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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.

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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.


Edgar Choueiri’s 3D sound is the top story on Studio 360 this week. Hal Espen also recently wrote about Choueiri’s invention for The Atlantic magazine.

The video above is by Michael E. Wood ’08.

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.


Jordan Culbreath_HabinChung_1019.jpgJordan Culbreath, a mechanical and aerospace engineering major whose stoic struggle with a rare type of anemia has been chronicled by The New York Times and ESPN, is now the subject of a short documentary. The new film will premiere April 26 at Princeton’s University’s Richardson Auditorium. Advance tickets are required. A panel discussion, including Culbreath and the film’s director A.D. Pearson, will follow the screening.

The documentary is scheduled to open in New York theaters sometime in late July. View a film trailer here.

Photo by Habin Chung, courtesy The Daily Princetonian.


Princeton Engineering’s Howard A. Stone and Ed Felten have just been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. Other members elected to the academy this year include jazz icon Dave Brubeck, filmmaker Ken Burns, singer-songwriter Paul Simon, actor Sam Waterston, and Nobel laureate writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who last semester was a Distinguished Visitor in Princeton’s Program in Latin American Studies.

Felten, director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, is currently on leave from Princeton for a year to serve as the Federal Trade Commission’s chief technologist. Scientific American has called him “one of the most incisive minds of the digital age.”

Stone, the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace, works at the interface of chemistry, physics, and engineering and has contributed to new ways of understanding a wide range of problems involving microfluidics, surface tension, and thin film flows. In 2008 he received the Batchelor Prize, the most prestigious prize in the field of fluid mechanics. In 2009 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Princeton Engineering faculty who have been elected to the academy in past years include Emily Carter, Pablo Debenedetti, Chung Law, and Marlan Scully.


The video above gives a fresh overview of Princeton’s Grand Challenges initiative, which helps faculty and students tackle some of the world’s pressing problems, from climate and energy to sustainable development and global health.

The initiative is a collaboration between the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the Princeton Environmental Institute. Among the engineering faculty who have undertaken Grand Challenges projects:

  • Emily Carter and Sigurd Wagner, who are designing new materials for harvesting solar energy.
  • Kelly Caylor, who is developing measures of land degradation to predict ecosystem responses to climate variations in dryland ecosystems.
  • Mung Chiang, Michael Freedman, Margaret Martonosi, and Jennifer Rexford, who are reducing the energy demands of data centers.
  • Catherine Peters, who conducts research to determine whether the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide can be stored safely underground.
  • Wole Soboyejo, who has designed, manufactured, and installed ceramic water filters in rural Nigeria to vastly improve community health.
  • Elie Bou-Zeid, who is contributing to advances in atmospheric modeling that have important implications for energy, development, and health.

In a recent essay for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled “Reflections on Fukushima: A time to mourn, to learn, and to teach,” Rob Socolow writes about the consequences and lessons from the March 11 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plants in Japan.

Socolow’s research has been recently highlighted by CNN, The New York Times and The Atlantic. He is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and co-director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative.



Today’s San Diego Business Journal reports on a new self-correcting golf ball from Polara whose design was influenced by wind tunnel experiments conducted by Princeton’s Alexander Smits, chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“The secret behind the science is the dimple pattern,” David Felker, Polara’s chief technology officer, tells the journal. “The same sort of physics that keeps missiles going straight makes our ball go straight.”

The golf ball’s dimples are deep at the circumference and tiny at the poles, which helps the ball “self-correct” for poor swings, the journal reports.

Smits, by the way, was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering.


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As part of its “Innovation Nation” series, the Science Channel recently featured new laser printing research conducted by Craig Arnold, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. The novel methods showcased on the Science Channel may open the door to new printing capabilities for; small electronics such as microbatteries or the OLEDs used on computer screens, televisions, and cellphones. Arnold likens the underlying technique to inkjet printing on a tiny scale.  A laser blasts microscopic materials, transferring tiny patterns to any substrate, packing more into small areas.

To protect the materials from being damaged when being blasted by the laser, they are coated with a polymer that acts “sort of like a bullet-proof vest,” according to Innovation Nation host Miles O’Brien, who calls Arnold’s research “a big idea on a tiny scale.”