Medical technology has undergone some of the most revolutionary changes of any field in the Twentieth Century. And while many of the advances have included drugs, many more have involved the technology physicians use to diagnose and treat illness. Several winners of the Design News Engineer of the Year award have won for the medical-device breakthroughs they have brought about, including Rowland Redington (MRIs), Terry Haber (safe needles), Victor Poirier (left ventricular heart device), Dean Kamen (infusion pumps for dispensing drugs), and our most recent winner, Lynn Otten, who developed the first device to receive FDA approval for long-term implant in the brain. It controls essential tremors from Parkinson's Disease.
Here are some of the other medical breakthroughs of the century:
The first practical electrocardiograph, invented by Willem Einthoven in 1900.
The first X-ray patent, awarded to William Coolidge in 1917.
The electroencephalograph, 1929.
The first artificial kidney for humans, 1943.
The heart-lung machine, 1953.
The cardiac pacemaker, invented by Wilson Greatbach, 1958.
The laser, which enables present-day applications such as non-invasive retina surgery, cauterization of stomach ulcers, and the clearing away of cholesterol blockages of arteries.
Functional neuromuscular stimulation, 1961.
Fiberoptic endoscopes, to enable physicians to visually examine body cavities and hollow organs without invasive surgery, 1968.
Positron Emission Tomography, 1970.
Computer Axial Tomography, 1970.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 1979.
Lithotripsy, the ultrasonic technique for crushing kidney stones.
Functional Electrical Stimulation for grasp-and-release motor prosthesis.
The Jarvik artificial heart, 1982.
Cochlear implants, 1983.
The Parastep motor prosthesis system for limb control, 1995.
And many more. What others would you add to this admittedly partial list?
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.