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Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
A Conversation with Grant Imahara at Arm TechCon 2017
December 12th, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
Recently, we had the opportunity to interview Grant Imahara at the Arm TechCon 2017 Conference in Santa Clara, CA.
Grant is the celebrity engineer spokesperson for Mouser Electronics, the leading global New Product Introduction (NPI) distributor. Grant is an electrical engineer, roboticist, and television host. He is best known for his work on the television series MythBusters, where he designed and built numerous robots and specialized in operating the various computers and electronics that were utilized to objectively test myths. More recently, Grant has partnered with Mouser Electronics in launching its Empowering Innovation Together program, where he hosts webisodes and contributes blog posts and articles.
Grant visited our EDACafe exhibition booth at Arm TechCon for an interesting interview that covered many topics, including his relationship with Mouser Electronics.
Interview with Grant Imahara at Arm TechCon 2017
EDACafe: Can you discuss your relationship with Mouser Electronics and what you do with the company?
Grant I: I am Mouser’s celebrity engineer spokesman, which is kind of funny because generally speaking, engineers are not the rock stars and don’t often get the recognition we deserve for all the amazing things that we do. Mouser said, “Let’s take a person who is a known face from TV, who is also an engineer and make them our spokesperson.” So, here I am.
EDACafe: What do you view as the most important aspect of the ARM architecture for engineers?
Grant I: It’s interesting because the Arm architecture has so much to offer. If I had to pick the most important aspect, it would be low power consumption. The architecture basically lets you focus on performing one or more functions very well, instead of having the overhead of trying to do everything. This means fewer transistors, lower power consumption, and lower heat. For mobile applications, there are lower battery requirements, making devices lighter in weight and more compact. Smaller footprints means better technology.
Grant Imahara, Engineering Spokesperson for Mouser Electronics
EDACafe: Who benefits from building things with Arm processors?
Grant I: Actually, a few different areas. First there is mobile: low power and cost, with high levels of performance. Another is supercomputers, because when you get to large scale, the power requirements can become astronomical. Having lower power consumption processors brings the electrical load down significantly.
EDACafe: Please discuss Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together program.
Grant I: The concept behind Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together program is to inspire engineers and to create a community. We do this by having a series of online videos where I go to all kinds of places around the world and look at incredible technologies, record them, and show them to engineers. The series lets viewers follow my adventures, sort of like Anthony Bourdain, but instead of food, I showcase cool technologies.
EDACafe: Tell us about your latest adventure.
Grant I: In 2017, we did three episodes. The first one was done in Porto, Portugal, a city that is taking wireless technology and incorporating it into its mobile transit system — from buses to garbage trucks. Then, I went to Japan where they are focusing on urban farming and tackling the problem of needing more food to feed the cities of the future, but not enough space to grow it. So, they are growing indoors. Finally, I went to an augmented reality company in Los Angeles where they are using AR [augmented reality] and incorporating it into the construction planning process.
EDACafe: How do you see AR and VR [virtual reality] changing the world?
Grant I: That’s a big one! Personally, as a designer, I can’t wait for AR and VR to become viable tools. When I design something today, I’m clicking on a screen and spinning an object, trying to get a sense for it. If I could put on a head-mounted device, and have an object in front of me in relative actual size, that would be such as a tremendous tool. But, that’s just one application for AR/VR; think of gaming and immersive experiences that we could have thanks to these technologies.
EDACafe: How does Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together program differ from a traditional education system?
Grant I: Traditional education is focused on information going out, and you as an individual studying and digesting it. It’s a very insular method. On the other hand, there is this maker and open source movement that the Empowering Innovation Together program is built on. This fosters collaboration and sharing of ideas for building a community, and from that, innovate.
EDACafe: What are some of the other Empowering Innovation Together projects?
Grant I: We did a series on cutting edge robotics where I visited the lab that inspired the movie Big Hero 6 with a large inflatable robot for personal robotics. I’ve also seen a snake robot that is used for search and rescue purposes.
EDACafe: Tell us about Mouser Electronics and how and why it got involved with the Empowering Innovation Together program.
Grant I: It was important for Mouser to build and sustain a community for empowering engineers to reach the next level. As an engineer, we often focus just on our project and the needs of one small part of a project. It’s difficult to get people to step back for a look at the bigger picture, so Empowering Innovation Together shows engineers, in a fun way, what technologies exist to make the world a better place through engineering.
We want to thank Grant and Mouser Electronics for the interview opportunity and the insights he provided.