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2016

Onecall NUWPEC

 

Onecall, Farnell element14's dedicated electronics and technology business for higher education and research councils, has secured its strong working relationship with the National Universities Working Party on Electronic Components (NUWPEC) after being named as a preferred supplier for electrical components and electrical products for the fourteenth year running.

 

Onecall offers specially negotiated prices on over 500,000 electronic components, semiconductors, batteries, tools and test & measurement equipment exclusively for Universities and Research Facilities in the United Kingdom, providing a 'one stop shop' that incorporates Farnell element14 and sister company CPC's product ranges. It was established as a direct result of a preferred supplier agreement made with NUWPEC in 1999, an agreement which has been reaffirmed by this new tender.

 

Other services offered by Onecall include next-day delivery on hundreds of thousands of products, dedicated sales and support teams, an extensive technical library and rapid search facilities. A new online purchasing management system, iBuy, provides cost control, reduced administration and total visibility of spend for users, perfect for institutes and research councils looking to improve efficiency and bring down overheads.

onecall was awarded the framework agreement for four lots of tender in total:

Lot 1 - Supply and Delivery of Electronic Components, Associated Products & Service Kits

Lot 2 – Supply and Delivery of Tools & Fixings

Lot 3 – Supply and Delivery of Test & Measurement Equipment

Lot 4 – Supply and Delivery of Batteries

NUWPEC also awarded onecall with a top supplier rating for pricing, technical support and an innovative approach to Corporate Social Responsibility.

Are you a member of a University or Research Council in the United Kingdom? Visit Onecall now to find out how you could get the best value on electronic components and equipment.

Women in computer scienceDespite progress in some areas, many key STEM areas are still struggling to achieve gender parity. While the number of women studying biology, chemistry and mathematics has increased in recent years, progress has been slower in the fields of engineering, physics and computer science, according to a recent study published in Psychological Bulletin.

 

The trend for more boys than girls to gravitate towards STEM subjects has been widely observed for some time, with some academics attributing the skills gap to individual preferences and abilities. However, according to the authors of this study, a masculine culture surrounding these subjects may be the real reason the gender gap continues to endure.

 

Researchers Sapna Cheryan, Lily Jiang and Sianna Ziegler from the University of Washington and Amanda Montoya from Ohio State University found in their study that many STEM environments foster negative stereotypes and perceived bias' that are incompatible with the way women see themselves, while offering few role models for young girls to aspire to.

 

In order to tighten the gender gap, educators need to develop a more inviting culture in which girls can see themselves reflected in the subjects they study, rather than being presented with only the stereotypical masculine images of the computer scientist, engineer or physicist.

 

When Cheryan took a mandatory computer class at high school in the 1990s, she was warned that the course was extremely difficult and that the only students who were successful were 'gamers' who already coded for fun.

 

"We already had strong stereotypes of computer scientists being those boys - I guess you'd now call them hackers - the stereotype that they like science fiction and are a little socially awkward" she explains. "There was nothing that made us girls feel like we were welcome. Many of us got As in the class, but many of the girls said they didn't feel like there was a place for us in that field."

 

On returning for her twenty-year high school reunion two decades later, Cheryan noticed that of the graduates of that class, about half of the men now worked in computer science, but only one of the women did.

 

"We're still using science" she says, "we're just not doing it in the fields that are the most lucrative and high status. But if you can be a doctor, you can be a computer scientist."

 

Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of Pennsylvania-based nonprofit TechGirlz, agreed that the STEM environment would benefit from being more tailored to girls' interests.

 

"The anecdotal actually does match up to what research is showing" she explains. "One: there's not a lot of classes. Two: It's not interesting to the girls, the way it's being taught. We hear this again and again - that it's boring, that they're the only girls in the class."

 

The Psychological Bulletin study suggests that factors such as pop culture jokes and classroom decorations can have an impact on the kind of students who are more likely to take an interest in a particular course. When high-school classrooms were decorated with Star Trek posters and video games - or not decorated at all, girls were less interested than boys in taking the course. When posters of art and nature were put in place of what the study describes as 'geeky' decor, girls' interest came closer to matching their male counterparts. By contrast, boys' interest was not found to be negatively impacted either way by the classroom environment.

 

Cheryan acknlowledges that 'geek culture' has come a long way in recent years and is far from a male-only domain. But balancing traditionally masculine and feminine references can help to narrow the gender gap and promote a more inclusive environment.

 

"It's not that every man and every woman can relate to the sterotype" she says. "And it's not that the stereotype is bad. There are just more women who think 'It's just not me, and it doesn't reflect my values and my interests'. We need to broaden the image of the field and make it more accessible."

 

According to research by TechGirlz, female students tend to prefer learning about technology to solve real-world problems, rather than more general, theory-based studies. The organisation runs free workshops for middle-school age girls, demonstrating how technology can be applied to almost every profession. After each session, around 80% per cent of attendees claim to be more open to pursuing a career in technology.

 

One notable success story is the computer science department of the University of Washington, which has taken active steps to foster a more gender-inclusive environment over the past decade. In 2013, 29 per cent of their Computer Science degrees were awarded to women, almost twice the national average.

 

"We believe that if we keep presenting these subjects the way they're currently being presented in schools, it's just not going to reflect how girls want to learn. How do we get them interested from the get-go, and how are we retaining that interest?" asks Welson-Rossman. "We want to ignite a love of technology in these middle school girls."

 

Do STEM subjects still have a gender problem? How do you think more women can be attracted to engineering and computer science? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

the element14 Global SpotlightGerman Engineering at a GlanceWe Are Makers ...
Five reasons to study in GermanyFive of the best | Projects ...Texas Instruments in Germany

 

AachenGermany is well known as one of the leading engineering and manufacturing countries in the Western world. Not only does it house an active and diverse maker scene and act as a base for many of the leading manufacturers in electronics and engineering, it is also an important educational hub, with some of the most highly regarded engineering schools in the world. These schools are open to engineering students from all over the world, and should be a consideration for anyone looking into undergraduate or postgraduate studies to prepare for a career in the industry.

 

Here are five key advantages of studying engineering in Germany:

 

Cost of study

Germany's public universities are known for charging much lower tuition fees than their UK and US equivalents. In fact, several actually offer tuition-free courses of study, available to both domestic and international students. This can open up study opportunities that may simply not be feasible in other locations. Germany also has a strong economy and a modest cost of living compared to other places in Europe. Wages are generally good for part-time work, and students have access to a number of scholarship opportunities and discounts for essentials such as public transport.

 

English language courses

The majority of German universities offer their Masters' programs in English. These International Degree Programs are specifically aimed at foreign students, providing a top quality learning experience to students as they take the time they need to master the German language.

 

Research and collaboration opportunities

Germany's position on the global manufacturing scene means a study experience at a German engineering University can offer exciting opportunities to work closely with leading industries and technology brands. Many institutes in Germany foster close relationships with these companies, in addition to feeding and supporting the countries thriving independent maker scene.

 

Wide range of specialism opportunities

Because Germany is home to many of the leading engineering institutes in the world, it's one of the easiest countries in which to find a course that suits your preferred field of specialism. From mechanical engineering to nanotechnology via cartography and micro systems, you're practically guaranteed to find a suitable course at a highly regarded school of engineering.

 

Excellent employment prospects

Germany's economy is heavily driven by the manufacturing industry, and there's a high demand for skilled workers in fields such as IT, the sciences, maths and engineering, with a relatively straightforward path for educated workers to apply for permission to live and work in the country. Studying in Germany gives you the time to become comfortable with the German way of life and to pick up some German language skills - though these aren't always essential - putting you in a strong position to find employment after you have completed your education.

 

Have you ever worked or studied in Germany? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below...

The Maker Movement has fostered some pretty fantastic developments for makers, creators and engineers of all ages and skill sets, including a new breed of toys that are helping to make electronics a fun, accessible and creative learning experience. With Christmas round the corner, why not help the future innovator in your family to get started on some exciting project work with one of these devices?

 

littleBits Technology - Snap ideas to life

 

In 2009, computer engineer Ayah Bdeir introduced her concept for littleBits at the Bay Area Maker Faire, where she won more than 20 awards. Two years later, littleBits was officially launched, raising more than $15 million in venture capital.

 

 

"It's about allowing people to understand how electronics governs our modern lives, and letting people become creators and makers," Bdeir has said of her motivation to start the company. The mission of littleBits is to bring experiential innovation not only into the home, but into the classroom as well. littleBits offers bundles for education, which have been adopted by many STEM middle and high schools for their proven ability to build skills in problem solving and understanding.

 

The littleBits library hosts dozens of modules, all of which work together, offering millions of combinations. The littleBits kits are not just open-ended tech toys. They encourage exploration, foster innovation and promote creativity.

 

Microduino mCookies - Think big, start small

Stackable, quarter-size electronics ‘mCookies' came from a successful Kickstarter campaign from Microduino, adding to their impressive and inspiring component portfolio. With three microcontroller modules in the mCookie series, the components can provide users a foundation to create and build a variety of projects from smart gadgets to robots and drones. These cute color-coded components are even LEGO-compatible and can be programmed with Microduino’s Arduino IDE, which can integrate into a variety of Arduino sketches.

 

 

 

mCookie kits are available in an array of packages including 101 Basic, 201 Advanced and 301 Expert. Additionally, Microduino offers its community more than 100 tutorials and 500 project ideas along with thousands of wiki pages aimed at supporting makers and hobbyists.

 

What are your favourite child-friendly learning tools for the engineers and makers of tomorrow? Share your thoughts in the comments section below...