You Go Girl!

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the field of engineering. Who knew that we were so creative?

Rosie the riveter

Engineering… We Can Do It!!
https://flic.kr/p/9pT6td

Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookie monica rex

Chocolate chip cookies are easily my favorite dessert. Bless you, Ruth Wakefield. https://flic.kr/p/5sfmrn

Computers and circular saws are great, but if we’re being honest, I think that the chocolate chip cookie would be at the top of the list for greatest inventions. At least inventions for your stomach. Chocolate chip cookies were created by Ruth Wakefield in 1930, when Wakefield had to create some Butter Drop Do cookies for guests at the inn that her husband owned. There was not enough time to emlt the chocolate for the recipe, so Ruth just threw some pieces of a Nestle chocolate bar in the batter. Dear Ruth, my stomach thanks you for your contribution to society.

The Compiler and COBOL Computer Language

grace hopper

Grace Hopper in 1952 working on COBOL.
https://flic.kr/p/5eV6PE

You can’t mention wome in engineering without talking about Grace Hopper. Hopper worked on the first large-scale computer in the US, the Mark I at Harvard. She invented a system called the Compiler to translate English into computer code. Brilliant. Also, you know you’re legit when you have a warship named after you.

 Submarine Telescope and Lamp

Embed from Getty Images

Have you ever seen the cool pictures of weird sea creatures that meander on the ocean floor? You can thank Sarah Mather for patenting the submarine telescope and lamp in 1845. This invention unlocked the ability to explore the most unexplored territory on earth—the ocean.

 Kevlar

Embed from Getty Images

Kevlar saves lives, protects people and makes the ride of life much more enjoyable. Kevlar is the material that makes bulletproof vests, helmets tires, skis, and hiking gear. Stephanie Kwolek worked at Dupont to create this fiber that is as strong as steel.

 Windshield Wiper

Can you imagine driving your car without a windshield wiper? I’m thinking the sight would look something like this:

 

Thank goodness for Mary Anderson, who wasn’t satisfied that every NYC tram driver had to stop every few minutes to get rid of the snow on his front window. She received her patent for the squeegee device in 1903, and now it would be impossible to find a car without it.

 

How has the presence of more women in the engineering disciplines changed the field?

 

Most of the information that I used for this post was found through an article by HowStuffWorks called “Top 10 Things That Women Invented.”

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This One Device Could Find Malaysia Flight 370

Malaysia Airplane Missing

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 with 239 passengers and crew members vanished. https://flic.kr/p/7wsx2N

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing. Poof. 

It’s been over two weeks, and authorities still don’t know much about what happened to the 239 passengers and crew members or the 209 feet, 656,000 pound Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE. How do 239 people just go missing in a massive commercial airliner? Or of equal importance, how can we prevent this from happening in the future?

The LuminAID

If the 239 passengers aboard that plane had been equipped with this one $20 device, they may have been safely in the arms of their loved ones by now. That device is the LuminAID, an inflatable, waterproof, solar-powered light. The founders of the LuminAID, Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta, were looking for a way to help in natural disaster relief situations after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 when they found a need, an engineering problem that they could help solve. After natural disasters, people send food, water, and even medical supplies, but even then, they are (literally) left in the dark. Because of this, kidnappings and rapes occur with a higher frequency amidst this darkness–an even greater reason to solve this problem.

Stork and Sreshta created a device with disaster relief in mind, so 50 LuminAIDs can fit into the same size box as a conventional 8 flashlights. Without a doubt, this light be used in future disaster situations, as it is portable, solar-powered, and waterproof.

How Does This Apply to Malaysia Flight 370?

Yesterday, it was announced that Chinese satellites had spotted a 74 feet by 43 feet object in the southern Indian Ocean, which officials believe may be linked to the missing aircraft. Remember that the plane went missing 43 seconds after 1:20am on March 8. There are 2 options at this point:

A) the plane could have crashed/landed elsewhere such that there were survivors

OR

B) the plane could have crashed/landed elsewhere such that there were no survivors

AND

1) the plane could have crashed/landed such that parts of the plane would be relatively large

OR

2) the plane could have crashed/landed with small plane fragments remaining or could have burned such that few pieces remain

In case B2, authorities can’t do much. In cases A1, A2, or B1, though, the story could have radically changed if LuminAID was involved.

lights sky night

With less than 100 lights in this graphic, it’s obvious that 239 lights might have made shown up on a satellite image of the ocean. (I do not endorse any messages from this image; I am purely using it to show the impact that lights have in the darkness.) https://flic.kr/p/43Zfx6

Imagine if 239 people were floating in the ocean with lights illuminated during the night sky. If each person (or LuminAID in the case B1) took up 13.3 cubic feet in the water, they would cover the same amount of space as the object spotted by China in the broad daylight. Seems pretty hard to ignore to me.

Darkness Light Malaysia Plane

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
https://flic.kr/p/a4MkTe

Maybe this idea isn’t just for post-tragedies. Maybe the LuminAID is a pre-tragedy device. Maybe LuminAID and inventions like it can stop (or at the least) minimize tragedies and mysteries like the Malaysian flight. Maybe next time you’re on an airplane that will be covering water, you’ll have an inflatable life vest with a solar-powered light that can last for up to 16 hours.

What are your thoughts on the Malaysia airplane mystery? How can we aim to prevent this in the future?

$Gold Digga$

You Need Money

money wad

You need a financial investment to build prototypes for your engineering projects. http://flic.kr/p/aFAaK6

The idea for building medical devices for developing         countries is great, but

if you don’t have the capital, it’s hard to build                  something out of nothing.

How do you fund a developing world project?

      Below are three ways to fund your project!

 

 

Don’t Break the Bank, Make the Bank

Crowdfunding

crowdfunding monica rex

Crowdfunding: when a group of people financially support an idea/ product. http://flic.kr/p/eckTys

    1. According to HongKiat.com, “Crowdfunding… is a funding method where common people like you and me, henceforth the crowd, fund your personal or business project with their own money.” Crowdfunding allows other people to become involved in your project financially. Depending on the site you use, the supporter may then receive a product from you based on their level of financial giving.  Forbes has outlined the Top 10 Crowdfunding Sites for Fundraising; Engineering for Change has added their two cents as well.
    1. If you have time, check out this great report for the Department for International Development of the UK government regarding crowd funding.
    1. Crowdfunding in Action

  i. The Aezon X-Prize Team from Johns Hopkins is a prime example of an engineering design team using crowdfunding. They are using the Indiegogo crowdfunding site to raise funds to develop their device which will be capable of diagnosing 15 diseases. They are in the running to win the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize, with prizes of up to $7 million.

aezon health tricorder x prize qualcomm

Aezon Health Lab Box. Aezon is using crowd funding to raise $10,000 in the hopes to win the $7 million prize for the Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize. Photo courtesy of aezonhealth.com, used with permission from Neil Rens.

University Collaboration

  1. Universities love innovative, motivated students that they can brag about. Many universities try to promote collaboration and creativity through dispersing student research grants. I can only point to specific grants for Johns Hopkins, but many universities provide funding for extracurricular student projects.
college money scholarships fundraising

College costs a lot of money. Take advantage of all that your university has to offer. If you don’t, you’re paying for someone else who is. http://flic.kr/p/b6MCQF

2. Two specific Johns Hopkins grants administered to foster innovation and research are the PURA Award and the Student Initiatives Fund.

Traditional Fundraising

  1. It’s time to harness your inner neighborhood kid on the streetcorner selling lemonade! Get creative and think of ways in which your group can raise money for your project. I’ve listed some examples to help you get started.

i.     Organize a 5k (UMassAmherst Engineers Without Borders)

ii.     Organize an auction and social

          1. Montana State University EWB raised over $25,000
          2. UMassAmherst EWB raised over $13,000 with this method.

iii.     Hold a recital, like UCSB EWB

iv.     Plan a dessert reception and project showcase

        1. Johns Hopkins University EWB

v.     Organize a Quidditch Tournament

Check back in next week when I overview the top competitions to raise money for your engineering innovation. How have you raised money in the past for your engineering projects? What did I miss?

bike race olympics

Can you compete? http://flic.kr/p/7T2e8f

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

Frozen

What does the new Disney movie Frozen have to do with engineering? How might the plotline of Frozen changed if any of the characters were engineers? Now, I’m not saying that engineers don’t believe in the power of sisterly love to fight climate change, but I am saying that we would not have taken the time to let our sisters freeze in hopes that we could figure something out (you’re welcome, Natalie, my awesome twin sister). You don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you.

Below are three neat devices that student engineers have invented or are developing so that they can take temperature into their own hands.

1. Cooling Cure

When a baby is born and he or she is deprived of oxygen, which impedes brain function, possibly leading to cerebral palsy, mental disability, or death, what do you do?

Cool the baby.

baby cool sunglasses

The face of one cool baby.
http://flic.kr/p/6DM1N

thermometer monica rex

No, cool THE baby!
http://flic.kr/p/6DM1N

That’s right, there is a 72 hour window in which you can lower the baby’s temperature to effectively rescue brain cells. A team of biomedical engineers at Johns Hopkins invented a $40, easy-to-use solution that is built of a clay pot, plastic-lined basket, and a sand and urea-based mixture. When water is added to the mixture (what is used in cold-packs), the heat is extracted from the basket holding the child. Brilliant!

2. Embrace Innovations

Babies are important. Not only are they adorable, but they are the future. A group of Stanford students who understood this saw that many of the 4 million premature babies that die within the first month after birth per year are from developing countries. The main problem for these infants is regulating their temperature. These Stanford students invented a sleeping bag-like solution that can maintain a constant for up to six hours without electricity. The infant warmer is composed of a phase-change material that absorbs heat and slowly disseminates it to the infant.

lady bug sleeping bag engineers monica rex

I hope future iterations of this sleeping bag-like product come in ladybug form. http://flic.kr/p/5CNQmK

Control that body temperature; don’t let it control you. And save some lives along the way.

3. LTU Heating System

We usually think of developing countries as warm, tropical places. This presumption is not necessarily always true, though. A portion of developing countries lie above the Tropic of Cancer and temperatures can dip low, causing a need for heating systems to avoid freezing. Students at Lulea University of Technology in Scandinavia created an “simple stove with integrated heat recovery” at a minimal cost that could be used in North Korea, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Siberia and northern China.

developing country third-world monica rex

Third world countries span beyond just tropical climates. http://flic.kr/p/4ZPsVR

What other projects do you know of? Where are some areas that need improvement from engineers regarding temperature? Are there any other ways that engineers relate to Frozen?