NT-FESTE:  25' June 2014

Nano-Tera.ch Workshop on Future Embedded Systems Education

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The goal of the Nano-Tera.ch FESTE Educational project is to design an effective, flexible and successful educational plan for the “Embedded Systems Designers” of the next ten years, based on experience gained  - in particular, although not exclusively – within Nano-Tera, on evaluation of present teaching plans and on the evolving characteristics of the Swiss (and, more in general, European) industrial ecosystem. All of this leads to re-assess expertise, educational background and even mind-frame required of young designers entering the job market, as well as executive education proposals for existing designers.

In the past fourteen years (roughly, since the first graduate-level teaching plans in Embedded Systems Design were launched, e.g., the ALaRI initiative at Università della Svizzera italiana - USI, opened in October 2000), Embedded Systems – increasingly networked - have reached actual pervasiveness, made possible by technological innovation as well as by methodological foundations. The move from embedded systems to cyber-physical systems, emphasizing the direct interaction between electronic systems and the physical world without the mediation of a human user, stresses the relevance of sensors and actuators as well as the necessity of innovative algorithms.

Application areas such as energy (where Distributed Renewable Energy Sources make co-design of grid and embedded systems mandatory) and (increasingly) health, through Wearable and Implantable Devices, require introducing security as a driving factor since the first steps of design, together with dependability and safety. As for almost all other application areas, capacity of finding a common language shareable with application specialists from such different scientific worlds becomes mandatory.

Finally – and this is not a minor aspect – the industrial ecosystem addressed by Embedded Systems has changed within the indicated time-frame, with an increasing presence of SMEs (and in particular of Start-Ups), so that the environment in which the young graduate will find a job and the characteristics of this job itself are often quite different from the ones foreseen more than a decade ago.  Intellectual Property is increasingly an issue; the capacity of a designer of grasping the whole set of aspects from initial concept to market and to system life cycle is a major asset.

The FESTE Workshop aims at reaching a structured, well-justified and organized assessment leading to definition of new curricula in the Embedded Systems domain, capable of offering not just the perspective of short-term but possibly short-lived employment but granting a solid educational basis on which a long-term career can be built. Participants will be able to access, even before the Workshop itself, the structured results of an extensive analysis of job offers in the Embedded Systems domain (both Swiss and worldwide) and of a number of personal interviews carried out with represntative persons in industries (both multinational and SMEs), researcjh centers and incubators. The Workshop itself will close with a discussion session extended to all participants, from which the guidelines leading to a renewed teaching plan and the proposal of some experimental courses of particular interest will emerge.

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