“Invent a Chip”: Pupils should advance technology sovereignty

A series of competitions to which the VDE (VDE Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies) is inviting young people to be enthusiastic about microchips is to be aroused. It is already the 21st edition. On the one hand there are prizes directly for young people, on the other hand for institutions that work with children and young people and want to inspire them for electronics and STEM subjects (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, technology).

At INVENT a CHIP (IaC) students participate directly (recommended from the 9th grade). the Competition starts with an interactive online quiz and 20 questions about microchips and electronics. This tier runs until May 31st. Specially developed working materials are new this year, including ones on “binary coding”. Focal points are common, so in 2014 the focus was on concepts for semiconductors for the cities of the future. Pupils can win non-cash prizes and their schools cash prizes of up to 1,000 euros.

Getting started with chip design is encouraged by the IaC Challenge. Building on the basics of the freely configurable logic gates through to the first own VHDL code, the aim is to implement a complex counter with a display in real hardware. The participants get their own FPGA board, as used by professional chip designers, and instructions on how to best control a solar tracker.

The prizes include hardware, an exclusive online tutorial and qualification for the four-day “IaC Camp”. There, the top 25 deepen their knowledge. In this “final round” there are cash prizes of up to 2,000 euros, an internship at Bosch in Reutlingen and invitations to technical events. Participation in the IaC Challenge is possible until September 15, but those who want to go to the IaC Camp must complete the challenge by the end of March.

The VDE supports projects for children and young people in advance with up to 2,000 euros per project. This program is called “LABS for CHIPS” and is endowed with a total of 25,000 euros. Institutions are invited to get children and young people excited about electronics and MINT subjects, for example “schools, student laboratories, knowledge workshops, FabLabs, MakerSpaces, extracurricular learning locations, museums, clubs, didactic institutes”. Open source, so good ideas and projects can be picked up by third parties.

Participants in the various competitions and projects should “play an active role in digitization and sustainability”, gain insight into how semiconductors work and “even develop their own microchips themselves,” advertises the VDE. On the way to greater technological sovereignty, “the next generation forms an important basis”.

The Federal Ministry of Education supports the VDE in organizing it. “Without (microchips) the energy turnaround will hardly be feasible, they are an elementary component for the tasks of climate change,” emphasizes the VDE.


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