Germany invests in innovators of the future, now

Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in cooperation with the Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies, VDE, annually holds an "Invent a Chip (IaC)" competition for school pupils. The winners receive cash awards and the ten finalists attend a chip designing workshop at Leibniz University in Hanover.

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During the workshop, the school pupils spend several days learning the basic logics of chip design and the language for describing hardware. Says VDE Chairman Ansgar Hinz, "Professionals work in exactly the same way. They use it to develop the circuitry of the electronics we use daily."

Among the award-winning designs this year was an innovative ambulance stretcher with a bed to prevent the patient from sliding around as the vehicle moves, particularly during acceleration, braking, on slopes, and while cornering. The young designers of this innovation and the other winners are also entered in the selection process for funding from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, supplied with industrial contacts, and invited to present their projects at trade shows.

"Invent a Chip" has a number of industrial sponsors, including Bosch, Cologne Chip, Globalfoundries, Infineon, Mentor Graphics, Siemens, Videantis, and the DKE Deutsche Kommission Elektrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik, as well as VDE. Other BMBF programs designed to promote young innovators are the "Drive-E," "SolarMobil Deutschland" and the COSIMA microsystem competitions.

This year marked the sixteenth time the IaC has been held. Says the BMBF, "The aim is to raise young people's interest in electronics and encourage students to engage in research."

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