Posts about university business collaboration

iPhone Addition as Alternative to Expensive Ophthalmology Equipment

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed two inexpensive adapters that enable a smartphone to capture high-quality images of the front and back of the eye. The adapters make it easy for anyone with minimal training to take a picture of the eye and share it securely with other health practitioners or store it in the patient’s electronic record.

The researchers see this technology as an opportunity to increase access to eye-care services as well as to improve the ability to advise on patient care remotely.

The standard equipment used to photograph the eye is expensive — costing up to tens of thousands of dollars — and requires extensive training to use properly. Primary care physicians and emergency department staff often lack this equipment, and although it is readily available in ophthalmologists’ offices, it is sparse in rural areas throughout the world.

“Adapting smartphones for the eye has the potential to enhance the delivery of eye care — in particular, to provide it in places where it’s less accessible,” said Myung. “Whether it’s in the emergency department, where patients often have to wait a long time for a specialist, or during a primary-care physician visit, we hope that we can improve the quality of care for our patients, especially in the developing world where ophthalmologists are few and far between.”

“A picture is truly worth a thousand words,” he added. “Imagine a car accident victim arriving in the emergency department with an eye injury resulting in a hyphema — blood inside the front of her eye. Normally the physician would have to describe this finding in her electronic record with words alone. Smartphones today not only have the camera resolution to supplement those words with a high-resolution photo, but also the data-transfer capability to upload that photo securely to the medical record in a matter of seconds.

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Open Source Seeds

I find the current status of government granted patents to be very flawed, including patenting life.

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It’s an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.

Good for them. This needs to be supported. The crazy practices of seed companies shouldn’t be legal but they pay lots of cash to politicians and the corrupt politicians (which seems to be an awful lot of them) write bad policy and encourage bad regulation.

Even those administrators taking control of universities have subjugated the search for knowledge and improvement to seek monetary gain instead of what the universities used to prioritize. It is a shame and those that have distorted universities so much should be ashamed.

Initial efforts that lead to the bad place we find universities in now were to promote the adoption of university research. To do so they partnered with business in sensible ways. Then administrators saw money was being made and turned the priority into making money and if that meant restricting the benefits to society of university research so be it. This has created universities that have lost ethical foundations and have destroyed a big part of the value universities used to provide society.

Related: Open-Source Biotech (2006)Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Prevent Research (2009)The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in ScienceArduino: Open Source Programmable HardwareMoney Is Corrupting Our Political Process

2012 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education

I have posted on the Olin College of Engineering several times. I really like what they are doing. Innovation in engineering education will pay high dividends, especially providing a focus on the nexus of engineering and entrepreneurship.

Olin College of Engineering’s three founding academic leaders, Richard Miller, David Kerns and Sherra Kerns, received one of engineering’s highest honors – the Bernard M. Gordon Prize. The $500,000 prize is awarded by the National Academy of Engineering to recognize innovation in engineering and technological education.

“This team of educational innovators has had a profound impact on society by improving the way we educate the next generation of engineers,” said NAE President Charles M. Vest. “Olin serves as an exemplar for the rest of the engineering world and a collaborative agent for change.”

Armed with one of the largest gifts in the history of higher education, the F. W. Olin Foundation recruited Richard Miller as Olin’s first employee in 1999. To help build the college from scratch, Miller recruited the founding academic leadership team including David Kerns and Sherra Kerns later that year. Together, they developed a vision for an engaging approach to teaching engineering and a new culture of learning that is intensely student centered.

To insure a fresh approach, Olin does not offer tenure, has no academic departments, offers only degrees in engineering, and provides large merit-based scholarships to all admitted students.

Perhaps the most important contribution the Gordon prize recipients made was the creation of a profoundly inclusive and collaborative process of experimentation and decision-making involving students in every aspect of the invention of the institution. This is illustrated by the decision in 2001 to recruit 30 young students to spend a year as “partners” in residence with the faculty in conducting many experiments together before establishing the first curriculum.

“As entrepreneurs, we learn to listen to our customers. Olin’s innovative approach was co-created by enterprising faculty, inspired students, and a dedicated staff, as well as collecting and integrating innovative approaches from more than 30 other institutions worldwide,” said David Kerns, current faculty at Olin and founding provost and chief academic officer of the college from 1999 to 2007.

With the extensive help of a collaborative team of faculty and students, and the guidance of the late Dr. Michael Moody, a novel academic program emerged. Some of the features include a nearly gender-balanced community, a strong focus on design process throughout all four years, extensive use of team projects, a requirement that students repeatedly “stand and deliver” to the entire community at the end of every semester, an experiential requirement in business and entrepreneurship, a capstone requirement outside of engineering, and a year-long corporate-sponsored design project in which corporations pay $50,000 per project.

Related: Illinois and Olin Aim to Transform Engineering EducationWebcast: Engineering Education in the 21st CenturyImproving Engineering EducationHow the Practice and Instruction of Engineering Must Change

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£50m Package to Attract Scientists and Boost Welsh Economy

‘Star scientists’ £50m package to boost Welsh economy

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the fund would be used to encourage leading professors to move to Wales to work and boost research and the economy. It will pay for specialist equipment, top-up salaries to the level outstanding academics would expect and will fund members of their teams.

our network plans will enable us to attract more talent to Wales to help drive this figure up and in due course create more high quality business and research jobs in Wales.” The strategy sets out three key areas to boost research and businesses – the life sciences and health; low carbon, energy and environment; and advanced engineering and materials.

The Welsh government said it wanted to see more industry-academic partnerships like SPECIFIC led by Swansea University with Tata Steel UK. The £20m project aims to turn homes and businesses into self-generating “power stations” by developing a special coating for ordinary building materials, such as steel and glass, that traps and stores solar energy.

The USA dominated the practice of attracting leading scientists a few decades ago. In the last decade or two Europe stepped up and was able to attract global talent. Lately Asia (Singapore, Korea, China…) has been spending to attract leading scientists. I believe Asia will continue to do so and the benefits of doing so will pay off handsomely for Asia (at the expense of Europe and the USA).

Related: USA Losing Scientists and Engineers Educated in the USAInvest in Science for a Strong EconomyAsia: Rising Stars of Science and EngineeringSingapore Research Fellowships

Cat Allergy Vaccine Created

McMaster University researchers have developed a vaccine which successfully treats people with an allergy to cats. Traditionally, frequent allergy shots have been considered the most effective way to bring relief — other than getting rid of the family pet — for the 8 to 10% of the population allergic to cats.

Both options, may now be avoided thanks to the work of immunologist Mark Larché, professor at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Allergy & Immune Tolerance.

Building on research he’s conducted for the past 10 years in Canada and Britain, Larché and his research team have developed a vaccine which is effective and safe with almost no side effects. The research is published in a the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, a leading journal in the allergy field.

The researchers took one protein (molecule) that cats secrete on their fur which causes the majority of allergic problems. Using blood samples from 100 patient volunteers allergic to cats, they deconstructed the molecule and identified short regions within the protein which activate T-cells (helper cells that fight infection) in the immune system.

Using the amino acid code for the whole protein, researchers made synthetic versions of these regions. For the cat allergy vaccine, they found seven peptides (strings of amino acids). “And those synthetic peptides are what we mix together to make the vaccine,” said Larché. “We picked the peptides that would work in as much of the population as possible.”

Known as “peptide immunotherapy,” a low dose of the vaccine is given into the skin. Initially, four to eight doses a year may be required, but the side effects of the traditional allergy shots do not arise, Larché said. The optimal dose will be determined in phase three clinical trials which are getting underway with a much larger group of cat allergy sufferers.

The development of a vaccine to treat people allergic to cats is the first in a line of vaccines developed with Adiga Life Sciences, a company established at McMaster in 2008. It is a joint venture between McMaster University Circassia Ltd., a UK-based biotech company.

Adiga and McMaster are now collaborating on research into the use of peptide immunotherapy for house dust mite, ragweed, grass, birch tree and moulds

Related: MIT Engineers Design New Type of Nanoparticle for Vacines10 Questions to Ask Your Vet About Cat MedicationsVaccine For Strep Infections

Google Research Awards

Google Faculty Research Awards, support full-time faculty pursuing research. The most recent quarterly funding totals over $4 million in 75 awards across 18 different areas. The areas that received the highest level of funding for this round were systems and infrastructure, human computer interaction, multimedia and security. In this round, 26 percent of the funding was awarded to universities outside the U.S.

Some examples

  • Erik Brynjolfsson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Future of Prediction – How Google Searches Foreshadow Housing Prices and Quantities (Economics and market algortihms): How data from search engines like Google provide a highly accurate but simple way to predict future business activities.
  • John Quinn, Makerere University, Uganda. Mobile Crop Surveillance in the Developing World (Multimedia search and audio/video processing): A computer vision system using camera-enabled mobile devices to monitor the spread of viral disease among staple crops.
  • Ronojoy Adhikari, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, India (probably this is the person, why doesn’t google include a link to these people’s sites?). Machine Learning of Syntax in Undeciphered Scripts (Machine learning): Devise algorithms that would learn to search for evidence of semantics in datasets such as the Indus script.
  • Jennifer Rexford, Princeton. Rethinking Wide-Area Traffic Management (Software and hardware systems infrastructure): Drawing on mature techniques from optimization theory, design new traffic-management solutions where the hosts, routers, and management system cooperate in a more effective way.

Smart companies realize great research is done in universities that should be adlopted by companies. Many companies listen to fools that talk of academic research as not “real world.” Companies like Google do well for many reasons but one is they pay more attention to scientific research than wall street research. More companies would benefit from adopting this leadership style from Google. Google also continues to fund and support research.

Related: posts on science and engineering fundingEnergy Secretary Steve Chu Speaks On Funding Science Research (with Google CEO)Google.org Invests $10 million in Geothermal EnergyLarry Page and Sergey Brin Interview

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

Making Magnificent Mirrors with Math

At Drexel, he designs amazing mirrors

Could math provide the path to better reflection? Perline asked.

Indeed it could. Eight years and numerous calculations later, Hicks is now testing a prototype mirror – for a car, not a bike – and he is in talks with a foreign manufacturer. As with the bike mirror, the rounded surface provides a wide field of view – so wide that it eliminates the dreaded, driver-side “blind spot” – yet the subtle mathematics of his design result in little or no distortion.

He didn’t stop there. The 42-year-old mathematician went on to design half a dozen other reflective surfaces for various applications – a few of them in collaboration with Perline – and they are like nothing you’d ever see on the bathroom wall.

Panoramic mirrors. Mirrors for use with high-tech surveillance cameras. Mirrors with odd, undulating surfaces that are fashioned with a computer-guided milling machine. And one wacky mirror that doesn’t yield a mirror image at all. If you raise one hand while looking into the curved surface, your reflection appears to be raising the opposite hand.

It’s not clear what use that one will have, beyond entertainment – Perline calls it “the vampire mirror” – but with his driver-side prototype, Hicks may be onto something.

Related: Innovation with MathThe Emperor of MathTimemath related posts

Appropriate Technology: Self Adjusting Glasses

Self Adjusting Glasses for 1 billion of the world’s poorest see better

What if it were possible, he thought, to make a pair of glasses which, instead of requiring an optician, could be “tuned” by the wearer to correct his or her own vision? Might it be possible to bring affordable spectacles to millions who would never otherwise have them?

More than two decades after posing that question, Josh Silver [a physics professor at Oxford] now feels he has the answer. The British inventor has embarked on a quest that is breathtakingly ambitious, but which he insists is achievable – to offer glasses to a billion of the world’s poorest people by 2020.

Some 30,000 pairs of his spectacles have already been distributed in 15 countries, but to Silver that is very small beer. Within the next year the now-retired professor and his team plan to launch a trial in India which will, they hope, distribute 1 million pairs of glasses. The target, within a few years, is 100 million pairs annually.

Silver has devised a pair of glasses which rely on the principle that the fatter a lens the more powerful it becomes. Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.

The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. When the wearer is happy with the strength of each lens the membrane is sealed by twisting a small screw, and the syringes removed. The principle is so simple, the team has discovered, that with very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription.

Oxford University, at his instigation, has agreed to host a Centre for Vision in the Developing World, which is about to begin working on a World Bank-funded project with scientists from the US, China, Hong Kong and South Africa. “Things are never simple. But I will solve this problem if I can. And I won’t really let people stand in my way.”

Cool. A couple points I would like to make:

1) this professor is making a much bigger difference in the “real world” than most people ever will. The idea that professors are all lost in insignificant “ivory towers” is a very inaccurate view of what really happens.
2) Spending money on this kind of thing seems much more important for the human race than spending trillions to bail out poor moves by bankers, financiers… It sure seems odd that we can’t find a few billion to help out people across the globe that are without basic necessities yet we can find trillions to bail out the actions of few thousand bad actors.

Related: Adaptive EyecareBringing Eye Care to Thousands in IndiaRiver Blindness Worm Develops Resistance to DrugsStrawjet: Invention of the Year (2006)Fixing the World on $2 a DayAppropriate Technology

Wireless Power

   
An end to spaghetti power cables by Maggie Shiels, BBC News

Mr Rattner envisaged a scenario where a laptop’s battery could be recharged when the machine gets within several feet of a transmit resonator which could be embedded in tables, work surfaces, picture frames and even behind walls.

Intel’s technology relies on an idea called magnetic induction. It is a principle similar to the way a trained singer can shatter a glass using their voice; the glass absorbs acoustic energy at its natural frequency. At the wall socket, power is put into magnetic fields at a transmitting resonator – basically an antenna. The receiving resonator is tuned to efficiently absorb energy from the magnetic field, whereas nearby objects do not.

Intel’s demonstration has built on work done originally by Marin Soljacic, a physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, researcher Alanson Sample showed how to make a 60-watt light bulb glow from an energy source three feet away. This was achieved with relatively high efficiency, only losing a quarter of the energy it started with.

Don’t expect to see this available commercially this year, they estimate it is at least 5 years away. Though this is not university and business collaboration in the sense they are working together, it is in the sense that Intel is building upon the work MIT did. See other posts on university and business collaboration.

Related: Water From AirEngineers Save EnergyMicrochip Cooling Innovation

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Challenge Again

photo of UMichigan's Solar Car

U-M wins North American Solar Challenge for the fifth time

The University of Michigan’s Solar Car Team won the North American Solar Challenge, crossing the finish line in Alberta, Canada on Tuesday after more than 50 hours of racing over nine days.

The car averaged around 45 mph and led from the first day, besting 15 university teams that raced the 2,400-mile course from Plano, Texas to Calgary. Continuum finished about 10 hours before the second place team.

The North American Solar Challenge normally takes place every other year in the same year as the world race, but in 2007 its previous sponsor backed out. The race’s future was in question until Toyota took over the sponsorship.

Related: Eco-Vehicle Student CompetitionTeam blogHonda EngineeringMiddle School Students in Solar Car CompetitionUW- Madison Wins 4th Concrete Canoe Competition

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