There's been a lot of talk within the electronics community lately about how we as a community need to encourage our nation's youth to pursue engineering as a profession, or at least to get more exposure to it in our elementary and high schools. Over the last year or so, I've had specific discussions with a few vendors about this issue. Just about every one of them is open to helping in some way, and many are already doing something about it.
I'm happy to say that TechInsights, the owners of this publication, EE Times , and TechOnline, among others, recently announced a partnership with Software Kids, a company that develops children's educational games. This announcement occurred about six weeks ago, during National Engineers Week in the U.S. (February 15 to 21). National Engineers Week is sponsored by the National Engineers Week Foundation (see www.eweek.org), a formal coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations, and government agencies, founded in 1951.
The first product to emerge from the TechInsights-Software Kids partnership is a game called Time Engineers. It's intended to promote kids' interest in engineering and has received numerous educator awards and lots of positive reviews. In fact, it beat out Lucas Arts and Walt Disney at a recent competition. You can view the game at www.software-kids.com/ html/time_engineers.html. The College of Engineering at Valparaiso University also had a hand in the game's creation.
Playing Time Engineers, students travel in a time machine to three different time periods and encounter typical engineering problems that must be solved in order to build pyramids, irrigate farm land, command a WWII submarine, raise and lower medieval drawbridges, and more. The game provides students with opportunities to learn about how engineering principles have helped people through the ages.
Unlike many educational games, Time Engineers was designed to be rich in graphics and content to hold the middle and high school students' interest while simultaneously applying some of the fundamental principles of engineering. Tools like this are now needed more than ever.
Also, this month a new columnist appears in our pages. Although not a new face or voice to long-time readers, Michael Barr, a former editor in chief of this magazine, joins our cadre of experts (two Jacks and Dan Saks) to share the latest tricks and techniques in embedded systems design. An early proponent of the “embedded community,” Barr is also making use of the social networking tools and so is very accessible.
Richard Nass is editor in chief of Embedded Systems Design magazine and editorial director of TechInsights. He can be reached at .