Jean Creighton’s picture

By: Jean Creighton

Much of the technology common in daily life today originates from the drive to put a human being on the Moon. This effort reached its pinnacle when Neil Armstrong stepped off the Eagle landing module onto the lunar surface 50 years ago.

As a NASA airborne astronomy ambassador and director of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Manfred Olson Planetarium, I know that the technologies behind weather forecasting, GPS, and even smartphones can trace their origins to the race to the Moon.

1. Rockets


A Saturn V rocket carrying Apollo 11 and its crew toward the Moon lifts off on July 16, 1969.

Shannon Brescher Shea’s picture

By: Shannon Brescher Shea

Replacing a beloved tool is never easy. Erik Johnson had worked with the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) for nearly 15 years when he and his colleagues began thinking about its replacement. But this switch wasn’t a matter of walking down to the hardware store.  

The NSLS, a Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, opened in 1982. Over 30 years, scientists—three of whom won Nobel prizes for their work—used its intense beams of light during the course of more than 55,000 visits to study atomic structures and chemical processes. Johnson came to the NSLS in 1985 as a post-doctoral student. By 2000, he and other leaders in the field realized the NSLS would soon be past its glory days.

They began dreaming up its successor: the NSLS-II. After five years of planning and research, the Office of Science approved the project to move forward.

“There was elation in the hallways,” says Johnson.

Stephanie McArdle’s default image

By: Stephanie McArdle

The FDA has announced an end to the alternative summary reporting (ASR) program for medical device manufacturers and will make the data publicly accessible.

The ASR program originally launched in 2000 when device manufacturers sought an “alternative summary” reporting exemption. ASR permitted medical device manufacturers to send the FDA an accounting of device injuries and malfunctions on a periodic basis (e.g., quarterly or annually) in lieu of fulfilling their standard public reporting obligations. The ASR program actually ended in 2017, but evidence shows that device exemptions were still accepted by the FDA.

Venkatesh Shankar’s picture

By: Venkatesh Shankar

A quarter of a century ago, on July 5, 1994, a company that shared a name with the world’s largest river was incorporated. It sold books to customers who got to its website through a dial-up modem.

It wasn’t the first bookstore to sell online. (Books.com launched in 1992.) But it behaved like a local store, whose shopkeeper knew customers by name; a bell even rang in the company’s Seattle headquarters every time an order was placed.

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, set his sights on making it an “everything store.” The company would go on to become not just an everything store, but an “everything company.”

Today, 25 years later, Amazon has reshaped retailing permanently. It is one of the top three most valuable companies in the world, with a market capitalization hovering around $1 trillion, greater than the GDP of nearly 200 countries.

If you had bought $100 worth of its IPO shares in 1997, it would be worth about $120,000 today.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Industrial Custom Products (ICP) is a world leader in prototyping, developing, and manufacturing high-quality OEM and custom thermoformed and vacuum formed plastic components, as well as die cut and dieless knife-cut parts. What makes ICP unique among its competitors is its award-winning quality, on-time delivery rate of 99.5 percent, and a dazzling 22 ppm reject rate.

As an ISO 9001:2015 registered company, ICP is serious about quality. In fact, ICP has been awarded the Polaris Industries Award of Excellence a whopping eight times in a row. How does this company do it? One contributing factor is investing in appropriate technology and infrastructure to reduce bottlenecks that increase the cost of quality and reduce profitability.

Investing in infrastructure

“We recently invested in a new quality room located right off of the production floor,” says Adam Lunde, vice president of sales and marketing at ICP. “This has given us more space to bring in large parts for 3D scanning without interrupting progress on the production floor.”

Even before the infrastructure upgrade, the ICP team’s inspection solutions included FARO products.

Jesse Lyn Stoner’s picture

By: Jesse Lyn Stoner

Positive thinking can do wonders for your attitude. But it won’t make a difference in achieving your goals. Instead of just thinking positively (and vaguely) about what you want to accomplish, use mental imagery to ensure your success. These five tips show how to get the most from mental imagery.

The power of mental imagery

I first became aware of the power of mental imagery in 1976 when the USSR stunned the world by walking away with most of the Olympic gold medals. At first people suspected the athletes had been taking drugs, but it turned out that was not the case. They had discovered that when athletes supplemented their practice through visualization, not only were they better prepared to compete in a variety of conditions, but their motivation and self-confidence also increased.

As a result, a new field called “sports psychology” emerged. Today mental imagery is an integral part of training for Olympic athletes. According to The New York Times article “Olympians Use Mental Imagery in Training,” the United States brought nine sports psychologists to Sochi in 2014.

Caroline Preston’s picture

By: Caroline Preston

There’s a lot of anxiety out there about robots gobbling up our jobs. One oft-cited Oxford University study predicts that up to 47 percent of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to automation. Other research suggests the share is much lower. But while the exact numbers may be debated, there’s little question that technology is changing quickly and reconfiguring the tasks many of us do.

As the labor market demands different and evolving skills, what does that mean for higher education? Is a four-year degree still the best way to obtain a well-paying job? And what subjects and experiences do students need exposure to while they’re in college?

Jennifer Chu’s default image

By: Jennifer Chu

Hearing aids, dental crowns, and limb prosthetics are some of the medical devices that can now be digitally designed and customized for individual patients, thanks to 3D printing. However, these devices are typically designed to replace or support bones and other rigid parts of the body, and are often printed from solid, relatively inflexible material.

Now MIT engineers have designed pliable, 3D-printed mesh materials whose flexibility and toughness they can tune to emulate and support softer tissues such as muscles and tendons. They can tailor the intricate structures in each mesh, and they envision the tough yet stretchy fabric-like material being used as personalized, wearable supports, including ankle or knee braces, and even implantable devices, such as hernia meshes, that better match to a person’s body.

Rohit Mathur’s picture

By: Rohit Mathur

Whatever the process or type of data collected, all data display variation. This is also true in software development. Any measure or parameter of interest to our business will vary from time period to time period, e.g., number of incidents per week or month, time taken in resolving incidents, number of tickets encountered in a production support environment per month, and defect density in code.

Understanding variation is about being able to describe the behavior of processes or systems over time. This variation can be stable, predictable, and routine, or unstable, unpredictable, and exceptional. Being able to distinguish between stable or common-cause variation, and unstable or special-cause variation, helps us to decide the type of action needed to improve the process. The control chart, developed by Walter Shewhart, is the tool that enables us to do so.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

For decades, relatively easy access to space and the big profits to go with it have dangled elusively just over the horizon. With a little more R&D money and a few more advances in the technology, the thinking went, space would be ours.

Are we there yet? More than a few signs are pointing in the direction of a robust, varied space age of viable commercialization—as well as more audacious goals than we’ve seen in generations.

On the practical side, advances in reusable rockets, lowered per-launch costs, and miniaturization of satellites are opening up business opportunities well beyond aerospace and defense, and into IT hardware and telecom, according to Morgan Stanley. The global space industry is expected to generate revenue of $1.1 trillion or more in 2040, up from the current $350 billion, according to a recent report by the firm.

On the dream side, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently outlined a long-term vision for putting a trillion people in space colonies with one small step coming soon: an infrastructure starting with lunar lander Blue Moon. “We are going to build a road to space,” Bezos said at a May unveiling of his plans, “and then amazing things will happen.”

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