Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New magnetic material discovered

It hasn't all been done!

A new magnetic material has been discovered, announced at the March meeting of the American Physical Society. The research was done at the University of California, San Diego.

Only time will tell if, and how, it might revolutionize magnetic storage devices.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Research for tomorrow's cars

The article linked


is the usual public relations output that I get via an electronic alumni magazine, but it does give some of you interested in mechanical or materials engineering some insight into what kind of research is being done in engineering graduate programs as well as in industry.

By the way, the professional photo shows the Michigan State College of Engineering's Formula SAE car. A better picture of the car, with the design/build/race team is on their Facebook page: click here

Monday, December 23, 2013

BBC News about DARPA robot competition

The article from the BBC America news feed gives the overall results and includes a silent video of robots in action, nice pictures of some of the contenders and "barely rans" (the ones that scored zero points) as well as this DARPA YouTube Channel that has full length video recorded live during the competition (more than 20 hours total).

Interesting that a robot built by the Johnson Space Center was among those that scored zero points, but JPL did OK (finishing fifth) behind a Japanese company recently purchased by Google, a team called IHMC Robotics that used a robot built by a company called Boston Dynamics, a team from Carnegie Mellon University (third), and MIT (fourth).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

"Significance" in data analysis

A friend recently brought this article to my attention. Altough it is specifically about the massive confusion in the general public about the distinction between a theory (very highly reliable, like the Theory of Special and General Relativity) and a law (only useful under special conditions, like the Ideal Gas Law), it makes a great point about data analysis in item 4.

Read it here.

Although crude, this diagram explaining the 'normal' distribution gives a nice picture of the basic criteria we use when interpreting data in the first-year physics lab, specifically the conclusing that a difference of more than two standard deviations indicates a disagreement between two measurements or between theory and experiment.

IEEE Spectrum article on DARPA Robotics Challenge

Here is what some mechanical engineering students (mostly grad students) and professionals are up to lately. This IEEE Spectrum news article from Saturday gives the final results of the two-day competition but lacks much detail. The link in the first sentence takes you back to the Friday competition and shows pictures of some of the robots in action.

There should be more updates from them over the next few days.

I stumbled across an article about the Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) Tartan Rescue "CHIMP" project a few weeks ago. It uses a non-human model for the robot, as does a JPL team.

A non-human model is starting to attract attention for specialized tasks where there is no reason to have the robot look semi-human. For example, there is a research group at Florida State pursuing the cockroach as a model for a small robot that can climb a vertical wall while carrying a camera to assist military or police teams planning to enter a potentially hostile area.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interesting TCC Eagle Business Society lecture

I am posting this because I know that many students at TCC have long-range plans to start their own business after they get an engineering degree and some experience working for an existing firm. If you are one of those, you might find this presentation to future business majors very helpful and interesting.

Eagle Business Society Fall Distinquished Lecture

Tuesday, November 19, 1:30 to 2:30 in the SU Ballroom

Dave Mica, Co-Chair of the Associated Industries of Florida Energy Council, will be the next featured speaker on the Eagle Business Society’s Distinguished Lecture Series at 1:30 on November 19th in the SU Ballroom.

The EBS announcement did not give a title, but did provide the following background information:

Mr. Mica has long been a role model as an advocate for industry who approaches problems with a unique vision and creative ideas. He began his career as a campaign worker for “Walkin’ Lawton” Chiles as they trekked across Florida. He has worked in both of his brothers’ successful Congressional Campaigns as well – one Democrat and one Republican. Serving as President of the University of Florida Alumni Association, Mr. Mica reflects the best characteristics of admired leaders. His ethical advocacy has contributed to Florida’s economic development and energy policy. Mentoring young leaders in the graduate class he is teaching at the University of Florida is another example of how Mr. Mica has given back to his community and state while demonstrating that one individual can make a difference. Mr. Mica will inspire our students to achieve success on their own terms – ethically, as he has done.

Mr. Mica is the Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council and is an advocate for further development of petroleum resources in Florida and the Keystone pipeline. (If you are not familiar with the Associated Industries of Florida, AIF, it is an umbrella organization for a large number of business lobbyists in the state of Florida with its headquarters just south of the Governor's mansion.) However, it appears from the above that he will be talking about leadership, not any political issue.

Click this link for Mr. Mica's bio

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Summer Internship info meeting

There will be a meeting about Summer 2014 STEM internships on Friday, November 15, in the STEM Center (AC 133) at 2:30 pm. My understanding is that these are PAID internships at research centers around the country and that most are specifically for Community College students with some specifically for TCC students.