Keeping abreast of new technology developments in our areas of expertise is hard enough. Getting a good handle on a technology area that is new to us can be really challenging. Fortunately, there are a host of useful training sessions becoming available from some UBM sister sites these next few weeks.
You may already be familiar with one of the educational initiatives that Design News has set up. In conjunction with DigiKey, they are offering "180 Days of Education" through the DigiKey Continuing Education Center (CEC). Actually, they are finishing up the second set of the 180-day cycles.
The first semester, which started in January this year, included such topics as basic and advanced MCU design, sensors, debug and test, LEDs, and industrial control processing. The second semester, wrapping up now, has had sessions on Linux kernel debugging, the ARM Cortex M0, electric power measurement, and computer vision. All topics include five days of 45-minute audio lectures, downloadable slides, and live chats with the presenter.
Most of these courses are over, but they have been archived. You can easily download the presentation slides, listen to the recorded lecture, and read over the chat log where students were able to ask questions of the presenter, live. It's not quite as good as being there, but at least the basic information is readily accessible. And you can skim, so that you can glean only what you want with a minimal investment of your time.
There are a few more courses still in the queue that you can attend live and get the benefit of having your questions answered. This week they're talking about embedding USB. Next week they'll discuss ISM-band radio, where Zigbee and the like play. You have to register to participate live or to view the archives, but that is a small price to pay for the insights the courses can offer.
A new learning opportunity, using the same model as the DigiKey CEC, has arisen at EETimes. The EETimes University opened its "doors" this week with an Intel-sponsored track on Intelligent Embedded Systems for the New Era of Industrial Apps. Next week, our own Max Maxfield will give a series on FPGAs and programmable SoCs. Future courses will be announced as they develop, typically a few weeks before the course starts.
I have attended a number of these lectures, both live and by visiting the archive, and have found them to be useful introductions to the topics. Commercial messaging seems to be at a minimum, so you won't be inundated with a list of product specs. Technical depth varies, but there is always something worthwhile to take away.
One last note: You can get credit for attending the lectures. The system tracks your involvement with the program, assigning "grades" based on attendance and live participation. It is not part of any accredited degree program, but it might be something you can show your boss to document your commitment to continually expanding your skill set.
What would you like to see on the EETimes University curriculum? Let us know and I'll pass your ideas along to the editors in charge.