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Fashion, Form & Function

horseFrom Lady Gaga’s glowing, LED-encrusted gown to lightweight body armor and high-tech sports apparel, engineered fabrics are turning up well beyond the fashion world. ASEE’s Prism magazine highlights some innovative examples.

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Berkeley Engineers Help Student Walk

UC-Berkeley Student Austin Whitney Graduates with ExoskeletonWhen University of California, Berkeley senior Austin Whitney walked across the stage at graduation on May 14, 2011, it was more than just a personal triumph. His rise from a wheelchair represented a triumph for paralyzed people everywhere–and for engineers whose “adaptive technology” designs have helped disabled individuals overcome mobility limitations.

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Competition: Rubber Band Contest

Rubber Band BallThe Akron Global Polymer Academy of The University of Akron is hosting the third annual Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors to encourage students in grades 5-8 to demonstrate their creativity and ingenuity by creating an invention that incorporates the use of rubber bands. Deadline for Entries: Wednesday, February 16, 2011.

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Students Summer: Materials Camp. Missouri, July 25-30, 2010

MATThe one-week ASM Materials camp at Missouri University of Science and Technology, July 25-30, 2010, offers rising juniors and seniors an opportunity to explore materials science and engineering principles through a combination of mini-demonstrations, field trips, and group projects. Past projects have included microelectronic circuitry, friction-stir welding, ceramic magnets, metal casting, glass processing, and heat treatment and mechanical property evaluation. Cost: Free. Application Deadline: May 31, 2010. 2011 dates to be announced.

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Class Activity: Crystal Study

This activity from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory involves students, grades 6-12, in the formation of crystals on glass slides. In conducting their experiment, students learn about basic principles that guide the work of materials engineers and scientists.

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Feature: Packaged for the Classroom

Juice BoxesFood processing requires a lot of engineering, from developing farm equipment to the automated baking and mixing machines used in prepared desserts. One of the most inventive stages comes toward the end, when the food is packaged. Johannah Frueh, a science teacher at Orange Charter School in Hillsborough, North Carolina, has incorporated the engineering behind designing and making food packaging into her seventh and eighth grade elective lab classes.

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Lesson: Paper Structures

Practicing elementary civil engineering, students in grades 1 through 8 build a portable paper structure able to support the weight of a book. They learn that material strength varies with shape and arrangement.

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Website: What’s that Stuff?


From nail polish to sandpaper, plasma globes, baseballs, and frankincense, The C&EN “What’s That Stuff?” articles that examine the chemistry — and engineering – behind a variety of everyday products.

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Lab TV – Engineering & Science Research

Brief, engaging webisodes feature the work of Department of Defense engineers and scientists, ranging from dolphin training to austronauts’ high tech gloves to computer design of naval vessels. The web videos encourage student interest in STEM subjects and technical careers at a Defense laboratory.

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