February 24th, 2012
The robotics industry is booming and thanks to the constant development of new materials and the implementation of new ideas, we’re all benefiting. 2012 has been a great year so far for robotics and it doesn’t look like the trend is slowing down any time soon. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest new trends happening right now.
1. The MRI Controllable Pill. Forget getting shoved into a little chamber, soon a tiny mobile MRI will be able to travel anywhere in the body, giving doctors a bird’s eye view of what’s going on. The capsule is controlled remotely by an MRI machine and is expected to revolutionize many procedures, including colonoscopy’s.
2. A Robot Painter. Who says machines can’t be creative? A new robot is capable of painting portraits. The robot first images the person’s face, and then traces its outlines out on paper, filling in the details. The results are dramatically good. While a robot may not have the nuance of a human painter, or the style, this is certainly a step in an interesting direction for robotics.
3. An Obedient Robot. Not that robots are anything but, but this new design responds to gestures and commands. The robot is capable of sensing different items and can deliver them across the room on command, such as in a kitchen situation.
4. Social Robots. One thing lacking in robotics is the social element, after all machines just aren’t much for conversation. That may be changing however. The Kavli Foundation is currently developing social robots that can analyze facial expressions and react accordingly. The foundation plans to use these robots in therapy and rehabilitative situations.
Just two months gone in the year and already we’ve seen some incredible things happening in robotics. No doubt the next two months will be just as stellar.
February 17th, 2012
In today’s competitive marketplace, it is vital to find and hire the absolute best engineering talent in the field. If you don’t hire them, your competitors will. In order to attract today’s top talent, you may need to change your hiring process to meet new demands.
First, it is necessary to drill down exactly what you are looking for in a new hire for an available position. Make a list of the absolute necessities, as well as other skills you would like them to possess. This will give you an excellent glimpse of your future hire, and help you narrow down the field.
Once you have that in place, the next step is to create a recruitment database. Search through the resumes you’ve already received and weigh them against your list of required talents and skills. Keep those who look promising and enter them into your database. You’ll need to keep this database updated as you continue the interviewing process. It’s also a great tool to have if you ever need to go back to the talent pool.
Now, work out a strategy to attract potential new-hires. Recruitment is a vital step in the hiring process. Seek out new hires by networking with local universities, groups that are related to your field and utilize social networking tools to reach out to your key demographic.
The interview is the last step in the hiring process. Make sure you give everyone a true chance at the position. Even if their resume isn’t exact, that candidate may still have merit, they just may not be very skilled at writing a resume and uncovering their talents.
Work out an interview questionnaire that will help you narrow down the field further. Update your database and make notes on the candidates that you felt were the best fit. When you’re ready to narrow it down further, you can schedule more interviews, or testing.
February 10th, 2012
A new material called Shilk may eventually replace plastic. This unique material was developed by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and its origins may surprise you.
As its name suggests, the material is made up of silk and chitin which is extracted from shrimp shells. Insect cuticle was the inspiration for this new material. This cuticle, although it appears to be very delicate, is actually quite strong. It can provide protection, without adding weight. The researchers found that Shilk is as strong as aluminum allow, but provides protection at half the weight.
Shilk is completely biodegradable and the components necessary are incredible inexpensive. Chitin is considered a shrimp waste product and heretofore was simply discarded. It is strong, flexible and has the potential to not only replace plastic, but also to revolutionize the medical supply world. Shilk can be used to suture wounds, and can also be used to build a “scaffold” for tissue regeneration. By controlling how much water is used during the manufacturing process for this material, researchers were able to vary the shape as well as the elasticity, from quite rigid to very flexible.
“When we talk about the Wyss Institute’s mission to create bioinspired materials and products, Shrilk is an example of what we have in mind,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. “It has the potential to be both a solution to some of today’s most critical environmental problems and a stepping stone toward significant medical advances.”
Shilk also has the potential to replace plastic thanks to its strong but biodegradable nature. It could be used to manufacture trash bags and even disposable diapers. Its quick degeneration would address the very real issue of landfill overcrowding and provide a safe and economical alternative to plastic.
While Shilk is still in the early developmental stages, it is clear that this new material has real potential.
February 3rd, 2012
It’s a known fact that getting a higher education provides you with more earning power throughout your lifetime. What may not be as broadly known is that the type of higher education you choose could have an even larger impact on your earning power.
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree will help you earn an average of 84% more than someone with just a high school diploma, but there’s a lot of wiggle room in those figures. For example, a bachelor’s in a business field can earn you approximately $60,000 per year, while a bachelor’s in a science field such as engineering, can open up opportunities to earn more than $100,000 per year. That’s a significant difference.
Unfortunately, many of our students here in the United States are not paying attention to these facts, even though they have access to some of the best schools in the world. According to the STEM Lab Report, “At the higher end of the educational spectrum, the universities of the United States are the best in the world, with some of the best STEM-learning in the world. However, many of the best students in the hardest courses are foreign students who will take their knowledge back to their home markets and compete against us…Taking the tough subjects is no longer the hallmark of American students. In all, some 60 percent of engineering PhDs in 2007 went to foreign nationals, up from only 40 percent in 2003.”
What does this mean for us here in the United States? Our incoming college freshman need to be aware of the opportunities that are available to them within the engineering fields. High school guidance counselors need to single out potential candidates and provide them with the information and support they need to pursue a higher degree in this field.
If you are currently thinking about a future career in engineering, the prospect of a four-year educational program may be daunting. However, this time spent learning will pay off in the future. It is estimated that lifetime earnings for an employee with a bachelor’s degree can exceed $3 million.
As the current focus shifts more to the tech sector, computer science and engineering jobs will be in high-demand. Now is the time to secure your future. If you have an aptitude for engineering, take the time and go for that bachelor’s degree – it’s worth it.