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What do NI’s users do with LabVIEW FPGA? Control nuclear fusion, pursue Guerilla storms in Japan, draw blood robotically…

Xilinx Employee
Xilinx Employee
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NI (National Instruments) presented its annual Engineering Impact Awards last night. Of the 14 finalists in 7 categories, twelve of the entries used NI’s LabVIEW FPGA for real-time control and signal processing. The diversity of the applications and the magnitude of the problems tackled was jawdropping—please excuse my hyperbole but it’s merited in this case. Here are the seven categories and the 14 finalists:



Advanced Research:


  • Building the World’s Largest Range, Highest Speed Atomic Force Microscope


  • Using CompactRIO and LabVIEW to Monitor and Control a Compact Spherical Tokamak for Plasma Research





  • Controlling a Hardware-in-the-Loop Grid Simulator for the World’s Most Powerful Renewable Energy Test Facility


  • Developing a High-Speed Electrical Analysis for Facility-Wide Energy Research



Functional Test


  • Developing a New End-of-Line Test Bench for Hybrid Inverters


  • Testing eCall Emergency Call Systems With the NI Platform



Machine Control


  • Controlling a Robotic Manipulator for Nuclear Decommissioning


  • Developing a Portable 3D Vision-Guided Medical Robot for Autonomous Venipuncture



Physical Test and Monitoring


  • Hyundai Uses a Portable Sound Camera for Buzz, Squeak, and Rattle Studies


  • Characterizing Sound Profiles for a New Airbus Aircraft Using NI PXI



RF and Communications


  • Weather Radar: Design to Deployment Using the NI Platform


  • Building a Satellite Navigation Test Platform Using the NI Vector Signal Transceiver



Transportation, Automotive, and Heavy Equipment


  • Suburu Makes Software Key for Reliability and Fuel Economy


  • Remote Condition Monitoring of London Underground Track Circuits



The awards were emceed by Dave Wilson, NI’s Academic Marketing Director, and rather than tell you who the FPGA-based winners were in this blog, I will publish Dave’s well-written descriptions of each entry over the next 12 blog posts. I wish I could also deliver his wry wit but print is a poor substitute for his presentation style. Next year, I am shooting video.


However, I am going to tell you about another Impact Award winner in this blog post. NI made a special presentation of its “Innovations in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Award” to inventor Dean Kamen for his long-time contributions to STEM education through the FIRST Robotics Competition and its many allied programs. The award was presented by the Honorable Bill Flores, US Representative, 17th Congressional District of Texas.


Kamen founded FIRST 25 years ago. NI is a big supporter of the program and will be supplying Zynq-based roboRIO controllers to every team next season. The FIRST competition will touch approximately 350,000 students in more than 32,000 teams in more than 80 countries this year. That indeed is impact. If you want to see an amazing documentary about Kamen’s life, I can personally recommend this year’s “SlingShot.” Meanwhile, here’s a 5-minute video about FIRST: