Control and Signal Processing Lab
For School Children
If you like discovery and invention then electrical engineering may be for you! Here are some things you can play around with at home, or ask your school teacher to incorporate into your school curriculum.
Microcontrollers, Robotics and the Arduino
Purchase an Arduino from your electronics store, download the software to your computer, and follow the Getting Started Guide. Before you know it, you will be able to incorporate your Arduino into an autonomous robot; just google "Arduino Robotics".
Or you can buy an incredibly small, cheap but powerful computer: a Raspberry Pi! [ http://www.raspberrypi.org/ ] The Raspberry Pi was designed to get more school children back into programming computers.
Then for the truly adventurous, there is always the possibility of building your own computer; have a look at OpenRISC.
Conversely, a relatively safe way to try out new operating systems on your home computer is using VirtualBox.
Working from the command line is often faster than using the graphical desktop that all modern operating systems now provide. Learn about "vi", "emacs" and "screen", and you may find yourself addicted to the command line.
Mathematics, Data Analysis, Websites and Financial Markets
Now you have linux running on a computer you built yourself, you can put it to good use and analyse data with it. What data? Well, what interests you? Making money by analysing trends in financial time series? Or predicting a storm by monitoring temperature, pressure and humidity using sensors attached to your Arduino? Or setting up your own website and graphing the locations of visitors that click on your homepage?
The advantage of linux is that software installation is made extremely easy by using the package manager. You may wish to use Linux Mint or Scientific Linux. Free software which is incredibly useful include:
- a multi-purpose programming language
- write professional documents (including mathematical equations) with ease
- a statistical data analysis package
- does your maths homework for you (almost)
Impress your teacher on your next assignment by using these software packages to obtain and present your results.
Prof Jonathan Manton
Director, Control and Signal Processing Laboratory