ALPHA Students Visit DISTek

The DISTek test cab.
The DISTek test cab.

On Friday May 1, DISTek hosted about 50 junior high ALPHA (Talented & Gifted) students from Holmes and Peet Junior Highs in Cedar Falls. These students completed a 6-week unit in January and February on careers and were interested in engineering fields. The purpose of their visit to DISTek was to learn more about the various types of engineering.

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Starting an Engineering Career

Ag Engineering Students
photo: freeimages.com

After graduating in December of 2013 from Iowa State with a degree in Electrical Engineering, I set out on the quest for my first job. The search began shortly after graduation in San Jose, CA, the heart of Silicon Valley. I soon found that Silicon Valley has a very competitive job market with little room for the new guy. After 6 months of searching, I brought my search back to the Midwest and contacted Jeff Sandvold who I had talked with at the Iowa State career fairs. After a phone conversation and a very long skype interview with everyone at the Cedar Falls office, I found myself making the 2000 mile journey across the country to start my first job here at DISTek.

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STEM Education through Lego

The Cedar Falls FLL Regional
FIRST LEGO League in action.

The Cedar Falls Regional Qualifier for FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and the Cedar Falls Regional Expo for Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL) took place recently at Peet Junior High.  DISTek and its people are very active in supporting FIRST related teams.  There were at least three DISTekians who served as coaches or mentors for FLL teams and one DISTekian who was the coach for a Jr. FLL team.  DISTek was also a sponsor of multiple teams.

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Arduino (or chipKIT) + LabVIEW = Low-cost Home DAQ or Control System

photo: arduino.cc photo: ni.com

The Arduino and chipKIT microcontrollers are popular for students and hobbyists alike. They provide various interfaces that can be used to interface with a myriad of devices and sensors. These interfaces include, but are not limited to, digital I/O, analog input, I2C and SPI communication, and PWM. Microcontrollers have been used for many varying projects from basic data logging to home/environment automation and robotics.

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FIRST Robotics team 525 – Cedar Falls HS at the Central Illinois Regional Competition

DISTek fully supports STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and the development of the next generation of engineers. Many DISTek employees have volunteered to work with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League programs at the elementary school level, and robotics programs at the secondary school level. The FIRST website describes the program:

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