[oshug] OSHUG #54 — Educating the Next Generation, Thursday 1st December.

Andrew Back arback at computer.org
Tue Nov 1 09:52:32 UTC 2016


Details below of the final OSHUG meeting of 2016, which will take
place on the evening of Thursday 1st December, following on from the
workshop earlier that day.

Please note once again that we are not at the BCS offices in Covent
Garden, and a big thanks to Chris Swan for kindly arranging for us to
be hosted at the CSC offices in the City.

Don't forget that if you plan to take part in the workshop and attend
the evening meeting, that you need to register for both separately.




On the 1 December 2016, 18:00 - 20:00 at CSC, 3rd Floor, The Wallbrook
Building, 25 Wallbrook, London, EC4N 8AQ.

  Registration: http://oshug.org/event/54

At the fifty-fourth meeting there will be three talks on the theme of
educating the next generation.

— myStorm update

myStorm is an open hardware and software FPGA development platform
that is based around a Lattice iCE40 FPGA, which uses the fully open
source IceStorm/Yosys/Arache-pnr toolchain for development. It is low
cost and aims to provide a gentle on-ramp for those who are new to RTL
development and working with FPGAs. In this talk we will hear a report
from the workshop which took place earlier in the day, together with a
status update on the myStorm project.

* Ken Boak started his professional career at BBC Research Department
in 1986 working on digital signal processing systems for HDTV and
subsequently over 30 years, a mix of 10 other technology companies,
both UK and US based, in the fields of instrumentation, automation,
telemetry telecomms.

Ken has been interested in energy monitoring since the early 1990s,
when he constructed a 4 seater electric car, and provided rudimentary
energy analysis of the battery charge and discharge cycles. In 1998 he
joined a South London company and designed a low power wireless,
monitor device for automatic, remote gas and electricity meter

In 2009 Ken worked on the Onzo Energy Monitoring Kit, a commercial
device that was ultimately distributed to Southern Electric customers.
Then in 2010 he produced a series of educational devices to teach
engineering undergraduates the principles of photovoltaic energy

Ken has continued his interests in energy monitoring, working
collaboratively with Megni on the OpenEnergyMonitor project, the open
Inverter Project and also for All Power Labs in Berkeley, California,
where he was involved in power monitoring of wood gasifier generator
sets. He tries to live a low impact lifestyle in a modest Edwardian
house in Surrey, with a little help from modern electronics.

* Alan Wood has been working with parallel distributed programming for
several decades. His recent work includes smart grids, 3D printers,
robotics, automation and biotec diagnostics. His current research is
focused on machine learning for embedded applications using Motes on
FPGA and emerging Asics. He is a long term advocate and moderator (aka
Folknology) for xCORE and other opensource communities, as well as a
founder of Surrey and Hampshire Makerspace.

— micro:bit first impressions

The BBC micro:bit is an ARM Microcontroller based development board
that has been handed out to all year 7 (first year secondary) school
kids. The BBC's aim is to get kids coding, along the same lines as
with the BBC Micro that became ubiquitous in schools in the 80s. This
presentation will look at what it can (and can't) do, and how
accessible it is.

* Chris Swan has been tinkering with electronics since he was a small
child, and got into software when he realised that it was necessary to
make hardware do interesting things. In his day job as CTO for Global
Infrastructure Services for CSC he's bringing a large services company
and its customers into a world of DevOps and Infrastructure as Code.
On evenings and weekends he can often be found making some sort of
project around a dev board, with a particular fondness for Raspberry

— Encouraging the next generation: How a 16-year old got to present
his silicon chip design at CERN

In 2014 a local Year 10 student, Dan Gorringe, approached Embecosm to
ask it he could do a 2-week work experience with us. We agreed and
asked him to take our existing hobbyist weekend course on introductory
FPGA design with Verilog and rework it for use by students of his age.
We forgot to tell him teenagers aren't supposed to be able to write
Verilog, and the result was the Embecosm Application Note, Silicon
Chip Design for Teenagers.

In 2015, Dan asked to work for us over the summer. We had recently
designed an instruction set architecture, AAP, which is a 16-bit mixed
byte/word addressed Harvard architecture to test compiler technology,
and which worked in simulation. We realized that a physical
implementation would be very useful, so we asked Dan to create this
over the summer. We forgot to tell him that teenagers aren't supposed
to be able to design processors and the result was an implementation
of AAP which runs on a DE0-Nano FPGA board.

As a result Dan was asked to present his work at ORCONF 2015, which
happened to be held at CERN. Probably one of the better excuses for a
day off school. Dan also subsequently won the BCS OSSG School Student
competition for his work, which he spoke about at the BCS AGM in
October 2016.

Dan came to work for us this summer, and since we are currently
working on energy efficient compilation for high performance computing
we asked him to build us a system out of single board computers. We
again forgot to tell him that teenagers aren't supposed to be able to
design supercomputers. We demonstrated his system at the BCS OSSG AGM,
and it is reported in the HiPEAC newsletter of November 2016 for
academic researchers in high performance and energy efficient
computing in Europe.

Dan is taking his 'A' levels next summer and is hoping to attend
university next year to study engineering mathematics.

In this talk we'll look at the factors that made such a series of
projects both possible and successful.

* Dr Jeremy Bennett is founder and Chief Executive of Embecosm, a
consultancy implementing open source compilers and chip simulators for
major corporations around the world. He is a author of the standard
textbook "Introduction to Compiling Techniques" (McGraw-Hill 1990,
1995, 2003). Contact him at: jeremy.bennett at embecosm.com.

Note: Please aim to arrive by 18:15 as the event will start at 18:30 prompt.

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