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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


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.

Young Eyes Offer Fresh Perspectives on Science Caroline Storm Westenhover
I thoroughly enjoy going to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. I have gone many times with friends, family and dates. Going by myself is OK. Going with someone interested in STEM (Science, Technology and Math) is enjoyable, but going with someone with lots of energy and not as much scientific knowledge is the best.

Time to Take All This Knowledge to the Next Level Caroline Storm Westenhover
I am getting to that time in my life, or rather that time in my college career, where I am expected to do a bit more. I now am moving from absorbing information and doing final projects that relate to what I just learned, to tying in what I have learned from multiple past classes and coming up with my own ideas.

Technology Expands Our View of the World and Ourselves Caroline Storm Westenhover
There is a Regina Spektor song called Blue Lips that has a line that goes “blue the color of the planet from far, far away”. Sometimes I think about that line as a representation of an entire category of lines. It is the representative, in my mind, because it was playing in the background while my mom and I were having a discussion about the how the internet as an equalizer affects our opinions on what the average person is like, particularly in terms of intelligence, and I pointed to it as an example.

Timing is Everything Even for Yes and No Questions Caroline Storm Westenhover
One of the things that comes with studying electrical engineering is that people assume you know the answers to all kinds of questions. Some are good questions even if they are incompletely worded, like: “How much work does it take to move a kilogram?” It took some discussion but at the end he understood physics a bit better.

Thinking About Learning in a New Way Caroline Storm Westenhover
What is that in-between place between boring and floundering? It’s that place where you feel challenged, but not overwhelmed. For me Modern Physics is that place. I enjoy going to class. I like reading the material and doing the homework. I find myself thinking about the math and therefore thinking about physics in general.

Irrational Thinking Flies in the Face of Logic Caroline Storm Westenhover
Flying home from my internship in Washington D.C., I began to think about airplane crashes and what it would be like to be in a plane crash. I wondered what I would do if I got in a crash not far from D.C. and survived. The logical me would go to the nearest city and take a plane from there. It would be safer. My emotions, however, would make it difficult to get back on a plane. This goes to the core of human irrational thinking. We often are terrible at looking at the data and behaving logically, whether this be risk assessment or behavioral response. This is where big data comes into play. Big data allows us to gather enough data on specific tasks to make accurate evaluations on cause and effect. This enables us to weed out the outliers, to see the long term trends and therefore understand the cause and effect of one event in context of the whole picture.

Accepting the Wonderers and Wondering About the Accepters Caroline Storm Westenhover
“Do you know what happens when you put a red LED to a 9 volt battery?” This is the first thing the other intern said to me as he walked in this morning. Of course I wanted to see what happened. Knowing that the normal drop for a red LED is about 2.5V, and given the tone of his voice, I knew it would be interesting. Sure enough the LED sheared at the junction. His original plan had been to see if the problem with his tester was the green LED or the switch. He used a 9V battery to test it because it was available. The interesting result was the green LED gave off an orange light. This naturally made him wonder what would happen if he applied 9V to other colored LEDs. Hence the sheared and slightly melted red LED.

Self-Driving Cars Offer Interesting Transportation Possibilities Caroline Storm Westenhover
According to some published studies, the area has the 10th worst traffic in the U.S. and the longest average commute in the US. I have given extensive thought to the social ramifications of self-driving cars. I have thought about this many times before, but now it is personal. The technology used in self-driving cars is fascinating, but I want to talk about the implications.

Road-Tripping on Thermodynamics Caroline Storm Westenhover
My family is mildly crazy and the stunt for this past Spring was driving from Los Angeles to Indianapolis in 72 hours. One of my brothers was graduating in Los Angeles and another was getting married near Indianapolis. About 90 minutes out of LA, our car overheated. Naturally my mom and I decided to open the hood and see what we could do. As I poured water over the radiator, I noticed that in some spots the water was boiling on contact and other places it was rolling off and dripping onto the ground. I thought about my thermal class. In particular I was thinking of thermal contact resistance. I recalled a particularly illustrative picture from Chapter 10 of my thermal book and the heat conduction of road dust versus metal (Hint: it is not helping with the heat transfer).

Year End Project Puts Sights and Sounds into Perspective Caroline Storm Westenhover
My telecoms class had an end of the year project. You know it is interesting how you do not really think about all you have learned and how fascinating and wonderful it is until the end of the semester. This telecoms project is a great example of making students think about what we learned. It involved suppressing photos and video. We had talked about bandwidth suppression all semester. It made sense. A smaller channel transmitting the same amount of information is always desirable. It was interesting to learn that since our ears, unlike our eyes, are insensitive to phase distortion it is possible to design cheaper filters that allow phase distortion to slip through.

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