Pocket Reference Guide to Engineering Speak for Non-Engineers

Welcome back to the Digilent Blog!

Have you ever talked to an engineer and felt your eyes slowly crust over as you slowly drifted off into a dark corner of confusion? You can’t get away, but at the same time kind of wish that you understood some of the phrases they were using so that you weren’t quite so afraid? With the Pocket Reference Guide to Engineering Speak for Non-Engineers not only will you achieve the legendary ability of being able to hold a conversation with an engineer, but have the added bonus of impressing your friends and baffling your enemies with your enhanced repertoire.

Not convinced? Check out this sample and let us know what you think.


A nice selection of general electronics.
The Analog Parts Kit — a nice selection of general electronics.

General Electronics Section
-Concatenate: combine multiple things into a single item
-Slew Rate: the measurement of the change in voltage over time that a device can achieve
-Bit Masking: a method to maintain or remove certain bits in a chunk of data without having to manually figure out how each bit should be changed
– TCP/IP: One of the major protocols used to communicate over WiFi
– I/O: A pin or collection of pins on an electronics board that can either send or receive data
– Enum: a custom type of data created and defined by the user
– COM Port: a communication port that is given to a device when it is plugged into a computer

Program your world with the Basys 3?
Experience unparalleled programability with the Basys 3.

FPGA Section
-AXI: a protocol architecture that defines how data is exchanged between different components in a system. It does not process or validate the data in any way.
-JTAG: Joint Test Action Group; a solution to test, program, and debug a board.
-VHDL: A programming language commonly used for FPGAs
-IP: a set of code (intellectual property) that enables a broader functionality
-FPGA: Field Programmable Gate Array, a type of board that you can use to create custom logic circuits.
-Gate: a collection of tranistors that produce a single high or low output based on two or more inputs
-Vivado: Xilinx’s (an FPGA manufacturer) main software tool to create code to program FPGAs
– Verilog: A programming language commonly used for FPGAs

Blisteringly fast processing speeds with the chipKIT Wi-FIRE
Blisteringly fast processing speeds with the chipKIT Wi-FIRE

Microcontroller Section
-Linker Script: code that describes how some data should be loaded and allocated into a different location
– C++: a variant of the C programming language, commonly used to program microcontrollers
– Global Variable: a piece of data that is accessible to be read and modified by all parts of the code
– Local Variable: a piece of data that is accessible to be read and modified only by the section of code that it is stored in
– MCU: Micro Controller Unit

LabVIEW Home Edition - perfect interfacing with hardware in a visual programming environment.
LabVIEW Home Edition – perfect interfacing with hardware in a visual programming environment.

LabVIEW Section
-Cluster: a group of different pieces of data inside of LabVIEW
-Case Structure:- a block of code that performs differently based on a particular situation (case) that is currently being encountered
– Front Panel: what the user interfaces with while the code is running
– VI: virtual instrument, what collections of LabVIEW code are called
– Palette: no colors here, but a selection of VI’s (collections of code) that can be added to your code
– Tunnel: a way to pass data through sections of code unchanged
– Connector Pane: a way for LabVIEW to interface with other external software programs
– Container: a way to visually organize code for the user on the Front Panel in a tabular format

Reviews and praise for Pocket Reference Guide to Engineering Speak for Non-Engineers:

“This book is brilliant! I wish it had existed when I first started getting into electronics. Can’t wait to finish writi…,  uh, reading the rest of the book!” – JColvin (definitely not the author)

“Dude, this book was great! I mean, I got some free stuff in exchange for writing this review, so how bad could it be?” – first person found in local coffee shop (slightly frightened)

“You better not put this down as the last review, but as excited as I was for this type of book (at least initially), I was disappointed in the fact that this “book” had no characters, no plot, no development, and no action. What really bothered me though is that when I went to go look up this book online so I could check out some reviews and buy it, turns out it’s not even a book at all! It’s just a blog post. Talk about false expectations. Yeesh.” – a concerned reader

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About James Colvin

The biggest thing that I enjoy is learning new things. Especially things involving some type of technology; computer components, fun gadgets, games, coding techniques, etc. I love spending time with my wife and our two sons and hanging out with our friends. During my normal work day, I manage the Digilent Forum and the North American Support team.

View all posts by James Colvin →

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