Tag Archives: Engineering

Math has Changed the World

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Math has certainly changed the world. I came across this article today “The 17 equations that changed the world” (inspired by the book In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World).

I certainly recognize most if not all of those equations from High School and College. This is an impressive list of formulas upon which much has been built.

  1. The Pythagorean Theorem
  2. The logarithm and its identities
  3. Complex numbers
  4. Einstein’s theory of relativity
  5. Calculus (specifically instantaneous rate of change)
  6. Newton’s universal law of gravitation
  7. Euler’s formula for polyhedra
  8. The normal distribution
  9. The wave equation
  10. The Fourier transform
  11. The Navier-Stokes equations
  12. Maxwell’s equations
  13. The Second law of thermodynamics
  14. The Schrodinger equation
  15. Shannon’s information theory
  16. The logistic model for population growth
  17. The Black-Scholes model

If you are not familiar with these, read the article I linked to above.

The equation that comes to my mind that is missing is Ohm’s Law  I = E/R

Do you know of others that you think should be added to this list?

IEEE Tech for Humanity Party at SXSW

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I had the opportunity last night to attend the “Annual SXSW Party #PartyLikeAnEngineer” event sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and held at the historic Driskill Hotel in down town Austin.  This is the first time I had attended any
of the SXSW events. The event was all that I had expected and then some.

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There was a large crowd and an interesting mix of participants. Several members of the IEEE Central Texas Section were in attendance, as well as a large number of guests from the Austin area and the rest of the country.

I was fortunate to be invited to the VIP portion of the event which allowed me in early. Not only was there an open bar, but hotel staff were circulating with trays of tasty appetizers. As the evening wore on, the crowd grew and it became difficult to move through the space.

IEEE had arranged for some exhibits and games at the party. One group showed a large scale 3D printer that could be used to print prosthetic hands for kids. A table demonstrated how to produce a hologram from your iPhone. Another area hosted a display of solar powered lighting for developing countries. One of the best displays promoted kits for teaching about lasers as part of the STEM initiative. Not only was that pf particular interest to me because of my participation in Discover Engineering (an Austin area STEM outreach group), but it was the best place to feel a very welcome breeze of cool air from the
burdened HVAC system.  There were also games including a popular horse race game where the competitors powered their race horse avatars across the screen by setting on and using rocking horses. It was amazing how many exhuberently returned to their youth and rocked wildly to win their race.

As you would expect there was music playing (Often so loud you could hardly hear the person you were talking to) through out the evening. Tables around the room sported a variety of 3D puzzles for the guests to challenge their problem solving skills. It was a fun and entertaining evening. It allowed many of us to reestablish old friendships and make new ones as well. I look forward to returning in 2017.

Happy Pi Day!

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Yes today is March 14th – 3.14. Those being the first three digits of the mathematical constant pi (π). The earliest known calculations of π date to the 26th century BC when the pyramids in Egypt were being constructed.

Then the simple ratio of 22/7 was used for the value, which relates the circumference of a circle (C) to its diameter (d).

π = C/d

Today, the most recent calculation of Pi goes to over 13 Trillion digits.

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March 14th has been celebrated since 1988 as Pi Day, with a non-binding resolution (HRES 224) passed by the US House of Representatives in 2009 recognizing Pi Day. March 14 has become celebrated around the world now to recognize Pi.

How can you celebrate Pi Day?

  1. One of the easiest and most fun is to simply eat pie!
  2. Wear or display the Pi symbol
  3. Plan your recognition event for 1:59 PM (i.e. 3.14159)

Didn’t have time to bake something up this year? Plan ahead and mark you calendar now for march 14 2017.

References:

  1. Pi Day
  2. How to Celebrate Pi Day
  3. Celebrate Pi Day
  4. Pi Day Resources
  5. How America celebrates Pi Day

IEEE Central Texas March Newsletter Published

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I finished up the March issue of The Analog, the monthly newsletter of the Central Texas Section of IEEE. It has been posted on the Section web site and can be viewed here.

The news letter gives the schedule of IEEE and some other technical meetings in the Central Texas area for the coming month. If you are interested in technology and live in the area you might want to take a look. If you decide you want to get on the mailing list, the instructions are at the top just under the blue banner.

 

IEEE Innovators, Engineers & Entrepreneurs Workshop

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Being involved in the activities of the IEEE Central Texas Section, I want to promote the workshop that we are hosting next Friday, February 26. The “Innovators, Engineers & Entrepreneurs” workshop, a full day at the AT&T Conference Center on the south side of the University of Texas at Austin campus. This will be our capstone event for Engineers Week.

The workshop will feature some well known speakers – Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet; Donna Wilkins, founder of Charity Dynamics; and Devon Ryan, founder, LION Mobile – among others. Please take a look at the program and see if the presentations are of interest.

Workshop topics include:

  • Power & Energy, Energy Storage, Photovoltaics, Water
  • Internet of Things
  • Privacy and Security
  • Incorporating Legal Organization, Intellectual Property
  • Robotics, 3-D Printing, Manufacturing Automation

If you are thinking of creating a start up, then this will be of great value. Among the presentations are:

  • startup funding
  • how to start a company
  • working with legal teams
  • dealing with security

The workshop is open to all interested parties. You can still register on-line or Friday at the door, though the cost jumps up to $125.

The February issue The Analog has been published

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I finished writing the February edition of the Central Texas Section newsletter, The Analog, a short time ago and have uploaded it to the Section web site. You can find it here and there are instructions at the very bottom on how you can subscribe if you are interested.

All of the various Chapter meetings currently scheduled for February are listed, as well as some of the other Tech events scheduled for the area.

With International Engineers Week coming up February 21-27, there are many activities planned for that time. A list of those I am aware of can be found here.

Classes for the Engineer

Classes for the Engineer

I came across this article today “What classes should you take to become an electrical engineer?“. I was surprised that so little had changed in the 40 years since I was an undergraduate Electrical Engineering student at the University of Houston. Certainly the programming languages have changed. All we had available was FORTRAN. The math classes and the fundamental theory classes are much the same though.

I applaud the statement in that article “a good rule of thumb when establishing one’s personal course of education is to take on abstract / theoretical classes at the beginning, and focus on the applicatory courses toward the latter half of the program; this, as opposed to taking numerous classes that specialize in discussing such things as specialized design solutions for today’s EE, which will most likely phase out over the next five to 10 years.

Being an Electrical Engineer, as with most technical degrees, means that you have entered upon a life-long journey of learning. Technology does not stand still, nor can the EE simply stand upon what they learned while in college. That is one of the reasons that I am an active member in IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). The monthly periodicals, conferences and local Technical Society meetings provide an avenue for keeping up with advances in technology.

I feel fortunate to live in the IEEE Central Texas Section area as we have a dozen or more meetings each month that I can attend. These meetings are open to the public so any interested in technology and wanting to broaden their social network are welcome to attend. You will find IEEE groups active in most large cities around the world.

IEEE Hosted Virtual Job Fair

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I recently heard about this event and wanted to pass word of it along. IEEE Region 6 is hosting the “IEEE Virtual Career and Talent Expo” on January 20, 2016 from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM PDT. Those interested can register now.

IEEE members may conveniently attend the Virtual Career and Talent Expo from their personal computer, tablet, or mobile device. Registration is FREE to all IEEE members, and non-members pay only $125.00. If you want to join IEEE to get into the event for free, you can do so here.

The Expo’s mission is to support IEEE members in career advancement and professional growth while upholding the highest standards of the IEEE.  Based on the simple premise that people are more than their résumé, a virtual environment combined with groundbreaking job matching technology places an innovative spin on the old concept of fitting the right individual to the best employment opportunities.

Live webinars will take place every 30 minutes starting at 10:00 AM PDT.  Learn to use LinkedIn in your search, get the latest résumé tips, and hear presentations from company recruiters to learn what they are looking for in new hires.

This might be the opportunity you have been looking for if you are seeking new employment.

So Now There are 118

Chemistry

So now there are 118 . . . atomic elements that is. I just saw an article talking about four more elements (“Periodic table’s seventh row finally filled as four new elements are added“) being added to the periodic table. How chemistry, along with the rest of technology has changed. Reading over that article made me dig out my college chemistry text book. The periodic table at that time (early 1970s) only contained 103 elements. When I took chemistry in High School a few years earlier, there were even fewer.

So what does this mean? Knowledge is fluid and to maintain currency means life-long education. Whether that education is formal or informal, now, more than ever before, continuous learning is essential just to keep up. Fortunately the Internet has enabled many fine continuing education opportunities.

App Review – MathStudio

MathStudio is an App that is available for both the Mac and iOS devices from Pomegranate Apps. The new MathStudio 6 is available from the Mac App store for $49.99, and $19.99 for the iOS version. However the older version 5 of both are currently available for free. For now my needs are satisfied with the free version.

What does MathStudio do? Here are some of the features of MathStudio from their web site:

  • CALCULATOR – From basic calculations to college calculus, MathStudio is a full featured scientific calculator with hundreds of different functions.
  • ALGEBRA & CALCULUS – MathStudio is powered by a lightning fast computer algebra system that beautifully typesets your answers. Solve limits, derivates, integrals and more!
  • GRAPHING – Plot 2D and 3D graphs of all types effortlessly! Combine the power of MathStudio’s computer algebra system to create plots never thought possible.
  • SCRIPTING – Create scripts in MathStudio’s powerful scripting language that features expressive and powerful syntax to do amazing things with just a few lines of code.
  • REGRESSION ANALYSIS – Plot lists of data with built-in regression analysis!
  • UNITS – From unit conversions to compound unit arithmetic, MathStudio 6 introduces complete support for units with intuitive syntax.

App Review - MathStudio2 App Review - MathStudio App Review - MathStudio1

This would have been a great App to have had back in the long ago days that I was studying Electrical Engineering. Not only can you solve problems, but you can visualize the answers. MathStudio is not as powerful as Mathematica or Maple, but it is considerable power to have available on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. If you do not have your iOS device of Mac close at hand, you can also use MathStudio on-line. MathStudio is also available for Android devices.

To glimpse the power of MathStudio go to the web site and view the video. This is a powerful App, but not one that the casual user will be able to quickly take advantage of. The App does have a few included tutorials, but time will be needed to master what the App can do for you.

Pros

  • Powerful equation solving
  • Great tool for students

Cons

  • Free version is not the latest version of the product
  • Not for the novice, this is no simple calculator

See my other iOS articles