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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Rock You Like a Hurricane: Why Diversity Matters in STEM Mike Parks
Have you ever noticed that there isn't one fixed hurricane prediction model? Those “cones of error” represent that wide array of assumed courses from many different hurricane models. Each of those models comes with different parameters, algorithms, and input data that leads to different outputs. No model is ever 100% right, but when you discount outliers and find trends among the remaining model, you can get a good enough idea to start making some rational decisions.

Girls and Engineering: They’re Interested, but Their Parents… Barry Manz
If you’re wondering why there are so few female engineers, you don’t have to look far for answer: Ask mom and dad. That was one of the takeaways from a study conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in the U.K as part of its Engineering a Better World campaign, and reported in the IET’s Engineering and Technology magazine on March 30. The IET’s research focused on parental perceptions and their relevance to the low percentage of the UK’s female engineers (6%) and 4% of its technicians.

High School Robotics and the FIRST Program Grant Imahara
Recently, I had the opportunity to accompany Mouser Electronics to the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis, MO. FIRST (which stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”) is an international robotics competition for high school students. They spend six weeks designing and building a robot that will perform some task; like scooping up soccer balls and putting them into a goal. The game changes every year, so you always have to start from scratch.

It's a Bird... It’s a Plane... It’s a Drone Justin Risedorf
Drones are becoming big players in the toy sector, especially as toys are no longer just for young children. LEGO bricks have long been a favorite toy of the young and old, and a company called Brickdrones is now offering kits with the parts necessary to build your very own operational drone from LEGOs.

Open Source Hardware Sylvie Barak
According to the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA): "Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design.” Going deeper, OSHWA says that the hardware’s source, the design from which it is made, must be available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. “Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware. Open source hardware gives people the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs." What’s interesting in the above definition is that - much of the time - open source hardware is basically open source software; meaning that the piece of hardware is usually proprietary, but what you can do with that hardware is open.

Get Out and Flex Those Brain Muscles Caroline Storm Westenhover
Oh my goodness, did you see the Robot on Mouser robotics challenge? I have to be honest, I have done many things in software but almost nothing in hardware. I have coded robot brains to do things like clustered object avoidance, but never put it in actual hardware. I have wanted to since my second semester, I just never managed to find the time. Seeing all these robot gets me excited again.

Young Eyes Offer Fresh Perspectives on Science Caroline Storm Westenhover
I thoroughly enjoy going to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. I have gone many times with friends, family and dates. Going by myself is OK. Going with someone interested in STEM (Science, Technology and Math) is enjoyable, but going with someone with lots of energy and not as much scientific knowledge is the best.

On Becoming a Maker Dad: Tinkering with a 9-year old & LED Strips Nathan Christiansen
“Dad, what’s a circuit?” Coming from my nine-year old daughter every question is perilous, but this one was precious because it touches something I love, and even more rare it is a question I can answer. My talking about circuits quickly turned into showing about circuits; in a few minutes we were digging through the electrics bin in the garage for parts. We found some three-color LED strips (leftover from a previous Mouser purchase) and away we ran.

FIRST: More Than Meets The Eye Erik Smith
The first robots I recall ever interacting with when I was young were Transformers. I suppose, if you were being REALLY generous, you could refer to them as semi-educational toys since each was a mini-puzzle that only kids younger than 13 could figure out. In fact, if I were this clever at 8-years-old, I might have convinced my parents to want to buy me more. But then, all I would have to show for it would be a box full of forgotten plastic robots that transformed into cars I could now sell on eBay. But there was a different group of transforming robots that I wish I had discovered in my high school days. Instead of buying them, you built them with a group of your peers. Instead of transforming into cars, they would transform your life.

Engineer's Week 2014 and the Next Generation of Engineers Erik Smith
It’s Engineer’s Week, and outside of celebrating by reading Col. Chris Hadfield’s new book, “An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth”, I’m also doing some volunteer work, representing Mouser Electronics at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. We have both a display, showing kids various functioning LEDs, chips, speakers and a nifty little robot built from a Parallax kit, and a hands-on table showing young kids how to build their own homopolar motor. This fascination with how things work and being able to build it yourself is a common trait I’ve seen in engineers of all ages.

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