Mar 10, 2011

APEC: Day 4

Tomorrow is the last day in APEC and my last night in Fort Worth. I will do one more entry on the days’ events tomorrow night and recap the week.

Today was another day of technical presentations and exhibitions. I actually ended up seeing some manufacturer representatives I knew from my job and had a chat with them. I am hoping to catch the head of the PSMA tomorrow for a chat on regulatory standards for power supplies. It may not be exciting to discuss standardization but it is my job to do so.

From the technical presentation side, each one lasted about 30 minutes and there were roughly six hours of presentations so I ended up attending around 10 just today. There were too many to name or discuss in detail but they all covered my main interests within power electronics: renewable energy integration, digital control of powers supplies, high efficiency DC-DC converters, and commercial lighting applications. For my current project, I was particularly interested in the LED driver circuitry lectures. There are definitely some interesting papers I need to read specifically related to current balancing in LED strings and maximum power point tracking the photovoltaic systems. Eventually, I want to build my own solar panel and use a tracking algorithm to obtain the most power possible depending on the orientation of the sun (or rather Earth’s orientation around the sun).

I have appreciated the mix of the presentations from this week. Some of the topics of the technical discussions have been purely theoretical while others have actually implemented their solutions. I personally like the approach because it gives me ideas to consider implementing in my next project while also giving me reference material in case I run into problems.

I have also noticed that no one has tried to pass off their research as the perfect solution. What I love about electronics design is that no matter what design you come up with you are going to have to make tradeoffs between one or more (usually more) elements to get the best product possible. In every presentation I have attended thus far, the researcher made it clear the drawbacks to their proposed solution. It is nearly impossible to improve one figure of merit without sacrificing another in electronics design. The question for the engineer becomes about how important those trade-offs are to the end use application, and I appreciated that the audience was made aware of the potential pitfalls of the research.


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