When engineers behind the Mars rover Curiosity encountered a problem a few months ago, they turned to 19-year-old intern Riley Avron for help. The engineers needed to maneuver a Curiosity test double across the simulated Martian landscape dubbed the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters. That meant spending several minutes typing out lines of code. With their eyes locked on a computer screen, they couldn’t watch the rover. Solution? As the Pasadena Sunreports, Avron developed an iPhone app that allows rover drivers to plug in a distance and direction and then hit go.” The project took 10 weeks and 8,000 lines of code, but the app “has become a crucial tool for engineers.” Avron, an electrical engineering sophomore at Purdue, is one of 450 interns at the lab and 30 on the Mars project.
Heard of Maker Faire, a California rite of spring for hackers, inventors, and do-it-yourself creators? A group of engineering and design students, mostly from Stanford, has picked up the idea and taken it on the road. After raising $300,000 to outfit a panel truck with rapid-prototyping tools, including two 3-D printers, a laser cutter, sewing machines, and a clay oven, the students have spent the summer driving their “educational build-mobile” across the country to spread the fun of hands-on learning and show kids how “to find their inner maker.” Aboard the SparkTruck, they park at schools, libraries, and children’s museums to demonstrate what a child’s natural urge to build a tree house, say, can produce with high-tech equipment. Read more here and here and follow the journey on their website.
Fourteen years of civil war has ravaged Liberia and left it in economic ruin and without a stable infrastructure; nothing was spared from the terrors of war. After the war ended in 2003, USAID began working to help Liberia recover and reach its development goals. Through the EHELD Project (Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development), USAID is helping Liberia improve its education, one of the institutions that was devastated by war.
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, announced the winners in the three categories of the DEBUT Challenge, a biomedical engineering design competition for teams of undergraduate students. The three categories addressed the critical needs in biomedical technology, focusing on devices for diagnostics and therapeutics as well as technology that can aid underserved populations and individuals with disabilities.