Tag Archives: engineers

Open source hardware sees increased use by hobbyists, engineers

Analysts at Premier Farnell expect the use of open source hardware and software to increase among professional engineers and the growing Maker community in 2013.

According to the results of a recent survey commissioned by element14, 56% of professional engineers are more likely to use open source hardware such as Arduino (powered by Atmel MCUs) and other devices, with Maker hobbyists weighing in at a rather impressive 82%.

Similarly, 52% of professional engineers and 81% of hobbyists report being more likely to use open source software in 2013 – while 54% of hobbyists have confirmed using dev kits at least once per quarter for personal projects.

“The numbers paint a very clear picture that open source hardware is showing strong traction among professional engineers and hobbyists as well as educators and students,” said Andrea Koritala, global head of technology integration at Premier Farnell.

“With a high level of crossover between professionals and hobbyists, this increase in adoption extends to the workplace. An engineer on the job is looking for access to many of the same tools and resources accessible to the hobbyist community.”

As Koritala notes, professional engineers rated reference designs as the resource that weighs most heavily in the decision to select a dev kit. Among hobbyists, the most important factor was the availability of online tutorials, webinars and videos.

“This trend also speaks to the importance of ease of access and use, as a strong community can help bring ideas and designs to life,” she explained.

“Engineers have historically been hesitant to fully embrace open source, but the sheer availability of open-source tools and resources has mitigated many of the risks associated with designing in open source for commercial use.”

The above-mentioned survey, conducted in April 2013, included responses from a mix of professional engineers, hobbyists and students. All respondents had purchased one or more dev kits or related products in the year prior to taking the survey.

Imagining the Future — DIY Style

By Eric Weddington

It’s the beginning of February already. The New Year has started with a bang, with barely enough time to reflect on the past year. However, there have been some exciting things in 2012 that I can’t wait to see continue on in 2013…

Engineers can be a funny group. On one hand they’re the makers of a wide range of technology. But because engineers are, in general, interested in getting the details right, sometimes they can get caught up in the details, with a focus on what should be the “right” way of doing something. One of the privileges of being involved in the open source community has been attending the Maker Faires, put on by Make: magazine, in the Bay Area in May, and in New York in September. The Arduino microcontroller board is a big part of  these Maker Faires, powering all sorts of projects. It’s become popular because it enables people who are not engineers to get involved in making stuff with electronics, allowing them to add smarts to all sorts of things.

What I’ve discovered is that it doesn’t magically turn these people into engineers. They see the Arduino as a tool that they can use to turn their ideas into reality. They don’t get caught up in the details of what is the “right” way, or the “wrong” way, to implement a solution according to their engineering training. They keep their eyes firmly on their goal. They’re too busy creating! During the last year, I have been amazed at all the cool, weird, wonderful ideas that have been thought up and implemented by many in this Maker community. I wouldn’t have thought up half the stuff that I have seen done with an Arduino and our AVR processors. A DIY X-ray CT scanner controlled by an Arduino. FireHero, which has an Arduino controlled propane “puffer” interfaced to a GuitarHero controller. A winner of the California Science Fair used an Arduino to measure foot pressure for diabetics. All manner of quadcopters and UAVs. Desktop 3D printers. Clothing design. And the list goes on. It’s exhilarating to see what’s been done and to think about what people will imagine next! Yes, it’s going to be a fun 2013!