Illinois Supports the Optical Fiber Communications Conference

Chris Skaar receiving recognition for supporting the OFC conference
Chris Skaar represents Illinois at the OFC Conference

Chris Skaar, Lead Network Engineer at Technology Services, spent a week in San Diego supporting the Optical Fiber Communications Conference and Exhibition (OFC Conference) this spring semester, attending as a representative of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The primary goal of the OFC Conference is to bring together leaders in the fiber optic industry and facilitate collaboration and innovation. 

Fiber optics is the generic term for using fiber cables as the technology to transmit information greater distances and at faster speeds than regular cables do. 

Chris was part of a team called OFCnet (OFC Network), that built racks of equipment at the conference, providing computer and network access for 2 dozen demonstrations. Chris also helped coordinate Wide Area Network (WAN) access to the entire convention center, enabling researchers to bring their demonstrations and experiments online. Illinois loaned several network switches for Chris to use at the conference, providing connectivity for the OFCnet participants. 

“The conference consists of a large show floor where vendors display their newest innovative equipment and services, but perhaps most interesting was the dozens of researchers that were displaying the results of their work,” Chris said. 

At the conference, Chris met a lot of people from different universities, vendors, and other research networks, explaining many of our services at Illinois and building bridges for potential future collaboration. Illinois was recognized for providing significant support of the conference through Chris’s time and loaned technology.  

Chris got involved with OFCnet through his role at Illinois. He is part of the optical team that supports the Inter-Campus Communications Network (ICCN), which connects networks across the University System campuses and provides high-speed access to other research networks and peer institutions. Through participating with another volunteer group for the past 5 years, he built connections and later was asked to join the volunteer group OFCnet. 

“This year, I was a team member, but I am hoping to be able to move into the OFCnet Architecture leadership team in the years to come,” Chris said. 

Illinois continues to facilitate collaboration and innovation within its walls but also reaches beyond.  

“[At OFC Conference,] I think the collaborations among the research community and the hundreds of discussion sessions were the most valuable attractions,” said Chris.