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TryEngineering Today!

TryEngineering Today! is dedicated to providing the latest news and information for students, parents, teachers, and counselors interested in engineering, computing technology and related topics.

Keith Vonderhuevel squeezes toothpaste onto a toothbrush.
October 13, 2014 | Innovations

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are testing a prosthetic arm that could someday help to restore wearers' sense of touch. Contact points on the arm's cuff electrically stimulate nerve bundles in the arm of the wearer that relay sense of touch to the brain. This allows the wearer to feel familiar sensations and control the arm with more dexterity. In the lab, study participants were able to tell when different locations on the hand were touched and distinguish between different textures such as sandpaper or a cotton ball. They were also able to grasp grapes and cherry tomatoes with the arm while blindfolded without crushing them and remove the stems. One participant even felt his arm hairs raise when researchers brushed the back of the hand with a cotton ball. After starting the experiment, participants also reported losing their phantom limb pain, which is when nerve endings at the site of an amputation send pain signals to the brain. Although several more years of research lie ahead, the researchers hope to develop a system that could be used at home within five years. Other applications of this research might include use in prosthetic legs or to control tremors using stimulation techniques. 



Nobel medallion
October 8, 2014 | Innovations

Recently announced Nobel prizes recognize engineering contributions in the fields of physics and chemistry. The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to professors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura who developed blue light emitting diodes in the early 1990s. Environmentally-friendly blue LEDs have paved the way for such technologies as colored LED screens and energy-efficient white lamps. Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, or nanoscopy. Nanoscopy allows researchers to visualize individual molecules within cells at the nano level. This technology enables life scientists to track proteins involved in Alzheimer's or observe proteins in fertilized eggs as these divide into embryos. Hell developed the emission depletion (STED) microscopy method which uses laser beams to make fluorescent molecules glow, enhancing their resolution. Betzing and Moerner developed the single-molecule microscopy technique enabling individual molecules' fluorescence to be turned on and off. Images of these molecules can then be superimposed to create nanoscale resolution. Both blue LEDs and nanoscopy are recognized as having made significant contributions to humankind.  

October 2, 2014 | Innovation

MIT hosted the first ever Hackathon to engineer a better breast pump. The goal of the Hackathon was to create a breast pump that was effective, user-friendly, less painful, and more empowering to use for moms. One hundred and fifty engineers, parents, designers and healthcare professionals gathered at the MIT Media Lab for the event. Participants self-arranged into teams of 5-10 people to develop their designs. First prize was awarded to the Mighty Mom utility belt, a "fashionable, discrete, hands-free wearable pump that automatically logs and analyzes your personal data". The winning team received $3,000 and a trip to pitch their design to investors in Silicon Valley. Although the Hackathon is over, design idea are still being accepted. Submit your ideas here!

Image credit: Che-Wei Wang


September 25, 2014 | Student Opportunities

The SMART Competition engages students in a real-world technology education challenge designed to combine academic relevance, education achievement and applications of technology.  The Competition facilitates the development of workforce and life skills including computer analysis and software design, verbal and written communication, research, teamwork and problem solving.  Students will achieve an increased awareness of the smart grid, green building design, the environment, community, livability and sustainability related issues.

The student teams:

1.     Redesign the gymnasium on a virtual high school campus.

2.     Use software provided by Bentley Systems (www.bentley.com) to implement engineering and design changes.

3.     Add at least one renewable form of energy generation to the campus

4.     Provide the resultant surplus power to the community’s smart grid.

The students create energy benchmarks, resolve green building design issues and develop sustainable energy sources for the campus.  Students will achieve an increased awareness of the smart grid, green building design, the environment, community, livability and sustainability related issues.  The Competition also helps students develop workforce and life skills including computer analysis and software design, verbal and written communication, research, teamwork and problem solving. 

As a STEM or CTE companion program, the competition provides an opportunity that can not only become a job but also lead to a successful career.  Students engaged in the SMART Competition will learn skills essential for in-demand occupations within high-growth industry sectors.   

Registration is open now.  The registration fee is $100.00 per team.  The Competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.



September 19, 2014 | Announcements

TryEngineering.org, IEEE’s online engineering education resource for pre-university educators, parents and students, is now available in a new mobile-friendly format.  Visitors can now access the TryEngineering content they love, anywhere, any time on virtually any device including desktops, tablets and smart phones.  

Visitors to TryEngineering can explore engineering disciplines, learn how to prepare for a career in engineering, and read profiles of engineers and engineering students. They can also find information about student engineering camps, competitions, scholarships, and research programs.

TryEngineering's university search tool enables visitors to find accredited engineering programs at thousands of institutions in dozens of countries around the world. The site offers over 100 free hands-on lesson plans aligned to national education standards. TryEngineering also features a number of free game apps to engage and excite students about engineering.

The TryEngineering mobile site features adaptability to various screen sizes, a more streamlined navigation, and a touchscreen-friendly interface. The mobile site was made possible through generous support from the IEEE Foundation.

Visit TryEngineering on your mobile device at www.tryengineering.org today!

We'd love to hear what you think! Submit your feedback at: http://bit.ly/1DnzRPo

September 17, 2014 | Announcements

The IEEE Educational Activities Board is delighted to announce an animation competition to excite pre-university students about engineering, computing, and technology. We are asking IEEE members, student members, graduate student members and IEEE young professional members to encourage 12-18 year olds from within their family, friendship circle, or local schools to participate in the competition. The member will act as a nominee and mentor for that student(s). Entrants can submit animations in teams of up to three students.

Competition participants are required to create an animation, to record their creation and submit it on http://bit.ly/1s8LINs. It will then be uploaded to the IEEE EAD Facebook page. The animation needs to be based on a topic covered in a current / prior edition of IEEE Spark. (spark.ieee.org)

Entries may be developed with or without the use of technology (e.g. flipbook style animation, software created animation etc.). Suggested software includes but is not limited to: Blender (http://www.blender.org) for 3D animation or Pencil (http://www.pencil-animation.org) for 2D animation.

IEEE Members should submit the animation on behalf of their pre-university student on http://bit.ly/1s8LINs by 11:59PM EST on 3 November 2014.

For additional information and official rules visit: http://spark.ieee.org/animation-competition/  


September 15, 2014 | Announcements

Check out the latest issue of IEEE Spark - Engineering Inside... Robotics. In this issue, learn how engineers design robots to explore the great unknown, meet a robotics pro, design a robot arm, and gear up for robotics competitions.


September 12, 2014 | Innovations

A new technology being developed by engineers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute could reduce the dangerous glare caused by automotive headlights. Instead of a standard headlight or LED cluster, the system uses a Digital Light Processing (DLP) projector that can break the light up in to a million tiny beams. A camera captures images of the road which are then analyzed by a processor. A Spacial Light Modulator (SLM) is used to either dim individual beams of light to reduce glare, or brighten them to illuminate street signs or dark roadways. The system is capable of blocking out the small portions of light of that would shine into the eyes of oncoming motorists. During inclement weather, the headlight can also block slivers of the headlight's beam that reflect off individual show flakes or raindrops and back into the driver's eyes. At normal highway speeds, adjustment of the light takes between 1 and 2.5 milliseconds, and is not noticeable by the driver. However, the effectiveness of the system is reduced at higher speeds. This technology has the potential to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities that occur at night. 

tinnitus sufferer
September 5, 2014 | Innovations

Boston researchers are studying a new audio tablet game designed to help individuals suffering from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing, chirping or hissing sound believed to be the result of damage to sound-processing nerve cells caused by loud noises. Damage to these nerve cells cause patients to hear sound when none exists. The game aims to rewire patients' brains and retrain nerve cells similar to how video games are used to treat "lazy eye". The game invites players to assemble an invisible jigsaw puzzle with their finger on a touch screen using only audio clues. Players listen for sounds that tell them when their finger has reached the outline of a puzzle piece and when they have correctly etched the shape of that piece. Patients may hear sounds from the game differently, and researchers can tailor the sounds to the nature of each person's tinnitus. The study will compare the results of the game therapy, to another type of promising tinnitus treatment involving listening to music tailored to an individual's tinnitus. Some of the patients the study seeks to help are those who acquired tinnitus as a result of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. 




August 29, 2014 | Announcements

Check out some innovative videos about how engineering enhances the quality of life and serves the needs of society, and vote for your favorite as part of NAE's Engineering for You Video Contest. The contest commemorates the 50th anniversary of the National Academy of Engineering. 

Voting closes 1 September 2014. 

Vote here: http://www.nae.edu/e4u/#youtubeVideoListId


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