National Engineering Month

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March is National Engineering Month (NEM) – Canada’s biggest celebration of engineering and engineering technology. To find out more details on what’s happening this month, visit

On March 4, 2015, as part of NEM and Engineers Without Borders, I delivered a “Water for the World” Workshop for Grade 8 students at the New Toronto Public Library in South Etobicoke. My co-presenter Fidel and I introduced the students to the issues surrounding global access to clean water, and how they can make a difference. As part of the workshop, we had the student create a (rogue) water filter. The water filters that they made are not the ones being used in urban homes, rather they are something that would be used by people in poorer countries/areas where their water source consists of dirty, somewhat muddy water (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa).

Below are a couple of pictures from the workshop.

EWB W4TW New Toronto Public LibraryEWB W4TW Water Filter Activity

Translate Text in Real Time with the Google Translate App

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There’s a new app from Google Inc. that I recently downloaded called Google Translate. It’s a pretty cool app that translates text in real time.

Here’s the description from the Google Play Store:

• Translate between 90 languages
• Converse naturally and let Google translate
• Translate with your voice, camera, keyboard or handwriting
• Translate offline while traveling. No internet connection needed.
• Save your translations and access from any device

Translations between the following languages are supported:
Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Basque, Belarusian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Cebuano, Chichewa, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Icelandic, Igbo, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kannada, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malagasy, Malay, Malayalam, Maltese, Maori, Marathi, Mongolian, Myanmar (Burmese), Nepali, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sesotho, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovenian, Somali, Spanish, Sundanese, Swahili, Swedish, Tajik, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish, Yoruba, Zulu

One of the cool features is that using your camera, you can point it at the text that you want to translate and it will instantly translate the text even without internet/data connection.

Here’s a picture of a magazine that I randomly grabbed near me, and the translation from English to French which you can see on my phone using the Google Translate app. That one is actually not in real time as I had to “pause” it, then take a picture. For the record, my phone would not let me take a screenshot while it was translating in real time for some reason.

Google Translate - English to French

What Do You Think Goes On In The Minds Of The 4.3 Billion “Offline” People?

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brainThere’s an article published on TechCrunch that provides us insights on what goes on in the minds of the 4.3 billion “offline” people through different usability tests they performed with the unconnected/newly connected. It is understandable that they would have difficulty and have quite a learning curve in adapting to new technology. It is also interesting that for a lot of the people in the modern world, most, if not all of the things that they are asked to do, would just come naturally for us.

Here’s the link to that article: Peering Into The Minds Of The 4.3 Billion Unconnected

Image Credit: TechCrunch

Let’s go do edX!

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It’s back-to-school time for most kids in North America today. School equals education. Education is something that should not stop once you graduate from high school or college/university. I’m not saying that everyone should do their Masters and PhD, because that doesn’t work for everyone financially-wise and/or career-wise. Constant education or learning can be obtained through various media such as workshops, trainings, conferences, or simply the web. For the web, this can include videos, podcasts, articles, and more.

edXWhile looking at some courses online recently, I found this online initiative called edX, which offers free online courses and classes from the world’s best universities that include MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley among others. Topics range from biology to business to computer science to finance to engineering to law to philosophy and more.

There are two ways to take the courses for free — 1. Simply audit the course, that is you will have access to all course content but do not need to submit any assignments or take any tests, or 2. Try to earn an honour code certificate, that is once you complete all the requirements satisfactorily while abiding by the edX honour code, you will receive a certificate showcasing your achievement. You will also have the option to get a verified certificate that includes signatures of the course instructor, etc. which you will have to pay for a nominal fee. Some courses may also give you the option to earn a credit, but of course you will have to shed a few thousand dollars for this. Some courses may not have all the options stated above, but generally those are your options.

There were a few courses I found that may be of interest as well to those who are into technology:

CS50x – Introduction to Computer Science (HarvardX)

LFS101x – Introduction to Linux (LinuxFoundationX)

CS184.1x – Foundations of Computer Graphics (UC BerkeleyX)

6.00.1x – Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python (MITx)

CS169.1x – Engineering Software as a Service (UC BerkeleyX)

CS169.2x – Engineering Software as a Service, Part 2 (UC BerkeleyX)

CS188.1x – Artificial Intelligence (UC BerkeleyX)

These are just a few of the courses that are currently available. I’m actually looking into doing the 6.00.1x course which just started last week on August 27th. Let’s see how it goes.

If you’re planning on taking any of these courses as well, good for you – keep on! Happy learning!

Transmitting Antennas

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The following was taken from a research work submitted for my ECE 119 – Transmission Media class in 2006 at University of St. La Salle, Philippines.

Most practical transmitting antennas are divided into two basic classifications, HERTZ (half-wave) ANTENNAS and MARCONI (quarter-wave) ANTENNAS. Hertz antennas are generally installed some distance above the ground and are positioned to radiate either vertically or horizontally. Marconi antennas operate with one end grounded and are mounted perpendicular to the Earth or to a surface acting as a ground. Hertz antennas are generally used for frequencies above 2 megahertz. Marconi antennas are used for frequencies below 2 megahertz and may be used at higher frequencies in certain applications.

A complete antenna system consists of three parts:

  2. The FEEDER
  3. The ANTENNA

The factors that determine the type, size, and shape of the antenna are:

  1. the frequency of operation of the transmitter,
  2. the amount of power to be radiated, and
  3. the general direction of the receiving set.
Half-Wave Dipole Antenna
Half-Wave Dipole Antenna
Quarter-Wave Antenna
Quarter-Wave Antenna

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