Featured article from September issue of @MATEC 2013

At the recent HI-TEC conference we invited Lou Frenel, editor at Electronic Design to talk about trends he saw in electronics technology today. We really got an earful and it helps faculty to make sure their content and context is consistent with the “real” world.

Electronics Technology has become an important part of the fabric of our daily lives. Newspapers and general-interest magazines that never previously reported on electronics, computers, and communications now regularly run columns and
sections on them. TV channels and radio stations include these subjects in their science programming. Many of the everyday items we use as consumers contain sophisticated electronics and require highly-skilled electronics technicians to install, troubleshoot, and maintain these electronics and electrical devices.

In Lou’s view the dominant trends are in the areas of:
•Mobile lifestyle
•Wireless everything
•Green movement
•Faster Internet
•PCs and digital
•Video
Semiconductors

You can see Lou’s entire presentation here. Of the many aspects of “wireless everything” you may have heard the term the internet of things. This refers to the connectivity of everything, like your home thermostat, through cell type connections to the internet. This implies the electronic control and monitoring of everything through M2M (Machine to Machine ) interfaces, which in turn are influenced by next generation cell phone technologies and it goes on and on. As an example, the figure portrays a futuristic linked transportation system.

futuristic transportation system

Lou went on to discuss what is typically not taught in both technician and engineering programs today and as you can imagine that turned up the debate-o-meter. I want to quote directly from his most recent blog post (link to http://electronicdesign.com/blog/7-more-things-colleges-should-teach-ees) and encourage you to take a look: I would like to add one more thing. Learning how to learn. Maybe most EEs (and technicians do learn how they learn or they would never make it through an EE program. But this is a key skill that is essential to surviving as an EE or in any career. Any EE has to learn continuously all the stuff never taught in school as well as things needed for the immediate job. Some form of continuing education is critical to an EE career. All of us need to do as much as possible like read the magazines, join the IEEE, take webinars, read the latest white papers and app notes, and try out the MOOCs (massive open online courses).

Lou says: If only we could get the professors to read this blog.

Lou, we are reading!

Mike Lesiecki, MATEC