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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.

Laundry detergent flows off a piece of treated polycarbonate in a steady stream.
June 29, 2016 | Innovations

Frustrated when you can't get that last bit of shampoo out of the bottle? Engineers at Ohio State University have developed a coating that enables soaps and detergents to slide more easily out of their containers. The coating is made up of little y-shaped nanoparticles made of silica or quartz. After being treated, these y-shaped nanoparticles do not allow soap to stick to them. They also prevent the soap droplets from touching the inside of the bottle by holding them atop tiny air pockets. 

Coatings already exist to help food get out of bottles, but soap is trickier. Soaps have very low surface tension, which cause them to stick to plastics easily. To create the coating, the researchers sprayed a mixture of solvent and silica nanoparticles into plastic bottles, causing the inside surface to soften. When the plastic re-hardened, the silica became embedded in the surface of the plastic. Positioning the y-shaped silica structures a few millimeters apart on the inside of the bottle prevents soap from touching the plastic, and causes it to form beads and roll off. 

Although getting all of the product out of a shampoo bottle sounds like a frivolous problem, it has a big environmental impact. Billions of bottles with product still inside them end up discarded in landfills. This innovation will also help with recycling, since plastics must be rinsed clean before they can be recycled. The researchers have already applied the coating on other materials such as smartphone covers and headlights. They also hope that the technology can be used on biomedical devices that need to remain clean such as catheters. 


 

Photo credit:  Image from video by Philip S. Brown, courtesy of The Ohio State University. 

Google Glass headset
June 23, 2016 | Innovation

Researchers at Stanford University are leveraging the now discontinued Google Glass technology to improve the lives of people with autism. The Autism Glass project is investigating how the technology might help autistic children learn how to read emotions. The researchers developed facial recognition software that runs on Google Glass, a headset worn like a pair of glasses that is equipped with a forward-facing camera and a small display that can be seen by the user. The 100 children participating in the study wear the device for approximately 20 minutes per day while interacting with friends and family members. When the camera and software detect an emotion, an emotion word such as "happy" and an accompanying happy emoji flash on the wearer's visual display. The software is operated by a smart phone, which also records the sessions so they can be reviewed later. Although still in its early stages, children participating in the study have shown gains in their abilities to read faces. The researchers hope that this technology will prove promising in helping people with autism develop their social engagement skills. 

Video credit: Associated Press

CO2 Symbol
June 13, 2016 | Innovations

Researchers in Iceland have made a significant breakthrough in the battle against climate change by developing a process that can turn carbon dioxide into stone. The Carbfix project, led by the University of Southampton in the U.K., developed an economal way to bury CO2 and turn it into stone, where it can no longer contribute to global warming. The research involved pumping CO2 into volcanic rock, while expediting processes where basalts react with the gas to create carbonate minerals. This process of turning CO2 into a solid took only 2 years, as compared to the hundreds or even thousands of years initally predicted. This method has advantages over current carbon capture and storage (CCS) methods that store CO2 as a gas, which is both costly and runs the risk of leakage. The new process does require 25 tons of water for each ton of CO2 buried, but the researchers anticipate that seawater can be used for this purpose.  

International Space Station and astronaut in outer space over the planet Earth
June 10, 2016 | Innovations

To celebrate the launch of BEAM, the first expandable habitat to the International Space Station, and the launch of AMF, the first commercial 3D printer in space, we are challenging students to think outside the box with 3D printing – literally. If you are a K-12 student in the United States, your challenge is to design an object that assembles, telescopes, hinges, accordions, grows, or expands to become larger than the printing bounds of the AMF 3D printer (14cm long x 10cm wide x 10cm tall). The assembled or expanded item should be useful for an astronaut living in microgravity on the International Space Station.


The deadline to enter is Aug. 1, 2016

Bonnethead Shark
May 31, 2016 | Innovations

Researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are investigating the use of drones to study, detect, and track bonnethead sharks. The primary aim of this research is to study shark ecology and aid conservation of shark species. The researchers are testing how well drones can locate sharks in different habitats and in various water conditions; a job that was previously accomplished using planes. The drones are equipped with cameras which can capture imagery of coastal areas that can be difficult to access. By keeping track of the location of sharks, the drones can also help reduce the incidence of shark bites during beach season. The researchers are currently testing the effectiveness of the drones to determine whether they can be used exclusively to monitor shark activity. 

May 20, 2016 | Announcements, Innovations

 2015 IEEE Presidents' Scholarship winner, Alex Tacescu's Project Maverick was recently featured on The Tonight Show. Project Maverick is an omni-directional robotic system designed to provide a mobility solution for people with walking disabilities by mimicking the movement patterns of humans. The drive system allows the user to move in any direction using 4 steering and 4 driving electronically synchronized motors, creating the same degrees of motion as an able person. The IEEE Foundation established the IEEE Presidents' Scholarship fund to accept donations to support the financial resources students need to pursue their engineering dreams. 

computer worm
May 13, 2016 | Announcements

Unlock the intriguing world of cybersecurity in this issue of IEEE Spark. Learn about data protection techniques, meet a cybersecurity expert, practice code breaking, and check out resources to build your cyber skills. 

Read this issue!

sprouts
May 9, 2016 | Innovations

Having enough food to eat might be considered a basic human right, but millions of people in poor areas go hungry because they’re not able to grow enough food for themselves, let alone have a surplus to bring to market.

Three Engineering Projects in Community Service in IEEE (EPICS in IEEE) are applying simple, inexpensive technologies to help people cultivate food to feed themselves. Rather than work on a problem posed in a classroom, EPICS in IEEE matches IEEE volunteers and student members with high school students to work in collaboration with community-based organizations on engineering-related projects. 

Read the rest of this article at The Institute Online

May 2, 2016 | Announcements

1-7 May 2016

TryEngineering would like to offer a great big THANK YOU to educators around the globe for the impact you make on the lives of students each and every day. We thank you for the work you do supporting and inspiring our future generation of innovators, thought leaders, and world changers. We are proud to support you!

Take time this week (and all year round) to thank a special teacher who has made a difference in your life. 

three girls playing video games
May 2, 2016 | Student Opportunities

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is open for student submissions of original, playable video games and game design documents. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, E-Line Media, and founding sponsor the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) aim to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among youth by transforming their natural passions for playing video games into designing and creating their own. This year the STEM Challenge also welcomes its newest sponsor, the National Geographic Society, along with its supporting sponsors the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Grable Foundation.

The STEM Challenge is open to middle school and high school students in the U.S. in grades five through twelve. Students may enter as individuals or as teams of up to four members. Entries can be created using any game creation platform such as Gamestar Mechanic, Unity, GameMaker, and Scratch or as a written game design document.

The deadline to submit entries is August 15, 2016. Each winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000, as well as game design and educational software. Student winners will be invited to a special event at National Geographic in Washington, DC in November 2016.

Learn more and enter at: http://stemchallenge.org/

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