#NIweek: Accelerating engineers’ productivity

Conference Shows How NI Graphical System Design Tools Help Engineers Do More, Faster

During the 17th annual NIWeek graphical system design conference and exhibition, engineers from National Instruments  discussed how NI products are accelerating engineering innovation. The conference included NI customers who demonstrated the dramatic productivity gains they achieved using the NI approach to graphical system design, which provides a reconfigurable hardware and software platform that accelerates the development of any system that needs measurement and control. National Instruments engineers also unveiled many new NI technologies that help innovators greatly increase productivity. Dr. James Truchard, NI president, CEO and cofounder, opened NIWeek 2011 by tracing the evolution of innovation and declaring the establishment of the graphical system design era, in which software plays a critical role in measurement and control systems. He explained how tools such as NI LabVIEW 2011 system design software integrate tightly with high-performance modular instrumentation to provide a unified platform for meeting engineering challenges in every industry.

“Graphical system design gives engineers a platform-based approach to innovation that dramatically increases productivity,” Truchard said. “It provides an entire ecosystem that is completely open, making it possible to connect thousands of different components, including software and hardware, to more efficiently solve problems for any engineering application.”

Along with NI engineers, Eric Starkloff, NI vice president of test and industrial embedded marketing, followed Truchard by demonstrating how graphical system design and new NI technologies make it possible for engineers to do more faster and at a lower cost. The team unveiled new products that span across industries to meet even the most demanding requirements. New products included LabVIEW 2011; NI VeriStand 2011 for real-time test; the company’s first multicore reconfigurable I/O (RIO) system; the industry’s highest-performing 14 GHz RF vector signal analyzer (VSA) in a PXI form factor; and advanced PXI hardware for semiconductor test. The demonstrations showed how these products and the graphical system design approach can empower engineers to efficiently address the world’s greatest engineering challenges.

Jeff Kodosky, NI business and technology fellow, cofounder and “father of LabVIEW,” began the second day of NIWeek by discussing the history and future potential of the graphical dataflow programming language, known as G, which powers LabVIEW. “When we started out 25 years ago, we sought to create a tool for scientists and engineers that would be as productive for them as the spreadsheet was for financial analysts,” Kodosky said. “During the next 25 years, LabVIEW will define and deliver on the vision of graphical system design to speed the design, prototyping and deployment of all kinds of measurement and control systems.”

Shelley Gretlein, director of software marketing at NI, along with NI customers and engineers, demonstrated proof of Kodosky’s vision for the future of innovation with graphical system design. Presentations illustrated how engineers and scientists are using LabVIEW and other NI tools for unique solutions to major engineering challenges in medical technology, urban infrastructure, alternative energy and other advanced applications.

On the last day of NIWeek, Ray Almgren, NI vice president of marketing for core platforms, provided additional examples of how graphical system design is empowering innovation by inspiring future engineers. He hosted high-school and university students from around the world to demonstrate how integrating LabVIEW with NI hardware made it possible for them to design and prototype a variety of projects including medical devices, 3D displays and industrial robotics. With minimal budgets and within weeks, students used NI tools to create projects that would have demanded far more time and money from professional engineers using traditional tools.

“The next generation of scientists and engineers is critical for addressing the world’s challenges,” Almgren said. “Today’s students must have education that brings them beyond mathematics and simulation, where they can do real engineering and innovate to solve real-world problems, and NI graphical system design is making that possible.”

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About Eoin Ó Riain

Sé Read-out iris uaithoibríoch, ionstraim agus stiúradh na hÉireann agus an "Signpost" a áit ar an idirlín! Read-out is Ireland's journal of automation, instrumentation and control and the Instrumentation Signpost is it's web presence.
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