One of our instructors, Bryan Hendricks, is teaching a month-long workshop on the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a system of getting multiple internet-connected devices to share data and information between them, and allows for home automation, machine wear analysis, and just about any data gathering and analysis. So far, one workshop has been completed, in which the students learned about what the IoT is, then set up their own example to try it out. They hooked up a temperature and humidity sensor to the internet, and were able to view the data through a web interface. In future workshops, we plan to use industry-standard tools, such as IBM Bluemix and Node Red, to do data acquisition, analysis, and response, all through a Raspberry Pi.
These workshops aren’t just about learning how the technical side of the IoT works, however - the data you get from all of these sensors isn’t useful if you don’t know what it means. An interesting example of this occurred in the first workshop: the students tested their temperature sensors, which read a value in Celsius, and then converted it to Fahrenheit. The sensor and the IoT connection were working fine, and data was going through perfectly - though upon closer inspection, the data itself didn’t make sense. The Fahrenheit reading was significantly lower than it should have been. Because the students in the workshop were able to identify what the data was supposed to mean, they were able to determine that the conversion equation they were using to get Fahrenheit from Celsius was incorrect, and fixed it.
The biggest thing that students are getting out of this workshop is gaining experience with the “next step” of making: utilizing skills learned via making in the real world. The IoT is geared towards the tech and industry fields, because those fields are looking very closely at it - companies like Intel, IBM, and GE are putting millions of dollars into research and development for the Internet of Things. The IoT is gaining traction in the industry at a surprising rate, and it’s only going to get bigger in the field.
Despite the fact that large companies are putting huge investments on this future of technology that is the IoT, most schools don’t teach anything about it, simply because it is so new. There is no singular established method of how the IoT works, and no standard curriculum has been developed. The tech sector and industry need people who are experienced with the Internet of Things, and this workshop has so far proven to be a very good place to do just that.