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Bright young engineering minds at Radio & Wireless Week 2017

This year is the first time I had attended Radio & Wireless Week in Phoenix, AZ thanks to the heads-up from my colleague Martin Rowe, Editor of Test & Measurement on EDN and an EETimes editor as well.

Since I live in Arizona, I thought it was worth a trip into town to see what this conference was all about. After reviewing the topics for conferences, I was pretty impressed because this is one of the first tech conferences early in the year and I thought it might be a harbinger of things to come in the RF world this year and beyond.

My first stop at the event was a small group of tables with a group of grammar school students who will soon be presenting their ideas at a regional Science Fair. They had brought their projects which ranged from RF Energy Harvesting, AM Radio design and AM Radio Waves. They were called the ‘C-6 Team’, sixth-graders from the Kyrene Middle School in Tempe, AZ.

The first exhibit I visited was the one on Energy Harvesting with a demo for RF Energy Harvesting. Young Zachary Mehall was eager to tell me what the definition of Energy Harvesting was. Then he went on to tell me that in this project, he built an RF energy harvester that turns radio waves into DC energy. His design uses a rectifier technique to convert the AC RF waves in the ambient into a DC current. The design used 6 electrolytic capacitors, 10 ceramic capacitors, and four Germanium diodes, Zachary commented. He said that his harverster could produce 10 to 100 mV that was not enough to power a radio but it was just a demonstration of what could be done in harvesting RF signals that are all around us. ( I want this young man on my design team when he gets older!)

The Energy Harvesting concept

The Energy Harvesting concept

Zachary Mehall and his RF ambient Energy Harvesting project

Zachary Mehall and his RF ambient Energy Harvesting project

Another bright and motivated student had an AM Radio design and explanation regarding the building of such a radio. Here he is explaining the AM radio concept to me

Another bright and motivated student had an AM Radio design and explanation regarding the building of such a radio. Here he is explaining the AM radio concept to me

This display was part of the AM radio project and it outlines the steps that took place to create an AM radio and shows the student performing those tasks

This display was part of the AM radio project and it outlines the steps that took place to create an AM radio and shows the student performing those tasks

Dominic Ray also had an exhibit on AM Radio Waves and he explained the hypothesis and schematic of his project to me. Hi hypothesis stated that 'If I get a radio wave kit, I can then set it up based on the wiring schematic because I learned how to read schematics by the 'Electronic Playground's' legend in its handbook. Here is the kit.

Dominic Ray also had an exhibit on AM Radio Waves and he explained the hypothesis and schematic of his project to me. Hi hypothesis stated that ‘If I get a radio wave kit, I can then set it up based on the wiring schematic because I learned how to read schematics by the “Electronic Playground’s” legend in its handbook. Here is the kit.

It's always good to have a seasoned-veteran mentor

It’s always good to have a seasoned-veteran mentor

Here is Mrs. O'Bryan, a Science teacher at the Kyrene Middle School. This vibrant, motivating educator is someone who fuels the imagination of these youngsters to be excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Just like some of the educators I had in my grammar school that encouraged me.

Here is Mrs. O’Bryan, a Science teacher at the Kyrene Middle School. This vibrant, motivating educator is someone who fuels the imagination of these youngsters to be excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Just like some of the educators I had in my grammar school that encouraged me.

Very shortly I will be publishing articles about the ‘big’ boys and girls in universities around the world that exhibited at this conference as well. And finally, I will also highlight the technical papers presented at this conference on Planet Analog and on EDN and discuss what is coming for RF in 2017.

2 comments on “Bright young engineering minds at Radio & Wireless Week 2017

  1. Steve Taranovich
    February 15, 2017

    The NY Times reported today that Intel will no longer be sponsoring high school student science fairs. That's disappointing. The International Science and Engineering Fair, a non-profit group that organizes fairs as well as the Society for Science and the Public is searching for a new sponsor.

    It seems that part of Intel's decision is that they are a processor and software-based company and coding workshops and contests may be a better area in which they may want to concentrate their efforts.

    I think that, in general, the vast majority of tech companies are still very supportive of sponsoring science and technology. Google hosts the Google Science Fair, a global competition. However, we must have tech companies continued support for the 'science fair, which extends back to the 40s. I had my share of science projects at these fairs as a young STEM student in the 50s and 60s.

  2. jonharris0
    February 22, 2017

    It is great to see the enthusiasm and interest in science and technology at such an age. I wasn't fortunate enough to get cranking on technology until my junior year of high school. However, I was quite lucky to have such an awesome electronics teacher that really brought out my interest in the area.  I had tinkered with electronics and took several of my electronic toys apart to see what was inside but it wasn't until I was in electronics class with Mr. Smitherman (aka Smitty) that I took off with it.  As a somewhat younger engineer I am likely one of the few in my age group who can say they've worked with vacuum tube circuits.  Smitty made sure he exposed us to them because “all this modern electronic stuff is all solid state and no one appreciates these old tubes anymore” as he like to put it.  Ah, good times!!

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