Shortwave radio got me hooked on science and engineering. I got started listening to the shortwave band on my grandparents' old Philco console radio. How magical it was to be able to hear stations from all over the world. That, of course, led to getting an amateur radio license, and then an EE degree. It's been a lot of fun.
Last week our engineering group put on a small "show & tell" where we displayed old vacuum tube radio gear and Heathkits for the younger technicians. The oldest was a Zenith Wavemagnet multiband portable receiver (1940's we think, and it had a handle on top but weighed about 30 pounds) that a colleague intends to restore. What was surprising was how many of the younger techs were completely unaware of the existence of shortwave radio. The internet has killed off any fascination with world-wide communication.
While shortwave radio may not be as fascinating to kids as it used to be, amateur radio can still be a very relevant hobby. After all, what do you think all this wireless stuff is, anyway? It's RADIO, folks. Amateur radio is a lot more than shortwave radio, and, of course, amateur radio operators are using--and developing--modern technologies to make all forms of wireless communications more efficient.
@KB6NU amateur radio operators are using--and developing--modern technologies to make all forms of wireless communications more efficient.
They realized how easy things are today after I took them through (on an Heathkit SB101 transceiver) the electronic knowledge one had to have to operate a vacuum tube ham transmitter - first set the band and variable frequency, then peak and set the grid drive level to the finals, then dip the plate current and adjust the loading to match the antenna impedance. (The concept of antenna resonance was new to them.) A bit more complex than pushing buttons or touchscreen, or entering a chat room. Much of the mystery and awe has been removed because it is so easy nowadays, and one no longer needs to depend on an ornery ionosphere - just the nearest cell tower.
The good result is that some of these technicians are now asking for more details, maybe a few of them might get interested in ham radio or shortwave listening.
There was never any one thing, it was just life and everything going on around in it. As a child growing up during the Apollo missions, there was a lot of developments in technical areas that provided a never-ending sense of awe.
Thanks for sharing this post, it's fantastic to see you how you are getting the next generation involved! Your point about volunteers really struck home with me - a few years ago EE Times sponsored an LED design competition for middle and high school students. Teachers wrote an essay about how they would use the design as part of their curriculum and were awarded an entire kit of parts for their students to create an LED design. One of our editors created all the background materials and teaching tools. It was a fantastic experience, but we were quite frankly surprised at the number of teachers who needed assistance in the very basics of electronics. The teachers with a background or who were lucky enough to have engineering mentors were at a distinct advantage. It really struck me how much many of our schools need the help of engineers if they want to introduce these types of programs into their curriculum. I'd love to hear from some of the readers who may currently be volunteering with their local schools and what their experience has been.
@ Karen but we were quite frankly surprised at the number of teachers who needed assistance in the very basics of electronics.
I had a science teacher like that once. Fortunately he was a minority.
Last fall I went to visit relatives in Winnipeg, Canada. A neice's son was in a high school electronics class, but seems the teacher only taught digital logic - he told me analog was no longer important. I set him straight and introduced him to LTspice and TinyCAD freeware, which he passed along to the teacher who was unaware of these.
Simple really, I was a 15 year old girl and in love with Star Trek Voyager and wanted to join in the fun in Engineering and Space. I love everything to do with space. Then some gentleman pops into my school talking about engineering and offers details of 5 companies offering appenticeships. I apply to all of them and ended up signing up to an underwater defense company (:-/ complete opposite of space!!) before I had even finished school (the finalisation obviously depended on my final marks).