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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.

Elementary Engineering

girls_engineering

University of Nebraska – Lincoln civil engineering student Shay Valentine volunteers regularly at Gomez Heritage Elementary School in Omaha, and recently she started a school club to get young girls interested in engineering, according to the news site Omaha.com. The club received an outpouring of attention, as 40 girls signed up for the 20 available slots in January. According to the article,  students have been responding well to the activities and projects, which include making pollution catchers, mini ecosystems in plastic bottles, and using dried spaghetti and tape to build structures strong enough to hoist a marshmallow.

The article quotes Valentine saying that many students at her university are male, from small towns around the state, but that diversity can be a huge boon for solving problems in team settings. “We want them to be more assertive,” she said. “To think ‘My ideas are worth something. I can speak, too. I can have a voice,’ ” said Shay’s mother and third-grade teacher at Gomez, Linda Valentine.

A One-stop Shop for NASA Internships

nasa logo

The Accelerator has featured a number of internships with NASA, and the administration has made it easier than ever to find student internships, fellowships, and other projects through their One Stop Shopping Initiative website. The website lists all internships, fellowships, and other student opportunities that NASA has to offer, including non-technical roles, and also allows users to create one universal profile for applying to multiple opportunities.

NASA internships can be full or part-time, conducted at a NASA facility, contractor facility, or anywhere activities are ongoing to advance NASA’s missions. Mentors can be civil servants, contractors, or faculty conducting activities directly related to NASA’s unique assets and ongoing mission activities.

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U. North Carolina Lab Discovers Material for Fireproof Batteries

rainbow of batteries

This report is from the March 2014 issue of ASEE Connections:

“Lithium ion batteries have become very popular because they’re relatively energy-dense and long-lived. But in cars and airplanes, where larger batteries are needed, they’ve also been prone to catching fire. That’s because the electrolyte they use, a lithium salt in an organic solvent, is flammable. So although lithium ions easily navigate through this liquid during charging, if the batteries are overcharged, they can spontaneously combust.

But Joseph DeSimone, a University of North Carolina professor of chemistry, may have a solution: perfluoropolyether, or PFPE. That’s a polymer that often used use to lubricate heavy-machinery gears. DeSimone was looking at PFPE as a sealant that would keep barnacles and other marine life from adhering to ship bottoms. But then he realized PFPE’s chemical structure was not too dissimilar to the polymeric electrolyte used in in lithium ion batteries. Most polymers won’t mix with salts, but lithium salts easily dissolved in PFPE. And PFPE is nonflammable. DeSimone’s team’s discovery could result in a new type of lithium ion battery, based on PFPE, that’s not prone to bursting into flames.”

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AAAS Student Essay Competition

AAAS logo3Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to participate in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science and Human Rights Coalition essay contest, which encourages students to find the connections between human rights and science, engineering, and health professions. Students may write an analytical or critical paper on any topic that is at the intersection of science, technology, and human rights. Winners will receive a year of AAAS membership and a one-year subscription to Science. Essays will also be considered for AAAS’s quarterly publication, Professional Ethics Report.

The contest is open to students of all disciplines, but those in science, social science, health, engineering, and mathematics programs are especially encouraged to participate. Read more about the judging criteria and essay requirements here, and remember to submit your essay no later than midnight on May 30, 2014.

AfterCollege.com Offers Entry Level Opportunities

internshipAfterCollege.com provides career guidance and leads to open entry level positions for recent college graduates. According to its website, AfterCollege is the largest career network for students and recent graduates, and features 400,000 entry-level jobs and internships from more than 25,000 employers. AfterCollege reaches more than 5,000,000 users each year, including 18,000 faculty, student group and administrative contacts at over 2,000 colleges and universities.

Students can find opportunities by entering their school, course of study, and graduation date on the home page. As users give more feedback on job titles, job types and location, the system provides more personalized opportunities. Students can also create a profile, portfolio, and follow companies on the site to find new opportunities. AfterCollege has also awarded scholarships and student aid, and has given out over $1,000,000 to date.