Registration is open for the 20th Annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race. High school and college students are challenged to design and build a vehicle that addresses a series of engineering problems similar to those faced by the original lunar-roving vehicle team. Each school may enter up to two teams. The race will take place April 25-27, 2013, in Huntsville, Ala., at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
Engineers at the Department of Defense and NASA have developed a blimp-like airship for carrying cargo. The airship is comprised of a lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum frame wrapped in a shiny Mylar skin. Helium filled balloons inside the craft keep it afloat, and it rises and descends by taking in and releasing air like a submarine. Although the aircraft has only been able to stay airborne for a few minutes, it represents a feat that technology has not been able to accomplish before. It is envisioned that the airship could be used to load and unload cargo at disaster sites where there is no infrastructure or landing pad. The engineers are now conducting more tests to ensure the craft can withstand high winds and extreme weather.
Engineers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have developed a device that can biomimic a dog’s scent receptors to identify various molecules. The device uses the molecule’s vibrational spectrum as a sort of fingerprint for identification. Vapor molecules mix with fluid inside a partially open channel within the device. Nanoparticles within this channel then bind to the vapor molecules in the liquid as a laser amplifies their “spectral signature”. A computer connected to the device then identifies the molecule from a database of spectral signatures. The device has a number of potential applications including detecting explosives or even identifying pathogens.
IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) proudly announces their first eBook to inspire and empower young women to become engineers while celebrating the accomplishments of IEEE women in a wide variety of technical professions. The eBook showcases stories of how and why IEEE women were inspired to become engineers, describes their work environments, and shares their advice for girls considering a career in engineering. The IEEE WIE eBook was sponsored by Marsh U.S. Consumer.
Engineers at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, UK plan to manufacture a wireless system that can track swimmers’ movements in water. The sensor system provides data on swimmers’ body position, speed, acceleration, stroke rate, and turn time. To gather this data, a small box containing lightweight sensors, accelerometers, and gyroscopes is attached to the small of a swimmer’s back along with waterproof LED markers placed on key areas of the body. Sensors are also placed on the starting blocks and touch pads at the end of the pool lanes. Coaches can access the data along with underwater video footage via laptop, enabling them to provide more pointed feedback about technique. The technology may have additional applications in healthcare or industry in situations where information must be gathered in wet or noisy environments.
The system was originally designed and developed by the Loughborough University’s Sports Technology Institute and the Wolfson School Of Mechanical And Manufacturing Engineering in conjunction with British Swimming, with funding from the Engineering And Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Other partners include UK Sport, Imperial College, London, and Queen Mary University Of London.
Engineers at Stanford University are working on a new space rover that may someday traverse Phobos, the largest moon of Mars. The researchers have nicknamed the rover the hedgehog, because in ten years its final form will resemble a spiky titanium soccer ball. Exploring Phobos is challenging since its gravity levels are thousands of times less than those on Earth. To combat this challenge, the rover will be designed to operate without wheels. Instead, the engineers have enclosed spinning motors inside to make it tumble and hop. The research team is currently testing a 2D model of the rover and will soon test a 3D prototype to see how it will operate in micro-gravity. Their partners at NASA are also studying how the rover might tumble and hop on different types of surfaces, such as sand or concrete. The rover may someday be able to carry microscopes and cameras to Phobos to collect data which may help unlock some of the mysteries surrounding of the origins of the universe.
A new activity monitoring tool known as Sqord combines computer games, social media, and exercise to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. Children wear a power bracelet containing a three-axis accelerometer to monitor their activity including range of motion, duration, and intensity during the day. The bracelet can then be swiped over a bay station that plugs into a computer to upload activity data to the Sqord website. Children can use the website to monitor their progress and give friends virtual praise such as high fives for their scores.
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India; 13 November 2012.
The IEEE and the B. M. Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad launched Exhibits 2012, the First IEEE International Symposium on Cost-Effective Museum Exhibits in Engineering and Applied Science. Co-Chaired by long-time IEEE volunteers Moshe Kam and V. Prasad Kodali, the symposium brings together nearly 100 experts and practitioners from Museums of Science and Technology and Natural History in 12 countries.
These experts will discuss the future of cost-effective Science Centers for pre-university education in engineering, technology, computing, and applied science. The site for the symposium, the B.M. Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad is the focus of ongoing IEEE efforts to develop, build, present and maintain state-of-the-art exhibits in various engineering disciplines, including robotics, electro-optics, power and energy and aerospace technology to serve the 80,000 students who visit the Centre every year.
The symposium was opened by Dr. A P J Kalam, the 11th President of India, who visited the IEEE Exhibits Wing of the Centre and met with the developers of the systems and artifacts on view. These developers included professional engineers, as well as high school students and their teachers. In his address to symposium participants, President Kalam emphasized the need to expand the IEEE Exhibits pilot beyond Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh to other Science Centers in India and the world, and the need to develop accessible on-line science laboratories.
A team of faculty and engineering students at Oregon State University, have developed a bio-monitoring device so small it could fit on an adhesive bandage. The device’s small size is due in part to the fact that it can be powered wirelessly by nearby cell phones without the use of batteries. Costing less than 25 cents per device, the monitor is both inexpensive and disposable. The team is in the process of working towards the necessary clinical trials for approval by the Food and Drug Administration. If approved, the device could provide cost-effective access to monitoring anything from physical activity, to cardiac arrhythmias, to brain signals.
A group of high school students showcased a Star Trek- inspired environmental sensing device at 2012 Maker Faire in New York City. The tricorder-like device can gather and then beam environmental data to a smart devices. The students developed the device as part of Summer at the Edge, a ten week science and engineering program. The device, which was built on the Arduino microcontroller platform, uses sensors to collect data such as temperature, wind speed, and radiation levels. The data can then be transmitted to devices such as smart phones using Bluetooth technology. The team sees the device as having applications in both education and also in the military. To try out the Arduino programming platform, check out TryEngineering.org’s Arduino Blink Challenge activity.