Safety is a challenging status to achieve and maintain, thus the need for the guidelines that collectively fall under the heading of Functional Safety (FS). DISTek has always been conscience of safety as it applies to the products developed for our customers. This includes implementing the various requirements and guidelines associated with Functional Safety, as expressed in documents, such as ISO 25119.
The 2017 AMC Engineering Conference is just around the corner, but there’s plenty of time to make plans to attend. This year’s event will once again be held in downtown Waterloo, Iowa at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center starting on Tuesday, April 25th through Thursday, April 27th. The 31st annual AMC Engineering Conference provides a forum for agricultural & off-highway engineers to come together to celebrate and grow engineering skills in the Midwest.
Recently, I’ve been launching a little office project to develop a new training curriculum for DISTek engineers. Because it is hands-on training, it will require a toolchain. Since our customers use everything from off-the-shelf professional solutions to home-brewed ones, it’s important to prevent the nuances of a new toolchain from being a distraction in the training’s purpose of conveying good software practices and controls concepts.
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.
This year’s theme focused on “Engineering Leadership – Changing, Guiding, Influencing”. I had the opportunity to sit in on several technical sessions that included some of the top panelists from across the country. The list included Deere & Company, Case New Holland, Caterpillar, Inc., Eaton and a variety of university professors.
One of the common topics I came across was how to address the increasingly complex and volatile landscape of vehicle products and control systems. How today’s engineers, across all organizations, need to develop strong adaptive thinking abilities and problem solving skills for their customers.
For one specific set of students, a brand new school supply will be getting added to the mix. Students in the Ag Engineering program at Iowa State will be getting the opportunity to experiment with ISOBUS using DISTek’s recently released VIRTEC software libraries. There will be a couple different usage scenarios for VIRTEC at ISU. The first scenario will be for graduate research projects. The graduate students and the school work with a wide range of Ag equipment manufacturers developing cutting edge technologies, and connecting these technologies to ISOBUS is very beneficial. The second scenario will be for classroom lab exercises. These students will get a chance to do some real hands-on ISOBUS application development in a lab setting rather than simply learning about it in lectures and readings.
Recently I was provided the opportunity to work with someone who utilized Simulink to create plant models for our customer. My experience and knowledge about Simulink and modeling was non-existent. I have heard of Simulink and seen some models, but for the most part, I am Simulink illiterate. This made my initial conversations with my co-worker an endless session of learning. It was all new to me. Add into the equation that his goal was to create a plant model; I was even more overwhelmed – seemed like I was drinking from a fire hose.
I became sick of clerical work and odd jobs that would never help me in my career, so last summer I went on the hunt for something with embedded systems around Cedar Falls. I found DISTek and sent a message on their “Contact Us” link. Never would I have imagined that it was going to be such a great experience in my life. When I was a freshman in college, my first semester I told one of my professors that I was interested in the computers inside of the Ag machinery. A year later, I was offered a job at DISTek and my dream had been fulfilled.