IEEE Smart Tech Workshop, Huntsville
Last weekend, I spent a couple of days going to the IEEE Smart Tech metro-area workshop in Huntsville, AL. The Metropolitan Area Workshop is a traveling conference sponsored by the IEEE Power and Energy Society, IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Communications Society, and IEEE-USA, with tracks on software engineering, wireless communications, smart power grid and, in our case, career assistance. In Huntsville, it was November 4-5 at the Von Braun Center.
Overall, the workshop was pretty decent. About 120 people attended; breakfast (pastries), lunch (boxed sandwiches), and a reception with enough food for dinner were provided; the price for IEEE members was $119; and there were no major catastrophes. (And I'm not just saying that because I set up the wireless access point that seems to have survived pretty well. Go DD-WRT!)
Software engineering essentials
Friday, I went to the "Software engineering essentials" track session, which was billed as:
Designed for software development professionals interested in confirming knowledge of industry-standard software practices.
- Learn the principles, standards, and practices of software engineering to create more robust applications.
- Review all 15 Knowledge Areas presented in the Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) with a special focus on principles and practices of Software Requirements, Design, Construction, and Testing.
- Quizzes to test knowledge.
- Course based on curriculum for the IEEE CSDP [Certified Software Development Professional] designation.
- Increase your overall knowledge of the software development lifecycle and value to your company.
The reality was not quite as expected. The class was taught by Dr. Tom Hilburn, Professor Emeritus of Software Engineering and Distinguished Engineering Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. It briefly reviewed the following Knowledge Areas:
- Software architecture and design
- Software engineering process models
- Software engineering economics
- Professionalism and professional practice
- Configuration management
- Computing foundations, mathematical foundations, engineering foundations
There were more details on:
The workshop was focused on the CSDP Assessment Course. The detailed information about requirements and testing was presented by going through the assessment course sections on those KAs. As a result, the course was described by one participant as an "advertisement" for the assessment course.
As a result, it failed as both an introduction to the essentials of software engineering and as a preparation for the CSDP. Like the Head First... books I have read, it was too focused on the assessment (in this case) to work as a tutorial on the given topic. And, because it spent so much time on the detailed topics, there was no time or effort put into trying to cover the scope of the CSDP.
The two images are taken from CMU/SEI technical report CMU/SEI-96-TR-004 / ESC-TR-96-004, A Mature Profession of Software Engineering, Gary Ford and Norman E. Gibbs, January 1996. The first, Figure 1-2, was was used by Dr. Hilburn as an illustration of a profession for software engineering; the second, Figure 1-3, is a little clearer about what is going on.
Introduction to the smart grid
The course I attended on Saturday was another kettle of fish. It's billing was:
Recommended for all technology professionals
- NIST Conceptual Model and its domains and interfaces.
- Smart metering.
- The current state of smart grid applications and how these drive infrastructure requirements.
- The integration of smart grid elements into utility operations.
- Distribution automation as an enabling technology for smart grid.
- Smart grid cyber security technology.
- Smart grid standards framework and its challenges.
- Overview of smart grid network communications and the data needed in/out of the network.
- Monitoring equipment used by smart grid applications in the network to generate data for analysis and improving customer service.
The class not only covered all that, it was entertaining to boot. The class was presented by Jerry Melcher of Quanta Technology and included a stack of random factoids:
- Storage per volume: Diesel 3300 joules/cc, lead acid battery 50 joules/cc, lithium ion batteries 150 joules/cc.
- Storage on the customer side, rather than the utility side, is most efficient.
- Economics today call for natural gas generators, or demand response technology.
- Demand response systems look like generators to the utility. They act by reducing load from the consumer, providing the equivalent of low-cost generation for the provider. Demand response techniques are in widespread use for industrial consumers, but modern advanced metering technology and home area networking are needed to allow the utility to communicate with a non-industrial consumer's loads.
- The expected longevity of utility equipment is 40 years, something that is a surprise to most technology firms attempting to enter the business.
- Quote: "The worst thing that we could allow to happen to our client was to let them talk us into a custom deployment."
Unfortunately, since I know almost nothing about electrical power technology, most of the details of the class were not terribly useful for me.