Rust Nation UK 2024 – A Review for Engineers

The Rust conference RustNation UK 2024 summarized for engineers...

Tim Janus hält vor Publikum den Vortrag "Let's get interdisciplinary - Rust Design Patterns for Chemical Plants"

Tim Janus talking about "Let’s get interdisciplinary – Rust Design Patterns for Chemical Plants“
Image by VitisEvents - RustNation UK 2024

Intro and Motivation

RustNation will forever hold a special place in my heart as the first Rust conference I attended in 2023 and the first Rust conference at which I gave a talk in 2024. Maybe someday, I will write a separate post focusing on my talk "Let's Get Interdisciplinary: Rust Design Patterns for Chemical Plants". There is already good material on YouTube and GitHub, so check it out if you haven't:

However, in this blog post, I want to give you an overview of the great conference, RustNation UK24, in London right before the Easter season. This post highlights interesting developments for engineers from other disciplines, e.g., from research or those working in departments close to software at one of the many engineering companies out there.

Are you wondering why this should be interesting for engineers? Take a look at the article: Why is it worth learning Rust as an engineer?

What is RustNation UK 2024?

RustNation is a multi-track conference, and although it is quite broad, it has many technically deep talks. The broad target audience is a side-effect of the power of Rust as a multi-purpose, system-level language, and that is the reason why the Rust community is quite cross-disciplinary by nature.

Interdisciplinary by Nature

Rust is reinventing how we do embedded and system programming in a safe, reliable, and performant manner. For safety-critical software, one may use a toolchain called Ferrocene which has been qualified by Ferrous Systems and TÜV Süd for several standards. This makes writing safety-critical software that needs certification faster, more fun, and, most importantly, much more affordable. Besides that, a huge ecosystem for web backend development has evolved, and atop that, the Rust ecosystem provides solutions for web frontends (Leptos) and multi-platform app development (Tauri).

Also Focus on Enterprises outside of Tech

A focus of the conference is on the applications of Rust in enterprise settings, so it was no surprise that talks from the automotive, aerospace, and chemical engineering sectors were part of the program, alongside big-tech talks from Google, Facebook, and others.

Highlights of Rust Nation UK 2024 for Engineers

Now, let me tell you what I think was very beneficial also for engineers from fields other than software development:

Typed for Safety: Eine Rust-Gemeinschaft für die Luft- und Raumfahrttechnik

In the talk "Typed for Safety," Lachezar Lechev showed how Rust's generics and type system could have prevented the loss of a NASA Mars Climate Orbiter, which occurred due to problems with units between two supplied modules See the Video.

Was ist Ferrocene? Ein 1-stündiger interaktiver Workshop

"What is Ferrocene A 1-hour interactive Workshop" was a great workshop given by Jonathan Pallant of Ferrous Systems showed how code can be written that not depend on the Rust standard library and deployed to a bare-metal device by using the SIL-D certified compiler toolchain ferrocene. During workshop we got the functionality of the println! macro working with the core library.

Getting Started with PyO3

I know many engineers that use Python as their language of choice. Some of them run into performance bottlenecks because Python is slow. However, many broadly used Python modules, e.g., for machine learning, are written in native languages. And with PyO3, you can implement your performance-critical code in Rust and expose it easily over an FFI (foreign function interface). It was great to have the opportunity to participate in the tutorial at RustNation. However, you can still check it out for yourself at home: PyO3 User Guide.

Image recorded during PyO3 Tutorial, Copzright by Tim Janus, feel free to use

What's that behind your ear? An open source hearing aid in Rust

An very inspiring project was presented by David Haig. David has no background in computer science nor in electrical engineering. Nonetheless he was up to the challenge to design a hearing aid. He design the hardware and then implemented the software with embedded Rust. You know what, its quite energy efficient? But why don't you checkout the Video?

Full Stack Rust - Building Rust Websites with Leptos

You may be wondering, why should an engineer dive deep into web technologies? The beauty of web frontend technologies is their utility beyond websites, powering many desktop applications we use daily, such as Discord, MS Teams, Visual Code, and Obsidian. For a deeper dive into the high-performance Leptos framework, check out this insightful Blog Post. I bring this up because I'm considering a transition from VanillaJS to a more advanced frontend framework for the upcoming season of Pragmatic Rust for Engineers and Ben Wishovich's framework has certainly caught my attention.

My personal highlights

The real joy of attending Rust conferences for me is the chance to meet so many incredibly passionate people. It's always a fantastic experience. This time, I reconnected with the Cole brothers, David and James, who use Rust to rid social media of spam and toxicity. As usual, I managed to find time for meaningful one-on-one conversations over breakfast and dinner, as well as with numerous attendees throughout the conference venue. But, there's a particular highlight I want to share:

I finally met the Rust and C++ Dragons in person: Ciara, Alex, Christopher, and Michael, who are all regulars at meetups, were also at RustNation and it seems we've possibly added a new Dragon to our ranks—Vladimir. Even though I wasn't focused on taking pictures, the Rust Dragons and the Cole brothers ensured we captured these memorable moments, allowing me to share some great pictures from the event.

Photo of the Rust and C++ Dragons: Michael, Alex, Tim, Christopher und Ciara

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