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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.

November 19, 2014 | Announcements

Vote for your favorite pre-university student-created animation in the IEEE Spark Innovation through Animation Competition by liking it on the IEEE EAD Facebook page. Like as many animations as you choose through 1 December 2014. The animation with the most likes will win the people's choice award in the competition.

Official competition rules can be found at: http://spark.ieee.org/animation-competition/

Visit IEEE Spark at http://spark.ieee.org/



origami boat
November 19, 2014 | Innovations

Scientists at New York University and the University of Melbourne have developed a method using DNA origami to turn one-dimensional nano materials into two dimensions. Their breakthrough offers the potential to enhance fiber optics and electronic devices by reducing their size and increasing their speed. “We can now take linear nano-materials and direct how they are organized in two dimensions, using a DNA origami platform to create any number of shapes,” explains NYU Chemistry Professor Nadrian Seeman, the paper’s senior author, who founded and developed the field of DNA nanotechnology, now pursued by laboratories around the globe, three decades ago.

Seeman’s collaborator, Sally Gras, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, says, “We brought together two of life’s building blocks, DNA and protein, in an exciting new way. We are growing protein fibers within a DNA origami structure.” DNA origami employs approximately two hundred short DNA strands to direct longer strands in forming specific shapes. In their work, the scientists sought to create, and then manipulate the shape of, amyloid fibrils—rods of aggregated proteins, or peptides, that match the strength of spider’s silk. To do so, they engineered a collection of 20 DNA double helices to form a nanotube big enough (15 to 20 nanometers—just over one-billionth of a meter—in diameter) to house the fibrils.

IEEE Members: There's still time to mentor students in the IEEE Spark Innovation through Animation Competition! 


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 17 November 2014.

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

October 31, 2014 | Student Opportunities

Animate a monster with this fun interactive on Made with Code. Program your monster's appearance and give it some smooth dance moves.  


October 27, 2014 | Innovations

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire are patenting a 3D printing process that can be used to manufacture pharmaceuticals. To create the printer, the team replaced the 3D printer's typical filaments with a specialized drug-polymer filament system. New pharmaceutical ink enabled the research team to print tablets that were accurate in both weight and dosage. The printing system has the potential to improve the accessibility of medicines that were previously too expensive or impractical to manufactureFor example, changing the dosage of a medication would now only require a simple piece of software. This 3D printing technology also has the potential to open many doors in the area of personalized medicine, by making it possible to tailor medication to meet the needs of individual patients. 

October 24, 2014 | Innovations

Two teams of researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia made a major breakthrough in quantum computing using silicon. Both teams developed a different method of creating a quantum bit, or qubit, with an accuracy of 99%. Qubits are bits that can exist as a 1 and a 0 at the same time, offering quantum computers the possibility of making simultaneous calculations. One team created an artificial atom containing a nucleus qubit and an electron qubit. The artificial atom is strikingly similar to silicon transistors used in phones and laptops. The other team created a "natural" phosphorous atom qubit which was able to hold information in its nucleus for 35 seconds, a world record! This length of time makes it possible for very complicated, extensive calculations to be performed on that qubit. The teams created the qubits by surrounding them with a layer of purified silicon that does not disturb the operation of the qubit. The researchers believe that the two methods can eventually be combined together in a single quantum computer to take advantage of the best of both worlds. 


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.




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