#NIBirthday: Celebrating National Instruments

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Robotics
On Saturday, May 14, National Instruments celebrated 40 years in Austin with a birthday party at Thinkery.

Founded in Dr. James Truchard’s garage in 1976, National Instruments is now a 7,000-employee company dedicated to making the world a better place. A global leader with deep Austin roots, we’re thrilled NI selected Thinkery for their 40th anniversary festivities.

For their #NIBirthday bash, National Instruments invited our community to enjoy a free day of family fun at Thinkery. Future engineers and scientists explored the museum and enjoyed NI-led educational programming. From robotics to circuitry to hands-on engineering activities, fun was had by all.

To commemorate NI’s special anniversary, Mayor Steve Adler proclaimed May 14 to be NI Day and presented Dr. T with an official proclamation. He congratulated National Instruments on 40 years of innovation and inspiration. As for Thinkery? Mayor Adler said, “It’s the kind of place that makes Austin great, but also helps keep us a little weird. It keeps young minds developing to make this a great planet to live on.”


Mayor Adler and Dr. T were joined by Jeff Kodosky (NI co-founder and Thinkery supporter), Rep. Celia Israel, Maria Alvarado from Rep. John Carter‘s office, Yuen Yung (Thinkery Board of Directors Chair), John Graff (NI VP of Corporate Marketing and past president of Thinkery’s Board of Directors) and Richard McDonell (NI Director of Americas Marketing and current member of Thinkery’s Board of Directors).

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Group

Of course, it wouldn’t have been a celebration without cake. For NI Day, a team of engineers built a robotic cake slicing device that was able to cut and serve NI’s birthday cake. Seeing NI’s state-of-the-art technologies in action was incredibly cool. (And incredibly delicious!)

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Cake Slicing Robot

We had so much fun celebrating 40 years of National Instruments in Austin—four decades of innovative thinking, creative problem solving and engineering impact. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

Take a look at some of the fun-filled, STEAM-focused activities from #NIBirthday. 

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Silly Walks
In NI’s Silly Walks activity, visitors used LEGO Mindstorms® EV3 to build robots without wheels. They then created and filmed movies about how their robots got such a silly walk.

#NIBirthday at Thinkery - Human Circuits
NI’s Human Circuits activity was hands-on fun! Thinkery visitors manipulated everyday objects with their hands to complete circuits and make buttons.

In NI’s Paper Circuits activity, Thinkery guests created paper circuit robots with glowing eyes.

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Paper Helicopters
In this hands-on engineering activity, partygoers dropped Paper Helicopters in the air—or put them in our air column—to see force and air resistance in action.

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Hoop Gliders#NIBirthday visitors launched Hoop Gliders through the air like paper airplanes to see how far they could soar.

NIBirthday at Thinkery - PacRIO#NIBirthday partygoers played with PacRIO, a scaled-down replica of the Pac-Man arcade game. Everything from the Pac-Man code to the joystick to the button controls were run off NI’s embedded Single-Board RIO hardware platform.

NIBirthday at Thinkery - Wacky Wire
We got wacky at #NIBirthday! NI’s Wacky Wire showed off the power of NI’s platform with this fun game for all ages. From sensors gathering data to operating the motor, lights and sounds, this game was a unique hybrid of NI LabVIEW software and CompactDAQ hardware.

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