Last week was NIWeek 2005. It was my first time attending, and I had a blast :-) I love seeing all the new things NI is doing. The product demonstrations at the keynotes were especially interesting. My favorites were the table saw demo and the ball bearings demo. You can see them both by watching the keynote speeches. Also, because I'm an audio nerd, Alain's presentation on CompactRIO audio algorithms was fun to watch (and listen to). And then of course there's the Virginia Tech presentation on their DARPA vehicle. There was just so much to see and do.
I also want to comment on an article I found on Slashdot a couple days ago. As an Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) graduate myself (from Virginia Tech, no less), I'm really happy to see the field getting some attention in the press.
One of the more pertinent quotes from the article is "If you have only technical knowledge, you are vulnerable." Because I haven't been in the "real world" for too long (oh, two years is plenty!) I can't say for sure how true this quote is. I do know it's true in my line of work, and I've heard many other people, such as engineers and evelopers, talk about the need to attack problems from many different angles. All I know is, IDST certainly helped me get this job and continues to help me do my job well. IDST focuses on creative thinking, information analysis, and problem solving, both of which can be more crucial to a job than straightforward technical knowledge. For example, as a technical writer, I'm not expected to know much of anything about control design or simulation. I am, however, expected to be able to learn enough about these fields to write well about the products. This expectation involves plenty of facets of the IDST major, from synthesizing information to making cross-disciplinary connections. Perhaps my main challenge at work, or at least the most common challenge, is translating what the engineers/developers tell me into plain English. The IDST major certainly helps with that aspect of my job.
To that end, I would have liked to see some commentary on the combination of computer science/IT and english, which is pretty much the way I went. Those are more disparate disciplines than IT/CS & business. But, like I said, I'm happy to see IDST getting some press.