NI Week: Sights and Insights Inside the Austin City Limits

It’s been almost a month since our marketing team went to Austin, TX, for NI Week and we have all had some time to reflect.  Several blog posts have been written about everything from keynote speeches featuring a robot named Baxter to a tea party using LabVIEW, but my most memorable moments are harder to define. It was the “vibe” of the entire week that spoke to me. I was immediately struck by the quirky sights of the city, right down to the artwork on our baggage carousel. NI Week was going to be an adventure!

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Our journey began at the Spokane airport in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  We boarded our flight to Denver and proceeded onto Austin.  Six of us in total.  None of us quite sure what to expect from NI Week. This was a first for all of us.  We would meet up with our fearless leader when we touched down in Austin. This wasn’t Larissa’s first rodeo at NI Week and she was there to show us the ropes, but ultimately, this was the time for each of us to get to know our National Instruments (NI) counterparts and to learn where we fit into the NI ecosystem.


What we did know was that we were excited to be attending. When we arrived we would be greeted by a limo (cheaper than two taxis and all of our luggage) and from there, heading to the Driskill.  A landmark of Texas hospitality, built in 1886 as the showplace of a cattle baron and a member of The Historic Hotels of America.  It was exquisite inside and out. And, by some accounts, there are even haunted areas of the hotel!

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Thankfully, most of the hotels offer deals during NI Week and we were fortunate to have these accommodations at a reasonable price and within walking distance to the Austin Convention Center, where NI Week took place.

While setting up our demos for the Academic Forum, we were able to meet other NI Partners and many of the NI staff.  It’s easy to make friends quickly when borrowing scissors here and offering tape there.  We knocked it out in record time.  Impressed with how our team came together to put together four LabVIEW demos and connected multiple chipKIT and computer devices, I sat back and snapped a few pictures while I helped with the Pmod display.  I work with a remarkable group of talented people.2015-08-03 07.41.31

Before we knew it, it was game time! We were set up and ready to show (and tell) our NI Week attendees what Digilent is all about.  Our motto for NI Week: Learn, make & teach electronics. Showcasing fun and interactive demos with corresponding product cards was just one part of that.  Our booth was a hit!

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The keynote speeches were another point of particular interest to me. The large screens at the front rolled live #NIWeek tweets and displayed a barrage of exciting footage such as hovering helicopters using LabVIEW for testing and an exoskeleton of robotics.  The speakers were engaging and the topics diverse but the common threads were LabVIEW and 5G. I am still in awe of the applications possible with LabVIEW.

Many of NI’s best took the podium, including Dave Wilson, the VP of Academic for NI.  Dave and Ray Hsu presented the keynote on day 3 and revealed the NI Edition of the Analog Discovery for the first time. Seeing “Digilent” up on the huge screen was incredible.  I smiled with pride and fumbled clumsily with my Ipad trying to take a decent picture.

Between the keynotes, I spent the majority of my time perusing the Expo Hall where all of the latest and greatest LabVIEW demos were at the ready for the next willing participant to give them a try. There was so much to watch and take in!  Some onlookers armed themselves with a Nerf Dart gun and shot at a moving target. Others showed off their moves on what looked like a “Dance Dance Revolution” pad and I ended up scooting up to the PacMan demo to see how far I could get before you’re caught by a ghost.

After two days and honestly two sore feet I had made my way down every aisle and talked with dozens of people.  I was mentally saturated with information while uplifted by the knowledgeable and kind young people I met manning many of the demos.  Truly, demos and robots aside, people were what made this a unique and special event.  Their enthusiasm was evident for what they were showing off.2015-08-04 10.51.34

My final impression was one of scale, primarily the sheer scale of organizing an event of this size and knocking it out of the park.  So thank you, NI, for hosting us.  Thank you, Digilent, for sending us.  I appreciate the opportunity to see new things, hear new ideas, and most of all to meet new people!





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