The journal Science reports on a friendly manta ray robot competition between Princeton and the University of Virginia. Mantas are super efficient swimmers and thus ideal models for autonomous underwater vehicles.
“They are such self-possessed, graceful animals,” Princeton’s Alexander Smits, an expert in fluid mechanics, tells Science. Smits began to focus on manta rays after a trip to Australia about a decade ago, when he had an “almost mystical” experience swimming among the manta rays.
Science reports that Smits persuaded former Princeton postdoc Hilary Bart-Smith, now an associate professor at UVa, to develop shape-morphing manta-like fins for underwater locomotion. Bart-Smith, Smits and four other researchers ultimately won a $6.5 million five-year grant to collaborate on building bio-inspired sea vehicles.
This year’s manta robot competition between the two collaborating universities took place at the Carderock Division of the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center. Princeton’s entry was designed by Mohammad Javed, who just graduated from Princeton with a degree in mechanical engineering.
How did Javed’s manta robot fare? You will have to read the Science article to find out.
Image courtesy Agsftw via Wikimedia Commons
Frank Moss, until recently the director of the MIT Media Lab, has a new book coming out next week on the future of innovation. Full title: The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives. The book has garnered ringing endorsements.
Chad Hurley, co-founder of Youtube, says the book “provides the inspiration and motivation we need to change the world.” Best-selling author and former CNN CEO Walter Isaacson says Moss “shows the way to harness passion and break down the walls between disciplines in order to unleash creativity in fields ranging from robotics to music to the making of mechanical limbs.” Moss earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 1971.
Ashley Thrall, a recently minted Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering, has won a travel fellowship from the architecture firm of SOM that will enable her to draw on a wide range of inspirations in order to rethink the design of deployable structures used in disaster relief.
This summer Thrall will visit a disaster site in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attend a national powwow in Danville, Indiana, to evaluate the potential use of tipi design, and interview Chuck Hoberman, a New York City-based expert in the design of kinematic structures (but best known as the inventor of the collapsible toy ball known as a Hoberman sphere). She also will spend two months in Europe visiting research centers and design firms. You can find a copy of Thrall’s winning fellowship essay here.
The Bergen Record yesterday featured Alexander Salazar, who will begin pursuing a master’s in civil and environmental engineering at Princeton in the fall.
“Salazar’s story seems like a script for a modern version of the American Dream,” writes Mike Kelly, who chronicles Salazar’s journey from barely speaking English and earning $6 an hour in a factory job to his graduation this week from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Read the full story here.
Photo by Elizabeth Lara, courtesy NorthJersey.com
Kelly Caylor, Justin Sheffield, and Eric Wood, members of the department of civil and environmental engineering, have won a grant from the Princeton Global Collaborative Network Fund to study how rainfall variability and land and water degradation affect food security.
The initiative will bring together university scholars, nongovernmental researchers and government scientists from the United States, Africa, China and Europe.
Image courtesy jacsonquerubin via Flickr
Today’s Daily Princetonian has some nice coverage on the election of four Princeton faculty members to the National Academy of Sciences — which, as the Prince notes, has been described as “an honor considered second only to a Nobel Prize.”
Two of the new NAS members are with the school of engineering: H. Vincent Poor *77, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Michael Henry Strater University Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Loren Pfeiffer, a senior research scholar in the department of electrical engineering.
Poor’s research in statistical signal processing and stochastic analysis has had important implications for wireless networks. Pfeiffer’s work in materials science has facilitated discoveries in condensed matter physics.
The other Princeton faculty elected to NAS this year are mathematics professor David Gabai and sociology professor Sara McLanahan.
In a wide-ranging conversation in this month’s McKinsey Quarterly, Google executive Eric Schmidt shares management strategies and holds forth on everything from the future of drug discovery to the magic of digital language translation.
Below are a few gems from Schmidt, who graduated from Princeton in 1976. You can watch the full video here (registration required).
On the ascendancy of mobile platforms: “The top technical people are building the most powerful applications on mobile first. This is a huge shift,” with big implications.
On the importance of dissent within a corporation: “If you have a meeting and you have consensus without disagreement, you have nothing.”
On the need for reform in education: “One of the most clarifying points to make about education in our country is that the education system is currently run for the benefit of the adults and not the children. The incentives, the measurement system, the governance are all organized around the people who run it,” rather than around achieving the best outcome.
Given the big She Roars pow-wow this week, it seems a good time to take stock of how much things have changed regarding women in engineering at Princeton.
In 1970, women earned less than 1 percent of engineering undergraduate degrees nationwide. Today at Princeton women comprise more than 35 percent of the undergraduate class and 25 percent of graduate students. Women now comprise more than 15 percent of faculty at Princeton.
The She Roars conference features talks by three prominent female Princeton engineers: alumna Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Emily Carter, the founding director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment; and MacArthur “genius” grant award winner Naomi Ehrich Leonard, who is both an alumna and a professor at Princeton.
Cartoon by Jonathan Robinson, reprinted courtesy the Daily Princetonian.
Princeton Engineering alumna Lisa Jackson will be speaking on the Princeton campus April 28 about the “State of Environmental Protection in the Nation and the Challenges of the Future.” The talk, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Friend Center auditorium, is free and open to the public.
This month Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, was named to “Time‘s 100,” the magazine’s annual list of the most influential people in the world.
“As the U.S. grapples with serious energy issues, we need serious leaders like Lisa,” writes Steven Chu, secretary of the department of energy, in a citation published by Time. “She understands not only the risks we face but also the opportunities to create a new generation of jobs and to grow the economy while protecting public health and the environment.”
As a graduate student in chemical engineering at Princeton, Jackson researched groundwater contamination, work that led her to focus her engineering skills on addressing pollution. Jackson earned her master’s degree from Princeton in 1986. Jackson will also speak this week at She Roars, a conference celebrating women at Princeton.
About this blog
EQN is a blog from Princeton University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science that highlights faculty, students and alumni who, through innovation and leadership, are changing the world.
- Jennifer Rexford ’91 one of top 10 ‘cloud trailblazers’
- Dan Boneh *96 wins prize for advances in cryptography
- Computer science researchers untangle a hairy problem
- Technology Review: mining cellphone data without violating privacy
- Dean H. Vincent Poor elected fellow of Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Bob Kahn wins Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
- Saving lives, gathering data: Laura Ray’s ‘cool robot’
- Optics & Photonics highlights Branko Glisic’s structural sensing research
- Pi Day comedy mashup to feature Princeton faculty
- Princeton chapter wins national EWB award
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