Mark Thoren and Jim Williams needed to test the temperature compensation scheme of a circuit they were designing. The lab had several temperature chambers, but they were always in use. In frustration, Jim grabbed a brand new toaster and plopped it down on Mark's desk, saying, "This will do." Not quite. The hysteresis of the oven's thermostat was 10C — too crude to measure the circuit. Mark and Jim scrounged about and found an auto-tuning temperature controller, some solid-state relays and a shiny platinum RTD probe. After some minor rewiring they had a test chamber, more than adequate and better than most of the "real" chambers that were never available when needed.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.