarctica; as it attempts to adopt contamination control measures it is likely to reinvent many of the wheels invented decades ago by contamination control pioneers unless it endeavors first to understand and connect with today`s practitioners.
As is true with everything else, know what you are buying when you sign up for a contamination control event. And don`t underestimate the value of your own experience when you see a call for papers. By virtue of your willingness to share your experiences in the growing number of public forums devoted to contamination control, you increase the knowledge level of this global technology.