When Ursula Burns joined Xerox as an intern in 1980, she never imagined she would one day run the company famous for inventing photocopy machines—let alone become the first African American female to head a Fortune 500 firm. Why would she? Just walking through the door, fresh from earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University, represented a huge career leap…
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.
2011 was another busy year for engineers all over the world. From inventing a device that turns air into water to exploring the oceans in a tiny submarine, scientists and engineers are exploring uncharted territory.
Like last year, we at eGFI have chronicled the most awe-inspiring innovations and stories, so in case you missed one, we present:
The Most Popular, Interesting, Weird, or Just Plain Cool eGFI Blog Posts of 2011
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What do the blockbuster movie Avatar, high-performance sports gear, the Angry Birds phone app, and pollution-eating bacteria have in common? They are among a host of fascinating innovations developed by engineers and featured in the newest edition of the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Engineering, Go For It magazine.
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Shwetak Patel wants to help you conserve energy in your home. A professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, Patel is also a 2011 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “Genius Grant“) for his work developing sophisticated, user-friendly energy sensors for homes and offices.
Patel’s unique technology uses advanced algorithms to determine how much energy each household device is consuming by picking up their individual activity patterns.