Series 14 – Episode 6 – The maker board revolution: shaping future engineers

22nd March 2024
Paige West

Paige West speaks with Romain Soreau, SBC Global Lead, and Simon Wade, Product Segment Leader, Farnell about maker and educational boards.

Farnell, a long-standing figure in global electronic distribution and part of the Avnet family since 2016, boasts a vast product range from over 2,000 manufacturers, underscoring its commitment to supporting electronics pioneers at every stage, from design to maintenance.

Romain, leading the charge on SBCs at Farnell, highlighted the company’s robust portfolio, which includes partnerships with influential brands like Raspberry Pi and Microbit. These collaborations, he noted, are central to reaching a broad audience, from enthusiasts to professional engineers, through Farnell’s extensive network and communities like Element14 and Hackster.io.

The conversation shifted to Farnell’s diverse offering of maker and education boards. These tools are designed to cater to various skill levels, making technology accessible to a wide demographic. The BBC Microbit emerges as an ideal starting point for youngsters keen on exploring electronics and coding, while more advanced users might gravitate towards Raspberry Pi or Arduino as their skills progress.

Romain also touched upon the Raspberry Pi 5, the latest iteration in the series, emphasising its enhanced power and the introduction of in-house designed silicon, which significantly boosts performance and introduces new capabilities.

Farnell’s strategy, according to Simon and Romain, isn’t just about providing hardware; it’s about ensuring accessibility to comprehensive resources. This approach supports educators and parents in nurturing the next generation’s interest in STEM fields. The BBC Microbit partnership is a prime example, having sold over eight million units globally, demonstrating the substantial impact of accessible, engaging technology on education.

Looking ahead, Romain and Simon speculate on the future directions of the maker and education board community. They underscore the importance of staying attuned to customer feedback and trends within their vibrant community forums. The rapid advancements in AI and its applications across various sectors, from agriculture to cybersecurity, suggest a promising horizon for SBCs.

To hear more about single board computers and much more, you can listen to Electronic Specifier’s interview with Romain Soreau and Simon Wade on Spotify or Apple podcasts. 

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