The IEEE Radar Conference 2015 – its theme “Out of Africa – Always Something New” – was held at the Sandton Convention Centre from 27 to 30 October. It was an unprecedented event in the history of radar – as it was the first time that an IEEE Radar Conference was held in Africa.
Some 250 persons, from 24 countries, attended the Conference, which included 12 tutorials, an opening plenary session, 20 sessions, an exhibition, a poster presentation, a welcoming cocktail, a gala dinner as well as an awards presentation, at which the Awards for Best Paper and Best Student Paper were presented.
Twelve intensive 4-hour long tutorials were presented by local and international industry specialists and academics. More than 100 delegates attended the tutorials, which started early in the morning and ended late on Tuesday evening – 27 October 2015. The tutorials clearly set the tone for a jam-packed and interesting conference due to start the next morning.
Prof. Michael Inggs, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Cape Town, (General Conference Chair); Dr. Phil Mjwara, Director General, Department of Science and Technology; Mr. Molahlegi Molope, Armscor and Dr. Brian Austin, Radar Historian at the opening plenary of the 2015 IEEE Radar Conference.
The opening plenary comprised a most interesting line-up of speakers, starting with Dr. Phil Mjwara, the Director General, Department of Science and Technology; followed by Dr. Brian Austin (well-known Historian), commemorating 80 years of Radar in Britain and 75 years of Radar in South Africa; Mr. Molahlegi Molope from Armscor who spoke about South Africa’s advanced Radar Technology; leading scientist Dr. Jakob van Zyl (Associate Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) who looked at the Contribution of Radar to Earth Observation and Planetary Imaging, Prof. Terence Kealey from the University of Buckingham who presented on the controversial topic “Governments do not need to fund science” and, last but not least – a most interesting presentation by Prof Justin Jonas (SKA South Africa) on Engineering Challenges posed by the mega South African project – the Square Kilometre Array.
Keynote speaker Dr. Jakob van Zyl, Associate Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA.
The Technical Committee did a splendid job in developing a well-organised and varied programme. One hundred and thirty oral presentations and 12 posters from 24 nations were presented at the conference. The presentations covered a wide range of topics from µDoppler Modulation and Wind-Farms to Radar Systems Architectures.
The conference ended on a high note with an awards presentation, at which Simon Watts and Luke Rosenberg received the Award for Best Paper for their presentation on Coherent Radar Performance in Sea Clutter, and Iranian student Shabnam Ghotbi was presented (in absentia) with the award for Best Student Paper on Moving Target Detection Under Spatially Non-homogeneous Clutter For Airborne Phased-MIMO Radar.
Peer review is the cornerstone of the technical review process. Experts volunteered their time to provide scientific critiques of papers submitted for presentation at the conference. The 2015 IEEE Radar Conference Technical Review Committee wish to sincerely thank the individuals who contributed their valuable time to help ensure the high standard of oral presentations and posters included in the programme of this year’s conference.
GRSS Special Sessions and workshops on SAR for African Development were hosted on Thursday, 29 October and featured presentations by well-known scientists Prof Tony Milne from Australia and Drs Scott Hensley and Jacob van Zyl, both from NASA in the US.
The exhibition area, in which the posters were also on display was well visited and encouraged active dialogue between delegates. Eleven exhibitors were present at the conference. The exhibitors represented an interesting mix of national and international academic, professional and research institutions, private enterprises offering commercial radar services and applications, software and hardware products and development.
From left to right: Ms Judy Mackintosh, Administrative Assistant Radar Masters Programme; Prof. Michael Inggs, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Cape Town; Mrs Molope and Mr. Molahlegi Molope, Armscor.
The informal Cocktail Function – held in the exhibition area – was very well attended and delegates and exhibitors utilised the opportunity to nurture and expand professional and academic networks.
The social highlight of the conference was most definitely the gala dinner hosted at Moyo’s Zoo Lake, Johannesburg. Approximately half of the 200 delegates in attendance hail from across the world and were visiting South Africa for only the duration of the conference. They were welcomed to Moyo’s with traditional drumbeats and face painting and were treated to a wonderfully eclectic combination of African cuisine, crafts and hospitality.
At the dinner, the keynote speaker (SA Navy) Captain (Retired) Nick Snyman presented a most entertaining tale on his experiences at sea with radar.
A most enjoyable evening was had by all!
Number of delegates: 259
Number of presentations: 130
Number of posters: 12
Number of keynote speakers: 6
Number of tutorials: 12
Numbers of tutorial attendees: 100
Number of exhibitors: 11
Number of different nationalities: 24
We wish to thank our generous sponsors for their contributions to the first African IEEE Radar Conference. This has made it possible to host an event of the highest calibre, and we believe that every delegate reaped the benefits. We hope that our sponsors have benefited equally from the exposure to industry professionals, government representatives and quite a few students – today’s innovators and tomorrow’s industry leaders.
The 2015 IEEE Radar Conference, Local Organising Committee from left to right: A/Prof. Daniel O’Hagan, Willie Nel, Anthony Green, Francois Anderson, Anria Breytenbach, Molahlegi Molope, Prof Michael Inggs. (Not present at the time – Dr Amit Mishra, Tutorial Chair (UCT).)
We also wish to thank the following LOC Members (who all have demanding day-jobs) who tirelessly worked to make this conference the great success it turned out to be:
The conference was organised and hosted by the South African Radar Interest Group (SARIG) in association with the IEEE (international Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) and the AESS (Aerospace Electronic Systems Society).
We hope that we may again host this conference in South Africa in 2020 – and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Report by Prof Mike Inggs, Chairperson of the 2015 IEEE Radar Conference