Five Themes from the First 50

An engineer touches a screen. The green glow illuminates her face.

We began the Next 100 series in June 2020 after unveiling a new aesthetic and identity. It’s also worth noting that we launched this series amidst a global pandemic, which totally shifted how (and where) we worked. But even through all of the changes, we noticed that some ideas within our work remained constant – as seen in many of stories throughout the first 50 weeks of this series. If you are subscribed to the Next 100, then you might have picked up that software, people, innovation, failure, and collaboration are common themes from the series.


Software is fundamentally changing how we test. You may have heard the term “big data” used frequently in tech communities, but what does that mean for test and measurement? How is software helping us process the massive amounts of data we’re now able to collect?

As we stated in week 15, our modern labs aren’t just equipped with the latest instruments, they also include, “flexible validation stations with connected software and a data strategy that intelligently analyzes and communicates information to people across departments, increasing collaboration and accelerating the journey from idea to production.” It’s not enough to gather a lot of data; you must have software and strategy in place to make sense of the information.

We’ll talk more about collaboration as a recurrent theme later. Essentially we believe software is a driver of innovation, which was a strong factor in our decision to acquire Optimal Plus, a leader in analytics software for the semiconductor, automotive and electronics industries.


The next generation of engineers wasn’t just an idea we touched on once or twice throughout the series, it remains a major theme in each story and kept us constantly asking “Who’s Next?” The answer to this question isn’t as simple as you may think or necessarily limited to any particular group of people. We’ve come to realize the next generation of engineers could be anybody from anywhere.

Throughout the weeks, we celebrated teammates who embody our core values and bring unique perspectives to NI. Each story revealed that talented individuals make NI a place where ambition is celebrated and cultivated.

Four NI employees are facing the camera and smiling.

Better yet, we made a commitment to change the face of engineering. We shared our goals and strategy to make engineering a more diverse and inclusive profession for the next generation. At the core of it all, people inspire us and drive innovation. Diverse experiences and individual motivations, passions, and ambitions provide us with the tools to achieve great things in a fast paced, evolving world.


What does it mean to be a “difference maker”? How can you make real, tangible change and do things differently than the status quo? Innovation has been a big idea throughout the series so far because ambition and innovation are directly related. 

An engineer wearing specialized vision gear inspects battery components up close.

Innovation is “All About the Little Things.” Innovation is also about iteration, especially when we look at the evolution of the battery over time. When engineers work together and build upon each other’s progress, the world’s biggest problems can be solved. Suffice to say, innovation can save lives.

As we shared in week eight, “The Path to Innovation” is complex. The story of Peters and Elsner, and the challenges they faced developing a vital medical device, is just another example of why (not just how) innovation matters.


Our most recent theme of the series, “Finding Failure”, places value on failure as a necessary part of the development process. The Next 100 series highlighted characteristics about failure such as: “Where We Find Failure”, “Finding Failure of All Sizes”, and “How We Measure Failure”.

We learned that finding failure isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the more ways you discover that something can fail, the better. That’s precisely “Why Quality Assurance Matters”. We want to help you find failure so that your customers don’t find it first.  

We’ll continue to explore failure in the coming weeks and celebrate lessons from failure throughout the series.


Engineering ambitiously is not a challenge you have to take on alone. Together, we can implement the changes we want to see in the world.  Our guide “How Not to Innovate” is a perfect example of why working leads to many successes and discoveries.

Innovation and collaboration are synonymous. Collaborating with others who share your passions but have different approaches is the best way to think outside of the box.

The first half of the series is a wrap now. We’ve cherished each story and thank everyone who’s been part of the journey so far—including you! If you’re already subscribed to the Next 100, enjoy the next 50 weeks as we continue to highlight and celebrate those who engineer ambitiously. 

Subscribe to NI’s Next 100 and experience engineering greatness. New articles weekly!