The Institute’s Most Popular Articles of 2014

Tech history, bioengineering, and engineering employment top the list

19 December 2014

As the editors of The Institute look ahead to 2015, we decided to also reflect back on what articles our readers found most interesting this year. Tech history topics and career-related items were among our most popular, as were articles on emerging areas like the Internet of Things and 5G. Some of the stories that continue to get high traffic were from years past. Read on for a list of The Institute’s 10 most popular articles this year.

  1. 1. Groundbreaking Operating System Named an IEEE Milestone

    In his toolshed in Pacific Grove, Calif., computer programmer Gary Kildall built an operating system in 1974 that, along with the microprocessor and disk drive, would become one of the three fundamental building blocks of the personal computer revolution. His OS, Control Program for Microprocessors (CP/M), was the first commercial system to allow a microprocessor-based computer to interface with a disk storage unit. It paved the way for low-cost computers to be used in business, schools and, eventually, the home.

    Kildall’s invention was named an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing in April.

  2. 2. What it Takes to be a Bioengineer

    With biomedical engineering expected to become the fastest-growing job market in the United States in the next few years, this article highlights the skills you need to succeed. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, the number of biomedical engineers is projected to rise by about 62 percent.

  3. 3. Are Engineers Really in Demand?

    This award-winning blog post takes a look at unemployment stats showing that engineers specializing in certain areas are having a more difficult time finding a job than others and questions whether there really is a high-tech worker shortage. Readers continue to comment on this topic since it was first published in February 2012. More than 200 have shared their personal experiences in finding employment. Weigh in and share whether you believe engineers are in demand.

  4. 4. A History of the Magnetic Compass

    To this day, our story on the indispensible navigation tool, the magnetic compass, continues to capture readers’ attention and is one of our most searched for and visited articles. Inhospitable as it can be, the sea has played an essential role in human history and provided the cheapest way to move goods over great distances, generating wealth through trade. Navigating the oceans also played a pivotal role for many countries in gaining political and military power. Along the way, the compass contributed to innovations in physics and electrical engineering. This article covers the origin of this important tool.

  5. 5. New Ways to Prevent Dropped Cellphone Calls

    Ever notice that during a sporting event, parade, or local emergency—when we rely on our cellphones the most—calls are often dropped and text messages go undelivered? That’s because there are a limited number of radio frequencies for cellphone users in any one area. When a big event occurs, lines are flooded and networks can’t handle all the calls. One IEEE graduate student member came up with a way to solve this problem by tapping into unused frequencies from nearby television and radio broadcast channels. 

  6. 6. Smarter Sensors

    Minuscule sensors are just about everywhere, including automobiles, cellphones, clothing, credit cards, exercise equipment, gaming consoles, and along highways. As part of our special report on the Internet of Things, this article covers what needs to happen before the IoT can really take off. The IoT’s full potential will be unleashed when small networks become one large network of products, systems, and machines that will extend across the globe.

  7. 7. Today's Cars Are More Electric Than You Think

    Many of today’s gasoline models offer advanced features thanks to electrification. Electric power steering, adaptive cruise control, and road condition monitoring are just the latest of a long line of developments in the automobile industry. Electrification involves replacing car parts that currently don’t run on electric power—such as hydraulic steering and internal combustion engines—with ones that do. The article was part of our special report on Transportation Electrification.

  8. 8. In the Works: Next-Generation Wireless

    Compared with today’s 4G and LTE networks, researchers say 5G will achieve 1,000 times the system capacity; 10 times the energy efficiency, data rate, and spectral efficiency; and 25 times the average mobile cell throughput. The aim is to offer seamless and universal communications between any people, anywhere, at any time by just about any wireless device.

  9. 9. Guadalajara: Smart City of the Near Future

    Mexico’s second-most-populous city is a high-tech powerhouse. Guadalajara is home to more than 100 software companies and manufacturers, and is known as the country’s Silicon Valley. With so much high-tech talent, it’s no wonder that Mexico’s leaders selected Guadalajara as the site for the Ciudad Creativa Digital, a smart-city development project. The CCD is expected to advance the country’s leadership position in media by using technology to create a socially integrated urban environment that can attract those working in advertising, gaming, movies, television, and related fields. The article is part of our special report on Smart Cities.

  10. 10. Gaming in the Workplace

    Gamification—which stands for applying game-design thinking to non-game applications—has been used in several industries and is now making its way into offices. Gartner, a research firm based in Stamford, Conn., predicts that nearly 2000 global organizations will be using gamification to train their employees and track their performance by the end of this year.

What were some of your favorite technology stories of the year? And what would you like to see The Institute report on in 2015? Share your ideas with us in the comments section below.

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