STEM skills are survival skills for students today. That’s why we are committed to improving STEM education by arming teachers and students with the resources they need to succeed.
TI and the TI Foundation have committed $6.2 million in 2017 to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education across the United States. Here are four examples of how our philanthropic investments drive STEM education:
1. Funding Advanced Placement® Strategies programs in North Texas and California’s Bay Area
The TI Foundation continues to invest in the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) Advanced Placement (AP) Strategies program in three North Texas school districts, and it recently expanded its investment to two districts in California’s Bay Area. The aim is to expand access to rigorous STEM coursework, especially among traditionally under-represented students in STEM. Students who master AP coursework are three times more likely to graduate from college[i]. That’s a statistic we can get behind.
2. $5.3 million – 85 percent of our grant funding – is going toward STEM teacher effectiveness and retention
Teachers are our best STEM champions, and the work they do is essential to challenging young minds. That’s why 85 percent of our 2017 grants, $5.3 million, will go toward recruiting, developing and retaining top teachers. The number of U.S. jobs in STEM is growing an estimated three times faster than non-STEM jobs, with a projected 9 million STEM jobs needing to be filled by 2022[ii]. Teachers will play a key role in shifting attitudes and achievements in STEM, and we are helping them reduce the STEM skills gap.
The TI Innovation Center will be a stand-alone building located at the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas STEM Center of Excellence south of Dallas. Scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018, the center will offer STEM programs to 24,000 students over the next two years. The center will also be the home of Girl Scouts robotics teams and small groups that need a safe working space for ongoing projects. An outdoor space will be used by Girl Scouts, students, volunteers, parents and staff members to gather and celebrate STEM accomplishments. Additionally, students from area school districts will be able to utilize the camp for field trips, thus broadening the reach of the program.
4. Helping students apply their passion and improve their chances of STEM success with robotics competitions
Research[iii] shows that students involved in robotics are:
- More likely to take challenging math and science courses
- More interested in engineering majors
- More likely to pursue STEM careers
That’s why we expanded our investments in 2017 to middle school and high school robotics competitions, which is a proven way to increase STEM engagement among participating students. Robotics mentorship and volunteerism isn’t just for engineers, and it’s a great way to make a difference in STEM one robotics team at a time. Explore how you can get involved in a robotics program.
Our commitment to education dates to our company’s inception and remains our highest priority for employee volunteerism and giving. For more information, read about our:
[i] Based on data from the College Board
[ii] Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, STEM 101: Intro to tomorrow’s jobs.
[iii] FIRST Longitudinal Study: Findings at 36 Month Follow-Up (Year 4 Report)
In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile TIers who are making a difference through innovation or citizenship.
For Darnell Moore – a technology leader, mentor, and champion of diversity and inclusion – traditional STEM-based educational programming needs a new companion: the arts.
That may seem far-fetched for an engineer and leader who earned his childhood nickname – Destructo – because he often dismantled things to see how they worked. But he believes that the arts express the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that is critical for technological innovation.
“The performing arts — music, dance, performance production — tend to be accessible because they resonate with our innate capacity for expression,” he said. “I want to introduce kids to science, technology, engineering and math through the arts.”
Darnell was introduced to the arts early. In elementary school, he sang in the Chattanooga Boys Choir, then played a few instruments during high school. He also hosted high-school and college radio shows.
“My interest in music fed my curiosity about engineering and about new ways to express and interpret ideas in the digital domain,” he said. “My interest grew over time. My senior design project used a TI digital signal processor to synthesize sound and my doctoral thesis used cameras and computer vision to recognize human movement.”
For Darnell, then, STEM becomes STEAM.
The importance of mentoring
He also believes that mentoring plays a critical role in the development of technical careers, so he participates in a mentoring program through the TI Diversity Network’s Black Employee Initiative. And as co-chair of the network’s Leadership Council, he helps coordinate more than a dozen employee initiatives that promote workplace inclusion.
He credits his own mentors with guiding his career toward engineering.
“I didn’t grow up knowing any engineers,” he said “If any were in my community, I wasn’t aware of them. While attending college, I developed mentors to help guide my way.”
Darnell earned his doctorate from Georgia Tech before joining our company 17 years ago. He now works as a technical leader and manages a laboratory that develops next-generation technologies for automotive and industrial applications.
His efforts to develop the next generation of technology leaders is making a difference. Through his mentoring and encouragement, two African-American students have earned doctorates in electrical engineering — a significant milestone considering that the U.S. routinely produces fewer than 200 black Ph.D. engineering graduates each year.
Serving the arts community
As a member of the Board of Directors and chair of the Education and Community Engagement Committee for the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Darnell encourages the center’s partnership with local nonprofit talkSTEM, a community of professionals that promotes conversation about STEM and STEAM thinking in daily life.
In March, the center played host to the Dallas Arts District’s first Pi Day Festival and became the monthly launch point for talkSTEM’s Math Walks for elementary and middle school students.
Darnell also provides guidance and support to the center as it creates experiences for high-school students. One program, for example, brings engineering students to the Winspear Opera House to learn from visual artists who use robotics and coding as a foundation for studio practice. Another program teaches students about the latest theater technology.
“Darnell is a dream board member,” said Chris Heinbaugh, the Performing Arts Center’s vice president of external affairs. “He takes the time to learn about all the education and community programs we provide, then comes to the table with ideas that help reinforce them, improve their impact and reach, and move them forward in realistic and sustainable ways.”
Way past cool
And as Darnell serves the community and mentors others, he continues to love his job.
“The prospect of working on truly disruptive technology is way past being cool — it’s electrifying,” he said. “At the end of the day, most engineers simply want to work on relevant and contemporary problems that matter, so it’s professionally satisfying to enable technology that makes life safer and more convenient and that spawns new innovations we have yet to imagine.”
Xavier Pedrosa, a hard-working farmer whose family has lived near Barcelona since the Middle Ages, never had much need for technology. In an age when many farmers have gone high tech, he still favors traditional, organic methods to grow cereal crops, olives and vegetables.
Then one day, his daughter, Rut, met Joaquim Oller. Joaquim was about to begin his doctorate in telecommunications engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and Rut was about to begin her doctorate in marine biogeochemistry at the University of Barcelona.
Their friendship blossomed into romance, and within a few years the traditional farmer had an idea-generating, high-tech whiz for a son-in-law.
Joaquim began designing a device that can tell Xavier when his crops need water or when the soil is wet or dry enough to work it. His design, however, faced several challenges: It had to be easy to use, inexpensive, and not rely on batteries or solar panels in order to preserve the farm’s commitment to green operations.
Joaquim created a simple device featuring our MSP430™ microcontroller (MCU) to help Xavier monitor the level of moisture in the soil he farms. A battery-free sensor placed in the soil connects wirelessly to a smartphone app and provides information that helps him know when to plow and when to irrigate.
“I said to Rut, ‘Is this something your father would use?’ She told me, ‘Among all your silly ideas, this is a good one.’”
Early love of technology
Joaquim began his love affair with technology as a child at his home in a village near the ancient city of Girona, about 100 kilometers northeast of Barcelona. Founded in 79 BC, Girona’s rulers have included Romans and Visigoths. Charlemagne captured it in 785. In more modern times, the city’s cathedrals, winding alleys and plazas have played a leading role in the blockbuster show Game of Thrones.
But despite all the history, Joaquim’s childhood was focused on computers. He began programming at 10, excelled in school and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and a master’s degree and doctorate in telecommunications engineering from UPC, which is a science hub in Southern Europe.
As a professional, Joaquim has worked on projects for many companies, universities and clients through the years. He has deployed radio-frequency identification (RFID) payment technology for public-transportation systems, biometric readers, wake-up radio systems, sub-GHz nodes, agriculture designs, capacitive user interfaces and a host of other projects.
As a researcher, he developed expertise in low-power microcontrollers and Bluetooth® low energy (BLE) technology. As part of the Wireless Networks Group research lab at UPC, he conducted the technical performance evaluation of a scientific paper that became a primary BLE resource. The paper, which references our technology extensively, has been downloaded about 50,000 times.
As a member of TI’s engineer-to-engineer (E2E™) community, Joaquim has engaged in nearly 1,000 online conversations to help others understand technology and overcome design challenges. His E2E username is Kazola. E2E, which launched in 2008, is a technical support community of nearly 300,000 engineers and TI experts spanning more than 200 countries who collaborate by asking and answering technical questions, sharing knowledge, exploring new ideas and solving problems.
Technology as a farm tool
Xavier’s farm, anchored by a home his ancestors originally built some 1,300 years ago, is at the base of the jagged Monserrat range, which is widely known for an ancient mountaintop Benedictine monastery. In addition to crops, he has begun raising goats for milk and cheese and to help control brush as part of a European project to prevent wildfires.
In such an idyllic place, technology is being introduced gradually. But if Joaquim’s idea saves money, time and water, Xavier may find other uses for it in the future.
“Technology has to be employed as an additional tool and not as a substitute one,” Xavier said. “The main tool for successful farming is and will always be human knowledge and intuition.”
One to Watch: Keith Ogboenyiya is driven to help others develop a sense of curiosity and pursue innovations that change the world
In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile TIers who are making a difference through innovation or citizenship.
Even as a child, Keith Ogboenyiya knew he wanted to be an engineer. He developed a passion for math and science, which was fostered by his parents and a family friend who was a metallurgical engineer.
Today - as vice president and general manager of our Interface business unit - Keith is driven to help others develop a sense of curiosity and a passion to solve problems and develop products that have the potential to change the world.
“Innovation to address key challenges starts with people, their curiosity to ask questions and a determination to never give up,” Keith said. “By working with others to tap into our combined potential, we can impact our industry, our customers and our company in significant ways.”
Keith, who was raised in Texas by his Houston-born mother and Nigerian father, attended a special engineering program in high school, which reinforced his love for technology and engineering. Through a dual-enrollment program, he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Morehouse College. He spent much of his time in college focused on signal processing. He interned at our company and joined TI after graduating.
A well-rounded career path
Keith began his career as an applications engineer, and through the years has also held marketing, product-line manager and business-unit manager positions. Pursuing new opportunities has given him broad, deep insights that have helped him solve problems, develop teams and create innovative technologies.
“After working in our signal processing business, I joined the microcontroller organization, which gave me a unique perspective into our customers,” he said. “It’s been rewarding to experience a diverse range of positions to solve customer problems and contribute to developments that have a broad, positive impact on society.”
Keith’s expertise and leadership have led to advancements in automotive instrument cluster, industrial motor drive products, digital power supplies, solar inverter systems, in-vehicle networking and other technologies. He is particularly enthusiastic about initiatives to address energy efficiency, advanced driver assistance and industrial connectivity.
In his current role, Keith and his team are focused on adding more connectivity in the industrial, automotive, communications and personal electronics markets. His team is creating innovations that enable higher bandwidths and longer transmission distances in products that are smaller and incorporate higher levels system integration than previous technology generations.
Inspiring the next generation
Keith’s passion to innovate and solve problems reaches beyond his role at our company.
He is an avid supporter of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and is active in efforts to bring more diversity into engineering disciplines. He has received a Black Engineer of the Year Award for technical and leadership contributions in engineering. Keith also continues to be involved at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he mentors students and will serve as the executive sponsor of our company’s programs at the university in 2018.
He hopes to instill a drive in employees, students and even his own children to remain curious about what they do and to have a passion for learning.
“I can see the same drive to solve problems among my children, who both have an interest in technology,” Keith said. “When we work together on robotics projects, play with circuit boards or spin motors for fun, I can see the same curiosity in them that I experienced as a child. It is a constant reminder that whether it’s engineering, another career or a hobby, it’s important to remain curious about what you do – no matter your age – and continue a passion for learning.”
In Peter Balyta’s unique role as president of Education Technology and vice president of Academic Engagement and Corporate Citizenship, he interacts with students and educators at all levels. In this second in a series of “Inspire STEM” articles, Peter talks about one easy way to bring STEM to life for any student.
In my last post, I painted an alarming picture of the high-stakes problem of insufficient science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the United States. I asked you to join me in my quest to make STEM more accessible to all students.
The response to my rally cry – from teachers, industry partners, TIers and students – has been delightfully overwhelming. I am encouraged by all the emails and calls I have received from people asking what they can do to help.
My answer is simple: Get involved in a robotics program. Robotics mentorship and volunteerism isn’t just for engineers. No matter your background or education, there is a role for you. I speak from experience: As a dad who has volunteered with my son’s middle- and high-school robotics teams, I’ve done everything from ordering pizza to providing feedback on ideas, and the experience has been very rewarding.
The “why” is in the numbers
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a robotics partner with whom we work closely, released a report in April 2017 on the impact of its robotics programs. The FIRST study, which just completed its third year of data collection, reveals that young people who participate in robotics programs make significantly greater gains in STEM measures than students who do not. These measures include interest in STEM subjects, involvement in STEM-related activities, STEM identity, STEM knowledge, and intent to pursue a STEM career[i]. Here’s what the FIRST data says about students who are involved in robotics programs:
- 2.9 times more likely than comparison students to show gains in STEM interest
- 3.7 times more likely to show gains in involvement in STEM activity
- 2.3 times more likely to show gains on interest in STEM careers
- 2.4 times more likely to show gains in STEM identity
- 2.7 times more likely to show gains in understanding of STEM
This is music to my ears. Two additional robotics programs with whom we work – VEX and BEST – also provide helpful resources explaining why robotics competitions are an impactful way to get kids interested in STEM subjects.
“Our 150-pound robot was only possible because we worked together”
I recently had the pleasure of hearing students, teachers and mentors from five North Texas robotics teams tell personal stories about how robotics competitions are helping shape their lives. One student really drove home the value of diversity when he shared this message:
“We love that our team comes from so many different backgrounds because that means we have more diverse minds to expand what our future robots will look like. We also learned that even though we’re individuals, we are a family on the field and our 150-pound robot was only possible because we worked together.”
Benny Reyna, FRC team 1745, J.J. Pearce High School
The concept of family rang true across all the teams. One robotics group talked about their annual “Friendsgiving” dinner, which they host near the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday each year to encourage inclusion and emphasize family. Another team created an outreach program for hearing-impaired students to encourage them to participate in robotics. Yet another team is planning to design and print a 3D playing field, which will make it possible for a sight-impaired student to prepare for competitions. The goal is to remove barriers to the student’s full participation.
All of these stories reflect why I am an ardent believer in robotics competitions. They level the STEM education playing field so that any student can become a STEM student, regardless of background, family environment, aptitude, physical ability or socioeconomic status. Name a reason or potential roadblock: None of them matter in the robotics competition pits. Robotics competitions open a pathway to STEM learning, and they teach the very values and skills urgently needed to take the U.S. forward: leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, diversity of thought, volunteerism, ethics, confidence, commitment, compassion and communication.
“When you have enough mentors so the kids can learn, they become mentors themselves.”
– Steve Clynes, TIer and volunteer robotics mentor at Woodrow Wilson High School in the Dallas Independent School District
When you get involved in robotics mentorship and volunteerism, you have an opportunity to transform the life of a student. And just think of the lives that student will touch in the future. Your investment, even if it’s only once a week, has the potential to pay powerful dividends. I speak from my own experience.
When my son was in middle school, I became a mentor for his VEX robotics team. Full disclosure: I was hesitant to commit due to my work and travel schedule, but I decided that I could find time during weeks when I was not traveling, even if it meant foregoing other things. I began to join the team once a week, and my role was to be a thought partner with whom they could bounce around ideas. Soon I was as motivated as they were. I discovered that their creativity, excitement and self-confidence were contagious.
What started as a once-a-week commitment with my son’s team has become a long-term journey. I’ve spent time cheering on teams at various robotics competitions sponsored by TI, and I’ve participated as a judge during various FIRST competitions in the Dallas area. I’m also involved with my son’s Allen High School Eagle FRC 5417 robotics team.
I’m on a quest to narrow the gaps in STEM education in the U.S., and student robotics competitions are a proven way to do that. Here’s how you can get involved, too:
- First, remove any pre-conceived notion you might have that robotics programs don’t match your volunteer skillset. These programs need adults who have backgrounds in marketing, engineering, finance, fundraising, cooking, driving and cheerleading.
- Call your local middle or high school and find out if they have a robotics program. If the answer is “no,” then either email me personally (firstname.lastname@example.org), or send a note to email@example.com to find out how to get involved somewhere else – or better yet, fill a need by setting up a new program where one doesn’t exist.
- If you’re a TIer, learn how to become a robotics mentor or volunteer.
Chevk out STEM education programs and resources from our company.
Passionate about STEM? Have your own story to tell? Share your thoughts in the comments.
[i] FIRST Longitudinal Study: Findings at 36 Month Follow-Up (Year 4 Report)
This multimedia edition of Chief Technologist Ahmad Bahai's quarterly Tech Trends column features an interactive graphic and podcast. Click on the interactive boxes within the graphic to hear his insights.
Take an interactive tour of a smart city more than 10 years into future and explore some key technologies that will enable these next-generation urban landscapes. Cities already rely on networks for traffic control, energy, communications and myriad other services. Smart cities of the future will integrate and augment these networks to improve operations, save money and conserve energy.
The same sensing, signal conditioning, communications and embedded processing technologies that enable smart homes and factories will help connect and automate cities in groundbreaking ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
For more about the future of smart cities and the technologies enabling them, download our Smart Cities white paper.
We are creating both the technologies and the designs to enable smart cities of the future. Here are a few of our smart city-related reference designs:
Drones: Our Sensorless High-Speed FOC Reference Design for Drone Electronic Speed Control will help designers engineer drones with longer flight times, higher dynamic behavior and smoother, more stable performance.
Electric vehicle (EV) charging: Our Wi-Fi-Enabled Electronic Vehicle Service Equipment Reference Design can help designers easily integrate smart charging solutions. It includes our CC3100 SimpleLink™ Wi-Fi® wireless network processor for highly embedded devices like EV supply equipment to easily connect to a wireless network or device. By integrating Wi-Fi and network processing, the design enables remote-power monitoring and control of the charging state of the connected EV.
Autonomous cars: This Traffic Monitoring Object Detection and Tracking Reference Design Using mmWave radar sensing technology is designed to help developers build systems for long-range sensing and traffic monitoring and other applications. The reference design demonstrates environmentally robust object detection, clustering and tracking, locating objects in a 90- to 100-degree field of view.
“I’m really curious about how things are made,” said Ana, who will be a high school junior at Townview Magnet Center in Dallas. “Having a hands-on experience allows you to ask questions and understand technology better.”
Ana was one of about 90 middle- and high-school girls from the Dallas area who recently visited our headquarters in Dallas to meet women who work in senior technical roles, learn more about engineering and innovation, get hands-on experience programming with our TI-Nspire™ technology and TI-Innovator™ Hub, and handle chips, boards and some of the products our customers create.
“When I told my friends that I wanted to be an engineer, they thought I’d be in a lab all day,” Ana said. “Coming to TI helped me see there’s more to it – working with different teams, talking to customers, traveling and managing the business. It looks even better than I thought it would.”
The interactive program that reinforced Ana’s interest in a technical career was sponsored by our Texas Instruments Women’s Initiative Network, which played host to underrepresented students from schools in the Young Women’s Preparatory Network and the High Tech High Heels Design Connect Create Camp. Women in engineering and technical leadership at our company led career and technology sessions, mentored students, and talked to them about their college and career plans.
“For our girls, there’s only so much learning you can do in the classroom,” said Karla Stack, chief program officer at the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, which provides private funding for eight public schools in Texas. “It’s important for them to see real-life women engineers who look like them. We want to make sure the girls have a chance to hear from women who are pursuing careers in STEM. Many of our girls come from low-income homes and will be the first members of their families to attend college. We want to make sure that they see women succeeding in their careers and that they understand they can pursue similar opportunities.”
“We wanted to expose girls to careers in science, technology, engineering and math and give them a chance to experience the real world of engineering,” said Patty Arellano, director of STEM education and outreach at our company. “Many people don’t know what an engineer does, so giving girls an opportunity to hear from and meet successful women who look like them can help get them interested in STEM careers.”
But the girls weren’t the only people learning at the recent event. Emilio Granado and Lynn Burleigh – both computer-science teachers at smaller Texas school districts – represented a group of teachers who want to learn how corporations use technology so they can keep their classes current.
“It’s important to keep our students ahead of the learning curve because technology advances so fast,” Emilio said. “We’re learning about cutting-edge technology for our classrooms. The exposure we’re getting is huge, and we’ll take what we learn back to our colleagues.”
Teachers and students alike agreed that hands-on learning is essential.
“The hands-on experience allows you to ask even more questions,” Ana said. “Touching the technology helps you understand what you’re learning and do even more.”
“Once students feel it, touch it and create it, they own it. And they don’t have to recall it because it becomes a part of who they are,” Lynn said. “With engineering or anything else that’s hands-on, once you create and own something, you become powerful.”
In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile TIers who are making a difference through innovation or citizenship.
TIer Krunali Patel started her path toward engineering at an early age, following in the footsteps of her father and older brother. Now, as vice president and general manager of Analog Design Services, Krunali oversees execution of new product development for our company, and is known for investing heavily in people and her ability to influence and persuade.
This week, Krunali was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame. In this video edition of One to Watch, learn how Krunali is making her mark as a leader, a mentor, and is serving as an inspiration to students, TIers, women in technical leadership, and most importantly, her two daughters.
(Please visit the site to view this video)
In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile the movers and shakers at TI who are making a difference through innovation or citizenship.
And in at least one case, you’d see an imaging device that fits in your pocket.
Just ask Sandeep Oswal. His job is to advance the tiny technologies that lie at the heart of medical imaging equipment. Among his accomplishments are innovations that enable engineers to build an ultrasound machine the size of a smartphone.
“The main thing that drives me is the chance to understand new problems,” said Sandeep, chief design engineer for medical imaging, based in Bangalore, India. “The problems we solve now are quite different in complexity and challenges than we did five or 10 years ago. Each sensor and signal chain is quite -unique, and solutions need to be quite specific in many aspects to be effective and impactful.”
Sandeep has created advancements in analog signal processing for portable ultrasound machines – advancements that reduce power consumption and result in a smaller, lighter battery. This helps enable the ultrasound machine to be much smaller, making it more portable.
Another of Sandeep’s projects is a low-noise analog-to-digital converter (ADC), which helps reduce radiation exposure to patients and medical professionals during X-rays. And yet another technology will help patients monitor their own heart rates and oxygen levels in devices like a wireless, sensing patch that transmits data remotely to smartphones and computers.
Sandeep enjoys working on products that will make a difference and have an impact on human health and health care. A driven problem solver who hails from a family of engineers, you could say he was born to be an engineer. The 20-year veteran of our company holds 24 patents and has about a dozen others pending in the domain of low-power analog circuit design and systems.
From Bangalore, Sandeep leads a global team that collaborates across oceans on new products for customers around the world. A TI Fellow, he is among our most recognized technical innovators – elected to the position based on outstanding and consistent innovation and mentorship of other engineers within and outside our company.
“He is one of our most technically distinguished experts,” said TIer Karthik Vasanth. And Sandeep’s skills reach beyond the lab. He has a rare ability to understand what customers’ need, propose an innovative solution and execute the plan, Karthik said.
“He’s involved from end to end – from the idea to talking with customers upfront about what’s needed in the product to development,” said Chuck Sanna, a product line manager. “Sandeep can do what the best designers do: Go from the block level inside the die to how it affects the customer’s line up.”
The ambassador role comes naturally to Sandeep, who has lived most of his life in India except for when he studied in Texas. A native of India, Sandeep came to the United States in 1995 to get a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He began working at our company in broadband communications in 1998.
Sandeep credits much of his success to teamwork. He derives a major part of his motivation from working with an extremely talented set of engineers across domains and as part of a team with very high drive and focus. This creates an incredible mix of challenges and opportunities to work on engineering solutions across domains of expertise.
“All engineers more or less think alike,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you are or what your background is. Engineers want to solve the problem in the most effective and impactful way.”
When Varun Rajaram was eight years old, he unleashed the power of the Force, challenging friends to epic lightsaber duels and Jedi reenactments.
“I was your classic nerd,” he admits, albeit one with a Jedi’s character: Intelligent, articulate and deeply curious about the world around him.
Now 18, Varun hopes to apply Jedi-like smarts to use artificial intelligence to solve world problems. His latest area of interest: making medical predictions by applying artificial intelligence to anonymous patient data.
Varun, the son of TIer Bharat Rajaram, is one of thirty 2017 Junkins scholars – recipients of a one-time $4,000 scholarship given to children of TIers who are National Merit Scholarship finalists. The scholarship, named in honor of our former CEO, Jerry R. Junkins, is funded by our company in partnership with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
Varun is a coding whiz. A five-time “best delegate” in Model United Nations at both the state and regional levels, he plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall to study computer science and participate in a multi-disciplinary Plan II Honors Program.
Globally aware Jedi
Varun credits his parents with instilling a desire to be a socially responsible global citizen.
“I’m fortunate to have traveled a lot with my parents, who of course helped open my eyes to the world around me,” he says. “My mom and dad are both from south India, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time there.
“Over the years I began to visibly see that what was available to me in the U.S. wasn’t available in India. There were big gaps, such as healthcare, and I wanted to do something to narrow those gaps using my interest in computer science.”
True to his inner Jedi, Varun took action and sought an internship last summer at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He took his coding and programming skills and applied them as a student researcher in radiology to investigate how artificial intelligence can make medical predictions through anonymous patient data.
“There’s a significant amount of work being done with artificial intelligence, but the medical field still has a lot of ground to cover to embrace the potential of this technology,” Varun says. “I wanted to look at how we could use machine learning to index patient data and create intelligent algorithms to make medical predictions. A computer can’t replace a radiologist, for example, but what it can do is look at thousands of images and, using intelligent algorithms to find patterns, then flag an image and say, ‘Hey, something is amiss.’”
In layman’s terms, Varun is describing the ability of artificial intelligence to detect symptoms earlier, helping level the patient care playing field regardless of where the patient lives.
What lies ahead?
Varun is set to graduate in June from William P. Clements High School in Sugar Land, Texas, where he was enrolled in its Global Studies Academy.
When pressed where he thinks he’ll be in 10 years, Varun pauses and acknowledges he’ll always be a nerd, but for now he’s just looking forward to his upcoming college career.
“I’m excited to try new things, explore a little bit, and then figure out the path I want to stick to,” he says. “That said, however, I am looking forward to starting with broader studies in computer science, but then maybe looking at bioinformatics or computational biology,” he says.
Artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms aside, it’s a safe bet that Varun is one to watch in the years to come.
Happy Geek Week! At TI, DIYers are continually making the world safer, smarter, greener, healthier and, of course, more fun. This week, we’re celebrating makers with the top 6 ways our DIYers are making the world more fun. Check out the list and learn more about the parts that bring these projects to life.
1. Making popcorn chattier…Mark Easley combined the world of social media with one of our favorite treats when he invented the tweeting popcorn machine.
2. Making sports rowdier…Jason Rubadue gave sports fans more reasons to stand up and yell for their team with his FanFlare Rally Light.
3. Making beer brewing smarter…Leo Estevez created a better brewing process with a smartphone-controlled microbrewery kit using our MSP430™ LaunchPad.
Parts used: TI MSP430G2553, TI MOSFETS, TI Power Management IC and TI Bluetooth radio.
4. Making robots even cooler…Last year’s DIY with TI chief geek winner was Koopa the Robot (created by Bart Basile, Amy Schnoor, Walter Schnoor and students from the Conrad High School Robotics Club). This robot is so robust that it can crash through and over tough obstacles without breaking apart, and it was a division finalist at First Robotics World Champs.
Parts used: NI Control System powered with TI Analog and a TI Mentored Team
5. Making chores easier…Marcus Cooksey created Rosie the Robot with the support of his Kids in Training for Robotics (KIT4 Robotics) to help kids complete simple chores around the house – like turning off a light switch.
Parts used: Tiva LM4F, 32-bit ARM Cortex M4F processor
6. Making hats geekier… Adrian Fernandez designed a smart hat with sentiment analysis that can tell when the twitterverse is feeling happy or sad based on the tone of tweets.
Check out more DIY with TI projects and be sure to tip your (smart) hat to a geek this week! Have a project to share? Post about it in the comments!
The Bluetooth® that has connected much of your life is transforming. No longer is it simply a personal network for listening to music wirelessly or talking on the phone a few feet from your device.
Enter Bluetooth 5. With standards developed through a global body that included representatives from our company, the technology will radically improve wireless connectivity for applications ranging from building automation to industrial controls.
“The limit is our imagination,” said Olivier Monnier, marketing and business manager for smart connectivity solutions. “The Bluetooth 5 standard is breaking the status quo.”
Designers can start designing Bluetooth 5 products today. We are the now the first company to release fully qualified Bluetooth 5 software, creating opportunities for companies to get products to market fast by integrating it with our SimpleLink™ wireless microcontroller technology. This powerful system enables connections with four times the range, twice the speed and an 800 percent increase in data capacity.
“Customers can use our hardware and software, develop their applications and move to production now,” Olivier said.
This advanced capability will shift Bluetooth’s focus from personal electronics such as audio players and sports watches to more demanding uses such as industrial motors and home networks.
The Bluetooth standard – one of several wireless connectivity technologies that also include near-field communication, Wi-Fi® and Sub-1 GHz networks – has become a popular way to connect devices at short distances. But previous Bluetooth standards have natural challenges. Applications keep asking for lower power. The amount of data that can be transmitted is limited. Connections have to be nearby.
Bluetooth 5 offers groundbreaking improvements in each of those areas. Its improved low-energy capabilities provide longer battery life. The range extends up to one-and-a-half kilometers – almost a mile. Large amounts of data can be sent over the wireless connection.
Those improvements will create enormous opportunities in a wide variety of applications, including building automation, home networks, patient monitors and other medical uses, asset tracking, and industrial sensor networks and motor drives.
“People want to use the technology in your hand – smart phones and tablets – for more applications than they have in the past,” Olivier said. “They want to expand the scope from personal-area networks to house coverage, to monitor sensors in a building, to control lighting or a gateway.
“Those who work in industrial environments care about maintenance, noise and vibration,” he said. “Is the motor working well or will it fail soon? A connection with a tablet or smart phone could quickly provide information about the health of a motor and whether it needs to be serviced. Bluetooth 5 will break down barriers and open opportunities for new innovations in industrial settings.”
Bluetooth 5 also will enhance applications such as beacon technologies that provide direction in urban settings for people who are blind, for travelers trying to find their gates at major airports, or even for fans ordering food at sports stadiums. Utility companies will be able to extract more information about energy use from electric meters without redesigning the meters. Smoke detectors will be able to tell a smart phone or tablet when the battery needs to be replaced.
“Bluetooth 5 represents a fundamental change in how this technology is being used,” Olivier said. “The market is ready for it. People are eager.”
Read more about Bluetooth 5:
The world is changing. You can see it on the roads, in buildings and in cities.
Meeting that change is a new family of highly accurate, single-chip millimeter-wave (mmWave) sensors enabling applications ranging from automotive radar to industrial automation. These precision sensors give designers a platform to bring new levels of intelligence, safety and autonomy to automobiles, buildings, factories and drones. Advances in technologies such as mmWave sensors are timely. For example:
- There may be 10 million self-driving cars on the road by 2020.*
- Fifty-six percent of industrial companies will increase efficiency over the next five years.*
- Eighty-one percent of homes and buildings will be automated by 2020.*
These changes will require new levels of precise sensing to detect the range, velocity and angle of objects; to penetrate plastic, drywall, glass and other materials; and perform in extreme and challenging environmental conditions such as rain, fog, dust, light and darkness.
Until now, sensing systems have used discrete components to transmit, receive and analyze signals. Using discrete components on circuit boards increases the size, power and overall cost of systems. Our technology − built on a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) platform − integrates a best-in-class digital signal processor (DSP) and microcontroller (MCU) into a single, small package that will use less power while delivering up to three times more accuracy than current solutions.
Sensors in automotive applications will support advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) designed to help warn, brake, monitor and steer our cars as we drive to the grocery store, to work and on long road trips across the country. These increasingly in-demand systems are essentially the first step on the technology road toward full autonomous driving.
Technologies widely available in cars today include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning and even parking assistance. But future advances – autonomous parking, highly automated driving and, ultimately, hands-off-the-wheel autonomous driving – will depend on increasingly sophisticated sensing intelligence from radar, as well as from technologies such as laser, ultrasonic, infrared and lidar.
These sensors are enabling the next level of efficiency and intelligence for buildings and factories.
The applications for industrial systems are myriad. For example, the sensors’ unprecedented accuracy will enable companies to precisely measure the fluid levels in tanks as a way to manage inventory and detect leaks early. Perimeter sensors will provide security systems with precise motion-sensitive detection and tracking. Traffic-monitoring systems enabled with mmWave sensors will create smarter cities through reduced traffic stress.
Sensors also will provide more precision for robots and forklifts and be able to determine how many people are in a room.
Our world is in the midst the next great industrial revolution that will require unprecedented precision. Technologies such as mmWave will enable designers to meet these needs in new, innovative ways.
In our ongoing series, ‘One to Watch,’ we profile the movers and shakers at TI who are making a difference through innovation or citizenship.
“My motto is, ‘learning from failures is essential,’” he admits.
Finding out how things work is what inspires and drives Dietmar. This puts him in good company with decorated innovator Thomas Edison who famously said, “I have not failed. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb."
Dietmar was in high school when he first saw how PCs connected using RS-232 cables would quickly pave the way for devices with wireless connectivity.
“Within five or six years, the world completely changed,” he said. “This triggered my fascination to find out how things work, which led to why I became an engineer.”
The delight that people have when they use technology drives Dietmar to continually develop his understanding of technical issues and challenges.
“Innovation is a very, very important thing,” he said. “TI is a strong driver for this. If you innovate in a very creative way, which really helps to solve certain issues in daily life, I think it correlates to good business.”
Dietmar particularly enjoys the variety and unpredictability of his work. “I honestly never know when I come to work in the morning what’s going to happen,” he said. “It never gets boring, and I learn each day.”
Cutting down on the noise
Technically, Dietmar’s daily work involves layout and design analysis, as well as lab and production testing and measurement. But it is his work to advance the understanding of how external electromagnetic interference (EMI) can disturb the operation of devices that established his reputation within our company and helped lead to his election to the TI Tech Ladder as a member of the group technical staff.
For example, think about when your radio speaker and smartphone are placed too closely together – sometimes this negatively affects operation of one or both devices – making the sound of each fade in and out and buzz or vibrate. This effect is what happens when EMI, also called radio frequency interference (RFI) or “noise” interferes. Technically, EMI is defined as the disruption of one electronic device by another electronic device when they are in the vicinity of each other and electromagnetic fields or radio frequencies collide.
One of the biggest achievements for Dietmar was creating a methodology to characterize the electromagnetic sensitivity of electronic devices. This methodology – Fast Transient Characterization – proved invaluable in tackling problems facing customer product design all the way down to the chip level.
Prior to this new characterization, engineers were looking at the issue of physical damage, reset, or hang-ups from electrostatic discharge (ESD) – the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects – but only from an overall printed circuit board (PCB) inside an electronic device. However it was Dietmar who pointed out effects on the actual silicon (or chip) on the PCB during a system-level ESD strike.
“Chip designers and developers previously said they couldn’t solve application issues, but this methodology proves that chip design can be influential,” he said. “It means we’re now solving application problems that we couldn’t before.”
A large number of TI MSP microcontrollers (MCUs) benefit from Dietmar’s research. In fact, it also enabled TI customers to pass tests mandatory for electronic devices certification in Europe, helping save a lot of time and money in development.
Not only did Dietmar solve a variety of customer issues with this one technical characterization process, but he helped to make TI products more robust and more competitive. The unyielding desire to learn – not discouraged by failure —and hard work paved his way to success.
“To Dietmar, learning means doing, and vice versa,” explains Dominik Giewald, his product line manager. “He always tries to harmonize theory and practical applications and to evolve both.”
“With his high level of personal engagement, enthusiasm and technical leadership, Dietmar is able to learn on an individual level but to also achieve a TI-wide learning success that has a direct impact on our microchips’ resilience,” Dominik said. “To Dietmar, learning doesn’t mean only learning for himself but also sharing, so new innovation can have a broad effect and thus increase the beneficial effect for TI.”
Dietmar places strong emphasis on multiplying the knowledge he has acquired during his decade at TI. He learned a lot from more experienced colleagues and would like to pass his knowledge on to future TIers, including interns and university students whom he mentors.
“If you do not share your knowledge, people have to learn things the hard way,” he says. “You may find 1,000 ways to not invent the lightbulb, but sharing your discovery with others and the path that brought you there will keep them from doing the same 1,000 futile attempts.”