The Naval Research Enterprise Intern Program

Posted on January 19, 2006  Comments (1)

The Naval Research Enterprise Intern Program (NREIP), provides students the opportunity to participate in research at a Department of Navy (DoN) laboratory during summer breaks. Apply for NREIP online; the application deadline is 17 February 2006.

The goals of the NREIP are to encourage participating students to pursue science and engineering careers, to further education via mentoring by laboratory personnel and their participation in research, and to make them aware of DoN research and technology efforts, which can lead to employment within the DoN.

NREIP provides competitive research internships to approximately 230 college students (175 undergraduate students and 55 graduate students) each year. Participating students typically spend ten weeks during the summer doing research at approximately 12 DoN laboratories. To participate, a student must be enrolled at an eligible college/university (comprising approximately 160 institutions; eligibility is determined by the Office of Naval Research) and have completed at least their sophomore year before beginning the internship.

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Posted on January 18, 2006  Comments (5)

photo of T4 bacteriophage

Photo: T4 bacteriophage, middle, is a virus that invades bacterial cells. Courtesy of the

The MicrobeWorld web site includes an introduction to microbes – Microbes: what they are and what they do:

Microbes are single-cell organisms so tiny that millions can fit into the eye of a needle.

They are the oldest form of life on earth. Microbe fossils date back more than 3.5 billion years to a time when the Earth was covered with oceans that regularly reached the boiling point, hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Microbes types:

These bacteria look-alikes are living fossils that are providing clues to the earliest forms of life on Earth.

Often dismissed as “germs” that cause illness, bacteria help us do an amazing array of useful things, like make vitamins, break down some types of garbage, and maintain our atmosphere.

From a single-celled yeast to a 3.5-mile-wide mushroom, fungi do everything from helping to bake bread to recycling to decomposing waste.

Plant-like algae produce much of the oxygen we breathe; animal-like protozoa (including the famous amoeba) help maintain the balance of microbial life.

Unable to do much of anything on their own, viruses go into host cells to reproduce, often wreaking havoc and causing disease. Their ability to move genetic information from one cell to another makes them useful for cloning DNA and could provide a way to deliver gene therapy.

Benjamin Franklin 300

Posted on January 17, 2006  Comments (1)

Benjamin Franklin portrait

Benjamin Franklin was born 300 years ago today. In his life he took on many rolls: scientist, politician, businessman, publisher, author and diplomat. He was one of only two to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.

Scientist, Diplomat And Wit: Franklin’s Birth Merits a Toast by Hillel Italie, Washington Post:

Herschbach, a Harvard University professor who has lectured frequently on Franklin, says: “Franklin’s scientific curiosity extended far beyond his adventures with electricity. He made important discoveries and observations concerning the motion of storms, heat conduction, the path of the Gulf Stream, bioluminescence, the spreading of oil films, and also advanced prescient ideas about conservation of matter and the wave nature of light.”

A look at what made Franklin tick by Polly Ross Hughes, Houston Chronicle:

Franklin actually benefited from having so little formal schooling. He had to educate himself. For precisely this reason, he didn’t know what he didn’t have to know, so he assumed he needed to know everything. He was incessantly curious. He simply wanted to know how the world works. He was formulating questions in his own mind about natural phenomena like lightning, like waves in the ocean or the Gulf Stream. I don’t know if most people know that Franklin was responsible for the lightning rod. Franklin’s bifocals have made life a lot easier for all sorts of people of middle age and older.

Benjamin Franklin and Lightning Rods by E. Philip Krider, Physics Today:

Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Benjamin Franklin was truly an amazing individual.

Gordon Engineering Education Prize

Posted on January 16, 2006  Comments (0)

Jens E. Jorgensen, John S. Lamancusa, Lueny Morell, Allen L. Soyster, and José Zayas-Castro will receive the Bernard M. Gordon Prize “for creating the Learning Factory, where multidisciplinary student teams develop engineering leadership skills by working with industry to solve real-world problems.” The Gordon Prize is an annual award from the National Academy of Engineering that recognizes innovation in engineering and technology education: the award includes a $500,000 payment.

The Gordon Prize was established in 2001 as a prize recognizing new modalities and experiments in education that develop effective engineering leaders. Recognizing the potential to spur a revolution in engineering education.

The Learning Factory was developed to produce engineering graduates who could easily translate engineering theory into practice and manage projects independently. In this innovative undergraduate program, students tackle real problems from industry, such as designing a collapsible crutch, turning coal ash into a pavement, and making the mechanism that adjusts the position of car seatbacks safer. Multidisciplinary teams of students define and characterize the problem, build a solution prototype, write a business proposal, and make presentations about their idea. “Learning Factory students see firsthand the importance of teamwork, effective communication, and engineering ethics,” says NAE President Wm. A. Wulf. “Mastering such qualities is essential for engineers to become leaders in a dynamic workplace.”

The Learning Factory originated from a coalition between three universities, Sandia National Laboratories, and 36 industrial partners that shared a desire to give students firsthand experience in design, manufacturing, and business. A 1994 National Science Foundation/Advanced Research Projects Agency grant funded the creation of the Learning Factory as a Manufacturing Engineering Education Partnership (MEEP).

Within three years, the university partners — Pennsylvania State University, the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez (UPRM), and the University of Washington (UW) — successfully integrated the Learning Factory into their institutions and curricula. Since then, Learning Factory concepts and course materials have spread to other departments within these institutions, and to other universities in the U.S. and Latin America. More than 10,000 students have created over 1,200 Learning Factory design projects involving more than 200 industry partners.

Contraption Engineering Fair

Posted on January 16, 2006  Comments (0)

Photo from Contraption Engineering Fair

Contraption Invention Fair is lots of fun by Shirley Briggs, Special to the Arizona Daily Star

The 51st Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair will be held March 20-25 at the Tucson Convention Center. The 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth will be celebrated.

Once again, SARSEF has been approved to take up to six high school projects to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Grants and awards (worth more than $15,000) are being awarded to this year’s high school and middle school participants.

Science and Engineering Fair Directory

Building Nanotechnological Structures

Posted on January 16, 2006  Comments (0)

New Nanotechnological Structures Reported for the First Time by Alex Lyda, Columbia News:

“You can think of nanocrystals as building blocks like the toy Lego, in which a larger structure can be assembled by locking in the pieces according to their shape and the way they prefer to join to each other,” O’Brien says. “Except all of this is on an incredibly small lengthscale — billionths of a meter.”

The Columbia/IBM team has borrowed ideas from the natural world, in which the right conditions can stimulate the slow growth of highly uniform structures out of miniature building blocks. Opals are an example of this phenomenon: opals consist of tiny spherical building blocks of silica packed into an ordered structure. In this new research, the materials used as building blocks are a variety of man-made nanocrystals with known useful magnetic or electronic properties.

“This work may lead to the development of an entirely new class of multifunctional materials in which there are cooperative interactions between the nanocrystal components,” says MRSEC director Irving P. Herman, also a professor of applied physics. “Moreover, the properties of these nanocrystals can be tailored during synthesis, and they can be deposited to form the desired ordered array by controlling particle charge and other properties. O’Brien’s study also demonstrates the value of vibrant collaborations between universities and industry.”

Video: Magnetic and Semiconducting Nanocrystals Can Self-Assemble, Says Stephen O’Brien, Columbia University

Math in the “Real World”

Posted on January 14, 2006  Comments (1)

Math Will Rock Your World cover story in Business Week:

From fledglings like Inform to tech powerhouses such as IBM (IBM ), companies are hitching mathematics to business in ways that would have seemed fanciful even a few years ago. In the past decade, a sizable chunk of humanity has moved its work, play, chat, and shopping online. We feed networks gobs of digital data that once would have languished on scraps of paper — or vanished as forgotten conversations. These slices of our lives now sit in databases, many of them in the public domain. From a business point of view, they’re just begging to be analyzed. But even with the most powerful computers and abundant, cheap storage, companies can’t sort out their swelling oceans of data, much less build businesses on them, without enlisting skilled mathematicians and computer scientists.

Amber’s Science Talent Search Blog

Posted on January 11, 2006  Comments (1)

Photo of Amber and others with checks

Photo, left to right: Erika Ammons, Intel; Amanda Berry; Dr. A. J. Galindo, teacher at my school; Amber Hess; Tami Casey, Intel.

Amber’s 2005 Intel Science Talent Search Blog. Today the 300 semifinalist for 2006 were announced. Amber’s blog recounts her experience in 2005.

The CNN broadcast aired today. I was on NewsNight with Aaron Brown. They did a great job with me in a segment that lasted about three minutes, although they showed stock footage that included microscope images of chromosomes while we were discussing my project. They were either alluding to the genetic differences between women and men (I don’t think so), or they thought that “chromatography” and “chromosomes” were similar. Not really, but whatever! Nonetheless, I am mad at CNN right now because they didn’t show very much of Amanda. I think something “important” also aired that day, and they needed more room for it, so they cut her out. Bleah…but I am happy that they did not make me look stupid. All of this has been really exciting!

Also see, Amber Hess’ 2005 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Blog

Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalists

Posted on January 11, 2006  Comments (1)

Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalists Named

300 teens have been named semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS). The Intel STS is America’s oldest, most highly regarded pre-college science competition and heir to more than six decades of science excellence. View a list of the semifinalists.

The Intel Foundation will award $1,000 to each semifinalist with a matching amount going to their schools. Intel implemented the school award in 2000 and since then has contributed more than $2 million to help improve math and science in U.S. high schools.

Over the past 65 years, STS alumni have received more than 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honors including six Nobel Prizes, three National Medals of Science, 10 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, and two Fields Medals.

This year’s semifinalists were selected from 1,558 entrants representing 486 high schools in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and an overseas school. Their research projects cover all disciplines of science including biochemistry, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, behavioral science and medicine and health. Students range in age from 15 to 18 with females representing 53 percent of the total entrants.

More than 100 top scientists from a variety of disciplines review and judge all Intel STS entries and examine each individual’s research ability, scientific originality and creative thinking. From these 300 semifinalists, 40 finalists will be announced on Jan. 25. These students will take an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Intel Science Talent Institute. There they will participate in final judging and compete for college scholarships totaling more than $500,000. Winners will be selected based on rigorous judging sessions and announced at a black-tie banquet on March 14.

Science Service is the nonprofit organization which has administered the Science Talent Search since its inception in 1942. The mission of Science Service is to advance the understanding and appreciation of science. In addition to its education programs, Science Service publishes the weekly magazine Science News.

Filling the Engineering Gap

Posted on January 10, 2006  Comments (5)

Filling the Engineering Gap by Vivek Wadhwa, an update on the previous post: USA Under-counting Engineering Graduates. In this article Vivek Wadhwa writes:

So what should be done? Further research is needed on a subject of such critical national importance. The Duke study was a small step toward establishing certain baseline facts and reliable statistics. As Professor Ausubel notes, if a team of engineering students can accomplish so much within a semester, why not the experts and analysts?

This is exactly right. We need better information. The Duke study was an excellent step in the right direction but more is needed.

Dynamic engineers develop renewable energy sources, solutions for purifying water, sustaining the environment, providing low-cost health care, and vaccines for infectious diseases. They also manage projects and lead innovation. Talk to any CEO, CIO, or engineering manager, and they’ll likely tell you that they’re always looking for such people.

With all the problems that need solving in the world, we probably need many more dynamic engineers. India and China need them as badly as the U.S. does. But by simply focusing on the numbers and racing to graduate more, we’re going to end up with more transactional engineers — and their jobs will likely get outsourced.

I am not convinced that this dynamic versus transactional engineering distinction is the key. I am willing to listen to more evidence. But I am not at all sure this “dynamic engineering” is the answer. I think it might be too simplistic an explanation. Still at least it is an attempt to look at the matter more deeply. I think much more effort would be helpful. And I am hoping those working on this at Duke, and others, provide us with some additional data, research, theories and proposals.

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Google 2006 Anita Borg Scholarship

Posted on January 9, 2006  Comments (1)

Google 2006 Anita Borg Scholarship for female computer science and computer engineering students.

A group of female undergraduate and graduate student finalists will be chosen from the applicant pool. The scholarship recipients, selected from the finalists, will each receive a $10,000 scholarship for the 2006-2007 academic year.

* be entering their senior year of undergraduate study or be enrolled in a graduate program in 2006 – 2007 at a university in the United States.
* be Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related technical field majors.
* be enrolled in full-time study in 2006 – 2007.
* maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale or 4.5 on a 5.0 scale or equivalent in their current program.

“Last year we awarded 23 scholarships; this year we’d like to do more.”

Apply – Deadline: 20 Jan 2006