February 2011

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Training the Next Crop

Training the Next Crop

Crop of engineers that is. I’ve been thinking a lot about senior projects lately. The way my own school works, being not on the semester system, is a 12-13 week program split over a couple terms. About 50% of the projects coming in are from the school itself, research based, and more than likely medical in nature. The other 50% come from industry but the vast majority from the Navy. We have a local facility that is kind of like its own DARPA in creative and research based endeavors. The projects have varied widely. Some were bioengineering based where students were asked to design a machine that would measure a very specific amount of blood to verify another machine was working properly. They ended up with a setup of capillary tubes and using a microscope-camera and labview to measure pixels that once properly calibrated would measure the volume of fluid. […]

Remedial Tinkering Class

Remedial Tinkering Class

A friend and I were discussing engineering education yesterday. The state of the education system, the constant lamenting of fewer engineers coming out of the US and our own experiences. Of course there are a ton of problems right now. And yes, there are also a lot of potential solutions in place. But out of this discussion came an irrefutible argument and idea: (Most) engineering students need a remedial tinkering class “Hunh? A what? I’ve never heard of that,” you say.  Well, it’s because it doesn’t exist. But it exists for a lot of other subjects. If you weren’t all that great at math in high school, you can usually find a remedial math class to brush up on your algebra. If you’re from out of the country and english is a second language, there are often resources to help bring you up to a level where you’ll have a […]

The (not so) solid ground beneath my feet

The (not so) solid ground beneath my feet

Today, I’m going to step out of my role as an EE and briefly explore the world of geological engineering. I am, after all, working on a degree in geophysics, and throughout my education, I’ve been exposed to the applied side of geology and geophysics a few times. One of the reasons I find this field interesting is because I live in a city on stilts.  Fargo is built on top of sediments of glacial Lake Agassiz, a huge prehistoric lake that formed when glaciers melted after the last ice age.  The glaciers melted from south to north, leaving the path to Hudson Bay blocked by ice and the water without a place to go.  This meant that the lake sat there for thousands of years, giving it plenty of time to lay down a layer of silt well over 100 ft. thick.  The silt is clay that easily absorbs […]