• Perspective: Mitigating climate crisisCan We Engineer Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis?

    The Climate Apocalypse is upon us. More carbon monoxide has been discharged into the atmosphere in the last 50 years than in the whole of human history that went before. Carbon traps heat and the world is getting hotter. Heat holds water vapor and so rainfall is getting more frequent while heat waves last longer. Ice at the poles melts and coastal cities face inundation as sea levels rise. The doom confidently predicted by many climate scientists around the world is being met by optimism among other scientists who are employing innovative technologies that may transform the debate and offer hope for us all. These technological breakthroughs will impact all aspects of climate change from carbon emissions to food production and all forms of energy.

  • FloodsThese Dams Needed Replacing 15 Years Ago. Now Texas Will Drain Four Lakes Instead — Causing Other Problems.

    By Chase Karacostas

    Texas officials will start draining four lakes next week in Guadalupe County in Central Texas without a plan in place for when the lakes, and the 90-year-old dams that support them, will be rebuilt. Area homeowners, who got barely a month’s notice, said they felt blindsided by the plan, and they say it will slash their property values, kill their beloved century-old cypress trees and render the lakes — which have hosted water skiing tournaments for decades — unusable.

  • Perspective: 9/11 mystery9/11 Mystery Solved: World Trade Center Building Didn't Collapse Due to Fire – Study Finds

    Foreign interference and hostile state espionage are a bigger threat to Australia’s security than terrorism, one of the country’s top spy chiefs has warned. Duncan Lewis, the outgoing head of Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), identified three challenges security confronting Australians: terrorism, cyber warfare; and foreign interference and espionage. But the latter was on a “growth trajectory” and is a greater threat than terrorism, he told a Lowy Institute forum in Sydney.

  • EarthquakesBetter Support Column Design to Help Bridges to Withstand Earthquakes

    Bridges make travel faster and more convenient, but, in an earthquake, these structures are subject to forces that can cause extensive damage and make them unsafe. Researchers are investigating the performance of hybrid sliding-rocking (HSR) columns. HSR columns provide the same support as conventional bridge infrastructure columns but are more earthquake-resistant.

  • Fire hazardReducing fire hazards from materials

    Fire researchers will tell you that there’s a simple solution for reducing fire hazards: eliminate flammable materials. If it doesn’t burn, the experts say, then there won’t be a fire. Of course, that option isn’t very practical or realistic; after all, who wants to sit on a block of cement when you can have a cushiony recliner? NIST offers a better strategy for reducing the thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars in damage resulting from the more than a million fires each year in the United States.

  • Earthquake survivalEngineers solve the 500-year-old Leaning Tower of Pisa mystery

    Why has the Leaning Tower of Pisa survived the strong earthquakes that have hit the region since the middle ages? After studying available seismological, geotechnical and structural information, researchers concluded that the survival of the Tower can be attributed to a phenomenon known as dynamic soil-structure interaction (DSSI).

  • The Big OneNext California's Big One could kill hundreds, cause $100 billion in losses, trap 20,000 in elevators

    What will happen when the next big earthquake hits northern California? Researchers say that if a tremor similar in magnitude to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake were to hit today, it could kill 800 people, cause more than $100 billion in economic losses from the shaking and subsequent fires, and trap roughly 20,000 people in elevators across northern California.

  • FloodsArtificial levees on Mississippi River dramatically increased extreme floods

    A new study has revealed for the first time the last 500-year flood history of the Mississippi River. It shows a dramatic rise in the size and frequency of extreme floods in the past century—mostly due to projects to straighten, channelize, and bound the river with artificial levees. The new research also uncovered a clear pattern over the centuries linking flooding on the Mississippi with natural fluctuations of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean water temperatures.

  • Earthquakes“Shape memory” metals for earthquake-resistant construction

    Researchers have found an economical way to improve the properties of some “shape memory” metals, known for their ability to return to their original shape after being deformed. The method could make way for the mass production of these improved metals for a variety of applications, including earthquake-resistant construction materials.

  • EarthquakesFederal funding boosts West Coast’s ShakeAlert system

    The University of Oregon has received $1 million from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to help strengthen the state’s monitoring and disaster-preparation efforts. The funds will be used to install, maintain and operate additional seismic-monitoring sites throughout Oregon, and for engaging pilot users of the ShakeAlert system and the public.

  • Safer buildings20-story earthquake-safe buildings made from wood

    Engineering researchers are putting a two-story wooden structure through a series of powerful earthquake simulations, using a lab shake table. The goal is to gather the data required to design wood buildings as tall as twenty stories that do not suffer significant damage during large earthquakes.

  • STEM educationYoung engineers pedal their way to underwater dominance

    What do a shark, coffin and ice cream cone have in common? They’re all student-built, human-powered submarines—and they competed in the 14th biennial International Submarine Races (ISR), recently held at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division, in Bethesda, Maryland. ISR is a biennial event where participants design, build and race one- or two-person, human-powered submarines down a 328-feet underwater course in the David Taylor Model Basin.

  • Building safetyGrenfell fire aftermath: how 20th-century buildings can be made safer, not more dangerous

    By Laura B Alvarez

    Despite the horror of the fire at Grenfell Tower, UK regulations for tall buildings are ahead of the curve in comparison with other countries. There have been huge improvements in construction materials and technological solutions throughout the modern era. And testing and certification methods have became even more rigorous, to ensure the quality of new products. Of course, many people are now asking what more could have been done to prevent the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell blaze. The truth is, while architects and engineers can work to mitigate the risk of fire, it cannot be completely eliminated. The addition of some materials to buildings, such as cladding, will obviously now come under scrutiny. But there are several improvements that can be made to old 20th-century tower blocks like Grenfell, to make them safer places to live.

  • STEM educationNorthrop Grumman Foundation fosters a “passion for engineering”

    The Northrop Grumman Foundation and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) are partnering, for the second year in a row, to host twenty-five middle school teachers (fellows) from locations near Northrop Grumman sites for a year-long blended learning experience, culminating in a two-week externship during the summer at a site near them.

  • Energy securityTaller wind turbine towers to help expand wind energy nationwide

    Winds at higher elevations, generally, are stronger and more consistent, even in wind-rich states such as Iowa and Texas. In fact, a 20-meter increase (about 66 feet) in tower height creates a 10 percent boost in Iowa energy production. Researchers have been working on developing new concrete tower technology capable of reaching 140 meters (about 459 feet). The towers will be assembled from precast panels and columns made with high-strength or ultra-high-performance concrete. Those panels and columns can be cast in sizes that are easy to load on trucks. They are tied together on-site by cables to form hexagon-shaped cells. A crane can stack the cells to form towers as high as 140 meters.