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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.

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May 12, 2014 | Innovations

Researchers at the 

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May 9, 2014 | Announcements

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May 6, 2014 | Innovations

What can you do if a tornado strikes and you don't have access to a storm shelter or basement? Researchers from the Department of Material Science and Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham may soon have a solution. The researchers have developed special panels that can be retrofitted for spaces like closets or bathrooms to create a tornado shelter right inside your home. During a tornado, a person or family would enter into the paneled space and latch the door. Tests have shown that the panels can protect against the force of 15 pound two-by-fours traveling at 100 miles per hour. The panel system, which passed inspection by the National Storm Shelter Association, is in the process of being manufactured, and will soon be available to the public. Check out this video of the panels being tested by the researchers in 2012.

Video courtesy of UAB News

Spark Nano Issue
April 30, 2014 | Announcements

In this issue of IEEE Spark, get an up-close look at the growing world of nanotechnology. Learn how nanotechnology is being used in applications ranging from medicine, to energy, to personal electronics; explore the nanoscale by growing sugar crystals, and discover exciting nanotechnology games. 
 

Read the issue!

April 25, 2014 | Innovations

Engineers in the Netherlands are testing luminescent road paint as a possible alternative to streetlights. The glowing paint gets its charge from the sun during the day and emits a green glow at night. The paint can hold a charge for up to eight hours. The engineers have also considered using the paint as a means to alert drivers to potential hazards. For example, when the temperature drops below a certain level, the paint could be used to make giant snowflakes appear on the road  to signal icy road conditionsThe paint is currently being tested for durability, skid resistance, performance in winter, and visibility. Other transportation-related innovations being investigated are wind-powered lights that would only illuminate when cars are nearby and charging lanes for electric cars. 

April 16, 2014 | Innovations

A recent graduate of the University of Washington, Thomas Larson, has developed a device that can transform a smartphone or tablet into a portable microscope. Referred to as the Micro Phone Lens, this soft flexible lens can be attached to a phone's camera without the use of adhesives. Larson's invention is significantly less expensive than previously developed smartphone magnification devices. About the size of a button, the lens enables objects to be magnified up to 15 times on the screen of a device running in camera mode. The device requires an external light source, such as a lamp, to be turned on to see objects clearly on the screen. Focusing in on an object requires moving the device either closer to it or farther away. Larson is now working on a version of the lens that can magnify objects up to 150 times. 

 

April 7, 2014 | Innovations

Engineers at Brown University have developed a unique device that can harness the power of the tides. A device that can capture tidal power is particularly attractive because it can offer a more reliable and constant source of energy than wind turbines and watermills. However, tidal energy is particularly difficult to control, especially in shallow water. Tidal energy systems are also very expensive to create and very few exist in the world today. To develop the device, the researchers designed a pole equipped with several wings or hydrofoil. When mounted on the sea floor, the wings are moved up and down by the movement of the tides, similar to the way the wings of an airplane catch air. An algorithm controls the fine motion of the wings to maximize efficiency. This up and down movement is then used to power a generator. The device is particularly effective in shallow water, because a wide wing can cover a span that would require several watermills arranged side-by-side. The hydrofoil device can even fold down flat to allow for passing ships. The researchers soon hope to develop a larger prototype of the hydrofoil device for field testing. 

 

March 25, 2014 | Innovations

Engineers at Duke University have developed a three dimensional acoustic cloaking device that can shield objects from sound waves. The device consists of a stack of perforated plastic plates arranged in the shape of a pyramid. When placed around an object, the device alters the trajectory of sound waves so they behave as if they were reflecting off a flat surface. The researchers tested the device by placing a small sphere beneath it, and then pinging it with sound waves from different angles. They then compared these results with tests of the sphere alone and with a flat plane. They found that the device created the impression that the waves were bouncing off an empty surface. This technology has potential applications ranging from shielding submarines from sonar to improving the acoustics of concert halls. 

egret in wetlands
March 17, 2014 | Innovations

UCLA researchers have developed a reusable water system that mimics the filtration processes of the wetlands. Known as the Gray2Blue Mobile Wetland Graywater Treatment System, the system takes gray water from showers, sinks, and laundry rooms and filters it so it can be used for tasks like watering trees and lawns. Gray water is filtered through a flower bed that sits atop a rectangular box, which then circulates down through the plant roots over the course of about 3 hours. The water then is filtered further through a biofilm of bacteria and then drips into a collection bin connected to irrigation pipes and a storage container. The system has a maximum output of 560 gallons of reusable water per day, which can have uses including flushing toilets and watering gardens. This water-saving innovation has the potential to aid conservation efforts in areas of water shortages or drought, which has plagued California over the last several years. 

March 14, 2014 | Student Opportunities

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