Welcome to the robotic age. Long-term federal investments in fundamental science and engineering research, and the researchers who pursue them, have led to novel machines that safely partner with people in nearly every environment. Soon, helping hands are as likely to be made of metal and plastic as flesh and bone. While roboticists figure out the final frontiers of programming, materials development and systems challenges, why not throw some robot motivational posters up on the walls? Find out more in this Special Report.
Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology
Theoretical materials physicist Craig Fennie, an assistant professor of applied and engineering physics at Cornell University, is creating new materials by employing a "first principles" approach based on quantum mechanics, in which he builds materials atom by atom, starting with mathematical models, in order to gain the needed physical properties. At Cornell, Fennie served for three years as the Cornell Center for Materials Research faculty advisor to NSF's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. Fennie is, in fact, an REU "alum" himself. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: Cj Fennie, Cornell University
Nathan Scherrer's abiding sense of curiosity has led him to various adventures in science and engineering--first in the military and now in academia. Scherrer enrolled in the engineering program of the University of San Diego (USD), a private, Roman Catholic university. As a senior in 2013, he worked on a capstone project that emerged from a USD Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. It involved harnessing power from wasted vehicle exhaust heat to increase fuel efficiency. Find out more in this discovery.
Credit: Chris Keeney, University of San Diego
The Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) Division of the Directorate for Engineering (ENG), integrates disciplinary basic research and education conducted in other divisions of ENG and across NSF, into strategic frameworks critical to addressing societal grand challenges and to promoting innovation.
A Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) award supplement to San Jose State University enabled a pilot earthquake engineering REU in New Zealand. Researchers at San Jose State collaborated with the Pacific Rim Undergraduate Experiences (PRIME) program.
Underrepresented students are more likely to pursue graduate school after summer undergraduate research experience
College students from across the U.S. are getting an opportunity that is unavailable to many of them on their own campuses--the chance to program robots. The students are taking part in a 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, or SURE for short.
This particular SURE program is at Georgia Tech's Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM). It's an immersive robotics research experience that is designed to attract underrepresented students into graduate school in the fields of engineering and science. IRIM associate director of research Ayanna Howard says the projects--such as programming a robot to serve food to a person with a disability--are also meant to enlighten the students about the various applications of robotics and the multidisciplinary aspects of the research. She says the students also develop more confidence.
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