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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.

August 10, 2012 | Innovations

A team of professors and students at the University of Tennessee developed the ultra tough microchips used to control motors on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory RoverCuriosity.†Eighty of these paperclip-sized Quad Operational Amplifier (op amp) microchips are used to power the rover’s forty motors. The chips enable Curiosity to carry out motorized tasks including moving about the Martian surface, taking photos with its camera, or gathering samples with its robotic arm. The team engineered the chip to withstand over a year’s worth of radiation exposure and temperatures swings ranging from minus 120 degrees Celsius to positive 20 degrees Celsius, which occur on Mars each day. The team completed a variety of rigorous tests on the chips, including baking them in thermal ovens to ensure that they could stand up to the extreme temperatures. These amazing microchips are a culmination of three years of effort by the engineering team.

July 20, 2012 | Announcements

Have you ever wondered how your favorite apps and electronic games were made? This issue of IEEE Spark will look at gaming and give you a glimpse into the gaming industry. There are articles, interviews with games developers, and even a way to try out building a game on your own!
Read this issue!

July 6, 2012 | Innovations

Engineers at Rice University are experimenting with a method of developing lithium-ion batteries using painted components. Traditional lithium-ion batteries consist of layers of different materials rolled into a cylindrical shape. This design makes it difficult to shrink the size of the batteries for use in mobile devices. This new method involves painting battery components onto layers using lithium cobalt oxide, lithium titanium oxide, and conductive single-walled nanotube paint. The method has not yet been perfected as the paint will require moisture and oxygen barriers for the batteries to be efficient, safe, and cost-effective. Research in this area could potentially lead to the development of rechargeable paint creating unlimited potential for the way devices are powered.

June 25, 2012 | Innovations

Engineers at Duke University and the University of Arizona have developed a gigapixel camera that can capture images with unparalleled detail. The team of engineers synchronized 98 microcameras to create a device that can capture images with five times the resolution of human eyes with 20/20 vision. The camera has the capacity to capture 50,000 megapixels of data which is over 1,000 times greater than today’s top-of-the-line cameras. The researchers anticipate that the camera, which currently measures two-an-a-half square feet and 20 inches deep, will be miniaturized and available to be sold to the public within five years. The project which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) may lead to revolutionary advances in both photography and surveillance.

June 18, 2012 | Innovations

Researchers at three UK universities have developed a device that harvests energy from the knee during movements such as walking. The device, known as the “pizzicato knee-joint energy harvester” is worn on the outside of a person’s knee. With each bend of the knee, four protruding arms are plucked by 72 tiny picks, much like the strings of a guitar. This causes the arms to vibrate, generating electrical energy. The pizzicato device could be used to power personal electronics, military technologies worn by soldiers, or life-saving medical equipment such as heart-rate monitors.

June 8, 2012 | Innovations

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health are testing a new device which uses a laser to measure biomarkers for how much fruits and vegetables are in a person’s diet. Traditionally, these biomarkers known as carotenoids, can only be measured using invasive means such as blood, urine, or skin sampling. The device employs technology known as resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS) which excites electrons in molecules and then measures changes in their energy level. When applied to nutrition, the device uses a fiber optic probe to shine a laser light onto a person’s palm for 30 seconds. The light interacts with the carotenoids in the palm and this data is then transmitted to a laptop where the results are analyzed using computer software. This technique produces highly accurate measurements of carotenoids that are consistent with levels throughout the body. However, the researchers still need to investigate how long carotenoids remain in the skin and how changes in fruit and vegetable intake affect results. This technology has the potential to be a less costly and less painful method of gathering information that may enable researchers to make better associations between diet and disease.

May 30, 2012 | Innovations

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a small aerial robot that has the ability to decelerate from 18 feet per second to 8 feet per second in under half a second and can perch on the human hand. The researchers studied the movements of bats and birds when designing the tiny robot weighing in at only 1.5 ounces. The robot’s avian abilities stem from a design that includes articulated wings and a horizontal tail. The robot’s potential uses include serving as an assistive robot for the elderly or disabled, gathering information in unsafe terrain after a disaster, or even for military espionage.

May 14, 2012 | Innovations

girl_playing_in_nurseryA team of computer scientists and psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley is studying how young children learn to help make computers smarter. The researchers want to know why despite having less memory and processing resources than computers, young children are able to read feelings, learn languages quickly, and solve complex problems. Although computer programs are good at solving straightforward tasks, one of the greatest challenges in artificial intelligence is enabling computer programs to solve problems that involve ambiguous information. The researchers are studying the relationship between a model applied in computer science known as a Bayesian network, or a mathematical web of possibilities, and how children make sense of problems where there are many interrelated factors. The researchers are also studying how other childhood learning behaviors such as testing out hypotheses and assuming that people do things for a reason, can help computer programs solve problems more effectively.

May 4, 2012 | Innovations

Researchers at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have developed a system known as Touch

April 27, 2012 | Innovations

Check out this great new video about the exciting field of Biomedical Engineering developed by the IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Society (IEEE EMBS).


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