How Design Students are Taught to Prototype on their Own

I am a lecturer teaching Game Design in KDU UC Malaysia, and about four years ago I undertook the task to train game design students. While the School provided various forms of training for the design students - student projects with artists and programmers, classes on various aspects such as World Creation, Level Design and Systems Analysis - there was an issue regarding training designers I had to address.

Spotlight

Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI)

Intertek, a leading provider of quality solutions to industries around the world, has completed the acquisition of Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI), a leading engineering and testing firm providing integrated quality assurance services across a range of disciplines within the construction market.

OTHER ARTICLES
Engineering Tech

Autodesk Forge Examples

Article | July 20, 2022

Autodesk Forge is a powerful tool connecting design processes, data, and the web, allowing teams to create task automation and other innovative solutions. The abilities of the forge platform are extensive, potentially offering resolutions to thousands of complex problems in the architecture, construction, engineering, and manufacturing industries, and beyond.

Read More
Engineering Tech

The Semiconductor Chip Shortage

Article | August 24, 2021

640K Ought To Be Enough for Anybody That infamous statement—whether Bill Gates said it or not, goes to show the change in computing and the demands on the semiconductor industry over the last 40 years. At the beginning of the ‘70s, there was no expectation that the personal computer could become an affordable item for the man in the street. By 1979, however, Atari had released the 400 and 800 series of home computers. Three years later, the Commodore 64 made its debut, featuring 64KB of RAM and using an 8-bit CPU. In 1977 Steve Wozniak designed the Apple II, an 8-bit home computer. Launched at the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire, it was aimed at the home consumer market rather than the business market. August 12 1981: The IBM PC It could be argued that the first non-Apple PC, as we've come to know it, was the IBM 5150 personal computer. Its success spurred the production of IBM clones, or IBM PC compatible computers, with Columbia Data Products (CDP) producing the first in June 1982. A Case of History Repeating Itself? In the early ‘80s, anticipating the demand for PC’s to continue, memory chip manufacturers ramped up the production of RAM. But by September 1985, the market had stagnated, and a DRAM chip could be bought for $2.95. Demand for computers had slumped, and this low price reflected industry slowdown and extreme overproduction. Roll On To 1988 and the Price of Computer Chips Rocketed With a glut of existing RAM chips in the marketplace, manufacturers were cautious of the overproduction of 256-kilobit DRAM chips and converted their factories for 1-megabit chips. This shows that chip producers drastically misread the market. 1-megabit chips took significantly longer to manufacture, and so before too long, there was a shortage of RAM, causing prices to increase. The situation began to improve by the next year. Since then, although there have been years when supply was affected, it has been nowhere as catastrophic as now. The Current Semiconductor Chip Crisis We are facing an unprecedented shortage of semiconductor chips which is affecting worldwide markets. COVID-19 undoubtedly had a massive influence on this, but the demand for microchips was already soaring. 2019 COVID-19 Appears Although in November of 2019, a person displayed the first detectable case of COVID-19 in China, there was little else to warn of what was about to come. In the following months, as cases increased, so did hospital admissions. With the horror of widespread deaths, we saw countries bringing in protective measures and restrictions. These became increasingly severe and ranged from social distancing to working from home. This had a direct effect on the industry, seeing output slowed or temporarily ceased. 2020 Onwards In February of 2020, the indirect effects of the pandemic began to bite. Companies closed offices or limited the number of onsite staff. Employees were also encouraged to work offsite where possible. Other employers were forced to furlough employees. For some, the concept of working from the home kitchen table became a daily reality. This was seen as essential to ensure that services were maintained, albeit at a reduced capacity. For factory-based and hospitality industries, the impact was more dramatic. Company Employees Working From Home The decision by many companies to encourage staff to work from home was a direct result of COVID-19 and the resulting Government restrictions, but this, in turn, caused an indirect effect on the semiconductor shortage. In some cases, employees might have had existing company laptops issued to them for use in the workplace. In other cases, the use of their personally-owned device might have been sanctioned for company work. But in other circumstances, the company would either pay the employee to upgrade their laptop or provide a new company laptop with the necessary application and security software installed. This added to the general increased demand for computers that had computer manufacturers struggling to procure chips. Furloughed Employees Many furloughed employees suddenly finding themselves trapped at home with limited opportunities (if any) for socializing turned to or spent more time on gaming. This fuelled an interest in the latest products on the market and a keen appetite for products about to be launched. In turn, manufacturers clamored for more chips. Home Schooling Schools and colleges rose to the challenge of providing continuing education for their pupils and turned to online teaching when the school buildings were closed. Children were being home-schooled by parents and following online lessons. But it was essential that the children had the necessary resources. The basic requirements were a laptop with a webcam and a reliable internet connection. Subsequently, laptop sales increased dramatically. Who Is Taking The Hit? A simple answer is— any industry whose products depend on a high level of semiconductor chips, but in particular, the main players feeling the pain are the automotive and consumer electronics markets. The Auto Industry Automotive Companies Fall To the Back of the Semiconductor Chip Queue As COVID-19 began to take a grip, and with falling demand for vehicles, auto manufacturers either closed sites temporarily or reduced operations. Subsequently, they scaled down backorders from semiconductor suppliers. Meanwhile, the consumer electronics market was thriving and crying out to suppliers for more semiconductor chips. Later, when manufacturing was resumed, auto manufactures found themselves at the back of the queue. What Chips Are Used In Motor Vehicles? There are various types of chips used by auto manufacturers in their vehicles, ranging from commodity chips to microprocessors. According to Statista, “Infineon, NXP, and Renesas were the leading automotive semiconductor manufacturers worldwide in 2020. Infineon's market share was estimated at around 13.2 percent. The total market in 2020 was sized at around 35 billion U.S. dollars.” The Domestic Market (Consumer Electronics) Broadly speaking, this sector covers anything that falls into the entertainment, communications, and recreation categories. Although visits to high street stores to make purchases proved difficult, if not impossible during lockdown periods, online sales soared. But this boom has caused manufacturers a headache, as launches of new products have had to be delayed and fulfilment of the demand for existing models could not be met due to the chip shortage. Other Contributory Factors to the Crisis Although COVID-19 disrupted chip manufacture by causing foundry shutdowns and the halting of production, it wasn’t the only factor. An already beleaguered market was battered by other factors compounding the chip shortage crisis. Drought in Taiwan Water, a major necessity for semiconductors production, has been in short supply due to the worst drought in 56 years. Suez Canal Blockage In March 2021, the 400-metre-long (1,300ft) container ship ‘Ever Given’ ran aground in the Suez Canal and blocked the channel for six days, further impacting distribution and supply. Factory Fire Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp. the world's third-largest supplier of automotive chips suffered a fire at its factory. Severe Weather Conditions in Texas In February Samsung, NXP, and Infineon chip fabs shut down in Texas amid record storm. Why Not Just Produce More Chips? While attempting to address the global chip shortage as expeditiously as possible, semiconductor manufacturers cannot afford to make a knee-jerk reaction. If fabrication plants are at maximum capacity or are only structured to make one type of chip, why not build more fabs? Semiconductor wafer fabs are hugely expensive to build. It takes considerable time to construct a new fab, with some as large as small cities. These fabrication plants, also known as foundries, require highly controlled environments where temperature, humidity and static electricity are controlled, and dust-free environments are guaranteed. As an immediate response, building new fabs is not a practical solution to the problem. Long term strategies will have to be put in place as the whole situation is addressed. When Will The Global Chip Shortage End? There are differing views being expressed on this tricky question. Some are optimistic, considering that the worst of the situation is over. Others provide a gloomier outlook, warning that we could be experiencing shortages well into another two years. Crisis management expert Edward Segal writing in Forbes: “The semiconductor chip crisis that hit companies around the world shows no signs of ending any time soon and will continue to impact the supply chains for many industries. Indeed, some organizations have yet to fully recover from the impact of the blockage of the Suez Canal last March on their ability to send and receive essential materials, parts and supplies.” Are There Any Lessons To Be Learned? A cynical reply might be—expect the unexpected. Of course, it is impossible to predict and plan for every possible eventuality. Changing market trends should be anticipated, whereas something as unforeseen as a global pandemic cannot. Manufacturers, however, should seriously take a look at their contingency plans. It seems that far and above the other problems of the chip crisis, the biggest headache within the semiconductor industry is the supply chains. Distribution Networks Writing in an article for ZDNet, Daphne Leprince-Ringuet: “The semiconductor supply chain is flawed, and it's going to take a long time until things get better, despite the combined efforts of industry and regulators.” Supply chains are the highways of trade upon which product delivery depends. But the semiconductor supply chain is hugely complex and is spread across several countries. Admittedly, it is essential to create more fabs over the following years. Still, it is critical to maintain a watchful eye on supply chain policies to ensure future semiconductor chip demand fulfilment. Just-In-Time (JIT) Model Considered as an effective approach by some automotive manufacturers as an efficient method of business management in times of plenty. It becomes counterproductive in times of shortage when they will face long chip manufacture lead times. Chip manufacturers are advocating a greater knowledge of their customers’ production maps, stating that even a two quarter indication is insufficient for planning. Think Outside The Box Be open to some lateral thinking. Recycling could be an interim response to chip shortage. All Of A Sudden Vintage Equipment Is A Hot Commodity Steven Zhou writing in Forbes, reports that old (obsolete) fabs could be suitable for the production of some current 'smart' devices. While the creation of extra fabs can take over two years and the building of the manufacturing equipment up to eighteen months, repurposing old equipment could be a source of additional capacity. Reliance On Asia The current crisis has brought about an awareness of the inadvisability of an ongoing reliance on Asian fabs for the supply of semiconductor chips for U.S. and European markets. The Future According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in a publication Strengthening The Global Semiconductor Supply Chain In An Uncertain Era “Over the next ten years, the industry will need to invest about $3 trillion in R&D and capital expenditure globally across the value chain in order to meet the increasing demand for semiconductors.” Moore’s Law Is Not Dead Moore's law is the premise first expressed in 1965 by Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel, that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, though the cost of computers is halved. Or put another way—that we can expect to see larger-scale integration with more circuitry packed into chips for the same form factor. If this proves true, manufacturers will take advantage of these cheaper and more advanced chips to develop a new generation of products that consumers will be only too eager to buy.

Read More
Engineering Tech

5 Fascinating Facts About Concrete

Article | July 14, 2022

This week’s World of Concrete in Las Vegas is the first major trade show in the United States since the COVID pandemic changed the face of the convention and meeting business. For many, this is yet another sign of life slowly returning to normal for the construction industry. If you’ve made the trek to this year’s WOC, you’re looking forward to it all—new products, cutting-edge tech, interactive workshops, hands-on training, and no doubt—the Bricklayer 500! This one-hour competition tests the speed and stamina to name the world’s greatest mason. Whether you’re there in person or too busy in the field to attend, we join you in celebrating all things concrete this week. Here are some weird and wonderful facts about concrete, a strong and versatile material, that is used in everything from our kitchen countertops to the roads we drive on daily.

Read More
Engineering Tech

Infrastructure Policy Watch: cost of climate change to UK finances, public views on New Zealand infrastructure

Article | July 13, 2021

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) in its latest Fiscal Risks Report has forecast the cost to the UK public finances from climate change (physical risks) and the transition to net-zero (transition risks) across a range of different scenarios. Describing the challenge, the OBR states: There are many other policy challenges to overcome, so the path to net zero can be expected to involve many policy levers on top of carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes, including bans and other regulations, and public subsidies and investment. These will all have economic and fiscal implications of one sort or another – either directly (via taxes and spending) or indirectly (via wider economic outcomes). Taking early action to achieve net zero would add 21% of GDP to public sector net debt by 2050, a smaller amount than that added by the Covid-19 pandemic. This amount comes from increased spending on net-zero investment, the loss of tax revenues (such as fuel duty), revenues from tax on carbon and other costs such as increased debt interest payments.

Read More

Spotlight

Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI)

Intertek, a leading provider of quality solutions to industries around the world, has completed the acquisition of Professional Service Industries, Inc. (PSI), a leading engineering and testing firm providing integrated quality assurance services across a range of disciplines within the construction market.

Related News

Design, Engineering Tech

urban-gro, Inc. Awarded $1.5 Million Contract to Provide Architecture, Interior Design, and Engineering Services

Globenewswire | August 22, 2023

urban-gro, Inc., an integrated professional services and design-build firm offering solutions to the Controlled Environment Agriculture (“CEA”) and commercial sectors, today announced that the Company was awarded a $1.5 million contract to provide architecture, interior design, and engineering services to a healthcare sector client in the southeastern United States. The Company anticipates that the majority of the revenue from this project will be recognized over the next four quarters. Bradley Nattrass, Chairman and CEO, commented, “We continue to see our professional services offerings resonate across all of our target markets, including healthcare. This project is another example of our evolution into a professional services consulting company operating in multiple sectors.” About urban-gro, Inc. urban-gro, Inc.® is an integrated professional services and design-build firm. We offer value-added architectural, engineering, and construction management solutions to the Controlled Environment Agriculture (“CEA”), industrial, healthcare, and other commercial sectors. Innovation, collaboration, and creativity drive our team to provide exceptional customer experiences. With offices across North America and in Europe, we deliver Your Vision – Built. Learn more by visiting www.urban-gro.com.

Read More

Design, Engineering Tech

GSE Solutions Wins $1.5M Contract to Provide Engineering Services and Staffing Support to US Uranium Enrichment Provider

PR Newswire | July 18, 2023

GSE Solutions, a leader in advanced engineering and workforce solutions that supports the future of clean-energy production and decarbonization initiatives of the nuclear power industry, today announced a combined-capabilities contract valued at approximately $1.5M for engineering and staffing support for a commercial uranium enrichment facility in North America. GSE's new customer is focused on providing safe, cost-effective, and reliable uranium enrichment within a high environmental, social responsibility, and corporate governance standards framework. This contract was initiated through the Utilities Service Alliance (USA) Speciality Engineering Program agreement and will combine GSE's Engineering and Workforce Solutions divisional expertise to support our client in the following areas: Delivery of engineering design services and modification packages in support of nuclear enrichment systems and equipment. GSE will develop engineering designs under the GSE Quality Assurance program. Fill two essential field personnel positions, including an Electrical Engineer and Senior Mechanical Engineer, to verify equipment using specific processes where needed. "We are pleased to add this uranium enrichment provider to our elite partner-customer roster," said Kyle Loudermilk, President and Chief Executive Officer of GSE Solutions. "GSE was able to leverage our status as a Specialty Engineer of Choice provider for USA, and this opportunity demonstrates how we can successfully expand our services into natural adjacencies within the nuclear sector. We are excited to see this relationship be successful and grow as we move forward." ABOUT GSE SOLUTIONS Proven by more than 50 years of experience in the nuclear power industry, GSE knows what it takes to help customers deliver carbon-free electricity safely and reliably. Today, GSE Solutions leverages top talent, expertise, and technology to help energy facilities achieve next-level power plant performance. GSE's advanced Engineering and Workforce Solutions divisions offer highly specialized training, engineering design, program compliance, simulation, and technical staffing that reduce risk and optimize plant operations. With more than 1,100 installations and hundreds of customers in over 50 countries, GSE delivers operational excellence. www.gses.com

Read More

Design, Engineering Tech

Akoustis Launches State-of-the-Art XBAW® Foundry Services and AI-Enabled Engineering Design Software

Globenewswire | June 19, 2023

Akoustis Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKTS) (“Akoustis” or the “Company”), an integrated device manufacturer (IDM) of patented bulk acoustic wave (BAW) high-band RF filters for mobile and other wireless applications, announced that the Company has launched its cutting-edge foundry and engineering services to target market segments including mobile, Wi-Fi, defense, 5G infrastructure, and automotive. Akoustis’ world class foundry will provide customers with unmatched bulk acoustic wave (BAW) fabrication capabilities on 150-mm Si substrates. Strategically located just outside of Rochester, New York, the Company’s 125,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility enables the manufacture of high-performance BAW devices based on the MEMS-based XBAW® process. Akoustis’ foundry will offer distinct XBAW® technology, catering to different frequency ranges and providing customers with unparalleled flexibility. The XBAW® XB1 technology covers a frequency range from 1.6 GHz to 7 GHz, while the next generation XBAW® XP3F technology is expected to cover frequencies from 7 GHz to 20 GHz. As a part of its comprehensive solution, Akoustis provides automated Process Design Kits (PDKs) leveraging machine learning algorithms to customers, facilitating efficient and accurate design implementations. The PDKs will enable customers to construct intricate designs and optimize their end solutions, leveraging the full potential of Akoustis’ foundry and its advanced fabrication capabilities. Akoustis’ back-end services will be driven by GDSI, a US-based, trusted supplier of premium semiconductor back-end supply chain services, catering to customers’ advanced wafer processing needs with services including wafer dicing, wafer pick and place, and back grinding and polishing. Jeff Shealy, founder and CEO of Akoustis, stated, "The launch of our improved foundry and engineering services represents a significant milestone for Akoustis as we continue to lead the industry in providing cutting-edge BAW RF filter solutions.” Mr. Shealy continued, “By leveraging our advanced PDKs driven by AI-enabled software to reduce design cycle time customers can streamline their design processes, achieve optimal performance, and stay at the forefront of wireless innovation with seamless integration.” Akoustis continues to experience strong demand and a growing sales funnel for its Wi-Fi, 5G mobile, and 5G infrastructure products, as well as its new XBAW®/SAW resonator and oscillator products, and semiconductor back-end services. Akoustis continues to add new Wi-Fi design wins, many of which are expected to ramp into production in calendar 2023. About Akoustis Technologies, Inc. Akoustis® is a high-tech BAW RF filter solutions company that is pioneering next-generation materials science and MEMS wafer manufacturing to address the market requirements for improved RF filters - targeting higher bandwidth, higher operating frequencies and higher output power compared to legacy polycrystalline BAW technology. The Company utilizes its proprietary and patented XBAW® manufacturing process to produce bulk acoustic wave RF filters for mobile and other wireless markets, which facilitate signal acquisition and accelerate band performance between the antenna and digital back end. Superior performance is driven by the significant advances of poly-crystal, single-crystal, and other high purity piezoelectric materials and the resonator-filter process technology which enables optimal trade-offs between critical power, frequency, and bandwidth performance specifications.

Read More

Design, Engineering Tech

urban-gro, Inc. Awarded $1.5 Million Contract to Provide Architecture, Interior Design, and Engineering Services

Globenewswire | August 22, 2023

urban-gro, Inc., an integrated professional services and design-build firm offering solutions to the Controlled Environment Agriculture (“CEA”) and commercial sectors, today announced that the Company was awarded a $1.5 million contract to provide architecture, interior design, and engineering services to a healthcare sector client in the southeastern United States. The Company anticipates that the majority of the revenue from this project will be recognized over the next four quarters. Bradley Nattrass, Chairman and CEO, commented, “We continue to see our professional services offerings resonate across all of our target markets, including healthcare. This project is another example of our evolution into a professional services consulting company operating in multiple sectors.” About urban-gro, Inc. urban-gro, Inc.® is an integrated professional services and design-build firm. We offer value-added architectural, engineering, and construction management solutions to the Controlled Environment Agriculture (“CEA”), industrial, healthcare, and other commercial sectors. Innovation, collaboration, and creativity drive our team to provide exceptional customer experiences. With offices across North America and in Europe, we deliver Your Vision – Built. Learn more by visiting www.urban-gro.com.

Read More

Design, Engineering Tech

GSE Solutions Wins $1.5M Contract to Provide Engineering Services and Staffing Support to US Uranium Enrichment Provider

PR Newswire | July 18, 2023

GSE Solutions, a leader in advanced engineering and workforce solutions that supports the future of clean-energy production and decarbonization initiatives of the nuclear power industry, today announced a combined-capabilities contract valued at approximately $1.5M for engineering and staffing support for a commercial uranium enrichment facility in North America. GSE's new customer is focused on providing safe, cost-effective, and reliable uranium enrichment within a high environmental, social responsibility, and corporate governance standards framework. This contract was initiated through the Utilities Service Alliance (USA) Speciality Engineering Program agreement and will combine GSE's Engineering and Workforce Solutions divisional expertise to support our client in the following areas: Delivery of engineering design services and modification packages in support of nuclear enrichment systems and equipment. GSE will develop engineering designs under the GSE Quality Assurance program. Fill two essential field personnel positions, including an Electrical Engineer and Senior Mechanical Engineer, to verify equipment using specific processes where needed. "We are pleased to add this uranium enrichment provider to our elite partner-customer roster," said Kyle Loudermilk, President and Chief Executive Officer of GSE Solutions. "GSE was able to leverage our status as a Specialty Engineer of Choice provider for USA, and this opportunity demonstrates how we can successfully expand our services into natural adjacencies within the nuclear sector. We are excited to see this relationship be successful and grow as we move forward." ABOUT GSE SOLUTIONS Proven by more than 50 years of experience in the nuclear power industry, GSE knows what it takes to help customers deliver carbon-free electricity safely and reliably. Today, GSE Solutions leverages top talent, expertise, and technology to help energy facilities achieve next-level power plant performance. GSE's advanced Engineering and Workforce Solutions divisions offer highly specialized training, engineering design, program compliance, simulation, and technical staffing that reduce risk and optimize plant operations. With more than 1,100 installations and hundreds of customers in over 50 countries, GSE delivers operational excellence. www.gses.com

Read More

Design, Engineering Tech

Akoustis Launches State-of-the-Art XBAW® Foundry Services and AI-Enabled Engineering Design Software

Globenewswire | June 19, 2023

Akoustis Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKTS) (“Akoustis” or the “Company”), an integrated device manufacturer (IDM) of patented bulk acoustic wave (BAW) high-band RF filters for mobile and other wireless applications, announced that the Company has launched its cutting-edge foundry and engineering services to target market segments including mobile, Wi-Fi, defense, 5G infrastructure, and automotive. Akoustis’ world class foundry will provide customers with unmatched bulk acoustic wave (BAW) fabrication capabilities on 150-mm Si substrates. Strategically located just outside of Rochester, New York, the Company’s 125,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility enables the manufacture of high-performance BAW devices based on the MEMS-based XBAW® process. Akoustis’ foundry will offer distinct XBAW® technology, catering to different frequency ranges and providing customers with unparalleled flexibility. The XBAW® XB1 technology covers a frequency range from 1.6 GHz to 7 GHz, while the next generation XBAW® XP3F technology is expected to cover frequencies from 7 GHz to 20 GHz. As a part of its comprehensive solution, Akoustis provides automated Process Design Kits (PDKs) leveraging machine learning algorithms to customers, facilitating efficient and accurate design implementations. The PDKs will enable customers to construct intricate designs and optimize their end solutions, leveraging the full potential of Akoustis’ foundry and its advanced fabrication capabilities. Akoustis’ back-end services will be driven by GDSI, a US-based, trusted supplier of premium semiconductor back-end supply chain services, catering to customers’ advanced wafer processing needs with services including wafer dicing, wafer pick and place, and back grinding and polishing. Jeff Shealy, founder and CEO of Akoustis, stated, "The launch of our improved foundry and engineering services represents a significant milestone for Akoustis as we continue to lead the industry in providing cutting-edge BAW RF filter solutions.” Mr. Shealy continued, “By leveraging our advanced PDKs driven by AI-enabled software to reduce design cycle time customers can streamline their design processes, achieve optimal performance, and stay at the forefront of wireless innovation with seamless integration.” Akoustis continues to experience strong demand and a growing sales funnel for its Wi-Fi, 5G mobile, and 5G infrastructure products, as well as its new XBAW®/SAW resonator and oscillator products, and semiconductor back-end services. Akoustis continues to add new Wi-Fi design wins, many of which are expected to ramp into production in calendar 2023. About Akoustis Technologies, Inc. Akoustis® is a high-tech BAW RF filter solutions company that is pioneering next-generation materials science and MEMS wafer manufacturing to address the market requirements for improved RF filters - targeting higher bandwidth, higher operating frequencies and higher output power compared to legacy polycrystalline BAW technology. The Company utilizes its proprietary and patented XBAW® manufacturing process to produce bulk acoustic wave RF filters for mobile and other wireless markets, which facilitate signal acquisition and accelerate band performance between the antenna and digital back end. Superior performance is driven by the significant advances of poly-crystal, single-crystal, and other high purity piezoelectric materials and the resonator-filter process technology which enables optimal trade-offs between critical power, frequency, and bandwidth performance specifications.

Read More

Events