Driverless Cars: The Worst Computer Crash You Could Have
A discussion with Jiechao Liu
In just a few short years you could scroll through Facebook, eat your lunch or even meditate while driving. With major players like Google, Apple, Tesla and Ford (just to name a few) working on driverless cars, it’s only a matter of time before we are absolved of our attention to driving. But how do these computers avoid crashes in an unpredictable environment full of pedestrians and squirrels with an apparent death wish? Engineers are focusing on the safety issues by teaching the computers that take the wheel to be a perfect chess opponent.
Engineering a Better Cancer Diagnosis
A discussion with Molly Kozminsky
Though discovering a lump often prompts the devastating news of a cancer diagnosis, the deadliest part of having cancer could be lurking in the bloodstream. In fact, over 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused when cancer cells in the bloodstream invade other organs of the body and cause secondary tumors. Engineers and doctors are working together to develop a device that processes small amounts of blood through channels the size of a human hair to capture cancer cells for study. This tool has the potential to personalize the study of cancer and change the landscape of cancer treatment for the better.
Small Scales, Big Problems: Miniaturizing Biology for Better Answers
A discussion with Joe Labuz
To study big, complicated problems, like urban planning or navigating Mars with an unmanned vehicle, professionals use accessible, cheaper models before doing the real thing. The same is true in biomedical research where the big, complicated problems are things like drug efficacy or disease progression. Unfortunately, researchers haven’t quite found the best model for a system as complex as a human. To solve this problem and accelerate the pace of research, engineers are developing a model system that not only mimics specific cells found in the body, like a liver or heart cell, but also the complex interactions in the entire human body.
Fire and Destruction Meet Their Match
A discussionwith Ha Nguyen
Have you ever looked at your frail fire sprinkler system, the one that can easily be defeated by a hanger holding a jacket, and thought “I’m not sure that would do much to save me from a fiery death”? Well, you’re probably right. Luckily, civil engineers are working to save you from your burning building--no capes or superpowers necessary. These researchers are exploring ways to make buildings safer in the event of a major fire by studying how and why structures collapse.