Showing posts with label Engineering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Engineering. Show all posts

April 28, 2019

Rockville Science Fair - 30th Year!















(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

July 18, 2016

When It Comes To Education, We're Just Playing Around

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, "But I still don't feel that I am learning anything practical!"

He friends responds saying, "Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?"

The first young women says, "They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on."

The second young women starts repeating, "X+Y, X+Y, that's all they teach us!"
I couldn't help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 

We've gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it--it's still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education--behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can't innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don't change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

May 18, 2016

State Of Education

So here's a sign at on the miserable state of education in America. 

"Develop Your English Skills For A Career In The Federal Government"

An advertisement in downtown, Washington, DC.

It's amazing that we can't assume proficiency in basic English skills.

Again, forget perhaps more challenging fields of the present and future such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

We can't even assume proficient English language skills for the Federal government in the Capital of this great country. 

Certainly, would understand the need for people with specialized foreign language skills for domestic positions as intelligence analysts and various overseas positions, but English???

There are more advanced degrees and certifications out there than over before, but are people really any smarter or ready for successful careers, life skills, and survival in modern-day America and the broader world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

March 29, 2016

STEM Lost And Found

So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things...from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 



Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the "STEM crisis is a myth," still "we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts."

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), "Oh, don't depend on my math skills for that!"

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets--and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it's being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization's free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Share/Save/Bookmark

December 14, 2015

Looking For Astronauts - Apply Here

So cool!!!

OPM Job announcement today for Astronauts.

Work for NASA at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

Train for missions to the International Space Station, on two new commercial spacecraft, and for the Orion  deep-space exploration vehicle.

To go where no man or woman has gone before...

Dreams do come true!;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Paul Hudson)
Share/Save/Bookmark

March 2, 2015

Orange Spiral, Going Up

What an absolutely gorgeous staircase.

A modern spiral with vivid orange and white. 

When I look at this, it's almost as if the staircase is in motion, like a spinning drill bit. 

The person sitting to the right of the stairs seems like they will be swept away or crushed in the next spin of the stairs.

Next to the big windows, the incoming light hits the stairs and creates shadows that give it even more life. 

Excellent job by GW University in their new Science and Engineering building. 

You'd expect to see something like this in the Museum of Modern Art...it's awesome! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Share/Save/Bookmark

December 11, 2014

Finals Week

This was a funny (-sad) picture right outside the new Science and Engineering Building at the prestigious George Washington University today. 

It looks much like a noose and is lit up by the glass and modern finishes of this new building. 

So a colleague says jokingly to me "Is that because of [the stress of] finals week?"

Now execution and suicide are definitely not a laughing matter...

But what a juxtaposition of this gorgeous new building going up and the old time hangman's noose (almost) hanging down. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
Share/Save/Bookmark

August 6, 2014

World's Fastest Bicycle "Egg"


This human powered bicycle is so cool--and fast!

It is called the ETA (or "Banana Bike") and is being designed by AeroVelo, University of Toronto engineering graduates and students.


These are the same folks that created the award-winning Atlas human-powered helicopter. 


The ETA is expected to reach over 87 mph, thereby breaking the human-powered land speed record of 83.1 mph.


The bicycle mechanics are being enclosed in an egg-shaped aerodynamic shell and it will be powered by a single person doing the pedaling. 


A combination of the movie Tron and the 1970's sitcom Mork & Mindy, it offers the potential for an environmentally friendly way to get around town and some nice fat-burning exercise too. ;-)


(Source Screenshot: here with attribution to BusinessWeek)

Share/Save/Bookmark

February 16, 2014

How Our Colony On Mars Will Get Built


Absolutely amazing development in robotics...

According to the Wall Street Journal, Harvard University researchers have developed autonomous robots inspired by termites or ants. 

They can build complex structures by working in a group or swarm.

Each robot is independent, yet by being programmed with the target structure, they work harmoniously together to build the structure without further guidance. 

They have sensors along with a set of rules that enable them to interact with each other and the environment to get the job done. 

They can even build stairs to enable themselves to get to higher levels of the structure and add the next set of building bricks. 

The robots are 8" by 4.5" with pinwheel tires for traction and are powered by off-the-shelf motors.

"Each robot 'walks around the structure until it sees something that needs to be done and then does it...they can recognize errors and correct them.'"

Perhaps, the robots can not only learn from the termites, but we can learn from the robots. ;-)
Share/Save/Bookmark

June 1, 2012

We're In It Together


This is a cool vision by Tom Clancy of the "future soldier" from the Ghost Recon game series. 

The mixture of advanced weaponry, high-tech reconnaissance and surveillance, drones and robotics, future combat uniforms, and cloaking technology is just super.

If you have time and interest, there is another longer video here with footage that is particularly good starting at about the 3:40 marker. 

Like Star Trek paving the way for real-life advances in technology and space exploration, Clancy's future soldier will be another example of life imitating art.  

When we marry the vision and creativity of our entertainment industry, with the technical skills of our scientists and engineers, and the risk-taking of our entrepreneurs, we can do truly awesome things. 

"No one can do everything, but everyone can do something"--we're in it together! 

Share/Save/Bookmark

August 3, 2011

Head Over Heels For Technology



This is really a very cool video called iPad Head Girl.


The girl is covered with 4 iPads--each with an image of a different angle of a headshot (face, back, and sides) making it look almost like her real head.


You're thinking--what is this: a robot, a person, an alien?--it's really up to your imagination, but you'd better get a closer look.


I understand from Coolest-Gadgets that this is actually part of an advertising campaign by Thinkmodo for a racy iPad magazine called "Cosmo for Guys," and No, I am not promoting this in any way!


However, the advertising with the walking head iPads and the images of the girl is definitely making heads turn, but for very different reasons and it has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with technology.


My view is that we are fascinated by the "latest and greatest" use of technology--and are basically ready, on the lookout for the next great amazing breakthrough.


Technology while obviously amazing feats of science, engineering, and design--also borders on the magical for most of us as we watch and see what the new technology can do, even though we don't really know how it does it.


Like the lady walking around with iPad head--we see it, but can't really believe what we're seeing.


The miracle of technology--keeps us all at the edge of our seats with hope, wonder, and awe for what magic is going to walk down the street next and leave us mouths agape.

Share/Save/Bookmark

July 12, 2008

Global Innovation and Enterprise Architecture

For architecting the enterprise, we need good ideas to mature, evolve, and innovate. And good ideas can come from literally anywhere, so we should not limit ourselves to looking for them in-house, in our industry, locally, regionally, or nationally. Good ideas are global and we need to reach out for these ideas, adopt them, and make them our own, regardless of where they originate.

National Defense Magazine, July 2008 reports that “technology flows freely across national borders and the United States depends on foreign technology to secure its military edge, says a new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.”

In fact, “many of the greatest achievements in U.S. weaponry were made possible by foreign technologies, ‘whether that is nuclear weapons thanks to German Jewish scientists, whether it is space, thanks to German scientists…whether it is armored vehicles, a British invention, or airpower, also a British invention. Stealth technology was actually a Russian algorithm that Northrop Grumman scientists happened to see at a conference that told them how to calculate the bouncing of radio waves,” says Pierre Chao a defense industry analyst.

Remember, while the U.S. populace has many advantages including being diverse, highly educated, relatively affluent, and having the freedom to pursue and express new ideas, we represent only 4.5% of the world population. So we do not have a monopoly on science, engineering, and innovation.

Actually, “by 2010, if current trends continue, more than 90 percent of all scientists and engineers will be living in Asia,” according to Mario Mancuso head of the bureau of industry and security at the Department of Commerce.

Additionally most of our military technologies come from abroad. “In the past, approximately two-thirds of our nation’s military technologies were developed in a defense R&D setting, with the remaining third coming from adaptations of commercial, off-the-shelf technologies. Today, those proportions have been almost exactly reversed.”

Even our most advanced new jet fighter, the Joint Strike Fighter, is a global initiative, “with hundreds of contractors across many borders.”

There is an old saying that there is strength in numbers. The world is 6.7 billion in number and growing fast; the U.S., while a superpower is only a small part of the whole world. Therefore, we need to embrace innovation from everyone that can contribute positively. Innovation is incremental; we can learn from others, build on it, improve on it, and integrate it with our own creativity. Then we are architecting our enterprises with the added force of globalization.

While it would be good if the U.S. could retain its leadership in innovation, the reality is that we can no longer afford to be an island of excellence. The main thing is to harvest ideas wherever they come from and leverage them in ways that help us maintain our technological edge, promote economic prosperity and support the wellbeing of our nation.


Share/Save/Bookmark

March 4, 2008

John Zachman and Enterprise Architecture

In the Journal of Enterprise Architecture, February 2008, John Zachman, the father of EA, talks about core definitional elements of enterprise architecture.
  • Enterprise versus IT or Applications Architecture—”First Enterprise Architecture constitutes a paradigm shift and many people have not yet been inclined to make the mental, cultural, and behavioral adjustment to engineering and manufacturing the enterprise” and I love that phase—engineering the enterprise!

“Because…many of the skills required to the work of enterprise architecture are typically found in the Information Systems community, some people misconstrue the Framework intent as an Information Systems schema rather than its true intent as an ENTERPRISE schema.”

And not only is the Zachman Framework misconstrued as an Information Systems schema, but many people mistakenly confuse the whole EA with IT or applications architecture. But EA is not focused on IT or applications, but rather on the overall organization—the enterprise.

  • Lexicon—“As global communication and collaboration expands, there is an increasing requirement for semantic coherence. If people’s words do not mean the same thing, there is neither communication nor collaboration”—another good one, semantic coherence!

Without a lexicon with common definitions and standards for usage, we will not be talking to each other, but past each other.

Moreover, if we can’t even define EA elements in a common way, then how can we ever make them interoperable?

As Zachman says, “The underlying classification and components of architecture must be consistent for any interoperability (internal or external) to be effected.”

  • Classification, Taxonomy, and Ontology—“Enterprises are complex. Managing the knowledge base of the enterprise that is required for enterprise operation and change is complex. The key to managing complexity is classification.”

This is so true. We need to categorize and relate items to make sense of them. Moreover, I would say we need to roll this information up to what I call the profile level—the big picture, strategic view using information visualization—so that our executives and decision makers can quickly understand the information and come to a decision point.

“Humanity for seven thousand years has found no mechanism for accommodating complexity and change other than architecture,” says Zachman.

EA is the way to plan, manage, and measure change in our increasingly complex world. And if we don’t take control over our enterprises and their future destiny, then we will be controlled by them.


Share/Save/Bookmark

February 7, 2008

“National Innovation Strategy” and Enterprise Architecture

I believe most people would say that the United States is one of the most innovative countries in the world. And this in no small way has led to immense wealth creation for the people of this nation collectively.

If you think about most of the modern day conveniences we have, I believe the vast majority were innovated right here in the good ‘ol US of A. For example, think internet, computer, automobile, airplane, and so on.

Nevertheless many have argued that our innovativeness and engineering prowess has declined over the years.

One interesting news blog on CNET on 7 February 2008
calls for the need for a “national innovation strategy,” to get us out from being “stuck in ‘incrementalism.’”


The author, a former Harvard Business School professor, gives a number of reasons that we should be concerned about our innovativeness:

  1. Inadequate public education system—this one is not new; people have complained for years about the state of public education in this country. And while the No Child Left Behind initiative has helped, the system is still not where it should be. As the author states, “the U.S. public education system does not adequately prepare students.”
  2. Federal grant system—“inconsistent priorities and lacks funding.”
  3. Overseas opportunities—“there are more opportunities for students and scientists in places outside the United States.”
  4. Fewer doctorates (and engineers)—For example, “Finland has twice as many Ph.D.’s per capita as the U.S.”
  5. It’s a free for all—“different countries have different models, ranging from heavy government direction like Finland, to the U.S. style ‘let ‘er rip” system that relies on bottom-up innovation…a better model is a hybrid that involves many parties, including government, academia, business, and entrepreneurs.”

While I agree that we face many problems in retaining our edge in innovation, I do believe that at heart we are a nation of innovators. And this is founded in republicanism, liberty, capitalism, and our market economy, where we are taught from birth that anyone can be anything (even the President of the United States).

Moreover, I have never seen a dearth of good ideas being talked about, but rather the shortage is perhaps more in the ability to execute on those than in the creative process itself.

Enterprise architecture is itself a discipline founded in creativity, and hence the structure of defining the baseline, looking outward and establishing a target state, and planning the transition. This does not have to be about incrementalism, but can in fact represent true enterprise innovation.


Share/Save/Bookmark