DISTek U 110: Breaking the Mold for Technical Trainings

How to develop a habit and make it stick. How to start a conversation and keep it going. How to identify a lead and pass along the pertinent information. Not content which is traditionally associated with technical trainings. Rather, skills that can help anyone wanting to advance his or her career and the content taught in DISTek U 110: Engineering 1 Fundamentals Track.

Recognizing that the internet is full of trainings teaching engineers the technical skills that they need to do their daily work, in 2018 we took a different approach in creating our internal training program, DISTek U. Our trainings leverage off-the shelf resources to help employees develop foundations upon which they can build their careers. We focus upon the soft skills that allow employees to grow and develop their careers beyond their daily workflow.

An Intern Connecting to the Realm of IoT

I am a Computer Science Major at the University of Northern Iowa and I have been fortunate enough to come across this internship at DISTek Integration through my university’s job board. During my time as an intern, I have gotten to know many knowledgeable people here at DISTek and they have all been very helpful in addressing and answering any questions or concerns that I may have had. I was able to work on several hardware and software projects that have enabled me to grow my skillset as I continue down this field. One particular task that was assigned to me by my mentor, Kevin, was to do some research into Internet of Things and look into how it could potentially be used to innovate and expand future project possibilities.


In 2018, DISTek began an internal training program called DISTek University, affectionately known as “DISTek U”. This training leverages off-the shelf training resources to develop a common foundation for DISTek’s employee owners to build their careers on. DISTek U promotes collaboration and camaraderie among all DISTekians, regardless of position or geographic location. DISTek leadership strongly encourages all employee owners to participate in these trainings – which help both the employee owner and employer. DISTek can point to numerous examples of promoting individuals to leadership positions after successful course completion and exceptional job performance.

Assessing the Entire Functional Safety Hazard Space

Safety is a challenging status to achieve and maintain, thus the need for the guidelines that collectively fall under the heading of Functional Safety (FS). DISTek has always been conscience of safety as it applies to the products developed for our customers. This includes implementing the various requirements and guidelines associated with Functional Safety, as expressed in documents, such as ISO 25119.

Our Commitment to STEM: Preparing the Next Generation


DISTek has been encouraging youth in STEM and problem solving by sponsoring FIRST teams for many years. This year is no different. DISTek is sponsoring ten FIRST LEGO League (FLL) teams and eight FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams. We will also be sponsoring FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) teams when their season officially kicks off in January. In addition, we have ten DISTek team members that have committed their time to either coach or mentor teams.

DISTek to Present November 8th at ESC 2017 Minneapolis

Human Nature and Requirements Elicitation: Lessons Learned

You would think that the easiest, least challenging, part of developing a software solution for a customer is to ask them, “What problem do you need solved?,” to which the customer would simply and clearly answer it in one or two paragraphs. Yet, that is far from the case. Of the various phases that occur during the development life cycle of a software project, the phase with the greater opportunity for cognitive interference is the requirements phase.

How To: Reduce Memory Consumption in LabVIEW Data Acquisition Applications

Acquiring and/or logging high speed data, using the traditional DAQmx scaling approach, will consume considerable amounts of memory due to its use of the double precision data type. Each sample collected will consume eight bytes of memory whether being stored in memory or on disk. This size is fine when collecting data at lower rates, but if you are collecting data at a rate of 1 MS/s, eight bytes per sample is too much for most systems to handle.

Systems Thinking

I’ve recently been developing a deeper, more passionate skillset for the ever-so important topic of “system” engineering. Our team just completed the creation of a model to simulate a simple tank, where our embedded software would monitor and dispense product from the tank, and our “plant” model would take the output of our embedded software, “act” as the actual product the software is controlling, and provide our software with inputs so it knows how to control the outputs, thus creating a closed-loop system. This helps us simulate and test our control strategy in a simulated environment.

ALPHA Students Visit DISTek

The DISTek test cab.

On Friday May 1, DISTek hosted about 50 junior high ALPHA (Talented & Gifted) students from Holmes and Peet Junior Highs in Cedar Falls. These students completed a 6-week unit in January and February on careers and were interested in engineering fields. The purpose of their visit to DISTek was to learn more about the various types of engineering.

STEM Education through Lego

The Cedar Falls FLL Regional

The Cedar Falls Regional Qualifier for FIRST LEGO League (FLL) and the Cedar Falls Regional Expo for Junior FIRST LEGO League (Jr. FLL) took place recently at Peet Junior High.  DISTek and its people are very active in supporting FIRST related teams.  There were at least three DISTekians who served as coaches or mentors for FLL teams and one DISTekian who was the coach for a Jr. FLL team.  DISTek was also a sponsor of multiple teams.

Implementing the Fred Factor

The first Ken Baxter Award is presented

In a previous blog entry, I provided a book report on The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. I discussed how people can make a positive difference in how they go about their lives, turning something ordinary into the extraordinary. I also shared Sanborn’s acronym FRED to explain how to develop “Freds”.