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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Discovery Workshop 1: Decisions!

  Since the first Discovery Workshop in September, I have gone through multiple topics.  Each was equally interesting and intriguing and when it came to choosing just one, I simply couldn't!  My top two topics are described below.  These topics are both fields that I would like to learn more about.

1) Big Data-"I really wish I knew more about how people make sense of  the massive amounts of internet data everyday.  What can that amount of data tell us?"
      SAS Institute, or Statistical Analysis System Institute, defines it as "a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured."  Big data is used by many different companies to gather information such as what products are in the highest demand or what groups of clients/customers/users prefer certain products.  

The most relatable example of an application of big data is Google.  As a search engine, Google must go through all the information on the internet and find what the searcher wants. 
 Two of the biggest challenges in the big data industry right now are how to simplify and analyze all the data so that it is easy to understand and can be used to predict trends and find patterns.  I'd like to learn more about how this is done.

  This would require me to learn how to code, which I believe would be a useful skill no matter what area I choose to study in the end. 

2) Biomedical Engineering-"How can I improve the lives of others by combining biology and engineering?"

       Bioengineering has already made such a big impact on the world.  Genetically modified foods are sold in practically every supermarket, and these foods include everything from cereal to tomatoes.  A GMO (genetically-modified organism) is even being sold as a pet.
GloFish were originally created to detect pollutants in the water, but are now the first GMOs to actually be sold as pets.
 The area of bioengineering that interests me the most is biomedical engineering, or "the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes," (from Wikipedia).  I'd like to explore the different types of biomedical engineering (tissue, neural, genetic, etc.) and see what I can do to improve the health and well-being of others. 

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is used to view a patient's anatomy and diagnose conditions including multiple types of cancer.  They are also used in the study of how the brain reacts to external stimuli.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Penguin Elevator

 Yesterday's Design Challenge asked us to make a machine that fit these two simple requirements:
        - it needed to complete a task
        -it needed to use a motor (which was provided for us).

 In the beginning, the team I was a part of tried to build a car. When that proved to be too ambitious, we made a simple "elevator." We attached the motor to the edge of the table, then we taped a nail to the end of the motor. We clipped a binder clip to this nail. Then we looped a string through a cup and hung it onto the binder clip. Once we completed the circuit and allowed the motor to run, it would spin. The string that was around the cup would then twirl itself around the motor (like spaghetti on a fork). This brought the cup up from the floor to the table. But we still felt like it was missing something, so we added a penguin and voilĂ ! The penguin elevator was created.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Exploratorium Workshop

  The theremin was the most confusing exhibit I got to see at my visit to the Exploratorium today. I couldn't figure out how you could make music using it without touching the theremin itself!

The most interesting exhibit I saw today was the glow discharge tube! I thought it was interesting because I have always wondered how auroras worked and how they made such fascinating displays of light in the sky. The glow discharge tube explained just that.

The listening vessels deserve an honorable mention! I grasped the concept of how they worked, but just being able to have a conversation with someone all the way across the room was captivating, engaging, and fun.