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Prevailing Technology Awards Students at Santa Cruz County Science Fair


Prevailing Technology was honored to present awards to local students at the 2012 Santa Cruz County Science Fair. The first-ever Prevailing Technology Award went to students nominated by the science fair judges because they either had an outstanding science presentation or demonstrated exceptional science storytelling. Awards were offered in three age groups.

Primary K-3

  • First place went to Paulo Sexton-Gabrielson from Alianza Charter for his project "Capacitors". A number of judges commented on his excitement and enthusiasm, plus his thorough understanding of how capacitors function in electronic systems.

Elementary 4-5

  • First place went to Brooke Pearson from Happy Valley Elementary School for the project "3…2…1…BLAST OFF!!".

  • Runner-up went to Bradley Vu from Brook Knoll Elementary School for his project "What Sugar Combined with Yeast Makes Dough Rise Most?".

Junior 6-8

  • First place went to Paulina Shearer from Good Shepherd Catholic School for her project "Visualizing Magnetic Interactions". Paulina even actively searched out judges during the science fair to tell them about her project.

  • Runner-up went to Tovah Popilsky from Salesian Junior High for her project "What’s Hot & What’s Not".
Benjamin Franklin  
First-place awards in Elementary and Junior categories received a $100 cash prize, complete with a picture of Benjamin Franklin elegantly printed on the front--America's premiere scientist, innovator, inventor, publisher, philanthropist, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Founder of the American Republic. First place in the Primary category and runner-up in Elementary and Junior categories received a $50 cash prize.

Electronics Magazines for Hobbyists


During the recent Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, a few engineers were wondering how the next generation will ever learn engineering. Many of us took apart home appliances just to see what made them tick (sorry Mom!). A few complained about the complete dearth of project-based magazines targeting hobbyists and beginners, which surprised me.

There are actually quite a few excellent magazines and likely many more that I probably don't even know about. Here are a few of my personal favorites. Know of others? Let me know.

Although not dedicated to electronics, MAKE Magazine also has a variety of do-it-yourself projects--many with electronics content.

FPGA-based GSM A-bis Cell-Phone Traffic Optimizer is Now Shipping


Over the past year, we helped Engage Communication develop a cell-phone traffic compressor. The design processes up to 512 full-rate GSM conversions (TRAU slots) using a single Spartan-3A FPGA.

The design heavily utilizes time-division-multiplexing (TDM) techniques and keeps the context for each of the 512 channels within the FPGA's block RAM.

The released version supports EFR and FR full-rate protocols. We're developing an AMR solution along with half-rate support, allowing up to 1,024 simulataneous channels.

Engage Inc. IPTube Abis

IPTube Abis

Conan O'Brien Does the Science Fair


While judging at this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), I apparently missed this weird, lanky, red-headed guy harrassing the kids. Security!

I think these short segments are funny, but then again, he's talking to my people! Take a look.

  1. Point your browser at the Tonight Show web site http://www.tonightshowwithconanobrien.com/intel/?dfaid=1&crtvid=0

  2. Sit through the short Intel advertisement.

  3. Click on “Intel Science Fair, Pt. 1”.

  4. Click on “Intel Science Fair, Pt. 2”.

  5. ENJOY!

As an aside, here's a link to a serious Conan O'Brien interview with Intel chairman Craig Barret. Not so funny, but hey, it's Conan.

ISEF 2009: People of Great Talent Offer Hope for the Future (and for the Species)


ISEF LogoI recently had the privilege to serve as a judge at the 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF 2009) in Reno, Nevada, USA. Over 1,500 high-school students from 50 countries around the world converged to showcase their projects and show off their many talents. The judging was a highly rewarding (and exhausting!) experience and offered great hope, both for the future and for the species.

In particular, I judged a vast array of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering projects. At first, this seemed a somewhat strange combination of disciplines, but then again, many students demonstrated electromechanical projects. Some of these budding young scientists and engineers appear to be having far more fun than is legally allowed. There were ion propulsion engines, magnetic levitation devices, robots of every conceivable description, advanced traffic signals, radios for communicating through caves and mines, solar sails, ... well, you likely get the idea.

The projects employed a wide variety of commercial products including ...

Intel, as many know, is the primary sponsor for this prestigious event. Unfortunately, Intel received an ill-timed US$1,450,000,000 ($1.45 billion) kick in the teeth courtesy of the European courts. Seemingly, no good deed goes unpunished.

During a panel discussion with various Nobel laureates, the discussion turned to how we educate and inspire the next generation. Many wondered, myself included, we there doesn't seem to be a modern equivalent of the venerable Mr. Wizard.

The 2010 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair will be held in San Jose, California, USA from May 9th through May 15th. Interested in becoming a judge, a volunteer, or an interpreter?

FPGA Mezzanine Card (FMC / VITA 57)


There is a relatively new FPGA-related board connector specification called FPGA Mezzanine Card, or FMC for short.

The actual details are in a $75.00 Acrobat PDF specification called VITA 57 from the VITA web site.

However, here are a variety of other links that describe the capabilities.

An Introduction to the FMC Standard (PDF of a VMETRO presentation)

FMC Introductory Article

Samtec Connector

There appear to be FMC carrier boards and mezzanine boards available from the following vendors. There are likely more to follow (I know at least two vendors that are developing cards).

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