GE’s Edison Desk Blog

Posted on March 20, 2006  Comments (1)

photo of windmills

GE global research’s Edison Desk blog provides interesting posts on the scientific and engineering research at GE. They provide interesting reading and, as I am sure is part of GE’s plan, let GE present their company in a positive light (so far the text is a bit too heavy on public relations spin, in my opinion, but it is still interesting). For example, Reaching for A High Penetration of Renewable Energy in The Grid:

Many additional challenges exist. Technologies that ease the integration of renewable energy resources into the grid will have a large impact in driving continued growth for these industries. Technology needs range from advanced component design to renewable resource forecasting and all the way through to large-scale system designs which take into consideration the aggregation of diverse power generation technologies to form dispatchable entities (such as wind-hydro hybrids, for example)

and Your Movie Collection on a Single Disk:

However, the capacity of the discs is being increased just enough to put a single HDTV movie on one disc. The Holographic Storage technology that our team is working on leapfrogs these next generation formats enabling users to put over 40 HDTV movies or over 200 standard definition movies on a single disc.

Students put Scientific Principles to Use

Posted on March 20, 2006  Comments (2)

Lessons in Innovation by Shannon Mullen (site removed content – poor usability)
Instructor encourages students to put scientific principles to use … one LEGO brick at a time.

The mini course, called Engineering Experiences, uses an educational approach known as “discovery-based learning.” As the name implies, the idea is for students to learn by doing, through trial and error. Hotaling and her colleagues try to remain on the sidelines, guiding the students with questions, rather than spooning out solutions.

The mission of the Stevens Institute Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science is to catalyze and support excellence in teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and other core subjects through innovative, research-based instructional strategies and use of novel technologies.

UK Science and Innovation Grants

Posted on March 19, 2006  Comments (1)

UK Science and Innovation Grants

The recipients of the second round of Science and Innovation Awards have been announced by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Funding has been awarded to build the UK’s research base in the areas of nanometrology, statistics, plasma physics and the Mathematics-Computer Science interface.

Professor John O’Reilly, Chief Executive of EPSRC, said: “A strong research base in engineering and the physical sciences is vital to the UK’s success as a knowledge economy. These latest awards underscore EPSRC’s commitment, working in partnership with the Funding Councils and the Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, to address shortages of academics to lead research teams in some crucially important areas.”
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Google Pizza Program

Posted on March 17, 2006  Comments (0)

Google Pizza Program

The Google Pizza Program rewards hard-working engineering students by allowing them to take a study break on Google. Google ambassadors identify opportunities to order pizza for their computer science peers, most often around project deadlines or exams. The pizza ambassadors are Google’s main point of contact, and responsible for making the Google Pizza Program successful at their university.

Open to computer science majors (or related fields). Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible.

Another option, become a Google Intern. They offer opportunities for students pursuing degrees in Computer Science (or closely related areas) and for MBA students.

Science and Engineering Jobs

Posted on March 16, 2006  Comments (1)

Alarm as white-collar jobs vanish overseas (link broken so I removed it), Australian Financial Review:

The council’s draft report, a copy of which was obtained by the Australian Financial Review, says Australia needs to respond by investing in education and research and development, and by linking up with developing knowledge sectors in China and India.

There has been a steady progression up the value scale in work sent to low-cost countries – from manufacturing to data processing, call centres and computer software.

Now there is evidence that China and India are competing for high-level jobs in financial services, industrial design, architecture, research and development, engineering, medicine and even management areas such as human resources and business consulting.

Every country realizes the value to their economy of jobs in science, engineering and technology. Countries are taking steps to create a environment that will attract those jobs. Countries that do this less effectively will suffer.

Previous posts on the topic of economics, science and engineering

Smokeless Stove Uses 80% Less Fuel

Posted on March 16, 2006  Comments (5)

Philips Smokeless Stove Uses 80% Less Fuel, Saves Lives

300 million families in the world’s poorest regions burn wood for cooking, and smoke and toxic emissions kill 1.6 million people per year.

That claim in the article is disputed by a comment on the web site. The difficulty of drawing direct causation for many medical problems makes such claims difficult to prove. A scientific paper explores the issue:

Chronic pulmonary disease in rural women exposed to biomass fumes

There is little question finding engineering solutions that serve to reduce health risks are often much better than trying to deal with the health consequences after people are sick. So providing safe drinking water, for example, will do more for health than increase spending on medical care to treat those who get sick.

Additionally the opportunities to save lives and improve health in the world often do not require cutting edge science. It is often a matter of engineering effective solutions for hundreds of millions and billions of people living without what those in the wealthy take for granted (Water and Electricity for AllSolar Powered Hearing AidAppropriate Technology).

Intel Science Talent Search Results

Posted on March 15, 2006  Comments (0)

photo of Shannon Lisa Babb

Shannon Babb of Utah Named Top High School Scientist:

With a rare ability to combine research and remediation in environmental science, Babb, 18, of American Fork High School, conducted a six-month study to identify water quality problems in the Spanish Fork River. Babb, who started researching water quality at age 13, analyzed the chemical and physical properties along the river drainage system. She concluded that humans, through urban and agricultural factors, have a negative effect on the water quality of the river. She contends that the water quality problem can be resolved with a combination of restructuring and educating the public that household chemicals should not be poured down storm drains.

Yi Sun, 17, of The Harker School in San Jose, Calif., received second-place honors and a $75,000 scholarship. Sun discovered new geometric properties of random walks, a mathematical theory with applications to computer algorithms and polymers.

Yuan “Chelsea” Zhang, 17, of Montgomery Blair High School in Rockville, Md., received third-place honors and a $50,000 scholarship. Zhang researched the molecular genetic mechanisms behind heart disease. Specifically, Zhang implicated CX3CL1 molecules as contributing to plaque build-up in the arteries. This knowledge can lead to the development of new medicines for atherosclerosis.

Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, a long-time advocate for improving science and math education, praised the contributions these young scientists are poised to make.

“The talent represented at Intel STS is a dramatic illustration that investing in science and math education will pay great dividends for the future of American innovation,” Barrett said. “The seed of the next big scientific discovery could very well be planted in this room tonight.”

Photos from

Read about more science talent search winners.

Nanofibers Knit Severed Neurons Together

Posted on March 15, 2006  Comments (1)

Hamster Study Shows Nanofibers Knit Severed Neurons Together, Restore Vision by David Biello, Scientific American:

“We have healing of the brain, which we’ve never seen before. We have axons growing through the center of the cut, which we’ve never seen before, and we have axons connecting to the target tissue,” Rutledge notes. “If we could use something like this to mitigate the damage caused by cutting the brain with a knife, that would be great.” The research appears online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Fixing Engineering’s Gender Gap

Posted on March 14, 2006  Comments (0)

Fixing Engineering’s Gender Gap by Vivek Wadhwa, Business Week

We can debate whether an engineering gap between the U.S. and India and China exists, but among U.S. engineers there is an indisputable gender gap — fewer than 20% of engineering graduates are women, according to the National Science Foundation. Perhaps a simple solution to maintaining American competitiveness is to encourage more women to enter engineering.

I agree. We need to do a better job of taking advantage of what women engineers can bring to our economy. By taking sensible actions (see some of the related posts below) we can create a system that produces more women engineers and we will benefit from that result.

According to the National Science Foundation, women make up only 5.2% of tenured engineering faculty. Students felt that they had no one to turn to for help and guidance. One student said she felt disadvantaged “when it comes to being an engineer without being like a man.”

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