Posts about engineering webcasts

Make Crosswalks More Visible

Good simple idea. And then executed well – for nighttime at least. Crosswalk lights up when in use giving drivers a more visible clue to stop.

Related: Ministry of Silly WalksKindergarten Students Pedel Their Own Bus to SchoolPassion for Mechanical Engineering Nurtured as a ChildBird Feeder That Automatically Takes Photos When Birds FeedEncouraging Curiosity in Kids

Solar Powered Water Jug to Purify Drinking Water

Deepika Kurup, a 14-year-old New York student, won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her invention of a solar-powered water jug that changes dirty water into purified drinking water. She won the top prize of $25,000.

During “the 5 minutes of my presentation 15 children have died from lack of clean drinking water.”

I am thankful we have kids like this to create solutions for us that will make the world a better place. We rely on hundreds of thousands of such people to use science and engineering methods to benefit society.

Related: Strawjet: Invention of the YearCheap Drinking Water From SeawaterWater and Electricity for AllThanksgiving, Appropriately (power of capitalism and people to provide long term increases in standards of living)

The Eagle Has Landed

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren land on the moon: July 20, 1969. As Neil Armstrong took humanity’s first step onto the Moon he said:

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Related: Experiment, dropping a hammer and feather on the MoonPlanetary scientist Jennifer Heldmann discusses the MoonApply to be an AstronautOne Giant Leap For Mankind

Landing Curiosity on Mars

Touchdown on Mars will take place August 5th, 2012 (PDT or August 6th EDT and GMT).

Related: NASA’s Mars Curiosity RoverMars Opportunity Rover Continues Extended ExplorationSunset on Mars

Webcast on Machine That Bores Subway Tunnels

This huge tunnel boring machine (12 meters in diameter and 95 meters long) digs subway tunnels without disturbing the buildings above. Up to 350 meters of tunnel can constructed in a week.

Related: Extreme EngineeringWave Disk Engine Could Increase Efficiency 5 TimesCar Style Mass Transit Mag Lev System

Cool Robot Locomotion: Transforms from Wheeled to Walking For Stairs and Rough Terrain

This is a very cool engineering solution. Wheeled locomotion is very efficient on the right terrain. This transformation lets the robot switch to climb stairs and handle rough terrain very nicely. A team of mechanical engineers at National Taiwan University built this energy-efficient leg-wheel hybrid mobile robot. From their description:

Compared to most hybrid platforms, which have separate mechanisms and actuators for wheels and legs, our leg-wheel hybrid mobile robot, Quattroped, uses a “transformation mechanism” that deforms a specific portion of the body to act as a wheel or a leg. From a geometrical point of view, a wheel usually has a circular rim and a rotational axis located at the center of the rim. The rim contacts the ground and the rotational axis connects to the robot body at a point hereafter referred to as the “hip joint.” In general, with wheeled locomotion on flat ground, the wheel rotates continuously and the ground-contact point of the wheel is located directly below the hip joint with a fixed distance. In contrast, in legged locomotion the leg moves in a periodic manner and there is no specific geometrical configuration between the hip joint and the ground-contact point; thereby, the relative position of the legs varies frequently and periodically during locomotion.

Based on this observation, shifting the hip joint out of the center of the circular rim and changing the continuous rotation motion to other motion patterns implies the locomotion switches from wheeled mode to legged mode. This motivated us to design a mechanism that directly controls the relative position of the circular rim with respect to the hip joint so it can generate both wheeled and legged motions. Because the circular rim is a 2-dimensional object, the most straightforward method to achieve this goal is to add a second degree of freedom (DOF) that can adjust the relative position of the hip joint to the center of the circular rim along the radial direction. The motions of the two DOFs are also orthogonal to each other. In addition, the same set of actuation power can be efficiently used in both wheeled and legged modes.

Related: Big Dog, The Robotic Dog (2008)Robots That Start as Babies Master Walking Faster Than Those That Start as AdultsSelf Re-assembling RobotsSoft Morphing Robot (soft tissue)

MIT Engineering Design Workshop for Boston High School Students

This summer, a few dozen Boston-area high school students chose to spend their mornings toiling away with a variety of materials to create working marvels of engineering in the Engineering Design Workshop, a month-long program that gives teenagers a hands-on experience with the joys and challenges of engineering.

None of the activities are prescribed; instead, students take part in brainstorming sessions on the first day, and things develop from there. Typically, the “counselors” — a mix of undergraduate and graduate students from MIT and other local universities — present a few ideas, and the high school students decide which projects they’d most like to work on. I really like the idea of involving the college students.

This year, the 22 students divided themselves into five projects: a modified Razor scooter, equipped with a motor and brakes; a sound system of giant tower speakers; remote-controlled “anything” (which ended up including cars, fish, birds and even a flying turtle); a mosaic tiger meticulously assembled from pieces of stained glass; and an electric cello.

Each student is allotted $100 to spend on materials for his or her group’s project; this way, projects that attract more students have a larger budget to work with. Counselors help them purchase supplies online and work with them on the construction from the ground up.

There are probably thousands of similar type activities throughout the year to help engage students in engineering. I think it is great, but we need to do more. We need to let young students know what they are missing. If people know the wonders of engineering and choose something else for their career path, that is fine. It is a shame when people don’t get to decide, because they never experience what engineering has to offer.

Read the full press release.

Related: Infinity Project: Engineering Education for Today’s ClassroomRutgers Initiative to Help Disadvantaged ChildrenInspirational EngineerWhat Kids can Learn on Their Own

Great Furniture for Small Spaces

Wonderful design from Italy with great space saving furniture. Great design with wonderful engineering provides solutions that are a joy to see and live with. These are not cheap though. New York City distributors of the furniture.

Related: Toyota Engineering Development ProcessHonda U3-X Personal TransportTreadmill Cats: Friday Cat Fun #3Engineering Students Design Innovative Hand Dryer

Webcast on Finding the Missing Memristor

Very interesting lecture on finding the missing memristor by R. Stanley Williams. From our post in 2008:

How We Found the Missing Memristor By R. Stanley Williams:

For nearly 150 years, the known fundamental passive circuit elements were limited to the capacitor (discovered in 1745), the resistor (1827), and the inductor (1831). Then, in a brilliant but underappreciated 1971 paper, Leon Chua, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted the existence of a fourth fundamental device, which he called a memristor.

Related: Demystifying the Memristorposts on computer sciencevon Neumann Architecture and Bottleneck

Graduate Engineering and Professional Education @UMichigan

Dilbert’s bosses broke the video link (so I removed it) – not a good sign that they will succeed in my eyes. If they can’t follow basic web usability guidelines it doesn’t make me want to spend time on them.

Engineering TV is a site with lots of good webcasts for engineers: “by engineers for engineers! Focused on technical B2B engineering topics”. In the embedded webcast Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, Director of the Energy Systems Engineering Program at the University of Michigan, discusses a collaboration between GM and the University of Michigan in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering and Professional Education Programs. This is a good example of university and business collaboration.

Related: Directory of site with science and engineering webcastsScience Postercastsposts on engineering educationScience and Engineering Lectures from VideoLectures.Netprevious post on Engineering TV

Engineering a Better Football

The football (soccer ball) for the 2010 FIFA World Cup features completely new, ground-breaking technology. Eight 3-D spherically formed panels are moulded together, harmoniously enveloping the inner carcass. The result is an energetic unit combined with perfect roundness.

Aero grooves create the clearly visible profile on the ball’s surface. The Grip’n’Groove profile circles around the entire ball in an optimal aerodynamic way. The integrated grooves provide unmatched flight characteristics, making this the most stable and most accurate Adidas football. The ground breaking performance features have been confirmed in comprehensive comparison tests at Loughborough University in England and countless checks in wind tunnel and the Adidas football laboratory in Scheinfeld, Germany.

The process, shown in the video, for manufacturing the footballs is way more complicate than I thought it would be.

Related: Full Adidas press releaseThe Science of the Football SwerveEngineering Basketball FlopSports Engineering

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