I agree that first one was a complex design, Chuck. I was impressed with the high level of complexity all through this slide show. It makes me wonder to what degree CAD programs and simulation were involved. I would imagine computers might be behind this new level of complexity.
That's a good question, NadineJ. As a father of two daughters, I would hope more girls are participating in STEM school projects and in careers, especially since women are making such advances in most areas of higher education. Not sure, though.
@NadineJ: I'm not sure what effect these competitions are having, but I do think that engineering is (slowly) becoming less male-dominated. However, progress is uneven among engineering disciplines.
When I was in college -- a little less than a decade ago -- nearly half of the chemical and biomedical engineering students were women. There were fewer women in civil engineering, fewer still in electrical engineering, and hardly any in mechanical and aerospace engineering. (I don't have actual numbers; these are just my impressions).
In my own department, materials engineering, there were only three women undergraduates, but there were only about a dozen total students. Overall, women seem to be better represented in materials engineering than in most other engineering disciplines besides chemical and biomedical.
It would be interesting to know why some disciplines have remained more male-dominated than others.
Good article. I'd like to add that every one of these teams of students has engineers like us mentoring them, encouraging them, and helping them develop buildable robots out of sometimes challenging brainstorm session outcomes. The only thing limiting even more teams being formed is local engineers volunteering to get involved. You can really make a difference! Watching these kids eyes light up when something they daydreamed becomes a working piece of equipment is incredible! Find a team and get involved.
@bobengr: I'm with you in hoping that these competitions can stimulate more interest in STEM jobs as a career. I think that just seeing the fruits of these student competitors' labor shows how engineering and manufacturing jobs are evolving in this day and age and how it demands a very different skill set than what was expected in the earlier decades.
Chuck: I believe the Buckeye Bullet still holds the record for fastest EV. These guys are pushing the envelope so much that President Obama recently visited them and highlighted their work as part of recent tour to promote US manufacturing.
Excellent point. I think many universities are realizing that students want their courses to remain relavent, interesting and worthwhile. The very best courses I had during my university years were conducted by professors who had "been there and done that". Hands on experience wrapped around good sound principals always holds a sudents interest. "Book learning" is fine but it must be shown to be useful in solving problems.
In times past, the degree of enthusiasm outweighed the degree of difficulty relative to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). I certainly hope those days are returning and we see many more students entering areas involving technology and math.I am somewhat pessimistic about the return of manufacturing to our country, at least to the extent we enjoyed in the 50s, 60s and 70s.As we all know, manufacturing, at one time, was the engine that provided paydays for many many engineers and designers.I will say this, several companies I do business with are bringing products and assemblies "home" due to less than acceptable quality and reliability.They are also finding procurement and communication can be a real problem and have decided that higher costs are acceptable relative to the chaos and delays involved with doing business overseas.The down side is we have lost one entire generation as far as experience.Let's hope competition such as the one Beth has shown us will stimulate additional entry into STEM professions.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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