More than a million times each year in hospitals all around the world, a device called the heart-lung machine keeps patients alive while surgeons repair damaged hearts in an unobstructed "dry environment." Those who benefit range from tiny babies with congenital defects to adults suffering from arterial blockage. For many years, Richard Griewski has led the design efforts on the 3M Sarns brand of heart-lung pumping systems, one of the oldest and most respected names in this life-sustaining technology. Griewski has played a particularly important role in pioneering the first computer-aided centralized monitoring systems for heart-lung machines. In the process, he has had to learn the fundamentals of cardiac surgery to address the human factors needs of the perfusionists who operate this equipment during critical moments. His engineering expertise also includes: pumping systems, cell biology, display systems, electronics, software, and electromagnetic compatibility. One veteran perfusionist at the famed Texas Heart Institute calls the Sarns devices the "Coca Cola" of the field, based on the machines' long track record for reliability, as well as such innovations as automatic battery backup, integrated gas mixer, and "splash-proof" design.
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.
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.