Shaping tomorrow's leaders

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019 | Supplied by: STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd

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STMicroelectronics and Alibaba are combining their hardware and software solutions to help students from universities in China learn all the aspects of cloud computing.

Dubbed ‘Future Engineers’, the initiative targets makers inside and outside the classroom by making IoT relevant and accessible. As a result, students will get their first experience with one of the most popular cloud platforms in the world and some of the most sought-after microcontrollers and sensors in the industry. It’ll thus be the best opportunity to prepare undergraduates for what they will face once they get into the workforce.

Alibaba and ST are committing to invest in the courses and training programs that will benefit more than 1000 universities and 2 million students within the next 3–5 years. There will also be events to promote the best student projects and offer them more visibility.

A comprehensive hardware and software approach

Alibaba Cloud, also known as AliCloud or Aliyun, is a global platform that is very popular among some universities thanks to the Alibaba Cloud University Cooperation Program. The initiative offers courses, labs and access to many AliCloud services to make it easy for students to develop their first IoT system. Additionally, they also get access to AliOS Things, a derivative of AliOS (Alibaba’s Operating System) that focuses on IoT and mobile applications.

Students are thus able to master a Linux environment while also benefiting from an ecosystem that puts a large amount of resources at their fingertips. Indeed, instead of getting solutions from different vendors, having one company that takes care of the entire software stack is not only remarkable but similar to the philosophy ST applies to its hardware, which explains why the companies partnered together.

Indeed, AliOS Things is a suitable system to help students learn how to take advantage of the STM32 Open Development Environment, which is one of the reasons ST demonstrated its solutions at the Alibaba Computing Conference in September 2018. ST has plugins to generate AliOS Things projects that use STM32 MCUs. The company also has sensors as well as Bluetooth mesh networks stacks, wireless charging and power management solutions, which have been certified for AliOS Things. For example, ST had a 3D Cube demo of its B-L475E-IOT01A, a Discovery kit IoT node that connected to the internet via Wi-Fi to dynamically change lights in responses to variations in temperature, humidity and motions, among others, thus displaying multiple LED lighting effects in real time. Partnering with Alibaba to bring STM32 MCUs, ST MEMS and STM32 ODE solutions to students in China was, therefore, the logical next step.

A hardware and software IoT platform in universities around the world

Inside the classroom, ST and Alibaba are working with faculty and professors to help young adults graduate with the experience and knowledge that will help them stand out. A Chinese university now holds the first course based on a textbook that uses Alibaba Cloud solutions and ST hardware and software tools. Taught to second- and fourth-year undergraduate students, it uses the C programming language and goes over low-level drivers, API calls, hardware abstraction layers and the various algorithms that will ensure that students can get the most out of these development platforms.

The course can thus be broad to the point of attracting some graduate students who didn’t have the chance to experiment with these solutions earlier. It also demonstrates the desire by Chinese universities and colleges to ensure their students are ready to lead the IoT revolution by the time they get their diplomas.

Building a spotlight for tomorrow’s leaders

The next step in ST’s Future Engineers initiative with Alibaba will be to hold events that will involve educational institutions, other partners and local administrations to promote the innovations that will transform the industry and our way of life. It will also be an opportunity to shine a light on the dynamic Chinese and Asian makers community as well as include more companies and establishments to the ST Partner Program to help create an effective network that can make the difference when bringing a product to market.

ST is additionally working with Alibaba on an ‘Embedded IoT Course’ which targets IoT developers, and is currently creating training materials that will rely on the STM32L4 as well as Alibaba cloud connectivity and data management principles. The companies are also jointly developing mobile apps that will complement this course. Having launched an STM32 Online Store at Alibaba’s Tmall, ST’s boards and components will be more easily accessible to these students and makers, thus strengthening this vibrant IoT community.

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Originally published here.

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