Tag Archives: Technology

Everyone wants to “teach a man to fish.” But skills training alone doesn’t help the world’s poor.

By Kelsey Piper – Skills training programs take a lot of forms, but there are generally two kinds: programs aimed at individuals, which try to teach them everything they’ll need to take higher-paying local jobs, and programs aimed at business owners and prospective business owners, which try to teach them skills to run a business more efficiently and expand their operations.

Their objectives are laudable, but there’s just one problem: They largely don’t work.

Participation rates in the programs aren’t very high. People who do participate often drop out, if the program lasts more than a few days, and unsurprisingly, it’s hard to teach important results in that time. For that matter, participants might be right to ignore the program or drop out, as research suggests that the programs don’t reliably increase income.

This isn’t to say every skills training program is ineffective. But even the programs that do show results often don’t stand up to cost-benefit analysis: The results they get are worse than if they just gave people the money that is spent on training them.

That said, recent research has found cost-effective results for programs that take a combined approach: training and mentoring, plus direct grants of assets. Those programs, more than just pure skill-training approaches, look to be worth further study and investment going forward. more>

Commercializing 5G: How to use standards and testing for success

By Kalyan Sundhar – The standards that dictate how 5G systems should work and interoperate were released earlier this year from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in an eagerly awaited update. The new telecommunications standards cleared the way for those planning to develop, build, or leverage 5G technology.

It is clear that a great deal of thought went into the development of the latest versions of the 5G standards to spur the growth of the 5G market and deliver new opportunities. Technology that follows these standards will ensure that the reliability of these networks is much more stable as it fills in the new market gaps.

This new version of the standards has opened the door for stand-alone (SA) 5G networks that do not rely on 4G for 5G signaling and kicking off a frantic rush to own the 5G market. While 4G networks are still available for added support, companies that do not have an existing 4G infrastructure can build their 5G deployments from scratch. This is due to a section of the standards that governs 4G handovers through interweaving 5G cells with existing 4G deployments.

The standards are only the foundation that will support the development of the 5G industry, but there is still plenty of work needed by companies to get it right. What that will look like is up to individual interpretation as there are gaps in the guidelines that make up the new standards. Interoperability will continue to be a challenge as organizations implement proprietary visions for 5G within those gaps. more>

Updates from Autodesk

Design Master Electrical
Design Master Software – Design Master Electrical is a complete electrical drafting and calculation software program that works directly inside AutoCAD. It is compatible with AutoCAD 2004 to 2019.

Engineers across the country are using it to complete their designs faster, easier, and with fewer errors.

You “accomplish more work in less time, with greater accuracy,” says Angie Hester of Trindera Engineering in Coeur d’Alene, ID.

“There’s never a disconnect of information between drawings and schedules,” explains Donald Evans of Evans Engineering and Consulting in Post Falls, ID. more>

Updates from Siemens

Multi-Discipline Data Management for Electronics
Siemens – Integrated hardware and software design and testing on electronic products are now part of a system of delivery needs, which can only be enforced by a tightly integrated and unified multi-discipline platform.

Manage multi-disciplinary engineering teams with an integrated approach to engineering lifecycle management that leverages integrated requirements management, secure supplier collaboration and an engineering management platform that combines mechanical, electronic and software co-design and co-simulation in a single collaborative environment.

Today’s electronic devices are a synthesis of multiple designs—mechanical, electrical, electronics, embedded software and application software. In addition, because of rapid development, many hardware features remain unexplored and under-managed resulting in sub-optimal integration between hardware and software.

The disadvantages of operating in different single-discipline platforms and the increasing role of global suppliers in early stages of design are driving engineering organizations to invest in multi-domain integration strategies to ensure the system works flawlessly. more>

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Self-Driving Vehicles: What Will Happen to Truck Drivers?

By Andrew Yang – You would have to have been asleep these past years not to have noticed that manufacturing jobs have been disappearing in large numbers. In 2000 there were still 17.5 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. Then, the numbers fell off a cliff, plummeting to less than 12 million before rebounding slightly starting in 2011.

More than 5 million manufacturing workers lost their jobs after 2000. More than eighty percent of the jobs lost – or 4 million jobs – were due to automation. Men make up 73% of manufacturing workers, so this hit working class men particularly hard. About one in six working-age men in America is now out of the workforce, one of the highest rates among developed countries.

What happened to these 5 million workers? A rosy economist might imagine that they found new manufacturing jobs, or were retrained and reskilled for different jobs, or maybe they moved to another state for greener pastures.

In reality, many of them left the workforce. One Department of Labor survey in 2012 found that 41 percent of displaced manufacturing workers between 2009 and 2011 were either still unemployed or dropped out of the labor market between within three years of losing their jobs.

This is a good indicator of what will occur when truck drivers lose their jobs. Truck drivers’ average age is 49, 94% are male, and they are typically high school graduates. Driving a truck is the most popular job in 29 states – there are 3.5 million truck drivers nationwide. more>

Updates from Georgia Tech

Finally, a Robust Fuel Cell that Runs on Methane at Practical Temperatures
By Ben Brumfield – Fuel cells have not been particularly known for their practicality and affordability, but that may have just changed. There’s a new cell that runs on cheap fuel at temperatures comparable to automobile engines and which slashes materials costs.

Though the cell is in the lab, it has high potential to someday electrically power homes and perhaps cars, say the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology who led its development. In a new study in the journal Nature Energy the researchers detailed how they reimagined the entire fuel cell with the help of a newly invented fuel catalyst.

The catalyst has dispensed with high-priced hydrogen fuel by making its own out of cheap, readily available methane. And improvements throughout the cell cooled the seething operating temperatures that are customary in methane fuel cells dramatically, a striking engineering accomplishment. more>

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The Steps in Creating a Digital Twin

By Don Wilcher – Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are making major impacts in the healthcare, advanced manufacturing, agriculture, and consumer electronics vertical markets. The ability to predict behaviors and trends or classify objects based on physical traits is accomplished through AI and ML technologies. With the aid of an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, a digital twin can be created.

Developing a digital twin requires the meshing of physical properties with an information communication technology (ICT) framework and software for data visualization. This data visualization represents real world events and characteristics of physical objects and processes.

In an industrial control process, the ability to monitor physical stimuli, such as temperature, pressure, vibration, and force, is important to the product manufacturer. Such physical stimuli affect the feel, function, and look of the manufactured product. To ensure the quality of the product meets the requirements of the customer, a specification is developed.

The traditional method of using specifications was based on building a physical prototype for testing and data collection. Continuous building of the target physical prototype to adjust the function of the product is costly and time consuming.

However, the digital twin can address functional concerns through a visual representation of the physical prototype. A digital twin is a virtual replica of the physical prototype. more>

Updates from datacenter.com

Data Centers Integral to Successful Digital Transformation Strategy
datacenter.com – Digital transformation has gotten a lot of attention. It involves not just the implementation of new technologies, but the alteration of business processes and models to fully leverage those technologies. This enables organizations to gain unprecedented levels of productivity, enhance customer experience, drive innovation and create competitive advantages.

According to research firm IDC, by 2020, 60% of the top manufacturers will rely on digital platforms that enhance their investments in ecosystems and experiences and support as 30% of their overall revenue.

A recent white paper issued by the Center for Global Enterprise, entitled Digital Supply Chains: A Frontside Flip, discussed how forward-looking companies are re-thinking and transforming their supply chains as they see new digital technologies and organizational models coming to the forefront of business.

An enterprise-wide digital supply chain can lead to a 20% reduction of procurement costs, a 50% reduction in supply chain costs, and an increase in revenue of 10%.

Digital transformation is changing the nature of the data center, and new technologies are constantly placing new demand on data centers and data center services. more>

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Updates from Ciena

5 Ways DCI Growth is Driving New Innovations in Transport Networking
By Kent Jordan – Data center interconnect (DCI) is at the heart of new global business models, cloud adoption, and digital content delivery and services. Cloud, ICP, and colocation operators are dominating DCI sales, and DCI is becoming more crucial for other industries as well. According to the Equinix Global Interconnection Index, global interconnect bandwidth is forecast to grow to over 8,200T by 2021, which is substantially higher than last year’s projection.

Telecommunications, manufacturing, and banking are all expected to be large contributors to total interconnect bandwidth by 2021. Smaller traffic areas, such as wholesale, retail, and healthcare, are also expected to grow at double-digit rates leading to the need for higher capacity services over time.

Purpose-built, compact, modular systems have sprouted up, offering massive scalability to enable global deployments while reducing operational expenses related to data center space, power, and cooling. These systems offer modularity and pay-as-you-grow scalability for lower traffic scenarios, so enterprises can cost-effectively scale connectivity for cloud services and applications. more>

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LiDAR Has Applications Beyond Automotive

By Charles Murray – Merlin Friesen, founder of embedded systems developer Golden Gate Research Inc., says that LiDAR is evolving faster than most engineers realize, thanks to the hard work of dozens of startups that foresee a practical future for the technology. “There’s really been an explosion of companies building LiDAR,” Friesen told Design News.

“It’s hard to keep track. There are 70 or 80 companies now. Just in the last six months, we’re seeing new names.”

Friesen’s message might come as a surprise to engineers who follow the auto industry and who understand how costly LiDAR systems can be. But, he said, self-driving cars are a demanding application that call for features that may not be needed in industrial robots and drones. Rotating LiDAR units, for example, are the norm in autonomous car applications, but are unnecessary for many industrial applications. Similarly, industrial units may not need GPS systems, accelerometers, or gyroscopes.

Friesen added that the new, smaller LiDAR units have also made in-roads into other mobile applications. His company has incorporated LiDAR sensors weighing a few hundred grams in drones for mapping.

In essence, the end goal for such applications is not much different than automotive, he said. “It’s very similar in that you’re looking for obstacles, calculating the distance to the obstacles, and then trying to move your device,” he told us. more>