National Instruments’ CEO shares virtual instrumentation vision

Aug. 23, 2004
Dr. James Truchard, CEO and president of National Instruments (NI) shared his vision of virtual instrumentation at the company’s recent 10th annual NIWeek conference, and keynote speaker Dr. Geoffrey C. Orsak, dean of the Southern Methodist University School of Engineering, described a journey through the recent history of the world as seen through the eyes of an engineer.  "The virtual instrumentation revolution is thriving and growing faster than ever before thanks to a record number of ground-breaking products that our R&D department is turning out,” Truchard said. “Virtual instrumentation has become mainstream for test applications, and our users are seeing ever-increasing benefits in productivity and performance in this area. We now see unlimited possibilities to apply virtual instrumentation to design and control applications to extend the productivity gains of LabVIEW to new application areas.”Truchard discussed major strides that virtual instrumentation has made in industrial control. “In the new view of programmable automation controllers, virtual instrumentation serves both the traditional industrial control market and the advanced control market with the same software and hardware,” he said. “The phrase ‘0 to infinity’ defines this new kind of control. From logic with 0s and 1s up to H infinity advanced control, virtual instrumentation is spanning an entire range of millions of applications with one LabVIEW platform.”In his keynote address, Dr. Orsak told attendees that engineers are the supreme problem solvers of society, and as technology is rapidly increasing, students’ enrollment in engineering programs is rapidly decreasing. He referenced a survey given in conjunction with college entrance exams, which shows that there has been a 37% decline in engineering interest in the past 12 years. Orsak then discussed the Infinity Project, an innovative program that exposes pre-college students to cutting-edge engineering and technology curricula. “Engineering is more about creativity than explanation, more about inspiration than analysis,” Orsak said. “Engineering is an art form. As Aristotle said, it is about applying the great sources of power in nature for the convenience of humankind. The future of our country depends on exciting the next generation about careers in technology and engineering,” Dr. Orsak said. “Without the efforts of companies like National Instruments in reaching out to younger students, the U.S. will find it increasingly difficult to meet its technical workforce needs.”