Cloudy beige liquid swirls inside a large bioreactor resembling a French press as Jenna Ahn examines small flasks nearby. The lab where Ahn is working, in the subbasement of Building 66, has the feel of a beehive. She’s part of one of nine teams of undergraduates huddling in groups at their benches. Every now and then, someone darts off to use a larger piece of equipment among the shakers, spectrometers, flasks, scales, incubators, and bioreactors lining the walls.
As engineers make strides in the design of wearable, electronically active, and responsive leg braces, arm supports, and full-body suits, collectively known as exoskeletons, researchers at MIT are raising an important question: While these Iron Man-like appendages may amp up a person’s strength, mobility, and endurance, what effect might they have on attention and decision-making?
Yoel Fink stands under an unassuming LED ceiling lamp wearing what appears to be just an ordinary baseball cap. “Do you hear it?” he asks. Semiconductor technology within the fibers of the hat is converting the audio encoded in light pulses to electrical pulses, he explains, which are then converted to sound. “This is one of the first examples of an advanced fabric. It looks like an ordinary hat, but it’s really a sophisticated optical communication system.”
“Learning a new language gives you a window into someone else’s world,” says Virginia Adams, who graduated from MIT this past May. For Adams, learning Chinese has given her a glimpse into a fascinating, fast-paced culture where technology is rapidly advancing. As a MIT International Science & Technology Initiatives (MISTI) intern at Tencent, a large technology company in Shenzhen, China, Adams hones her ability to communicate with her Chinese co-workers and friends in order to better build the programs that instruct computers to communicate.
Will Dickson ’14 parks General Motors’ first self-driving vehicle, the Cruise AV, on campus and invites MIT students to think flexibly about its design opportunities. “You are future engineers and thought leaders in the area of new machines,” he says. “How do you design future vehicles like this one better for a safe and autonomous experience?”
The rise of 5G, or fifth generation, mobile technologies is refashioning the wireless communications and networking industry. The School of Engineering recently asked Muriel Médard, the Cecil H. Green Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at MIT, to explain what that means and why it matters.
When A.R. Rahman, two-time Academy Award winner, singer-songwriter, and music producer from India, came to visit and take a course at MIT in July, he was in his element during a tour of interactive music systems on campus.
Movement really moves Richard Fineman, a fourth-year PhD student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology. Using wearable sensors and a range of complex modeling tools, Fineman is able to measure and understand a body in motion in unprecedented ways. He is using what he’s learning to advance human health and medicine, as well as astronaut garb.
Looking back on his MIT graduate student days in the late 1980s, Admiral John M. Richardson SM ’89, EE ’89, ENG ’89 recalls a quieter time. He was not yet helming the world’s most powerful navy, nor was global competition at sea nearly so high.
If humans are going to be able to travel to Mars one day, Cem Tasan’s research on metals just might play a role in the mission. Tasan, the Thomas B. King Career Development Professor in Metallurgy in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, works to produce metals that will bend with the changing times.