Engineering In Action

Meet this year’s MathWorks Fellows: A three-part series, III
Meet this year’s MathWorks Fellows: A three-part series, III

When the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars last February, it carried with it an oxygen generation experiment called MOXIE. The instrument uses electrolysis to split oxygen out of a Martian atmosphere predominantly composed of carbon dioxide. When the system is initiated, it can produce enough oxygen for one human to breathe for a little more than ten minutes.

Faster than a snail
Faster than a snail

On September 12, the student-led group, MIT Hyperloop III will be presenting a machine learning-augmented drilling technology at Elon Musk’s ‘Not-A-Boring’ competition to be held in the Mojave Desert. The competition is sponsored by Musk’s The Boring Company, which he founded to pursue hyperloop technology. MIT Hyperloop III was selected as one of twelve groups, the “Digging Dozen,” to participate in the competition out of an applicant pool of over 400 teams.

Recognizing seven years of the MIT University Center for Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM)
Recognizing seven years of the MIT University Center for Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM)

MIT University Center for Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) was founded in 2015 with an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant that centers on the recruitment, retention, and academic success of underrepresented minority doctoral students in five departments in the School of Engineering: Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science/Health Sciences and Technology.

Cleaning up industrial filtration
Cleaning up industrial filtration

If you wanted to get pasta out of a pot of water, would you boil off the water, or use a strainer? While home cooks would choose the strainer, many industries continue to use energy-intensive thermal methods of separating out liquids. In some cases, that’s because it’s difficult to make a filtration system for chemical separation, which requires pores small enough to separate atoms.

GrubHub Founder Starts a Handy Alternative to the Gig Economy
GrubHub Founder Starts a Handy Alternative to the Gig Economy

It started not with a stroke of creative genius, but with a rain barrel that Mike Evans ’99, MEng ’00, wanted to install in his garden. Fourteen calls later, he still hadn’t been able to hire anyone. He started researching the home maintenance sector and discovered that many US trade schools have closed in recent decades, creating a shortage of handypeople. That’s how Fixer was born.

Software from alumni-founded startup Uncountable to accelerate R&D
Software from alumni-founded startup Uncountable to accelerate R&D

Many scientists and researchers still rely on Excel spreadsheets and lab notebooks to manage data from their experiments. That can work for single experiments, but companies tend to make decisions based on data from multiple experiments, some of which may take place at different labs, with slightly different parameters, and even in different countries.

Recent NEET graduates tackle air pollution with autonomous drones
Recent NEET graduates tackle air pollution with autonomous drones

Hovering one hundred meters above a densely populated urban residential area, the drone takes a quiet breath. Its goal is singular, to systematically measure air quality across the metropolitan landscape, providing regular updates to a central communication module where it docks after its patrol, awaiting a new set of instructions. The central module integrates each new data point provided by a small drone fleet, processing them against wind and traffic patterns and historical pollution hotspot information. Then the fleet is assigned new sampling waypoints and relaunched.

3D printing tiny parts for big impact
3D printing tiny parts for big impact

Whether it’s computer chips, smartphone components, or camera parts, the hardware in many products is constantly getting smaller. The trend is pushing companies to come up with new ways to make the parts that power our world.

Crowdsourcing data on road quality and excess fuel consumption
Crowdsourcing data on road quality and excess fuel consumption

America has over 4 million miles of roads and, as one might expect, monitoring them can be a monumental task.  

To collect high-quality data on the conditions of their roads, departments of transportation (DOTs) can expect to spend $200 per mile for state-of-the-art laser profilers. For cities and states, these costs are prohibitive and often force them to resort to rudimentary approaches, like visual inspection. 

Navigating beneath the Arctic ice
Navigating beneath the Arctic ice

There is a lot of activity beneath the vast, lonely expanses of ice and snow in the Arctic. Climate change has dramatically altered the layer of ice that covers much of the Arctic Ocean. Areas of water that used to be covered by a solid ice pack are now covered by thin layers only 3 feet deep. Beneath the ice, a warm layer of water, part of the Beaufort Lens, has changed the makeup of the aquatic environment.    

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