FAQ for First-Time Attendees

Attending ISSCC for the first time can be very intimidating with 3000+ people attending and many questions that you cannot google to get the answer to.  This page collects commonly asked questions for first time attendees.

Each year’s schedule is here:

The main activities include:

  • Forums, Short courses and tutorials on Sunday and Thursday.  You need to register for these separately from the conference itself, and they usually have a limited scope: a tutorial (Sunday) that introduces a topic for those who are new and want to learn the basics or a short course (Sunday) and forum (Thursday) that does a deep-dive into a specific topic/area.
  • Studentactivities on Sunday evening.  Students present at the Student Research Preview (SRP) and have poster sessions.  Two panels on demystifying academic and industry careers are also available.  The career panels are free and open to the public on Sunday evening while the SRP is for conference attendees only.
  • Plenary sessions.  Invited speakers give talks about the state of the field. These are higher-level than paper presentations, and give the audience the industry trends and vision.  Even if you are not interested in the specific topic, are usually worth attending to know the state-of-the-art direction of circuits.
  • Paper sessions.  Authors present their papers. Typically, there are five sessions going on at once, and attendees choose based on their interests.
  • Evening sessions.  Monday evening is the Industry Showcase where you can see some interactive exhibits and get to try some fun new products.  Tuesday evening has panels and special evening topics.
  • Networking and Social times.  There are coffee breaks during the breaks and ice cream on one afternoon.  Monday and Tuesday evening there is a social hour in the Golden Gate ballroom with wine and alcohol provided.  The demo sessions are also in the Golden Gate ballroom so get a glass wine and go see some interactive demos.  There is also a Young Professionals mentoring event on Tuesday at 6pm which is free for all attendees to join.

Each paper has a 15 minute (short) or 30 minute (long) slot including Questions and Answers (QnA), and is typically part of a session with papers on similar topics. One of the authors (usually the first author) will give a presentation on the paper. The presenter will not take questions during the talk, but afterwards there will be a few minutes for audience members to ask questions.

It is impossible to attend every talk, since multiple sessions happen simultaneously. It is encouraged for you to hop between sessions and it is commonly done. Feel free to choose the talks that are most interesting to you, and if there is a time when neither session interests you, this might be a good time to go out in the hallway and network with other conference attendees, or to go catch up on email. Note that both papers and sessions start promptly on schedule to allow conference goers to pick and choose which paper they want to go to.

Included in your registration is the password to the Conference Wi-Fi and the schedule to download the entire digest, the individual papers and the slides. Keep a look out for your email about the specific details. This access is personalized for each attendee and provides three downloads of each publication. (Note that during the Conference, the bandwidth and numbers of access in the ballrooms is limited. Please disable your WiFi once your downloads have been completed.)

The ISSCC 2019 App is also now available on iTunes and Google Play. The app allows you to access the conference schedule, create a favorite list, search through the technical program, browse and zoom the conference venue and join community discussions.

The paper rating scores are used to judge the ISSCC Best Paper Award and the conference will soon transition the voting to the App. Even if you attend one paper please fill out your ratings for that paper as these scores are pivotal for deciding the best paper in the conference.

Each talk has a 5-minute QnA session after the talk and we encourage anyone with a question to go to the standing microphones, state your name and affiliations. Keep questions concise. You are encouraged but not required to stay at the microphone while the question is answered in, case a follow-up is needed. At the end thank the author for their response. Be mindful of others wanting to ask questions and time is short, so only ask one question. For further more detailed questions attend author interviews.

Author interviews occur at the end of the day in the Golden Gate Ballroom during the Social Hour. It’s a great time to engage in longer discussions with the authors of papers that you had detailed questions about.

Don’t be intimidated about meeting and talking to authors you don’t know. Most people especially academics love to talk about their research. So, if you have attended a talk by them or read a paper by them, one way to start a conversation is to tell them something you found interesting about their work, or ask them a question about it.

Usually it’s intimidating to be the only person you know at a conference and if you see people talking in circles it’s hard to break in. Try to find someone standing by themselves and strike up a conversation.

Lunches and Dinners are not provided by ISSCC. To avoid eating alone, one way is to use the whova app, which will allow setting up groups for meals. Another way is to seek out people you have met, and ask if you can join them.

The SSCS Young Professionals Micromentoring event is a great place to meet new people. If you are a young person you can get mentoring advice, if you are a more senior engineer you can be a mentor! It’s an fun and free event for everyone! After meeting folks you can go to dinner together!

For folks interested in Diversity and Inclusion you can join the SSCS Women in Circuits Slack channel where we have channels that we use to schedule impromptu conference get-togethers. Slack is a free collaboration app that allows for instant messaging and communication to those who sign-up. Everyone who supports diversity is invited to join!

There is no official dress code and you will likely see clothing ranging from casual up to a suit. However, the majority of people dress one step up from student/tech job attire. Many people wear slacks or nice jeans; most people do not wear shorts. Button down shirts, polos, or blouses are common. Authors who are presenting papers sometimes will dress up even more nicely, in a suit or a blazer. For females, other options include dresses, skirts or business suits.

Conference venues are often very aggressively air conditioned, so it is wise to bring a sweater or light jacket. It is totally normal to bring a backpack or bag.

Water is available at the sessions. Bring a water bottle and stay hydrated!

Keep belongings with you at all times. It is a public place so don’t leave your valuables unattended. Also there are no photographs or recordings allowed in sessions.

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[1] FAQ for first time ISCA attendees. The website that inspired this FAQ.