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SA edition of global EMC conference a success
30 January 2019, News

The 4th edition of the IEEE Global Electromagnetic Compatibility Conference (GEMCCon) was successfully held from 7 to 9 November in Stellenbosch, at the Wallenberg Conference Centre, part of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).

Gideon Wiid.
Gideon Wiid.

Previous editions of this annual conference have been held in Australia, Brazil and Argentina. GEMCCon brings together the EMC community, both in academia and industry, specifically to date in the southern hemisphere. The event provided excellent opportunities to meet and interact with a large part of the South African EMC community, including current postgraduate students, as well as international community members.

The venue in Stellenbosch is nestled between a vineyard on one side, and a nature park on the other, with beautiful views of the Stellenbosch mountains. It provided a beautiful setting for a very creatively interactive conference. The welcome cocktail evening was held on the porch, with delightful weather, calming music, delicious snacks, some local gins, and good Stellenbosch wine, of course. It provided a good opportunity for relaxed networking and relationship-building. Excellent service from the venue staff ensured that everything at the conference went smoothly as planned.

Our plenary speaker, Keith Armstrong, gave an insightful talk, as well as a tutorial session, on the functional safety and risk in EMC. This, together with the special sessions on time domain EMC measurements, risk-based vs rule-based EMC, and EMC in large installations, attracted great interest from the audience. For the three special sessions, our invited speakers were Marc Pous, Paul van der Merwe and Frank Leferink. South Africa’s own pioneering EMC engineer, Sarel van der Merwe, gave a very interesting talk on the history of EMC in South Africa.

All the other technical papers were very well received. A student paper competition was also held, which Thabo Nhlapo from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) won. The book and book-voucher prizes were graciously sponsored by the IET.

The conference platinum sponsors, EDA Technologies and Würth Elektronik, both gave very practically useful workshops during the conference. This was preceded by a short technical presentation of each of their company’s capabilities and services. It also worked extremely well to include all the other sponsor exhibit tables inside the auditorium hall where the papers were presented, which allowed the sponsors to participate more easily with the technical talks as well.

The poster session was held in the library hall of the historical Manor House behind the conference centre. A local wine farm, Asara, provided wine-tasting and gin-tasting on the one side of the hall, while the technical paper posters were displayed alongside local university postgraduate student posters as well. Feedback on the quality of work in both the technical and student posters was very good. It also allowed student exposure to local and international opportunities, with good interaction and new relationships formed.

The gala dinner banquet followed the poster session, with excellent food and excellent wine, two things South Africans are particularly proud of and fond of. It was rounded off with more relaxed conversations during after-dinner drinks. During these sessions it was more than just work relationships that were strengthened, but new friends were made.

A special thanks goes to the organising committee of vice-chair and treasurer, Temwani Phiri; conference administrator Anelja de Bok; and international chairman, Alistair Duffy. The team did an outstanding job of making the conference a huge success. Our generous sponsors played an important role in this as well, together with our venue and service providers.

With the success of this conference, conversations have already started to pursue future workshops, collaborations and conferences on the topic of EMC in South Africa, to also include other southern African countries. More collaboration with international partners and the IEEE EMC Society is also planned, to allow the growth of the EMC community in southern Africa.

For more information contact Gideon Wiid,

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