• "Keeping America a technological leader": SRC's STEM-supporting initiatives

    SRC, Inc., an R&D company which was established in 1957, has its roots in academia. It regards science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) as the foundation of its business. Over the past decade there have been numerous reports about how the U.S. ranking in science and mathematics education has been declining. There has also been a drop in the number of students majoring in STEM fields. Around 2007, SRC developed its philanthropic focus areas as a way to direct its resources to areas where the company could have the most impact. One of these focus areas is STEM. HSNW talked with Lisa D. Mondello, director of corporate communications and PR at SRC, about the company’s STEM-related initiatives.

  • Our new anti-earthquake technology could protect cities from destruction

    Protecting cities from earthquakes is still a grand challenge that needs addressing, as recent disasters in Nepal, Japan, Haiti, and Chile confirm. Although significant progress has been made in understanding seismic activity and developing building technology, we still don’t have a satisfactory way of protecting buildings on a large scale. This is a serious problem, since large numbers of buildings that don’t have built-in protection exist in earthquake zones, particularly in developing countries where replacing them or introducing stricter — and more expensive — building codes aren’t seen as an option. Researchers have designed a novel vibrating barrier (ViBa) to reduce the vibrations of nearby structures caused by an earthquake’s ground waves. The device would be buried in the soil and detached from surrounding buildings, and should be able to absorb a significant portion of the dynamic energy arising from the ground motion with a consequent reduction of seismic response (between 40-80 percent).

  • President Obama honors outstanding mathematics and science teachers

    President Obama on Thursday named 108 mathematics and science teachers as recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. “These teachers are shaping America’s success through their passion for math and science,” Obama said. “Their leadership and commitment empower our children to think critically and creatively about science, technology, engineering, and math. The work these teachers are doing in our classrooms today will help ensure that America stays on the cutting edge tomorrow.”

  • Bay Area students learn value of science, engineering through My Brother's Keeper initiative

    It was an exciting day for more than sixty disadvantaged youth from Oakland, San Francisco, and Tracy, who visited the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Friday for a special “Day at the Lab” as part of the White House initiative, My Brother’s Keeper. The My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative was launched by President Barack Obama to address opportunity gaps with disadvantaged and disconnected youth, specifically targeting minority boys, to encourage positive future life and career choices. The goal is to connect young people to mentoring and support networks and to instill a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

  • Rebuilding a safer and stronger Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam

    Three months ago Cyclone Pam swept across Vanuatu, leaving 75,000 people in need of emergency shelter and damaging or destroying about 15,000 buildings, including homes, schools, and medical facilities. Since then, one of the most hotly debated questions within communities and on social media has been about how Vanuatu can rebuild so that it’s safer, stronger, and more resilient to future cyclones. Achieving this is not as simple as you might think. The strength and safety of buildings is critical — especially when you are rebuilding in a cyclone-prone region. But housing in particular is about more than walls and roofs; it’s also about community, traditions, culture, and supporting the way people want to live. While the strength of buildings and their ability to withstand cyclones are very important, so too are the strength and resilience of the people of Vanuatu, who have been living with the annual cyclone season for generations. The reconstruction of Vanuatu needs a diverse approach that is not solely reliant on quickly prefabricated or engineered solutions, and which keeps people at the heart of the rebuilding process.

  • NSF awards $12 million to spur an engineering education revolution

    To solve twenty-first century technological challenges, society will rely upon today’s undergraduate engineering and computer science programs and their ability to prepare diverse communities of students with professional skills. The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and Education and Human Resources have jointly awarded $12 million to engineering and computer science departments to enact groundbreaking, scalable and sustainable changes in undergraduate education.

  • Purdue “Skunkworks” targeting engineering education

    Purdue University will create an Engineering Education Skunkworks as part of a national effort to transform how undergraduate engineering is taught in U.S. universities. Purdue’s role is to create the Engineering Education Skunkworks to “spark a departmental revolution” focusing on mechanical engineering. The Skunkworks will allow researchers to fast-track concepts that are most likely to be successful, said Edward Berger, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and engineering education who conceived the concept.

  • Giant foam blocks keep approach slabs of bridges from settling

    The majority of the world’s largest cities, often built in areas near water bodies, have soft and compressible soils. For example, a good number of the 52,000 bridges in Texas have bump problems on entry due to settling of the soil under the pavement slabs. A research team at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is using giant lightweight geofoam blocks to bolster the earth beneath roads and bridges and slow down the settling of roadways and bridges.

  • U Vermont breaks ground for STEM complex, largest capital project in UVM history

    The University of Vermont officially broke ground 15 May on its $104 million STEM project, the largest capital project in UVM history. The 266,000-square-foot STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) complex will include two new buildings for classrooms, science labs, and meeting space. Of the $104 million total project cost, $26 million will come from non-debt sources, including private gifts. To date, $4.6 million has been raised in private gifts.

  • Designing the future of rail travel

    Increased traffic, congestion, security of energy supply, and climate change are just some of the many pressing issues that the EU currently faces. In order fully to tackle these challenges, the railway sector must modernize and take on a larger share of transport demand over the next few decades. EU-funded researchers have just begun work on three exciting projects that could very well determine the shape of rail travel in the coming years.

  • Strengthening increasingly unstable rail tracks

    The big chunks of rock — crushed limestone or dolomite that engineers call ballast — which keep railroad tracks in place look like a solid footing even as freight cars rumble overhead. Temperature and vibration, however, can destabilize ballast over time, keeping it from safely transferring the weight of a loaded train to the soil below, draining water, and preventing vegetation from crowding the tracks. In some states, a booming industry of mining sand for use by oil and gas drillers in hydraulic fracturing has presented a new challenge: fine grains of sand can leak from rail cars, accumulate in rail bed ballast and, during a rainstorm, turn into mushy, track-loosening mud.

  • Students who take a hands-on approach to learning perform better in science

    Students who physically experience scientific concepts understand them more deeply and score better on science tests, according to a new study. Brain scans showed that students who took a hands-on approach to learning had activation in sensory and motor-related parts of the brain when they later thought about concepts such as angular momentum and torque. Activation of these brain areas was associated with better quiz performance by college physics students who participated in the research.

  • Nepal should use updated, upgraded building codes in post-disaster construction: Experts

    Urban planners and disaster experts who have been arriving in Kathmandu to inventory, assess, and make recommendations have been urging the Nepalese authorities to “Build it back better.” There are plenty of examples of post-disaster construction built significantly safer, using low-cost traditional materials and methods. Nepal has last updated its building code in 1994.

  • Young students compete at the Sea Level Measurement Device Design competition

    Global warming is bringing about a rise in the mean sea level, and this increases the risk of coastal flooding brought by storm surges during the passage of tropical cyclones. Two-hundred young students – from 4th grade to junior high — from twenty-five primary, secondary, and international schools designed and produced sea level measurement devices to compete for various prizes in the Sea Level Measurement Device Design Competition held last Sunday at the University of Hong Kong.

  • Disaster and recovery: The unexpected shall come to be expected

    In the days following the Nepal earthquake, the media has been focusing on the heart-wrenching human interest and hero-tragedy stories, but what must be emphasized is that this disaster was anticipated. More importantly, we now have the tools and building technologies to mitigate the impact of even major earthquakes. The frequency of earthquakes has not changed over the past few million years, but now millions of people live in vulnerable situations. The unexpected must come to be expected. Much-needed humanitarian assistance must transition into long-term development efforts. Simply put, instilling a culture of disaster risk reduction, investing in hazard mitigation, building as best as we can, and retrofitting what remains, will save lives.