Tag Archives: Norway

Video: Vegard Wollan reflects on life and innovation

In the final segment of my interview with AVR microcontroller creator Vegard Wollan, I asked about his background and innovation at Atmel.

In response to my question of how he views his expertise, Vegard noted that he started out as a computer architect and digital designer. It’s simple to see the ease-of-use DNA in the AVR product line when Vegard then noted that he soon saw himself as someone that could make life easy for embedded designers. I think this focus on the customer pervades all of Atmel to this day.


Vegard Wollan reflects on his history of innovation at Atmel.

I went on to ask Vegard what he does in his spare time. His response? Exercising and boating off the beautiful, dramatic Norwegian coastline. I think physical activity is a key thing. In fact, I wish someone had warned me as a young man that engineering has an occupational hazard. You can make a good living sitting at a desk. This was less true when I was an automotive engineer, as I had to go the experimental garage and walk around Ford’s giant complex in Dearborn, Michigan. Nowadays, we all seem chained to a computer, and stuck in a chair all daylong. So, exercise and boating sounds like a great way to stay active and balance our lives a little bit!

As I pictured Vegard sailing around Norway looking at beautiful sunsets, I wondered if that was inspired him to be so innovative. He responded that the primary source of innovation at Atmel is working with a team of creative innovative people. I think this is true in most human endeavors. When I asked my dad why some restaurants had really good service, he noted that good people like to work with other good people. That is why Vegard is spot-on, and quite humble in noting that innovation comes from a team, not any single person.

Want to learn more about the backstory of AVR? You can tune-in to the entire 14-part series here.

Greetings from Trondheim (home of AVR)

Trondheim, home of AVR architecture, is checking into the Maker Movement! This summer there is a lot going on; a few Makerspaces are popping up, a new coworking space and in August Trondheim hosts its first Maker Faire. Although Trondheim hosted a mini Maker Faire at the Pstereo festival last year, we are going for the real deal in 2014 with a featured Maker Faire.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Trondheim is now in company with cities like Tokyo, Senzchen, Kansas, Paris and a few other cities around the world. There is one primary difference between Trondheim and most of the other cities – population. With only 180,000 people living in the city, there is no doubt that Trondheim is the smallest city among the featured faires. Although Trondheim is the smallest city, it is home to a compact and vital community of Makers, hackers and techheads. With almost 40,000 students in the city, a significant number of tech businesses, a well-established creative community and a long cultural history, it all adds up to be a great place for innovation and Making.

In fact, as you are reading this article, there is a group of people transforming an old 1500 square feet basement into a Makerspace. Ragnar Ranøyen Homb, one of the initiators behind this Makerspace and Norwegian Creations, a maker community, describes Trondheim the following way:

“Trondheim is a rather small city if we look at population. So when we combine the population with all the Maker Movement initiatives going on, we get a rather high concentration of awesome stuff!

“The resurgence of this new culture is, among other things, an important catalyst for ‘the open source generation.’ One of this generation’s strongest characteristics is the high amount of knowledge originating from looking into the designs of different open source projects. And it’s not only the hardware creators that take part of this. As we can see in Trondheim now, a new breed of entrepreneurs is also emerging.”


Hackheim, an established hacker space, is currently moving from its old location into new and improved facilities this summer. At NTNU university, a group of students are turning a number of current workshops into what they describe as an “open arena for innovation.”

Alf Egil Bogen, co-inventor of the AVR-microcontroller, did see a need for a stronger culture and community working for innovation and entrepreneurship in Trondheim. In September 2013 Trondheim Makers was established. The organization is working with the schools and initiatives that already exist, in addition to their own events and projects; Maker Faire Trondheim is the first big event held by Trondheim Makers.

So there are definitely some things going around in the tech capital of Norway right now. If you are interested in reading more  about the Maker Movement in Trondheim, please check the links listed below. Some of them are currently only in Norwegian, but as projects receive more and more attention outside Norway, new dual language websites are going live at a rapid pace:




Infographic: Atmel’s secret maker sauce – AVR

Maker Faire Rome and World Maker Faire New York may be behind us, but Atmel is by no means finished making a big deal of the Maker Movement this year!

In fact, milling around with the most passionate (oddly dressed) people on the planet only ever serves to galvanize us to put that extra dash of passion into everything we do; into every chip and kit we produce. That’s because somewhere out there is a Maker who will take our kits or chips and build a 3D printer with them, or a nippy little vision sensor robot, or even a smart toilet (yes, seriously)!

It’s always easy to appreciate a finished product, of course. But us Atmelians know that it’s the components that allow people’s designs to really shine… much as a first class meal is only as good as the ingredients used.

Our secret ingredient, of course, is AVR; the little chip that can do big things and create infinite possibilities.

Atmel_August Auto_Final

(Click image to enlarge)

AVR was one of the first microcontrollers to use on-chip flash memory for program storage, pushing the envelope early on. Starting out as a PhD project in Trondheim, Norway, the technology has come a long way, both literally and figuratively!

Available in the tiniest of packages (the ATtiny20 is so small it can almost fit inside the ball of a ballpoint pen) and so low-power it makes Sleeping Beauty look like a fitness instructor, AVR has wowed makers from the get-go.

That’s why AVR was the first choice chip for Maker favorite Arduino. It’s now estimated that around one million Arduinos have been sold to date, and within the next 5 to 10 years, the Arduino will be used in every school to teach electronics and physical computing.

Not to mention how many quadcopters and crazy looking drones AVR powers. Ex Wired Editor, Chris Anderson, estimates that the DIY Drone community currently boasts over 15,000 drones, compared to just 7,000 “professional” drones in use worldwide by military forces. Power to the people, so to speak!

Is it any surprise Atmel almost bursts with pride whenever we find a new AVR project to tout? We’ve even created our own award for Makers with the most creative AVR vision (you’re free to submit your own projects, check out others or just vote for your favorites until the end of December!)

We hope you enjoy some of the fun facts we’ve dug up for our Maker AVR infographic even half as much as we enjoyed making it! Keep creating, folks!