#407 March 30, 2015 – Building a New Generation of Superior Engineers

This week’s headline story: Building a New Generation of Superior Engineers

super-engineerUniversities are offering some hope for those concerned about the future of the human race. The country’s top engineering schools have pledged to pump out a community of engineers explicitly equipped to tackle humanity’s greatest challenges. 122 schools from Brown to Youngstown State have pledged to graduate a minimum of 20 students per year who will be specially prepared to lead the way in solving large-scale problems, with the goal of training more than 20,000 formally recognized “Grand Challenge Engineers” over the next decade. Among the major problems these engineers will tackle are:

  • Making solar energy affordable
  • Providing energy from fusion
  • Developing carbon sequestration methods
  • Managing the nitrogen cycle
  • Providing access to clean water
  • Restoring and improving urban infrastructure
  • Advancing health informatics
  • Engineering better medicines
  • Reverse-engineering the brain
  • Preventing nuclear terror
  • Securing cyberspace
  • Enhancing virtual reality
  • Advancing personalized learning
  • and Engineering new tools for scientific discovery

in other tech news…

  • Mobile Banking on a Tear, Says Fed [Ecommerce Times]
    The Federal Reserve Board has released its Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2015, its fourth annual study of consumers’ mobile commerce behaviors. The report shows a continued boom in banking on mobile phones and other devices with thirty-nine percent of bank customers doing some or all of their banking online, compared to 33 percent last year.
  • Putting a virtual nose on video games could reduce simulator sickness [Engadget]
    Virtual reality can be nauseating! It tricks a part of the brain into believing the body is moving, when it’s not. Researchers at Purdue College of Technology have discovered that adding a virtual nose to look over in the virtual view reduces simulator sickness in video games by giving the brain a visual reference to latch on to.

in Information Security News…

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and in Tech Industry news…

  • Facebook tests laser-equipped drones, but they come in peace [ars technica]
    Facebook has conducted its first successful tests of its drone-based Internet backbone. Facebook’s drone aircraft has a wingspan comparable to that of a 737, and the weight of a small car. It’s completely solar-powered so that it can glide indefinitely at very high altitudes and beam down backbone Internet access to reach billions of people around the world who are currently without reliable Internet access.
  • Facebook Rolls Out 3 Open Source Tools for Mobile Developers [NewsFactor]
    Facebook has launched React-Native, an open source, cross-platform JavaScript framework for building mobile applications. The new framework allows developers to build iOS and Android apps using one common platform, reducing the inefficiencies developers face when developing apps native to individual mobile platforms.
  • Analyst: Apple Could Be Worth $1 Trillion Within a Year [NewsFactor]
    Apple is the most valuable U.S. company in history, without adjusting for inflation, but one analyst believes the Cupertino company has a big growth spurt left, big enough to make it the first trillion-dollar company on record within a year. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White credits the coming Apple Watch and rumored future offerings for Apple’s potential to grow, namely a streaming-television service and an electric car that have shown up in recent reports on the firm. He expects Apple to sell more than 20 million smartwatches in the first year of availability, and turn its reported streaming-television service into hardware sales.

and finally,

  • Amazon Robot Contest May Accelerate Warehouse Automation [MIT Tech Review]
    Amazon is organizing a contest to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing robots. Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers. Participating robots will earn points by locating products sitting somewhere on a stack of shelves, retrieving them safely, and then packing them into cardboard shipping boxes. Robots that accidentally crush a cookie or drop a toy will have points deducted. The people whose robots earn the most points will win $25,000.

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