Embedded Systems November 2000 Vol13_12

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Michael Barr EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Lindsey Vereen, EDITOR IN CHIEF Michacl13arr, mbal' MANAGING EDITOR Fclis..1 Yang, EDITOR AT LARGE Alexander \Volfe, a"• EDITORIAL ASSISTANT limOLhy ullivan, £Su CONSULTING TECHNICAL EDITORS Jack G. Ganssle Jerome L. Krasner, PhD CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jack W. Crenshaw L.1rry Don Morgan Dan Saks PUBLISHER Erir llerg, (41 5) 278-5220 NATIONAL SALES MANAGER Stephen Corrick, (323) 5 12-4 100 EASTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Damon Graff, (78 1) 839-1285 EASTERN SALES REPRESENTATIVE j ared Crimm, (781) 839-1286 CALIFORNIA SALES MANAGER Andres o;az, (4 15) 278-5274 CALIFORNIA SALES ASSOCIATE Molly Brun<;, (4 15) 27 5298 WESTERN ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Sam Lotds, (4 15) 278-5223 PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Mauhew Powell CIRCULATION MANAGER Jen nifer Schuler CIRCULATION ASSISTANT Michael F'a labclla, CIRCULATION DIRECTOR Susan llarpe r SUBSCRIPTION CUSTOMER SERVICE Toll [ree: (877) 676-9745 (847) 559-7307 Fax: (847) 29 1-48 16 Omeda Communi ations PO l~ox 3•104 Nonhbrook, IL 60065-9468 Back issues may be purchased on a prepaid basis Lhrough: Miller Freeman, 1601 Wesl 23rd St, Suite 200, Lawrence, KS 66046; (800) 444-4881 : (785) 84 1-1631 REPRINTS Stella Valdez, (9 16) 983-6971 ONLINE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Billy Biondi, PRESIDENT/CEO, CMP MEDIA INC. Gary Marshall EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENTS Rt"gina SlMr Ridley John Russell Steve Weitzner SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/ GLOBAL SALES & MARKETING Billl loward SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/ BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Pam WJtkins VICE PRESIDENT/ ELECTRONICS OonnaJ. Esposito EMBEDDED/DSP GROUP DIRECTOR Mike Flynn, (4 15) 278-5251 PRESIDENT/ ELECTRONICS Sleve We itzne r Tony UphofT "This fall , I've had the pleasure and priv- 1 ilege of teaching a course on operat- ing system internals at the Univer ity of Maryland. In so doing, I've come to see that our current system of training engi- neers to do embedded systems work is flawed. At most colleges and universities, the job of educating engineers is split along hardware/ software lines. The faculty of an elecu·ical engineering deparU11ent gen erally educates futlll·e hardware designers, while an unrelated group of facul ty in a separate computer science deparunent educates future program- mer . There is rarely any cooperation between the two departments, nor are students in one program encouraged or required to take courses in the other. A few "crossover" courses, like the operat- ing system class I'm teaching to EE maj ors, are insufficien t preparation for the world of work. The fact is that the largest demand Visi1 our Web si te at Embedded Systems Programming NOVEMBER 2000 5 for engineers these days is for those who can think and work on both sides of the hardware/ software boundary. This is true nowhere more so than in our indus- try. Companies designing embedded sys- tems need programmers who can port operating systems, write device drivers and board support packages, and help debug hardware. They also need hard- ware de igners who can w1·ite software for the systems they create (of course, increasingly, the hardware design looks like software too). Even if an individual engineer won't need to write software and design hardware, he will usually be part of a team that doe both . And teams need to be able to think collectively and communicate easily about i sues that affect both sides of a system's de ign and implementation. It is clear that what our colleges and universities need is a proper system for training embedded oftware profession- als. To fulfill the needs of induso-y, they need to graduate a much larger number of software engineers who are capable of understanding hardware and inter fac- ing directly to it, and hardware engi- neers who can apply software engineer- ing techniques to their digital designs. Many schools have already merged the two deparunents in to a single EE-CS depa~·U11ent, or borrowed facul ty and courses from each curriculum to create a computer engineering degree pro- grain . But is either approach really work- ing? Without a focus on the actual skill- sets and integrated knowledge required by industry, these new degree programs are too often simply "six-fwm-column-A and six-from-column-B" quick fixes. Bringing together two departments full of people who have long segregated themselves is easier said than done. Just imagine the Democratic and Republican parties agreeing afte r yet another record low vote r turnout that a more centrist third par ty is essential for the future of democracy in this country. Then imag- ine them trying to somehow j oin tly fash- ion that new political party. That's not unlike tl1e challenge now facing the administrators of electrical engineering and compute r science departm en ts everywhere. But it's about time that chal- lenge is taken up. Two-Party System

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