BY GAIL HELGASON
Former aerospace engineer Peter Hylton is the driving force behind the only bachelor’s degree program in motor sports engineering in the United States. The Indianapolis Star reports that Mr. Hylton, an associate professor in the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, was asked to design the curriculum last year when he was named director of the school’s motor sports department.
The program will prepare students for a variety of motor sports careers, including that of a crew member for a NASCAR or Indy Racing League team. This year 21 students are expected to enrol, increasing to 106 by 2012.
Making African Skies Safer
The safety record of African airlines has long been troubling. Accident rates averaged 2.7 per million departures between 2003 and 2007, compared with the world’s 0.5 and North America’s 0.1.
Now, work is underway on a coordinated effort to address this traffic safety issue, according to Aerospace America (Reston, Va.). Relevant agencies across the continent have implemented a comprehensive regional safety plan.
The first phase emphasizes enabling nations to establish safe and sustainable safety oversight plans.
Peru MiningTackles Poverty
With poverty rates still high in rural areas of Peru, major international mining companies there are placing increased focus on supporting sustainable development, reports the Engineering & Mining Journal (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Communities need to be assured that economic growth fostered by mining will be sustainable after the mines close, the publication notes. Social responsibility programs operating in concert with mining may hold the key.
Replacing natural pastures with improved pastures, for example, has led to a fivefold improvement in milk production from dairy cattle.
Bridge Over Red Sea
Who can part the Red Sea? An engineer, of course — figuratively speaking.
Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.) reports that a Danish engineering, environmental science, and economics firm is at work on the design for a 29-kilometre crossing of the famous biblical sea. The bridge would cross the Bab al-Mandab, the strait connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
Constructed in several sections, beginning on the Yemen coast, it would cross waters up to 305 metres deep.
Ever wanted to be invisible? That fantasy could be closer to reality than you might think.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, say that they’ve demonstrated the ability to obtain an invisible effect by cloaking three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials. These materials redirect light around the objects.Previous attempts have achieved success using thin two-dimensional objects, reports the Associated Press.
Girls Have Math Smarts
Girls and boys have similar scores on state math tests, but a recent U.S. study found that boys more often excelled — or failed.
The study was based on math scores from seven million students in 10 states, and led by Janet Hyde, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, says the New York Times. Dr. Hyde says the study shows that “persistent attitudes have taken their toll.”
She adds that the “stereotype that boys do better at math is still held widely by teachers and parents.”
The Times points out that the study also undermined the assumption that boys are far more apt than girls to be math geniuses. Girls in the study scored in the top five per cent nearly as often as male students.
The Light At the Top Of the Tunnel
Today’s freight and passenger trains are so much larger than their forerunners that engineers are increasingly faced with opening up or “daylighting” old tunnels. That’s the feat recently achieved by the Alaska Railroad Corporation, Civil Engineering (Reston, Va.) reports.
The 80-metre Moody Tunnel was constructed in the early 1920s as an important link between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It has collapsed twice in the last 16 years, disrupting rail service for days.
Demolition work was challenging and had to be scheduled around an average of four trains a day. The project also involved reducing an overburden of about 21 metres to three metres. But now, tracks now run through a wide chute where the tunnel once existed.
Engineering Classes Link Themselves To Distant Jobs
Engineering education has taken an international leap at the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Through video technology, students view distant jobsites and interview site personnel in real time, says the Engineering News-Record (New York).
Discussions are underway with peers at the American University in Cairo about sharing webcasts.