Engineer Your Future
Welcome to The Accelerator, a monthly e-newsletter that keeps engineering students informed and helps them connect and succeed. Here you will find the latest news affecting student life, engineering, and higher education; information on contests, grants and scholarships, and internships; tips on career planning; and interesting examples of student research. Use our drop-down Resources menu above or click on one of the Categories on the right to find a growing collection of useful sources.
The New York Times recently published an editorial highlighting how some New York universities have taken steps to denounce unpaid internships. For instance, Columbia University now warns employers interested in posting on its job site about Department of Labor standards and guidelines for offering internships. The guidelines state that unpaid internships cannot displace regular employees, and that companies cannot receive immediate benefits or advantages from the internship. New York University has similar warnings on its career site.
Columbia also plans to stop giving credit to students who are in unpaid internships, putting it in line with several other Ivy League universities. Many companies offer unpaid positions so long as the student can receive academic credit for the work, thus justifying the work is beneficial to his/her education whether or not that is actually the case. The editorial states that many unpaid interns have successfully sued their companies, although universities have often stayed quiet or even defended the practice. “On this issue, Columbia and NYU are setting good examples,” the editorial says.
The new Additive Manufacturing Grand Challenge at Virginia Tech could pave the way for innovations in military repairs and remotely operated vehicles. The competition, which started on March 3 and is partly sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, invites Virginia Tech undergraduates and graduates of all majors to design and test 3D printed aircraft and ground vehicles. According to the challenge website, future military and civilian engineers might need to use similar methods to create remotely operated vehicles in urgent situations — like on battlefields or amidst natural disasters — where there’s no time to wait for reinforcements to arrive. 3D printing could also one day make machine repairs simple and convenient, by being able to print the necessary part wherever and whenever it’s needed.
Student teams can only use 3D printing materials and standard electronics sch as motors, batteries, and receivers. The finale, to be held May 15, will pit teams against each other in obstacle courses. Judging factors will include ability to navigate the course, time to complete a mission, and the time it took to print and assemble the parts of the vehicle. A total of $15,000 in cash prizes is at stake, which includes $3,000 for first-place winners and $250 for each team that creates a functional vehicle, regardless of placing.
Students at Amal Jyothi College of Engineering in Kerala, India, have created a small device that can be worn like a wristwatch and is capable of checking a person’s blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate, temperature, blood oxygen level, and whether or not a person has fallen down and might need assistance. The readings can also be displayed as graphs on a monitor, if the device is connected to one.
The device can be set up to text, email, or call a doctor or family member if any readings fall out of normal ranges, according to IEEE. The creator, engineering student Libin Varghese, said in the article that similar monitoring devices are too limited in their capabilities and too heavy and cumbersome to be truly portable. According to the article, the product could retail for $100 USD, but the student group is working to get that even lower. The device is also only 80% accurate, so the students are interested in using more accurate sensors to make it similar to results often obtained in hospitals.
If you’re an Accelerator subscriber, chances are you’d like to get your hands on as many engineering resources as you can. Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy (ESEP) is a American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) initiative, where a coalition of other science and engineering societies has put together a list of publications, fellowships, internships, and more, for students and professionals looking to become more involved with policy initiatives.
The Resources page shows internships, fellowships, networking opportunities, and other useful links and filters by career level, from student up to postdoctoral scholar and professional. Visit the About page to learn more about the participating societies, and to subscribe to the ESEP email list.
The U.S. Department of Energy has selected 20 college teams to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015. They include eight returning teams, 12 new teams, and four feature partners from international schools.
According to the department’s website:
“The Solar Decathlon 2015 teams now begin a two-year process to build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient houses that combine affordability, innovation, and design excellence. The teams will design, construct, and test their houses before reassembling them in fall 2015 at the competition site at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California.