Ruminations of the teacher who teaches electronics in five weeks | Trends

A month ago, a group of friends met to share a Hindu dinner in the Swedish neighborhood of Dalaplan (Malmö). There was a new media artist, a programmer, three doctors in medicine and a telecommunications engineer. The topic of conversation was programming languages. And everyone had something to say. "I knew how to program everyone, if I made that same dinner ten years ago, the only ones would have been the IT guy and me," says David Cuartielles.

The engineer, who teaches at the University of Malmö, has been a key player in this change since he spent three months in 2005 at the foot of the Alps and Arduino with five other partners. "It could have arisen anywhere else, the important thing is the people we meet and the historical moment," he reflects. And thank goodness, because there is no longer Bar di re Arduino -bar of King Arduino- who gave name to the programming and electronic platform or the center that saw it born. But Cuartielles, who will participate next week in the III Forum of Culture, has more important issues to deal with.

  • From a veteran platform in a world of copiers (good and bad)

When Arduino was born, the incubators were a strange model. Even the famous Y Combinator had been founded in the same year. In this context, it is not surprising that the blue plates gave Wayra pumpkins. "It was very late for us, Wayra is for three people who have sat down for a coffee, had an idea, have a proof of concept and want to start, we had been working for eight or nine years. Three countries did not fit either Wayra or anyone, because many of these models have emerged after Arduino emerged. "

In fact, at the dawn of the platform, which now manufactures 5,000 plates a day, there were no competitors. Now the derivatives of the free hardware that Arduino invented grow under the stones and range from the small-and acceptable-variations to the most immoral plagiarism. Good side? "The fact that people copy the plate is an indicator of success: what works and what interests them."

  • Of the university and its speeds

But Arduino is, at most, half of Cuartielles' life. In the Swedish classrooms, which went to the Bologna plan if you mess up, work against the clock. Its mission is to teach electronics and programming to students of art and design. And he has to do it in five weeks. "I see classes more as an initiation to something, to the world of research, engineering, whatever it is, many of them are opening a door for the student to work on his own."

Do we waste time then devoting endless quarters to our subjects? "I think the two models make sense, I'm trying to introduce longer subjects with less time per week for more technical subjects, if someone wants to go deeper and do a long-term project, they need experimentation time. it fits. "

  • Of the new skills

Artists are the group of people who may be posing challenges that other people do not consider

Five weeks also serve to build bridges. "There are all kinds of studies that establish relationships between academic disciplines, art is always given the space of free thought, it is the group of people who may be posing challenges that other people do not think about," he explains. The engineer, who once wanted to study Fine Arts, is very clear about the relationship between all the disciplines that are intertwined in his professional life: "Art always seeks tickling society, Design democratizes access to the tools it uses, for For example, Engineering, and engineering translates science into the field of what is feasible, each one has its hole, and it is important to see how they connect ".

These bridges did not seem so easy to cross when Cuartielles was a teleco student in Zaragoza in the 1990s: "MIT, for example, was unknown to me, and things were happening there that were already working on the connection between art and art. technology, "he recalls. Now the connections are infinite and imperative. Studying the arts is not incompatible with knowing what an integral is and what is its place in modern electronics.

  • From the educational model of tomorrow

How does all this take to traditional educational models? "Now you're going to flip," he warns. Cuartielles advocates a revolution that follows the Arduino model. On the platform, you learn electronics and programming while you manufacture, for example, a theremin. "We have to find a way to make knowledge more modular, this method can be applied to any field of knowledge."

Your ideal teaching system would have two legs. One for the contents, which would be structured in specific objectives. "If you want to do something, we create a path that goes from what you know to what you want to learn, with four steps in which you create the foundations to understand the final step". In this scenario, artificial intelligence would come to recommend new subjects: "As you have learned all this, we can recommend that" or "the people in your class are learning this".

And another leg is to accredit the knowledge acquired. "The government would have to offer a system so that when you learn history, electronics, mathematics or whatever, the different knowledge nodes you have acquired will be registered," adds Cuartielles.

Utopia? "It is achievable, we have done the experiment in the technology class, I know that European universities are doing their own experiments, technology allows us to execute it, we have systems that we can centralize and share, if you want it to be distributed you can use blockchain so that the people carry their knowledge with them, there are 100 models that are being tested, more than anything, it is a political challenge. "

  • Of the future of the planet and the Moore fallacy

For the internet of things you need chips with less power

According to Cuartielles, education is precisely the key to putting technology at our service and not allowing the opposite to happen. "Technology is here to help us make a better world, and I think we have a series of social, environmental and economic challenges ahead of us that we can improve by using it."

One of those challenges is getting Moore's law out of your head: stop thinking in terms of power and size. "Companies that develop chips need to continue to innovate in order to remain relevant, one way to compete has always been chips, see who makes them smaller, who can invest in doing it." The problem with this approach is that, in addition to having an expiration date, it is not sustainable for the environment and is not even essential for many devices that we would consider to be state-of-the-art.

"When we talk about the internet of things, we talk about having processors everywhere." The question here is: Do we need to have a powerful processor just to measure a temperature and send it to the Internet? The answer is no. And as it shows, a button: ST, a European manufacturer, has released this year an 8-bit chip line. "For the internet of things we need chips with less power, we have reached the point that this is enough and better from the environmental point of view".


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