For most of us, it's impossible to fully comprehend the consequences of a disease such as Parkinson's or Essential Tremor. Many sufferers shake constantly; they can't eat, drink, or lead normal lives without the help of caretakers. Thanks to Lynn Otten, however, Parkinson's sufferers now have a potent weapon in the fight against the disease. An engineer in Medtronic Inc.'s Neurological Division, Otten worked with three others from the company to develop the Activa Tremor Control system. It is the first FDA-approved electrical stimulation device for long-term implant in the brain. Starting on it as a spare-time project, Otten spearheaded the five-year development effort, which culminated when dramatic test results began pouring in from clinical trails. A biomedical engineer who holds numerous patents, Otten took the device through development, testing, validation, and, ultimately, to manufacturing. The device, which almost completely stops the tremors, is now available to thousands of Parkinson's sufferers who could not otherwise lead normal lives.
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.