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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


My name is Caroline Storm Westenhover. I am a Senior Electrical Engineering student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am the third of seven children. I enjoy collecting ideas and theories and most enjoy when they come together to present a bigger picture as a whole. Perhaps that is why I like physics and engineering.  My biggest dream is to become an astronaut.


Dress Like an Engineer Caroline Storm Westenhover
This was the first time I had ever been on a panel, and some of the organizers at the conference asked me what I was going to wear. To which I responded by looking down at my lab polo and khakis and saying, “This?” They informed me that I would probably want to wear something nicer.

Of Machines and Motors Caroline Storm Westenhover
Last semester I took a machine and motors class. It has got to be one of the more difficult classes I have ever taken. Not only because it dealt with magnetism (the bane of many an Electrical Engineer) but also because it dealt with transformations. You know a subject is challenging when the easiest solution is to transform to a different reference frame, solve the problem in the new reference frame, then transform it back to the original.

Herd Mentality, Showing a New Way Forward Caroline Storm Westenhover
Back in May 2015, Tesla released the Tesla Power Wall a 7kWh home battery. The idea being that it can be connected to the DC bus in a home and charge from renewables, mainly solar panels and wind turbines, when the production is high but the use is low. Later, they can be discharged during the evening peak times when load demand exceeds supply.

Power Management the Hux Way Caroline Storm Westenhover
Since processors are following Moore’s Law and batteries are not, people have to look at the other side of the equation, the load, to increase battery runtime. It can be the user’s choice, like ultra low power modes available on new smartphones. Or it can be an old process that is optimized, like migrating from Bluetooth to BLE. Optimizing old processes is possible because of power management options made available by powerful and efficient processors.

Power Storage Caroline Storm Westenhover
There have been some really interesting innovations in electrochemical storage devices (e.g. batteries and supercapacitors) in my area of focus. These days, bigger products demanding more energy are moving towards battery power.

Turns Out Martians Need Math Caroline Storm Westenhover
During vacation I read The Martian by Andy Weir. If you have not read The Martian, if you are the kind of person who buys from Mouser, you should. One piece of advice: don’t read it while you’re on an airplane experiencing the worst turbulence of your life, it will just remind you that there is just some metal between you and death. Also, because you buy things on Mouser, there will be few things that you will be itching to know about, such as “where do you even find data on astronaut heartbeat rates during lift off?”

Unique Units and Brilliant Reductions Caroline Storm Westenhover
I love units of measurement: how you can multiply and divide unit Y by unit X and get unit J or W. If you know the units you want, you can look at the information you have and figure out how to get the answer you want just by cancelling units or introducing new ones. Clearly, this is limited to the realm where I am given enough information to solve a problem without experimentation.

One of the Things is Sort of Like the Other Caroline Storm Westenhover
This semester I took Cooperative Control of Multi-Agent Systems (CC). Basically, the idea behind it is to make groups of robots behave like schools of fish. Each robot responds to its neighbor and environment to make the whole group act as one body. There are several advantages to this. One is that here is no “queen bee” to take out that would make all the other robots useless. The loss of any robot, whether through malicious attacks or just link failures, does not result in the loss of any other robots. Also, system expansion is easier.

Not Your Father’s Tear Down… Not Anymore Caroline Storm Westenhover
For my senior project I am supposed to program an Android app that uses Bluetooth to communicate to a timing board. This sounds reasonable; I am an electrical engineer, we program apps all the time, right? Wrong, prior to being assigned this last semester I had no Object Oriented Programing (OOP) experience. I spent the Christmas break frantically trying to learn Java and start in on Android programming. By the end of the break I realized that there was no way for me develop a reliable app, keep up with my other classes, and go to work.

Get Out and Flex Those Brain Muscles Caroline Storm Westenhover
Oh my goodness, did you see the Robot on Mouser robotics challenge? I have to be honest, I have done many things in software but almost nothing in hardware. I have coded robot brains to do things like clustered object avoidance, but never put it in actual hardware. I have wanted to since my second semester, I just never managed to find the time. Seeing all these robot gets me excited again.

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