Fourth International Conference on Intelligent Processing and Manufacturing of Materials (IPMM'03)
Nan Chen (Analyst, ATIP)
Sendai, Japan, 18-23 May 2003
Conference webpage: http://www-lab.imr.tohoku.ac.jp/~ipmm/index.html
Intelligent processing and manufacturing of materials is embraced by an international community that is interested in software and hardware applications and solutions to problems in creation and manufacture of minerals, materials, and products. Focus at IPMM'03 spanned a range from atomic-level simulations to monitoring and control of steel-making processes or ore-crushing mills with throughputs up to 1000 tons per hour. Several presentations on atomic-level simulation confirmed the effectiveness of these approaches. Simulations are now in many cases able to accurately describe materials systems and to predict processes and combinations that can lead to new and better materials. The talks on intelligent sensing and control of industrial processes documented many examples of huge savings in time, energy, and cost that accrue through adoption of the new sophisticated tools.
The previous IPMM conferences (1997 in Gold Coast, Australia, 1999 in Honolulu, Hawaii, and 2001 in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada) covered a wide range of multidisciplinary materials topics. Average attendance was approximately 250. Factors such as fear of SARS impacted travel plans for many and limited IPMM'03 to 120 attendees and 123 presentations. The theme of IPMM'03 was "Nanotechnology for the 21st Century: Do good things really come in small packages?". Approximately half of the papers addressed nanotechnology or nanoscience.
The objective of IPMM'03 was stated to be to exchange of ideas on processing and manufacturing of materials to help accelerate development of new approaches and industrial applications. In addition to a focus on nanotechnology, plenary lectures and sessions addressed the related fields of computational intelligence, materials science, manufacturing, and complex systems. Key plenary talks were by Prof. L. Zadeh, University of California at Berkeley, on development of new approaches to computing with words rather than numbers; Dr. S. Iijima, NEC Corp., on carbon nanotubes; Dr. J. Maguire, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, on artificial intelligence and large-scale simulation of materials problems; and Prof. A. Inoue, Tohoku University, on nanoscale engineering of metals for ultrahigh strength. Talks also examined philosophical and moral considerations in dealing with the new complexities that occur as machines begin to play an increasingly important role in decision-making processes.