Education, software scale appropriately

Kindergarten to rocket science: Scalability has been a buzzword of most software or system-based product descriptions over the past few years. Technology originators often express surprise at the range of resulting applications.


Kindergarten to rocket science: Scalability has been a buzzword of most software or system-based product descriptions over the past few years. Technology originators often express surprise at the range of resulting applications. National Instruments representatives at NI Week 2003 in August pointed out that their LabView graphical programming software has been used from Legos’ RoboLab kits all the way to navigation for the rover used in the successful Pathfinder Mission to Mars (and other uses within NASA). NI calls that kindergarten to rocket science.

Lego’s educational division explains how to set up programs to excite youth about engineering.

Here’s one model for bringing excitement to engineering education. In part, because the U.S. has seen a 7-year decline in the number of engineering graduates, National Instruments has stepped up support for engineering education. Diverse efforts include summer workshops where employees donate more than 2,000 hours per year educating Austin-area teachers what they need to know about RoboLab, a combination of Lego components and LabView software. NI week 2003 again featured a RoboLab competition, where teams of students and adults were shown a course with specific rules, given a RoboLab kit, and, in a few hours had to create an autonomous robot to maximize the number of points. More about this year’s winners and the RoboLab program is available at the NI website, if you’d like to use that as a model to excite students in your area.

For other Control Engineering coverage of NI’s conference and exhibit, see '' NI Week 2003: Software makes hardware disappear and '' NI Week 2003: Software development tools, companion products ''

In other machine-related software news, step into these tools .

Step Tools offers ST-Developer v10, said to be a high-level, high-function toolkit that interacts with the digital product information defined by STEP standards. For more on STIX Open Source libraries, information about data conversion and what’s in a Step-NC AP-238 file, and downloads, see the Step Tools site .

Opto 22 offers a free SNAP Ultimate I/O firmware upgrade: A new non-volatile file system and file transfer protocol (FTP) capabilities have been added to SNAP Ultimate brain firmware, allowing users to send files between a SNAP Ultimate I/O unit and a PC or network server. Additionally, a new version of SNAP Ultimate brain is now available, expanding the capacity of digital I/O channels on a single rack.

Sixnet 's free data acquisition and control CD contains the latest version (2.2) of Sixnet’s I/O Tool Kit, a library of open Linux software and resources, and learning tools.

—Mark T. Hoske, Control Engineering editor-in-chief,

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