Category Archive: Technology

Artificial Intelligence: Get on Board or Get out of the Way

Artificial intelligence – machines’ ability to learn on their own – promises to change the way business is done.

Dedicated Computing Engineers attending MSOE’s grand opening ceremonies of the new Diercks Computational Science Hall

“It really is a new kind of industrial revolution, ” says Derek Riley, Ph.D., computer science program director at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). “Much the way assembly lines revolutionized how things were made, AI technology is going to change the way people interact with computers, other people, and just about everything.”

Artificial intelligence applications have been around for more than a decade, but their use is reaching a tipping point due to advances in computing technology, the massive amounts of data that have been compiled, and the development of algorithms that are now sophisticated enough to comb through data to identify patterns and solve real problems.

“AI is all about streamlining decision making,” Riley says. “It’s about letting humans do what humans are good at and letting computers do what computers are good at.” Jeff Krueger, director, systems engineering at Waukesha-based Dedicated Computing, agrees. “Data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are changing how diseases are diagnosed,” he says. “Students training through simulators will have the ability to dynamically adjust to the learning techniques of the individual, creating deeper and engaging environments that will increase overall learning.”

Dedicated Computing designs, develops, tests, and manufactures application-specific, high-performance computational solutions used in life sciences, healthcare, training and simulation, and Industry 4.0. It is sponsoring the Dedicated Computing Data Analytics Laboratory – a data-rich, reconfigurable laboratory space – in MSOE’s new Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall.

Krueger says MSOE’s new lab will be critical for giving people the skills needed to fully leverage artificial intelligence.

“For many years, sensors, data collection endpoints and IT systems have logged an incredible amount of data, most of it dark – which means it is stored, but has not been looked at or processed,” he says. “Embedded in this data are potentially patentable ideas, as well as new and unique methods by which a product can surpass the competitors. Data analytics and increased computational capability will make large and small businesses more nimble, allowing them to create impactful and beneficial solutions.” Riley agrees. “In order to be effective, small companies have to understand the general ideas of how these technologies work, so they can make good business decisions around where they should use an AI solution to address a problem,” he says.

MSOE is at the forefront of bringing artificial intelligence into the mainstream.

“Our focus on AI is pretty unique,” Riley says. “The only two schools that I can point to that are doing something in the same vein are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which recently realigned their computer science department, and Carnegie Mellon University. Both are much bigger, research-focused universities. What makes us unique is that we are focused on undergraduate students and applied skills.”

“What MSOE is doing is fantastic for Wisconsin, the Midwest, and all those impacted by the migration of knowledge across all domains,” says Krueger. “Investing in the infrastructure, resources, and staff will benefit Wisconsin, as well as current and future students. We hope to aid in increasing the awareness of technology, methods, and our experience in developing and managing similar solutions.”

This article was originally published as a supplement to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Sept. 13, 2019

Dedicated Computing & MSOE – A Bold Step Taken

New 64,000 sq. ft. computational facility will focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and cybersecurity.

DC Engineers at MSOE

Senior Mechanical Engineer, Qilu He, showcases his projects at Dedicated Computing with visitors at the Diercks Computational Science Hall grand opening.

Dedicated Computing recently unveiled the DC Data Analytics Laboratory as part of their on-going partnership with the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). The unveiling was in conjunction with MSOE’s grand opening ceremonies for the new Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall. The Dedicated Computing Data Analytics Laboratory is a data-rich, reconfigurable laboratory which can evolve with the university’s AI-centric curriculum.

DC also announced a Co-Working Internship with MSOE, which provides students the opportunity to apply concepts in real-world situations.

“Dedicated Computing values the collaborative spirit at MSOE,” says Jeff Krueger, Director of System Engineering at Dedicated Computing. “Partnering with MSOE is about learning, growing and benefiting from each other’s knowledge and experience. Diercks Hall specifically provides the ability to harness the power of AI through a partner approach to enhancing business capability. Our work with MSOE’s emerging technology leaders increases our adaptability in the evolution of solutions embodying AI to cure disease, advance military training, and evolve industrial automation systems.”

For more reporting on the grand opening event and Diercks Hall, follow the links below:

MSOE Corporate Partnership

NVIDIA Software Head Helps Transform Alma Mater into Leading AI Center with $34M Gift

MSOE Official Announcement

Extending Security and Reliability: Excellence in Medical Device Support Blends Remote and Onsite Strategies

Proactive Service Demands Real-time Insight Into Medical Device Performance, Balances Costs and Risk

Keeping healthcare systems in the field as long as possible is an exceptional demand for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Support strategies can play a critical role, recognizing security as a primary design requirement for connected devices. These concerns must be considered at the earliest stages of development rather than ‘bolted’ on later — which requires the understanding of implementation logistics and goals for achieving the right level of security – acceptable to the manufacturer as well as the device’s operational setting.

Security features can also be built into the software image, allowing systems to be online and less susceptible to security breaches. Early discussions, in advance of the software image being designed, can allow for a greater understanding of security features that may help the system achieve a higher threshold of protection while maintaining connectivity.

Use case: Early planning improves reliability and addresses security with a smart blend of remote and onsite support

One OEM of medical device equipment recognized a key support issue with its systems being returned noted as “no issue found.” Diagnosis was failing because the system was being removed from its environment and the repair depot could not replicate the problem. Remote options added great value here, as the manufacturer’s systems didn’t need to be removed from the field and could be diagnosed in their functional environment.

For this OEM, remote monitoring required connectivity, empowering the system operator with real-time insight on performance issues and system health. This facilitates proactive service, preventing failures before they happen – as well as highly focused service, tapping into better data to reduce costs for unnecessary service calls. Software updates can be handled remotely as well, eliminating the need for service techs to apply patches onsite using physical devices such as USB keys – for a significant cost savings.

At the same time, connectivity flies in the face of security concerns, potentially increasing vulnerability and risk that healthcare providers are keen to reduce and avoid. OEMs must base consideration of the preferred option on costs, comfort level and requirements of the deployment setting – as well as the likelihood of risk. For example, this OEM considered a hospital environment with a number of different infrastructure layers to navigate. In these types of scenarios, policies must be followed even as they vary from facility to facility. In some cases, security protocols may not even allow an IoT-enabled system to function as a connected device; early discussion of these risks and limitations is critical to a balanced and successful support strategy.

Prioritizing lifecycle for a healthy competitive edge

Reliable, long-term performance is crucial in medical equipment design. Nothing is more important to patients than acquiring reliable access to lifesaving treatment. And nothing is more powerful in establishing OEM leadership than creating a reputation for longevity of system performance. For greater insight on how Dedicated Computing is enabling the competitive vision and strategy of global healthcare OEMs, request a meeting with an engineer here.

Going Beyond Device Repair: Strategic Support Takes Ownership of Product Performance

For OEMs, a competitive service model yields longer lifecycle and reduced costs

Developing high performance computing systems for the long haul is a powerful tenet of embedded design and manufacturing. In today’s industrial PC landscape, a service department within the Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) is more than just a repair center, and extended support is more than lifecycle management.

A more strategic program of extended support and service – characterized by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) as a deeper level of partnership with the ODM or System Integrator – recognizes that embedded systems are often just too costly and too critical to tolerate downtime.

Strategic Support

Click image to download the white paper

These relationships are vital in keeping systems deployed and performing flawlessly, demonstrated by the use case of a global healthcare OEM, leading the industry with sophisticated surgical tools and systems. Its key platform was passing the 12-year mark in its worldwide deployment. As the manufacturer of the computing system, Dedicated Computing recognized the near-end-of-life for the product, and proactively reached out to the OEM to determine potential failures as well as preventative measures.

For example, one test demonstrated a ‘sluggish response’ from the computer, quickly confirmed as CPU performance being degraded by high temperature. A proactive course of action was recommended, including the replacement of fans in all deployed systems, an activity conveniently added to every routine service call. Costs and downtime were minimized – not only was this a low-cost part, but the replacement pre-empted more serious and more expensive failures from occurring. Dedicated Computing also worked closely with the organization’s repair depot to develop protocols for consistent verification of repairs: using remote diagnostics, test packets were downloaded and run onsite, testing devices at the repair depot with guidance from the manufacturer.

Successful partnerships between OEMs and ODMs require that service and support go “beyond the repair” and is considered integral to the design and manufacturing process. OEMs requiring mission-critical systems win big with this approach, reducing downtime and ensuring a path to longer product lifecycle.

As part of DC OEM Playbook series, Going Above & Beyond for System Support: Strategic Support Takes Ownership of Product Performance” provides a deeper view into how an ODM support program can extend the life of your device and the embedded system powering your device.

For greater insight and to empower a strategic approach to extended support and service, connect with Dedicated Computing.

System Selection: Smart Hardware Choices Enable a Cascade of Value

Lifecycle Longevity, System Performance, and Reliability

Smarter hardware choices and system selection enable a cascade of value for embedded systems, including cost savings, system performance and overall total cost of ownership (TCO).

OEM Playbook

Click image to download the System Selection white paper

OEMs and ISVs who live in a software-first world, can save big with deeper conversations and planning sessions with their ODM around the overall systems design. With early collaboration built into the design process, OEMs can combat unforeseen hardware challenges, while creating significant opportunities to improve their TCO.

As OEMs search for hardware partners for traditional contract manufacturing, evaluation criteria such as performance and longevity are often overlooked or sacrificed for price. Reliability and longevity for embedded computing systems are key. If not “baked in” early can lead to vulnerabilities throughout a long-term product roadmap. Field support and ongoing product changes can be anticipated and planned, eliminating costly surprises and creating a clear understanding of price versus performance.

Early Collaboration is Key

By seeking a purpose-built PC for their application, software-centric OEMs can rely on the competitive value of right-sizing a system for specific performance. Often, however the first communication between the OEM and their contract manufacturer is a high-level look at an existing bill of materials (BOM) or last-time buy. Preconceived notions about hardware could lead to potential issues, above and beyond cost and performance, creating impact in terms of longevity, parts availability, and ongoing maintenance. In reality, a strategic hardware supplier, or ODM, can help combat these issues early in the design process – recommending new products ready for smarter customization, or new technologies to consider based on a deeper knowledge of sub-technologies and their progress in the market.

Ultimately, with more collaboration as a best practice, a broader view of the hardware requirements can enable the OEM to bring just the right amount of technology to the table — meeting the application-specific needs for the long term.

As part of the DC OEM Playbook series, “System Selection: Smart Hardware Choices Enable a Cascade of Value,” provides six questions for OEMs to evaluate when aligning hardware to their application requirements. Click here to download the System Selection white paper. If you’re exploring a new standard for a PC Supplier partnership, click here connect Engineer-to-Engineer with Dedicated Computing.

Start-Up AND Scale Up: Entrepreneurship is Central to Job Creation

Insights on Building the Wisconsin Tech Economy

Don SchlidtDedicated Computing’s President & CEO, Don Schlidt offers a point of view on job creation in Wisconsin, advocating that growth is as much about scaling established businesses as it is driving new start-ups. Don brings more than 30 years of business experience and 20 years of technology industry experience leading high-performance organizations. In addition to serving on the Dedicated Computing Board of Directors, Schlidt currently serves on the Technical Advisory Board for Intel Corporation as well as the Wisconsin Technology Council.

To be clear, I am a big fan of Wisconsin as a place for entrepreneurs to start businesses! Wisconsin has done a lot to make the business environment more advantageous for start-ups. As an evolving tech-based economy, Wisconsin has developed some really smart ideas about how to make it easier to be an entrepreneur.

In addition, more than a hundred state-based VC firms drive steady start-up investments. Many of them began their firms in other parts of the country and then opted to capitalize on all the Midwest has to offer in terms of family lifestyle and moderate cost of living. And there is no question that a lot of today’s rhetoric is centered on the power of start-ups as job creators, as they certainly are, but we need to remember established firms have an equally critical role to play in fueling growth in employment with their ability to scale.

The proof is in the numbers. Today in Wisconsin, according to statistics from both the Department of Workforce Development and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, approximately 90% of jobs created come from existing, entrepreneurial companies (scale-ups) that are driving steady, continued growth. This is not a new concept, but it is one that does not seem to get nearly as much press or attention as start-ups and mega-deals. One of the best-known advocates for the concept of scale-up growth was Andy Grove, former CEO and Chairman of Intel Corporation. Upon surveying the Bay Area’s ecosystem of start-ups, he pointed out that there was a critical need to ensure that public funding and grants directed at start-ups, which aimed at one to three new jobs over a two-year period, would be matched with similar funds directed to scale-up firms poised to grow from three jobs to 300!!

If one of our goals here in Wisconsin is to attract and retain talent, we need to understand and embrace these dynamics – and appropriately balance our investments in start-ups as well as scale-ups. We will attract a more diverse talent base, protect our early investments, and generate a broader variety of the types and levels of jobs available to our residents. This is a smart, pay-it-forward strategy that not only values the business contribution of entrepreneurs but also recognizes that economic development comes from our established community of businesses growing the employment base throughout the State of Wisconsin.

I am not advocating pulling resources from start-ups, but rather a balanced approach to economic development. “Balance” means we begin at the start-up, invest and shore it up for greater growth. We also balance those investments by making similar investments in established companies already prepared to scale, protecting and accelerating their opportunities as well.

If one of Wisconsin’s important economic messages is that we help entrepreneurs create jobs, we must not lose sight of that entrepreneur until he or she has scaled their company and grown their job base to a sustainable level. The scale-up process relies on an entirely different set of skills and resources than new business ventures in start-up mode.

This post is featured in the latest Accelerate, a publication from the Waukesha County Business Alliance. Click here to read the full publication. 

Interested in learning more about Wisconsin Entrepreneurship? Read The Good News About Wisconsin Entrepreneurship from John Koskinen, Chief Economist for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, in January’s Accelerate starting on page six. To read more from Dedicated Computing, visit our blog.