Architecture to Explore


Via Yanko Design : Conceptualized for the city of Sagres, this architectural wonder called Star-Taker is an homage to Portugal’s exploratory contributions in the Age of Discovery. Set on the tip of the promontory where sailors, astrologers, and navigators set sail to find new lands, this stargazing center’s aesthetic is that of a deconstructed astrolabe (translated “stark-taker”) navigation tool. When you visit the site promontory, you will start a journey on a single star-path towards the Star-Taker, then rest in constellation squares where you can look up to the stars at night with a similar craving for discovery. Continuing on, you will reach star-paths surrounding the landmark. These paths have brass triangular plates with carvings of various stars and star systems, which point towards corresponding stars at certain times. You can either go to lookout platforms protruding from the cliff and contemplate open seas; or go inside, walking past the Beacon. The Beacon is not a guiding light, nor it is as bright as the neighboring lighthouse, but it is a reminder to passersby that something worth discovering is here. Once inside, you discover a stellar theme and after you look outside, you will be reminded that there are new horizons out there, waiting to be discovered.    

Engineers to entrepreneurs


Via Independent : Engineers to entrepreneurs Shay McConnell and Aidan Conway tell Sean Gallagher how they went from being employees to business owners Modern commercial and industrial buildings have become more intelligent than ever with computer-based systems now controlling everything from heating and cooling to hot water and ventilation. Not only do these complex systems require expertise in their design and installation, they also require highly skilled staff to maintain and service them. Such advances have given rise to a range of engineering firms that specialise in this area. Among them is Dublin-based Masterair. With its office in Whitestown Business Park, in Tallaght, the company employs 40 staff and has an annual turnover of €5m. This week, I met up with the company’s owners, Shay McConnell & Aidan Conway to see how their business is doing as a result of the recent upturn in the construction sector. “We specialise in the installation and maintenance of all types of mechanical and electrical systems,” says Shay as we inspect one of the company’s installations on the roof of the Liberty building in Blanchardstown. “The company was actually set up in 1989 by its previous owners who were involved in manufacturing air handling units as well as operating a maintenance and aftercare service. Aidan and I joined in 2001 and 2007, respectively and, in 2014, we successfully led a management buy-out of the business and have been expanding it since,” he adds. The company operates two divisions. One focuses on the installation of commercial… Read more

Lindsay Davis, Process Engineer: Solving Manufacturing Challenges


Via Huffington Post : Lindsay Davis, Process Engineer: Solving Manufacturing Challenges Lindsay Davis relishes in the delight she receives from her occupation. She’s a process engineer. In this role, she’s an integral part of a team of engineers who solve manufacturing challenges associated with the design and development of clients’ products. “Engineering allows me to channel my fierce competitiveness into solving problems that other people can’t solve. Whenever people say something cannot be done, I see it as a dare to prove them wrong, rather than a roadblock. This allows me to think differently and overcome obstacles easier. In manufacturing, problems are abundant and, most of the time, they have to be solved quickly, even if the solution is just to stay up all night and have everyone — regardless of title —building products as fast as possible to hit a deadline.” Lindsay decided upon an engineering career after attending Explore Engineering, Sweet Briar College’s introductory engineering event for high school girls, in 2008. “I was so looking forward to Explore Engineering. Arriving at Sweet Briar College, one immediately notices the campus, unparalleled in its beauty; my first thought was that I never wanted to leave. As I made my way to the science building, I was met by professors who already knew who I was, calling me by my name. For me, this was a new experience. Having attended a large public high school, teachers never remembered my name. At Explore Engineering, we made speakers out of everyday items: some… Read more

How to recruit, hire and retain female engineers


Via TC : How to recruit, hire and retain female engineers Leaders at tech startups are alarmed by the absence of women from mission-critical roles — software engineering, especially — at their own companies. Their boards are saying, “We gave you the money to grow, grow, grow, but you’re not. You don’t have the engineers to get it done.” The board can’t miss that you only seem able to hire men. So your dev team is shorthanded. Moreover, they might be shortsighted. As a 15-year veteran board member at more than a dozen tech companies — I’m still on three of them — and a venture partner at Scale Venture Partners, I don’t need to pummel you with studies or quote profitability reports from McKinsey and Morgan Stanley. I’ve seen firsthand, over and over, that companies with diverse teams (Salesforce: 23 percent female in technical roles) do better financially and compete better in the market. Entrepreneurs contact me because they want to change the ratio on their eng teams. It’s not because they’re out for social justice, or because they fear a lawsuit, or because California has gone insane with political correctness. It’s because founders want to build successful products and make a lot of money. But if fast-growing tech companies can’t find and hire qualified women software engineers — whom they know exist — their goal of a fully-staffed engineering team is even more elusive. They lose an important diversity component, which means everyone touching the product is constrained by… Read more

Cement soaks up greenhouse gases


Via Science : Cement is a climate villain. Making it is thought to produce 5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and factories. But this building block of modern civilization may eventually suck some of that carbon dioxide (CO2) back up—enough to cancel nearly a quarter of the gases released making cement, according to a new study. To make cement, limestone (calcium carbonate) is turned into lime (calcium oxide) by baking it at temperatures topping 1000°C. That conversion releases copious amounts of CO2—half cement’s total greenhouse gases. The other half comes from fossil fuels used to heat cement kilns. But there’s a silver lining: The mortar, concrete, and rubble from demolished buildings can gradually absorb CO2 through a process called carbonation. As CO2 from the air enters tiny pores in the cement, it encounters a variety of chemicals and water trapped there. The ensuing reactions convert the CO2 into other chemicals, including water. Still, just how much CO2 the world’s cement soaked up had never been estimated. So a team of Chinese scientists, including physicist Zhu Liu, now at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, set out to do just that. Those researchers eventually teamed up with Steve Davis, an earth systems scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and other U.S. and European researchers. Together, they compiled data from studies of how cement is used around the world, including the thickness of concrete walls, the quality of concrete used in different structures, the life spans of… Read more

A Better Way to Make Artificial Muscles


Via Engineering : Artificial muscles have many applications, from robotics to components in the automobile and aviation industries. Now, MIT researchers have come up with one of the simplest and lowest-cost systems yet for developing such materials. The key ingredient, inexpensive and ubiquitous, is ordinary nylon fiber. The new approach to harnessing this basic synthetic fiber material lies in shaping and heating the fibers in a particular way, which is described in a new paper in the journal Advanced Materials by doctoral candidate Seyed Mirvakili and professor Ian Hunter of MIT’s department of mechanical engineering. Previously, researchers had come up with the basic principle of using twisted coils of nylon filament to mimic basic linear muscle activity. They showed that for a given size and weight, such devices could extend and retract further, and store and release more energy, than natural muscles. But bending motions, such as those of human fingers and limbs, proved more challenging and had not yet been achieved in a simple and inexpensive system until the new work at MIT. There are some existing materials that can be used to produce these kinds of bending motions, which could be useful for some biomedical devices or tactile displays. However, those tend to use “exotic materials to do the job, and they are very expensive and very difficult to make,” Mirvakili said. For example, carbon nanotube yarns can provide great longevity (more than a million linear contraction cycles) but are still too expensive for widespread use, and shape-memory alloys… Read more

America’s first 3D printed houses


Via 3D Printing Industry : The U.S may soon have 3D printed homes, and a new partnership are claiming they will be created in just one day. Construction company Sunconomy have teamed up with Russian 3D printers Apis Cor and their 3D concrete printer and realize this ambition. Larry Haines, founder of Sunconomy, wants the public to join them on a “revolutionary journey to build affordable, smart, sustainable housing with Apis Cor’s new 3D concrete printer“. Sunconomy are currently crowd-funding for this project with a goal of over $500,000. The Machine Apis Cor’s machine (pictured above) only consumes eight kilowatts of energy while constructing and as it involves additive manufacturing it produces little-to-no waste. The machine is designed to be portable in that it can be transported in the back of a truck to and from sites. While it does not have any rails to move around while printing, the machine is able to print these small designs with ease and means no additional rails need to be assembled prior to printing. The printer operates in a maximum operation area of 132 m² and can be set up in just thirty minutes. Sunconomy do not just want to just build houses though, their aim is to use these houses to teach others about the importance of sustainability. For Sunconomy, “this isn’t just about building four walls and a roof” and the company believe that as greater numbers of people are living in poverty across both America and the world construction in… Read more

Artificial Intelligence Over the Next 20 Years


Via Daily Hornet : Artificial intelligence has gone mainstream. With major tech companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook making huge investments, there’s bound to be incredible developments in AI over the horizon. From deep-learning cyborgs to doomsday scenarios, here are five leading theories about where the global arms race to perfect AI could take humanity over the next two decades. Deep Learning In recent years, quantum leaps have been made in a wide range of cutting-edge technologies. From speech-recognition programs to adaptive language processing tools, these advances are made possible by a family of AI techniques known as deep learning. Also known as “deep structured” or “hierarchical” learning, deep learning teaches machines to ignore all but the most important features of a sound or image – a hierarchical world view that accounts for infinite variation. It’s deep learning that opened the door to driverless cars and speech-recognition engines like Siri, and it is this method of learning that will likely catapult AI to new horizons. Smarter Robots Over the short-term, deep learning will continue to help imbed AI in robots and devices. IBM is currently using machine learning algorithms to train robots to associate gestures and tones with phrases. The company’s AI technology is already embedded into robots made by other companies, such as SoftBank’s concierge and sales associate robot, Pepper. Machine learning algorithms can also help robots learn to more effectively navigate space (self-driving cars), and be incorporated into robotic devices such as bionic eyes. Intelligent Internet There’s been a… Read more

What is telecommunications engineering?


Via RCR Wireless : What is telecommunications engineering? Background The telecommunications industry is the backbone of today’s mobile landscape, deploying voice, data, graphics and video at ever-increasing speeds and in a growing number of ways. Wireline telephone communication was once the primary service of the industry, but wireless communication and satellite distribution are becoming increasingly dominant. Specialists in telecommunications engineering are needed to keep up with this ever-changing fast-paced industry. The basics of telecommunications Telecommunications engineering is a discipline founded around the exchange of information across channels via wired or wireless means. It brings together all of the elements of electrical engineering, including computer engineering and system engineering, to create and improve telecommunication systems. Telecom engineers work to develop, design and maintain voice and data communications systems, which include fiber, satellite, wired and unwired, as well as the encoding, encryption and compression of data. Put simply, telecommunications engineering can be found in just about every aspect of our lives, from GPS navigation to the internet. The work of telecommunications engineers range from creating basic circuit designs to deploying wireless networks. They are responsible for designing and overseeing the installation of telecommunications equipment and facilities, such as complex electronic switching systems, copper wire telephone facilities, fiber optics cabling or internet protocol data systems. Some of the main areas of focus for telecommunications engineers are the installation of high-speed broadband computer networks, and optical and wireless or satellite communications. To give a better idea of the scope of work a telecom engineer operates… Read more

Manufacturing the future


Via Raconteur : Sir Terry Morgan, knighted earlier this year for services to UK infrastructure, skills and employment, is chairman of Crossrail, the HS2 College, Ricardo plc and until recently the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Manufacturing Technology Centre. Here he reflects on the future of manufacturing and infrastructure in the UK The UK’s manufacturing and infrastructure sectors are at the heart of our economy. However, these are uncertain times for industry, when even incomplete or unverified data is immediately seized upon as proof of a post-EU referendum boost or bust. The government’s intention to have an industrial strategy couldn’t be timed better and is exactly what we need to do. Having lived and breathed manufacturing for the last five decades I would like to outline my view on the key pillars that are needed in the government’s strategy. Firstly, we need to continue to develop, implement and commercialise our technology. The UK is a world leader in technological research, but has traditionally allowed too many inventions to be commercialised overseas. Think of the lithium ion battery: invented in the UK, yet almost entirely produced in the Far East. Over the last five years we have tackled that problem with the introduction of the Catapult programme. I chaired one of the centres in the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult and saw first hand how it helped companies bring new technology to market using open access to the latest industrial-scale equipment, world-leading expertise, and a space for companies and universities to collaborate. Secondly,… Read more