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Engineering Icons: A Cross Country Guide

Planning a road trip this summer? Whether en route to a beach, lake, or national park, there are plenty of engineering landmarks to admire along the way — including the interstate highway system along which most travelers must pass. Here are some designated engineering destinations worth braking for:

Hoover Dam: More than a million visitors a year tour this National Landmark (pictured at the top) that towers 725 above the Colorado River 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, NV. Read ASEE’s Prism magazine columnist Henry Petroski on the dam’s 75th anniversary.

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Coffee That’s Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold, But Just Right

People in the United States consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, and many often face the dilemma of either scalding one’s mouth with coffee that is too hot or waiting… and waiting… for it to cool to proper temperature.

In order to keep coffee at a perfect 140 degrees Fahrenheit, two 20-something mechanical engineers who were childhood friends have designed bean-shaped steel shells called Coffee Joulies that cool down coffee and keep it at a warm, drinkable temperature for up to five hours.

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Farm-Fresh Industrial Materials

Despite how annoying dandelions may be for homeowners who take pride in their lawns, the weed’s roots have shown potential in making a new, green source of rubber.

Ford and Ohio State researchers are using the milky-white goo that seeps from dandelion roots to make a type of rubber that could be used in the plastics of cup holders, floor mats, and interior trim of cars.

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Tired of Waste

We have previously reported on many green initiatives related to building and roadway materials: smog-eating cement, concrete that can heal itself when it detects cracks, and pavement with solar-storing technology.

Now, civil engineers at Purdue University are working to design a cost-effective mixture for road construction and bridge support.

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Human-Powered Helicopter Takes Off

Judy Wexler, 24, is the first woman to pilot a human-powered helicopter

More than 30 years ago, the American Helicopter Society International challenged engineers to create a human-powered helicopter that could reach an altitude of at least three meters and hover for at least 60 seconds. Sikorsky Aircraft promised $20,000 to the winner. Now, they’ve upped the award to $250,000.

In pursuit of the elusive prize, a helicopter designed by a team of students from the University of Maryland has become the third human-powered helicopter to successfully leave the ground, and the first to be piloted by a woman.

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