Last week, I was in Kaiserslautern to attend the 2009 version of SQM and CSMR. Both the workshop and the main conference were hosted at Fraunhofer IESE, which turned out to be an excellent host.
All of the conferences I have attended up until now lasted only for a day, so I did not really know what to expect of four days of presentations. I was a little bit afraid that I would not be able to pick up any new information on the last day, but everything turned out to be fine. Every day brought at least two interesting presentations, and definitely one interesting conversation about the current research somebody is doing. I have met several interesting people (who might be interested in doing some research together), and picked up quite a few new ideas. Unfortunately, it is too much to write down all at once, but I will try to post updates on this on a more regular basis.
What I found particularly interesting was the fact that several people mentioned the same two things on various occasions. The first one is that PhD students should not start from scratch when they are implementing their ideas. Although some students are using more generic development frameworks (like for example Eclipse), there are still people out there that start everything from scratch. This does tend to take up a lot of time and usually results in tools that "should be publicly available before I finished my thesis, I just want to clean it up a bit first". I am not really sure how this problem can be solved (and neither did the people at the Industry Panel Discussion), but I do hope that my future tools will not suffer the same fate.
The second thing that was repeated a few times is the call for more empirical evidence for the usefulness of ideas and tools. However, the lack of publicly available industrial systems and cost-data makes it hard for the average researcher to provide this evidence. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this issue. One could, for example, work together with companies that have access to this type of data. Just a matter of sending and e-mail and explain your ideas and needs to the right person I guess... ;)