You bring up a good point about education and toys. But STEM has nothing to do with it (IMHO). Why do we believe we were born just yesterday? Do we not remember all the cool toys we grew up with? For example that stupid laughing bag with the disc in it? They key is not STEM, but individual curiosity. Lord knows how many toys I took aport just to learn. Heck I bet I was also not the only one who played with a crystal and an earphone - outside of school.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.
Yes, I know STEM education was a big goal for awhile of the federal government to boost U.S. competitiveness overseas. It may have fallen by the wayside given many other problems that are more prominent, so it's good to see private inventors leading the charge as well.
Rob, I really liked the STEM aspect of this. But I especially liked the fact that it was originally a full-blown robotics project in a university lab and then became a separate entrepreneurial project that achieves multiple goals: help crowdsource the beta phase of the design, serve as a useful and fun tool for educating a wide array of people about robotics, and also let engineers start a company.
Great slideshow, Ann. It's really cool to see how hobbyists or really anyone who wants to learn more about robotics has access to innovative and cutting-edge technology. I think these types of efforts can lead to future innovation in the robotics space and also perhaps even encourage more interest in STEM education for kids to help create the future generations of engineers.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Two teams, one based in the US and one in Europe, have 3D printed space-worthy support structures for satellite antenna arrays. These aren't prototypes: they're fully functioning antenna supports that will operate while exposed to the harsh temperatures and radiation of outer space.
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