On the Road to Embedded World 2021: Episode 1

Editor’s Note: This is the first blog in a series of five blogs leading up to Embedded World 2021. In this blog, Episode 1, an overview of what Embedded World is will be presented. In Episode 2, Randy brushes up on his C programming language. Episode 3 focuses on how using Object-Oriented Programming can reduce complexity. Episode 4 shows how the fundamental measure of good design is its ability to be reconfigured as requirements change without having to reimplement the building blocks. In the final blog, Episode 5, the ever expanding space required by operating systems is questioned and system decomposition is touched upon prior to Randall’s keynote presentation at Embedded World 2021.

Hi. I am Randall Restle. Until recently, I was Vice President of Applications Engineering at Digi-Key Electronics. I am now semi-retired and have a lot more time to pursue technical interests. The “semi” part means I am doing some technical consulting, too. Consulting gives me technical focus as I am interested in so many technologies within the field of electrical engineering. I love knowing how things work, coming up with problems I think can be better solved, and finding novel solutions. I’m the kind of person who would rather read a textbook than a fictional novel.

This summer (2020), I was asked to give the keynote address at Embedded World 2021. Preparing to make a presentation takes a lot of research but not all of that research makes its way into my presentation. I wanted to find a way to share some of that research, which has resulted in this blog. With this submission and a new submission for each of the next 4 months (October ‘20 through February ‘21), I will write a short essay on some of the topics that I found interesting. I’ll share more of my thinking about the specifics of my presentation in future posts, but for now I will share more about Embedded World itself.

(Image source: Embedded World)

I am based in the United States and, much to my lament, trade shows here in the USA have become very small and many more have been discontinued over the past decades. This is not the case in Europe and especially in Germany. Embedded World attracts approximately 35,000 embedded engineers each year with more than 1,000 exhibitors. It is held in Nuremberg, Germany every year in late February or early March. Embedded World 2021 is being held from 2 March to 4 March and it will be the 19th year for the event.

In addition to the difference in attendance, the show dedicates the last day to students. Sponsors of the event pay a fee to be a sponsor. Some of that fee is used to pay for busing to allow students from all over Europe to attend and receive meals while on the ride. It is a great way for students to learn about the companies and the technologies that are shaping our electronic world.

(Image source: Embedded World)

In case you didn’t know, enrollment in Electrical Engineering is being outpaced by Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and others. This has caused many in the industry to complain that customers are getting older. The attitude bothered me because Electrical Engineering remains a great field. There is no way that our future will depend less on electronics - it will depend on them more. Anyway, in 2019, I was interviewed about the field’s future while still in the frame of mind that anyone should be happy to be in this industry. You can watch that interview here.

Back to the event itself, it consists of two parts. Part one is a technical conference and part two is an exhibition. These occur concurrently. To me, the most valuable part of the event is the technical conference as I’ve made numerous technical talks and I’ve addressed the students en masse. Details about the conference can be found on the Embedded World website.

If you are looking for an opportunity to learn about the latest techniques and embedded electronics while having a great experience in Germany, I recommend attending Embedded World 2021 and please attend my keynote address if you do!

About this author

Image of Randy Restle

Randall Restle has over 40 years’ experience in the electronic components industry.  He is now semi-retired and served as Digi-Key Electronics’ Vice President of Applications Engineering. His experience includes directing teams of skilled application engineers, technicians, and management personnel to develop original and unique advanced technology products.

His personal pursuits include digital signal processing, programmable logic implementation, motion control improvements, and software design.  He holds patents across multiple industries and is a Senior Member of the IEEE.  Randall holds BSEE, MS and MBA degrees from the University of Cincinnati.

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