Tank commanders on military night missions want their ground-based target-recognition systems to detect any approaching enemy tanks as soon as possible. "A detection system with an 800 MHz Pentium chip displays the needed image in approximately 65 seconds," says Bruce Draper, a Colorado State University computer science researcher. He and colleagues Wim Bohm and Ross Beveridge are working with the U.S. Army to develop a powerful new Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) that is said to be 600 times faster than the 800 MHz Pentium chip. Instead of requiring 65 seconds to identify enemy tanks, Draper says his chip would speed the process to less than a second. "We buy commercially available hardware and build a language compiler for it," says Bohn. "We design the software environment, but at the circuit level." The FPGA increases a computer's speed by reconfiguring the hardware circuits to directly match the needs of given military software programs. The technique is de-scribed as creating programmable hardware by allowing users to repeatedly download new programs directly onto the computer's circuits. The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency funds development of this project. For more information, go to www.cs.colostate.edu.
The word “smart” is becoming the dumbest word around. It has been applied to almost every device and system in our homes. In addition to smartphones and smart meters, we now hear about smart clothing and smart shoes, smart lights, smart homes, smart buildings, and every trendy city today has its smart city project. Just because it has a computer inside and is connected to the Web, does not mean it is smart.
Are you being paid enough? Do you want a better job? According to a recent survey Manpower released just before Engineers Week, employers and engineers don't see eye-to-eye about the state of US engineers' skills and experience.
Two issues have been the bane of the plastics industry for as long as one can remember: The ban on plastic grocery bags and whether the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics such as polycarbonate and PVC is harmful to humans.
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.