LEGO”S New Market: Mindfulness for Stressed-out Adults

In a January 16, 2020 Washington Post article, Abha Bhattarai writes about LEGO’s growing demographic of stressed-out adults.  One person’s LEGO time is described as a “kind of guided meditation.”   The author of the LEGO book, Build Yourself Happy: The Joy of Lego Play, calls her LEGO pieces “therapeutic.” LEGO is capitalizing on the growing adult market by […]
In a January 16, 2020 Washington Post article, Abha Bhattarai writes about LEGO’s growing demographic of stressed-out adults.  One person’s LEGO time is described as a “kind of guided meditation.”   The author of the LEGO book, Build Yourself Happy: The Joy of Lego Play, calls her LEGO pieces “therapeutic.” LEGO is capitalizing on the growing adult market by improving their instructions and introducing new lines of models to provide a “joyful creative challenge.” Eric Honour, founder of Honourcode, a Systems Engineering training company now owned by Applied Technology Institute, LLC, has used LEGOs for years in a couple of the training classes.  Students build robots using Mindstorms Robotic Invention System 2.0. Both successes and failures with the final LEGO robots results in great fun and a huge learning experience. ATI courses which incorporate the Mindstorm RIS 2.0 Lego Sets include: Applied Systems Engineering has four different groups building LEGO robots to interact as a whole.  The LEGO exercise demonstrates concept, methods, requirements, system architecting, product design and implementation, integration and test, and leadership and collaboration. Applied Test & Evaluation uses LEGOs in groups for a Test Challenge:  Plan for T&E, build the robot per instructions, then follow their T&E plan. What an amazing toy!  Fun for kids of all ages.  Valuable as a means to relax, to collaborate, to test, and to learn to better work with yourself and others. %MCEPASTEBIN%

The World Is Changing, So Maybe ATI Should Too.

The world is changing, so maybe ATI should too. Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has conducted specialized training in satellite communications, space, defense, radar, sonar and acoustics, signal processing, and specialized engineering and systems engineering since 1984.  Our clients include DOD, government agencies, military, government and military contractors, technical industries, NASA facilities, and aerospace contractors. A […]

The world is changing, so maybe ATI should too.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI) has conducted specialized training in satellite communications, space, defense, radar, sonar and acoustics, signal processing, and specialized engineering and systems engineering since 1984.  Our clients include DOD, government agencies, military, government and military contractors, technical industries, NASA facilities, and aerospace contractors.

A complete list of ATI’s offerings can be found at https://www.aticourses.com/courses/   .  At a glance, it appears to be a comprehensive list of courses that would be of interest to any Rocket Scientist, who, as the ATI tagline suggests, we believe to be our core students.

The year is now 2020 and a lot of things have changed since Applied Technology Institute was founded in 1984.  Technology has advanced in ways that could never have been anticipated, wars are no longer being fought in the same way, and relationships between countries are no longer as stable as they had once been.  The world is changing, so maybe ATI should too.

Perhaps, employees of our core customers ( DOD, government agencies, military, government and military contractors, technical industries, NASA facilities, and aerospace contractors ) need to be more than just Rocket Scientists today.  In addition to understanding Rocket Science, they may also need to be familiar with the world in which the Rockets will be deployed, and the geo political conditions under which they will be deployed.  With this additional background, the Rocket Scientist will be better able to understand the requirements of his Rockets, and the needs of the soldiers who will be using those Rockets.  Said differently, perhaps the Rocket needs to be considered as a part of a larger system which includes the organizations that use the Rocket, and the goals of those organizations. 

So, through this blog, ATI is asking our readers for their opinion.  Should ATI expand our course offerings to include more courses which will show Rocket Scientists how and why their Rockets will be used?

One example of a possible new ATI course deals with Peacekeeping and Stability Operations.  The following Course Description is from the syllabus of “Peacekeeping and Stability Operations”. The instructor for this course would be Mr. Stephen Phillips from JHU/APL.

 Course Description ( Peacekeeping and Stability Operations )  Intelligence plays a pivotal role in the identification, preparation, and execution of peacekeeping and stability operations performed in a multinational context. Stability and peace operations are designed to prevent, contain, or resolve regional conflicts. These operations are increasingly becoming a core mission in supporting the overall goals and objectives of the current global conflict. This course examines the concepts of nation building, stabilization, reconstruction, and transition across the spectrum of peace operations and analyzes the role of various actors, including nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations, private military companies, and government organizations, and how they interact in the stabilization mission and environment.

One example of an American intervention to stabilize and reduce the expansion of conflict occurred in the Persian Gulf in the 1980s.  Operation Earnest Will was the American Military protection of Kuwaiti-owned tankers from Iranian attacks in 1987/1988, three years into the Tanker War phase of the Iran-Iraq War.   Steve recently presented an excellent summary of Operation Earnest Will.  This presentation can be viewed at   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZUQiKDmhE8

ATI looks forward to growing our course list, and growing our student body, through collaborations such as this.  Again, we would love to hear what you think.

Quality, Precision, Performance – UAS’s, the future of conventional and shadow wars is here.

A recent article on the Military.com web site shares the story of the latest attack by a swarm of drones and guided missiles on Saudi Oil Plants. Saudi Arabia currently has at least six Patriot batteries, which cost about $1 billion apiece, according to Bloomberg News. But analysts said the systems are designed to defend […]

A recent article on the Military.com web site shares the story of the latest attack by a swarm of drones and guided missiles on Saudi Oil Plants. Saudi Arabia currently has at least six Patriot batteries, which cost about $1 billion apiece, according to Bloomberg News. But analysts said the systems are designed to defend against high-flying ballistic missiles and were vulnerable to swarms of low-and-slow drones and subsonic, ground-hugging cruise missiles. This article highlights the ever changing military world, and the need for ongoing education and training on emerging technology.

From the State Department in 2015 “As other nations begin to employ military UAS more regularly and as the nascent commercial UAS market emerges, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers, and subsequent use of all US-origin UAS are responsible and consistent with US national security and foreign policy interests, including economic security, as well as with US values and international standards.” This issue was discussed in an ATI Blog from 2015. While the UAS market is no longer the new kid on the block, it is ever changing now more than ever. We need to continue effective training and education for ongoing support and future development as well as that of guided missiles as they are now being used in tandem. As we move forward into 2020 the need for continuing training and education on UAS, engineering and missile design and deployment is clearly a worldwide hot spot and needed now more so then ever. Whether the UAS is for conventional or shadow wars, ATI Courses has an education offering to help you navigate these ever emerging technologies. 

Unmanned Aircraft System Fundamentals TBD

Unmanned Air Vehicle Design TBD

Systems Engineering Fundamentals 02/04/2020

Applied Systems Engineering 12/09/2019

Missile Design Development and Systems  3/09/2020

What we have here is a failure to communicate ( Systems Engineering )

Although the term “Systems Engineering” dates back to the 1940s, and the concept was practiced even earlier than that, there seems to be a growing emphasis on System Engineering, perhaps because Systems have become more complex in recent times.  During my early years of training and practice as an electrical engineer decades ago, I do […]

Although the term “Systems Engineering” dates back to the 1940s, and the concept was practiced even earlier than that, there seems to be a growing emphasis on System Engineering, perhaps because Systems have become more complex in recent times.  During my early years of training and practice as an electrical engineer decades ago, I do not recall hearing or learning much about Systems Engineering, but it seems to have gotten much more well-deserved attention since then.  Feel free to argue these points if you wish, but this has been my observation.

So, what can go wrong if Systems Engineering principles are ignored?  What could possibly go wrong if you have multiple engineers concentrating on their own aspect of the overall design, and no one paying attention to the overall system?    Take a look at this humorous video and see what can happen…

But seriously, though…..

One of the best descriptions of Systems Engineering that I have seen is from INCOSE ( International Council on Systems Engineering ).  It says “Systems engineers are at the heart of creating successful new systems. They are responsible for the system concept, architecture, and design. They analyze and manage complexity and risk. They decide how to measure whether the deployed system actually works as intended. They are responsible for a myriad of other facets of system creation. Systems engineering is the discipline that makes their success possible – their tools, techniques, methods, knowledge, standards, principles, and concepts. The launch of successful systems can invariably be traced to innovative and effective systems engineering.”

So, how can today’s busy and overworked engineer learn more about Systems Engineering?  Or, even if you think you already know everything about Systems Engineering, how can you refresh your knowledge so it is more relevant to the workplace of 2019? 

Applied Technology Institute may have exactly what you are looking for.  ATI recently merged with Honourcode, Inc., and now offers a full line of Systems Engineering courses being taught by original Honourcode instructors, including Eric Honour.

 There is still time to register for our next offering of Applied Systems Engineering, being offered in Columbia, Md starting on September 23, 2019.  This course includes a  hands-on class exercise conducted in small groups. Part A analyzes a system concept and requirements, developing specific test requirements,. Part B creates an effective test program and test procedures for the product system. Part C builds the robotic systems per assembly instructions. Part D implements the test program to evaluate the final robots.  It is a really fun and informative in-class exercise.   Here is a cool video of the System Product built in this class.

Please read more about this opportunity at the following link.

Apollo Trash Talk

Since it has been 50 years since man first stepped on the Moon (Apollo 11), and since we are now winding down from the celebration of the 50th anniversary of that great event, we should remember that there are still physical remnants of that mission, and other missions, which remain on the surface of the […]

Since it has been 50 years since man first stepped on the Moon (Apollo 11), and since we are now winding down from the celebration of the 50th anniversary of that great event, we should remember that there are still physical remnants of that mission, and other missions, which remain on the surface of the moon, and that this landing site, and similar landing sites, have significant historical importance.  In fact, there is an organization called “For All Moonkind, Inc”, which has a stated mission to “protect each of the six human lunar landing and similar sites in outer space as part of our common human heritage.”  Learn more about this organization at https://www.forallmoonkind.org

So, what did mankind leave on the moon, and why did we leave it there?  A full catalog of items left behind can be found at https://history.nasa.gov/FINAL%20Catalogue%20of%20Manmade%20Material%20on%20the%20Moon.pdf    It is a fascinating read, but why was so much left behind?  Some of the things left behind were memorial or tributary items.  Other items were left purely to lighten the load and facilitate the return trip to earth.  And there were items left for scientific experiments.  For experiments, some items were left because engineers are simply hoping to examine them in the future to determine how they have fared after continuous exposure to the elevated radiation levels on the moon.  Other items, however, were part of actual moon experiments which delivered data to earth scientists.   The only remaining Apollo experiment that still returns data to earth after 50 years is NASA’s Lunar Ranging Experiment, LURE.

 The story of LURE is a fascinating one and can be found at https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-history/one-apollo-11-experiment-is-still-going-50-years-later  LURE allows the precise measurement of the distance from the earth to the moon using high power laser on earth, and an array of mirrors, or retroreflectors, on the surface of the moon.  The first mirrors were placed on the moon by Apollo 11, but additional mirrors were placed on the moon by later Apollo missions.  Lunar laser ranging has allowed man to monitor the distance to the moon for the past 50 years, and we have noted that the distance to the moon increases by a very small amount each year.  Additionally, LURE has increased mankind’s fundamental understanding of things like the earth’s rotations, continental drift, and gravity itself.

As it is now 2019, and the world is more waste-conscious than it has ever been, we can only hope that there will be increased attention to reducing the amount we leave on the lunar surface, and in space.  Although some material will certainly be left during upcoming planned lunar landings, we can only hope that it will be done for rational reasons, and in a sensible way.

To learn more about working in Space, consider taking one of the many Space, Satellite, or Aerospace courses offered by ATI.  A complete listing of all ATI courses can be found at https://www.aticourses.com/courses    ATI does not currently offer any Space Archeology classes, but if anyone knows a qualified instructor for this class, we would be happy to talk to them.

Welcome to the US Space Force, ATI is here to support you

There are currently 5 branches of the Armed Forces, namely, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force,  and the Coast Guard.  However, in light of changing needs and priorities, President Trump issued a new directive in February to establish the US Space Force as the sixth military branch,  which will be within the Department of the Air […]

There are currently 5 branches of the Armed Forces, namely, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force,  and the Coast Guard.  However, in light of changing needs and priorities, President Trump issued a new directive in February to establish the US Space Force as the sixth military branch,  which will be within the Department of the Air Force. 

This directive can be found at  

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/text-space-policy-directive-4-establishment-united-states-space-force/

The directive states that “ Although United States space systems have historically maintained a technological advantage over those of our potential adversaries, those potential adversaries are now advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict.  It is imperative that the United States adapt its national security organizations, policies, doctrine, and capabilities to deter aggression and protect our interests.”

The directive provides the following priorities for the Space Force:

(a)  Protecting the Nation’s interests in space and the peaceful use of space for all responsible actors, consistent with applicable law, including international law;

(b)  Ensuring unfettered use of space for United States national security purposes, the United States economy, and United States persons, partners, and allies;

(c)  Deterring aggression and defending the Nation,
United States allies, and United States interests from hostile acts in and from space;

(d)  Ensuring that needed space capabilities are integrated and available to all United States Combatant Commands;

(e)  Projecting military power in, from, and to space in support of our Nation’s interests; and

(f)  Developing, maintaining, and improving a community of professionals focused on the national security demands of the space domain.

The directive specifies that Space Force will be lead by a civilian to be known as the Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space, and will be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.  The directive specifies that a senior military officer ( General or Admiral ) will serve as the Chief of Staff of the Space Force, and will serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Applied Technology Institute looks forward to providing training to the workforce which will be needed to support the US Space Force. 

A list of all the Space Related Courses offered by ATI can be found at

https://www.aticourses.com/catalog_of_all_ATI_courses.htm#space

 

Specific and upcoming Space-Related Courses include:

Communications Payload Design

Mar 19-22, 2019 Columbia, MD

 Tactical Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) System

Mar 25-28, 2019 Columbia, MD

 Space Mission Structures

Apr 16-18, 2019 Littleton, CO

 Vibration Testing of Small Satellites

Apr 30-May 1, 2019 Littleton, CO

 Satellite Communications- Introduction

May 1-3, 2019 Columbia, MD 

If your organization requires Space-Related Training which you do not currently see in our Course Offerings, please give us a call and we will try to accommodate your needs. 

Happy Groundhog Day!

We are halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, also known as, Groundhog day!  If you want to know more about the origins of this tradition, you can find that at the link below, but the story involves bears and badgers, and Germans and Christians, and superstition and science.  You can’t make this […]

We are halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, also known as, Groundhog day!  If you want to know more about the origins of this tradition, you can find that at the link below, but the story involves bears and badgers, and Germans and Christians, and superstition and science.  You can’t make this stuff up, and you can’t tell the story any better than The Old Farmers Almanac.  Check it out at….

https://www.almanac.com/content/groundhog-day-history-meaning-folklore?

It will be a stretch to relate Groundhog day to courses offered by ATI, but we will give it a try.   That pesky groundhog needs to draw on his Remote Sensing abilities in order to have such a wonderful batting average.  If you want to learn more about Remote Sensing, consider one of the Remote Sensing Courses offered by ATi, like perhaps…  Optical & Remote Sensing or Microwave Remote Sensing or Geomatics – GIS, GPS and Remote Sensing or Directions in Space Remote Sensing.

Lastly, and SPOILER ALERT….Spring will be coming early this year.  I can’t wait.

Groundhog Day 2019:The Prediction and Photos

Recall That Curiosity Rover Was Delivered to Mars by an ATLAS Rocket in 2011

There are so many Space Exploration Missions that are on the front page of the papers now, New Horizons for example.  Let us not forget about ongoing missions that are no longer getting as much publicity at they may deserve, JPL Mars Science Lab Curiosity Rover Mission for example.The Curiosity Rover Mission was launched in […]

There are so many Space Exploration Missions that are on the front page of the papers now, New Horizons for example.  Let us not forget about ongoing missions that are no longer getting as much publicity at they may deserve, JPL Mars Science Lab Curiosity Rover Mission for example.

The Curiosity Rover Mission was launched in November 2011 for an 8-month trip to Mars.  Once on Mars, the Curiosity Mission was expected to last 2 years.  Amazingly, the Curiosity Rover Mission is still in progress, and periodic updates on the status of that mission are still being posted at https://mars.nasa.gov/msl/mission/mars-rover-curiosity-mission-updates/

The success of that mission did not start when the Rover started sending back amazing pictures from Mars.  The success of that mission started when the Rocket and Launch Vehicle propelled Rover into Space.    The Atlas V-541 Rocket selected for this mission and built by Boeing Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp.  performed as designed.  If it had not performed as well as it did, the entire mission could have been in jeopardy.  Rockets and Launch Vehicles are truly acritical component of every mission.

ATI is offering a Course on Rocket and Launch Vehicles in Columbia, Maryland from February 11 to 14, 2019.  The course is being taught by Edward Keith, a multi-discipline Launch Vehicle System Engineer, specializing in integration of launch vehicle technology, design, modeling and business strategies.  There is still time to enroll in this class, and you will be finished in time to get home for dinner on Valentine’s day! 

Please consider learning more about this ATI offering, and enroll in the ATI class, by going to https://www.aticourses.com/rockets_launch_vehicles.html

 

Coding for kids: Alice’s Story

Nothing is cuter than pictures of kids sitting at their computers, mastering skills their parents never dreamed of. And nothing is more popular than the current idea that all children should learn to code.My husband, Philip,  & I strongly support this idea.  He has been in IT since he was 18 years old and wants […]

Nothing is cuter than pictures of kids sitting at their computers, mastering skills their parents never dreamed of. And nothing is more popular than the current idea that all children should learn to code.

My husband, Philip,  & I strongly support this idea.  He has been in IT since he was 18 years old and wants our oldest daughter, Alice, to get involved in the IT field as well.

Alice is an 8 year old and extremely active child.  When we introduced her to coding she was hooked!  She spent hours working on her coding projects.  It was so wonderful to see her working with her father and asking questions when she hit a difficult task.

Yesterday, she received a certificate of completion stating that she has demonstrated an understanding of basic concepts of Computer Science.  

We couldn’t be more proud!

Here is the list of the main sources that could be tapped for teaching kids how to code:

Code.org
This nonprofit foundation website is a great starting point for coding novices. It shares plenty of useful online resources, apps, and even local schools that teach coding. Be sure to watch the inspirational video on the main page. Updated periodically, the current iteration features some of the biggest names in tech talking about how they got started in coding.

CodeAcademy
This interactive website is user-friendly and teaches kids basic code through fun, simple exercises that feel like games.

Code Avengers
While Code Avengers lacks the eye-catching graphics of other options, it does offer a series of free intro classes in building web pages, apps, and games. Get started with the 7-day free trial, which grants access to the first five lessons in each course, ranging from Python, to web development, JavaScript, and more. If you like what you see, register for a membership plan that cost $29/month and requires no long-term commitment. A six-month plan costs $120.

Code Combat
Best for older kids, Code Combat uses an interactive, competitive gameplay mode to stimulate learning. Once you set up your parent account, kids can be online, playing in seconds. FREE

Codemoji
Put those ubiquitous emojis to work in an educational way with this website that eschews complex codes for user-friendly expressions, quite literally. Kids learn to code by using emojis to substitute for html or css codes. They’ll have so much fun, they won’t realize the work they’re putting in. Codemoji plans start at $9.99 for three months, but include up to five kids’ accounts in that price.

Code Monster
Particularly good for kids, Code Monster features two adjacent boxes. One displays code, the other shows what the code does. As you play with the code (with some help from a prompt), you learn what each command does. FREE

Khan Academy
Known for its extensive and challenging math games, Khan Academy also has basic programming tutorials that teach kids how to build graphics, animations, interactive visualizations, and more. FREE

Lightbot
Predominantly an app-based program, Lightbot offers a FREE demo online as part of its Hour of Code. Like what you see? Its pair of low-cost programming apps are all-ages friendly. Available for iOs, Android, and Amazon devices for $2.99.

Scratch
Designed by MIT students and aimed at children ages 8 to 16, this easy-to-use programming language lets kids build almost anything they can dream. There are no obscure lines of code here. Instead, arrange and snap together Scratch blocks as if they were virtual Legos. But it’s more than just a coding guide, it’s a vibrant online community of programmers who swap ideas and inspiration. FREE

Stencyl
Inspired by Scratch’s snapping blocks system, this software allows users to create simple games for iOS, Android, Flash, Windows, Linux, and Mac systems. If your child is serious about it, there are paid pro plans that come with advanced functionality.

Tech Rocket
Founded by iD Tech, Tech Rocket’s free platform allows access to a dozen classes. For those looking for a more advanced experience, paid subscriptions are $19 per month.

 

Bombers and Subs and Missiles, oh my!

Speaking for myself, I always considered the nuclear triad to include bombers, submarines, and missiles, but, I was wrong. Sandra Erwin points out in her Space News article, we really need to remember that these three components of the triad could not be effective without two other complimentary components, a competent work force to operate […]

Speaking for myself, I always considered the nuclear triad to include bombers, submarines, and missiles, but, I was wrong. Sandra Erwin points out in her Space News article, we really need to remember that these three components of the triad could not be effective without two other complimentary components, a competent work force to operate them, and a modern and reliable Nuclear Command, Control and Communications ( NC3 ) network.

Lt. Gen Jack Weinstein, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration recently pointed out that nuclear modernization efforts cannot be strictly focused on subs, bombers, and missiles, but must also be concerned about modernizing the NC3 system, causing him to remark “The Triad also means space capability.” The Nuclear Posture Review reported that many of the components of the current NC3 system are antiquated technology which has not been modernized in almost 30 years. 

Sandra Erwin reports that the Air Force does have programs under way to modernize communications and early-warning satellites, but integration of these new systems will be very complex, and highly trained work force will be needed to build the systems.

Interestingly, Lt. Gen Weinstein has confidence in the military’s ability to train their people to operate these systems, but he expresses concern about educating the civilian workforce which will also need to be involved.

Applied Technology Institute (ATI) can play an important role in preparing the workforce which will support the future nuclear Triad since it offers a diverse collection of courses which cover all of the domains where the Triad will need to operate; air, sea, and space. Please consider looking at the current set of course offerings at ATI and consider taking some of our courses to better position yourself to make significant contributions to solving the complex problems associated with Strategic Deterrence in the future.