When the going gets tough... - Embedded.com

When the going gets tough…

The tough get trained. This was the unofficial theme of this years Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley. As I recover from a two week trip to the U.S., which took in ESC, it seems that the embedded systems sector is certainly tough. Engineers still are willing to turn out to get hands-on training and education. That certainly bodes well as TechInsights Europe, publishers of Embedded Systems Europe, is developing its European portfolio with both a U.K. event in October and another in Grenoble in December.

At ESC SV the winning design of the Microchip PIC32 Design Challenge (www.myPIC32.com), a year-long contest and community sponsored by Microchip Technology Inc. and Digi-Key Corp., as the exclusive distributor was announced. More than 9,600 community members rated and voted to select the top designs submitted in this international competition. Click here to review all the designs . The five finalists flew in to San Jose from around the world including Detroit, Hungary, and Vietnam.

The grand prize winner, a Portable Notetaker for the Blind, by Nghia Tran (txnghia), is an electronic assistant for the visually impaired. The device enables Braille note taking via Microchip's mTouch Sensing Solution, audio playback,and navigation and color-sensing assistance. Tran's design promises a significant quality-of-life improvement for millions of people.

The second prize went to a Smart Home Base, by Jingxi Zhang (jingxizhang) which enables automated bridging between cellular phones and Skype as well as remote home automation capabilities. The third prize was won by BUMS (Bathroom Utilities Management System), created by Brent Morse (bmorse). This “green” design enables personalized home energy conservation by managing water usage and automatic faucet and lighting control.

For those not able to travel and benefit from face-to-face contact there is always the virtual world. While our Embedded-europe.com website provides continuous education there is also a move to provide much more targeted information. TechInsights has unveiled plans for its first-ever online gathering of users, experts and technology providers focused on multicore, the EE Times' Multicore Virtual Conference.

This live gathering, scheduled for June 18th, will include online conference sessions about today's most pressing multicore issues led by industry experts, and will also feature the most complete collection of interactive educational content ever assembled on the topic.

The Multicore Virtual Conference will address one of the biggest new challenges designers face which is deciding if and when to adopt multicore processors in their designs and what implications that has for the software and tools they will need to use.

Another innovative move by TechInsights has seen a partnership set up with Software Kids, a company that develops children's educational games in the U.S.

The first product to emerge from the TechInsights-Software Kids partnership is a game called Time Engineers. It's intended to promote childrens' 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 here. 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.

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