SAN DIEGO, August 2 -- The Technical Exhibit at SPIE's 45th Annual Meeting opened with a bang as attendees crowded the exhibit floor to sample the wares of the more than 250 exhibiting companies. The heavy floor traffic was attributed in part to a decision by SPIE to offer attendees lunch tickets this year, said Exhibits Manager Diane Robinson. According to exhibitors interviewed by Photonics.com, the crush of attendees was most unusual in that it continued throughout the day rather than booming when the doors opened and then tapering off as the day wore on. As with the exhibit floor, attendance at papers and courses was brisk. SPIE officials reported that attendance for courses was up significantly over previous years. Another area drawing a crowd was the Career Center set up outside the exhibit hall. The nearly two dozen companies manning booths there were fielding inquiries from a steady stream of job seekers -- a reflection of today's highly competitive job market.