Austin Whitney didn’t want to graduate from college in a wheelchair. So he and the student engineers at U.C. Berkeley’s “Kaz Lab” built a machine that allowed him to stand up and walk across the commencement stage
By James VlahosPosted 08.30.2011 at 12:06 pm 6 Comments
Seven steps. A short, straight walk across a stage backed by blue and gold balloons, lit by camera flashes, and ringing with the cheers of 15,000 people in the track stadium at the University of California at Berkeley. For most of the class of 2011, traipsing across the carpeted commencement platform is a triumphal but essentially symbolic exercise. You don't even get your diploma, just a rolled-up note saying that one will be mailed.
Forget algebra homework: try building spaceships, operating a nuclear reactor or listening in to distant galaxies
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.18.2011 at 12:45 pm 5 Comments
Forget stuffy lecture halls and humming fluorescent lights. Build robots instead! Or run a nuclear reactor. To rank the coolest labs in the country, we factored in groundbreaking research, undergrad access and sheer awesomeness.
Click here to launch a gallery of the coolest labs in America
It's time to get the next generation of scientists thinking about what's important, and you can help. Below are five education challenges chosen by the editors of Popular Science in partnership with InnoCentive, an open-innovation and crowdsourcing firm. We invite you to devise a simple lesson plan for one or more of them. Each plan should be directed at middle-school students, involve at most three 50-minute sessions, and require less than $50 in materials.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 5:30 pm 0 Comments
During his final spring semester in college, while his classmates fought senioritis, biomedical-engineering major Craig Walters helped the Air Force study for the first time whether non-invasive brain stimulation might prolong vigilance in air-traffic controllers and drone operators. Walters, now 23, interviewed subjects, observed blood flow using an ultrasound machine called a transcranial Doppler, and maintained a helmet full of electrodes and sensors.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 3:48 pm 0 Comments
At the Creative Machines Lab, a division of Cornell's department of mechanical engineering, 3-D printers fabricate everything from cupcake frosting to chain mail to body parts. Associate professor Hod Lipson, the head of the lab (who we've interviewed in the past), says "fabbing" particularly suits undergrads, because it takes only basic training in mechanical engineering to get involved, and the field rewards messing around.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 3:19 pm 0 Comments
Reed College, a liberal-arts school in Portland, Oregon, has 1,447 students and no graduate schools. But it has its own nuclear reactor. Only 27 schools in the nation have such a thing, and they usually use grad students and pros to run it. Reed entrusts the power of fission to students as young as freshmen, licensing twice as many undergraduate operators as any other university.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 2:52 pm 0 Comments
Some of the students interning on the Micro-autonomous Systems Technology (MAST) project at the Army Research Lab in Maryland spend their summer trying to equip soldiers with dozens or even hundreds of “insect” robots that can swarm into a bunker or cave to provide a remote look inside. “Working in silicon at the fruit-fly scale, they’ll cost almost nothing,” says Chris Kroninger, an aeronautics researcher specializing in MAST’s wings, “and they can be equipped with limited sensor capability that can be a first warning for a soldier.”
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.04.2011 at 2:00 pm 0 Comments
The research cruise that 25-year-old Ellie Bors took in 2009 looked so appealing, she says, that she skipped her own Oberlin College graduation to be part of it. On board, the crew made garbage-bag robes and a fake diploma for her, and she made her graduation walk anyway.
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.03.2011 at 6:17 pm 0 Comments
Many students pass through the beer lab of Professor Charles Bamforth, who for eight years worked as a senior manager at Bass Brewers. But the ones he most enjoys instructing come from the University of California at Davis's distinguished department of viticulture. "I like to convert one winemaker into a brewer every year," he says. "I consider beer a superior beverage, and I know it's a lot harder to make."