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High School Students to Intern in Engineering

Pasco high school students to work as interns in engineering

Five area manufacturers announced Tuesday that they will join forces with River Ridge High’s new engineering career academy, which opens in fall 2009, to provide students work opportunities while they are still in school.

“The idea is to start a program of internships starting in the 10th grade,” said Wahnish, who presents the idea to the Florida Engineering Society today.

By the time graduation rolls around, students will have had three six-week apprenticeships and received industry certifications in computer-assisted design and other applications. They also will be ready to go to work or enroll in a university program. Even those who go to work still would attend college at least two days a week.

Related: Engineering Internship OpeningsSummer Jobs for Smart Young MindsToyota Cultivating Engineering TalentInternships Increasingly Popularcareers in science and engineering

Rat Brain Cells, in a Dish, Flying a Plane

Adaptive Flight Control With Living Neuronal Networks on Microelectrode Arrays (open access paper) by Thomas B. DeMarse and Karl P. Dockendorf Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

investigating the ability of living neurons to act as a set of neuronal weights which were used to control the flight of a simulated aircraft. These weights were manipulated via high frequency stimulation inputs to produce a system in which a living neuronal network would “learn” to control an aircraft for straight and level flight.

A system was created in which a network of living rat cortical neurons were slowly adapted to control an aircraft’s flight trajectory. This was accomplished by using high frequency stimulation pulses delivered to two independent channels, one for pitch, and one for roll. This relatively simple system was able to control the pitch and roll of a simulated aircraft.

When Dr. Thomas DeMarse first puts the neurons in the dish, they look like little more than grains of sand sprinkled in water. However, individual neurons soon begin to extend microscopic lines toward each other, making connections that represent neural processes. “You see one extend a process, pull it back, extend it out — and it may do that a couple of times, just sampling who’s next to it, until over time the connectivity starts to establish itself,” he said. “(The brain is) getting its network to the point where it’s a live computation device.”

To control the simulated aircraft, the neurons first receive information from the computer about flight conditions: whether the plane is flying straight and level or is tilted to the left or to the right. The neurons then analyze the data and respond by sending signals to the plane’s controls. Those signals alter the flight path and new information is sent to the neurons, creating a feedback system.

“Initially when we hook up this brain to a flight simulator, it doesn’t know how to control the aircraft,” DeMarse said. “So you hook it up and the aircraft simply drifts randomly. And as the data come in, it slowly modifies the (neural) network so over time, the network gradually learns to fly the aircraft.”

Although the brain currently is able to control the pitch and roll of the simulated aircraft in weather conditions ranging from blue skies to stormy, hurricane-force winds, the underlying goal is a more fundamental understanding of how neurons interact as a network, DeMarse said.

Related: Neural & Hybrid Computing Laboratory @ University of Florida – UF Scientist: “Brain” In A Dish Acts As Autopilot, Living ComputerRoachbot: Cockroach Controlled RobotNew Neurons in Old Brainsposts on brain researchViruses and What is LifeGreat Self Portrait of Astronaut Engineer

New Iron Based Superconductors

Research Suggests Novel Superconductor Is in a Powerful Class All its Own

discovered surprising magnetic properties in the new superconductors that suggest they may have very powerful applications — from improved MRI machines and research magnets, to a new generation of superconducting electric motors, generators and power transmission lines. The research also adds to the long list of mysteries surrounding superconductivity, providing evidence that the new materials, which scientists are calling “doped rare earth iron oxyarsenides,” develop superconductivity in quite a new way

Early this year, Japanese scientists who had been developing iron-based superconducting compounds for several years, finally tweaked the recipe just right with a pinch of arsenic. The result: a superconductor, also featuring oxygen and the rare earth element lanthanum, performing at a promising -413 degrees F (26 K). The presence of iron in the material was another scientific stunner: Because it’s ferromagnetic, iron stays magnetized after exposure to a magnetic field, and any current generates such a field. As a rule, magnetism’s effect on superconductivity is not to enhance it, but to kill it.

Iron based superconductors might resist magnetic fields over 100 Tesla

The new superconductors seem like they will be able to make improved MRI machines and research magnets, a new generation of superconducting electric motors, generators and power transmission lines. Tesla is a unit of magnetic field strength; the Earth’s magnetic field is one twenty thousandth of a tesla.

Related: Superconducting SurpriseMystery of High-Temperature SuperconductivitySuperconductivity and Superfluidity