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Student Innovation: EnableTalk


Some engineers just can’t wait until they graduate to start innovating. Here’s one recent example: After watching a man with a speech impairment struggle to make a supermarket cashier understand him, three Ukrainian computer science students, who call themselves the QuadSquad, designed gloves fitted with 15 sensors that can understand the hand and finger gestures used in sign language.

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Seeing the World Through Google-Tinted Glasses

Smartphone addicts everywhere will rejoice at Google’s latest portable technology innovation: reality-enhancing eyeglasses. The glasses are a product of Google X, the company’s secretive experimental research lab.

The specs function much like a smartphone or tablet computer, but without the extra bulk or the screen interface. Using voice-activation, they offer wearers the latest information pertaining to their surroundings, such as weather, transportation info, and directions to the nearest coffee shop. They even have a built-in camera that allows users to snap photos of interesting sights and to video chat with friends (watch concept video above to see them in action). According to the New York Times, the glasses could be on sale as early as next year, retailing for around the price of a new smartphone.

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Student Inventors: Manu Sharma

Manu Sharma and his innovative wind turbine

Ever dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur? If so, you’re in good company – over half of U.S. millennials (ages 18 to 34) say they want to start a business or already have done so, according to a recent survey from the Kaufmann Foundation. Even more exciting is the fact that nowadays, starting a business does not necessitate leaving school, as more and more universities are striving to accommodate entrepreneurial students.

In this new eGFI blog series, we bring you four inspiring stories of undergraduate engineering students who have successfully patented their original ideas, teamed up with classmates and professors to launch businesses, and navigated the startup world, all while keeping up with their coursework.

So step aside, Bill Gates – the days of dropout turned entrepreneur may be numbered.

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The Next Generation of Urban Cars

City driving is often a hassle, but recent developments in compact car design could make navigating urban gridlock significantly more tolerable. The next wave of electric vehicles will be sleek, energy-efficient, and small enough to make the Smart Car look like a gas-guzzling giant.

The Hiriko is a 100% electric vehicle that has the ability to fold itself up and squeeze into the tiniest parking spaces. Based on the City Car, a design developed a few years back at MIT (with the help of eGFI trailblazer Will Lark Jr.), the Hiriko has about a 60-mile range, four-wheel drive, and a nifty windshield that swings upward to allow passengers to enter and exit.

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Trailblazer: Ayanna Howard

Science fiction stories have served as inspiration for many a brilliant engineer, and Ayanna Howard is no exception. At age 11 she discovered the show Bionic Woman, where a badly injured athlete is given artificial limbs that grant her superhero-like abilities, and decided that she wanted to create technologically advanced prosthetics when she grew up. Howard later realized that medical school held little appeal to her, and instead opted to pursue robotics.

It’s fortunate that she did. After completely her PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Southern California, Howard went on to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she led research teams to develop software for Mars-roving robots.

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