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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.

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.

http://spark.ieee.org/2014-issue-3/

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 processer. 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

Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory say origami could be useful one day in utilizing space solar power for Earth-based purposes. Imagine an orbiting power plant that wirelessly beams power to Earth using microwaves. Sending the solar arrays up to space would be easy, Trease, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said, because they could all be folded and packed into a single rocket launch, with “no astronaut assembly”.  A panel this size could generate 250 kilowatts of power, compared to the current maximum of about 14 kilowatts. Panels used in space missions already incorporate simple folds, collapsing like a fan or an accordion. But Trease and colleagues are interested in using more intricate folds that simplify the overall mechanical structure and make for easier development. A larger version could one day beam solar energy back to earth, or even power future spacecraft.

 

 

 

Interested in learning the various applications of folding such as parachutes, wings in a cocoon, heart stents, and solar panels in space? Check out TryEngineering’s “Folding Matters” lesson plan to get started! http://tryengineering.org/lesson-plans/folding-matters

 

The Siemens Foundation established the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology in 1999. The Siemens Competition is the nation’s premiere science research competition for high school students and seeks to promote excellence by encouraging students to undertake individual or team research projects in math, science, engineering and technology. This competition fosters intensive research that improves students’ understanding of the value of scientific study and informs their consideration of future careers in these disciplines.

The Siemens Competition is a signature program of the Siemens Foundation, administered by the College Board. This competition provides students with the opportunity to win college scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. Students can compete as individuals or as members of a team. The deadline to register and submit the project is Tuesday, September 30th, 2014. 

With nothing more than a smartphone and less than $10 of trinkets and hardware supplies, students at Missouri University of Science and Technology now can build their own microscopes as part of a biology lab this upcoming semester. This do-it-yourself microscope is part of Missouri S&T’s effort to re-imagine how lab courses can be taught in five science and engineering disciplines on the campus. Organizers of the project hope to use the findings from their experiment to create a how-to manual for other colleges and universities. The DIY microscopes can magnify samples up to 175 times the single laser pointer lens, or nearly 400 times when stacking two lenses, says Daniel Miller, who recently earned his master of science degree in biological sciences from Missouri S&T. Miller created a prototype to use in a biology lab last spring, where he served as a teaching assistant offering his students extra credit if they were to build one themselves. Traditional learning is being reinvented in to a more hands-on approach sparking creativity and innovation in the classroom. 

 

Figure 1. Sam O’Keefe, Missouri S&T. Reinventing biology lab with $10 and a smartphone. July 28th, 2014. 

 

The IEEE Power Electronics Society together with Google present a challenge to design a smaller power converter that could impact the future of power electronics. The Little Box Challenge is not only a grand engineering contest but also a chance to make a big impact on the future of power electronics by designing a much smaller but higher-power density inverter.

The Little Box Challenge is designed to spur innovation that can drive a 10x or greater reduction in the size of power inverters, devices that convert electricity from direct current into alternating current. These technology advancements can lead to higher efficiency, increased reliability, and lower energy costs. For example, a smaller inverter could help create low-cost microgrids in remote parts of the world, or allow people to keep the lights on during a blackout via their electric car’s battery.

Registration is due 30 September 2014. Eligible academics may also register and apply for grants to assist in the development of their devices. For more information or to enter the Little Box Challenge, visit www.littleboxchallenge.com.

Starting July 28th 2014, SSC Pacific TRANSDEC’s  RoboSub Competition in San Diego, California will commence lasting for 9 whole days. This competition is co-sponsored by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) with the goal to advance the development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) by challenging a new generation of engineers to perform realistic missions in an underwater environment. The annual RoboSub Competition is an important key to keeping young engineers excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math and has been tremendously successful in recruiting students into the high-tech field of maritime robotics. The event also serves to foster ties between young engineers and the organizations developing AUV technologies. Teams consisting of professional engineers as well as high school students come from all over the world to put their newly developed and extremely innovative technologies to the test. 

July 21, 2014 | Innovation

Twisting a screwdriver, removing a bottle cap, and peeling a banana are just a few simple tasks that are tricky to pull off single-handedly. Now a new wrist-mounted robot can provide a helping hand – or rather, fingers. Researchers at MIT have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand. The device, worn around one’s wrist, works essentially like two extra fingers adjacent to the pinky and thumb. A novel control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer’s fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. Wearing a robot, a user could use one hand to; for instance, hold the base of a bottle while twisting off the cap. “This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers,” says Henry Asada, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. “You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers.” He hopes that the two-fingered robot may assist people with limited dexterity in performing routine household tasks, such as opening jars and lifting heavy objects. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to human’s daily lives. 

 

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