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#Education Articles University

#Education Articles University

Voting open for crowdsourced climate change innovations

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 08:15 AM PST

MIT Climate CoLab has opened a public voting period to select the top innovative ideas on how to tackle climate change. A project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, Climate CoLab is an online platform where over 90,000 community members from around the world work together to develop and select proposals to help solve this massive, complex issue.

This year, Climate CoLab launched seven sector-specific contests focused on different issues related to climate change, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy supply, implementing a price on carbon, and shifting public attitudes and behaviors. Over the last couple of months, issue-expert judges evaluated the proposals submitted to the platform and selected 37 finalists.

From now until Jan. 15, members of the public are invited to cast their votes for one proposal in each contest. The author with the most votes will win that contest's Popular Choice Award and, along with the Judges' Choice winners, will receive a special invitation to present their idea at MIT, wide recognition by MIT Climate CoLab, and the chance to win a $10,000 Grand Prize, to be given to only one proposal from across the contests.

Serving as judges for the contests are over 30 experts from MIT, UN Environment, the William J. Clinton Foundation, the Center for Policy Research, the World Bank, WeSpire, Cares, FAO, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and many other institutes and organizations.

Finalists appear in the following categories:

To vote for favorite finalists, visit the Climate CoLab website, register for a free profile, browse the 2017 finalists, and select the "Vote for proposal" button on their proposal pages. Each registered voter can support one proposal per contest.

State grant will support advanced fiber and fabric research at Lincoln Lab

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 08:00 AM PST

On Dec. 20, Secretary Jay Ash of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development announced a $3.9 million state grant to support the Defense Fabric Discovery Center (DFDC) at Lincoln Laboratory. The award will promote the center's mission of innovating advanced fibers and fabrics for defense applications. 

"Massachusetts has a long history of supporting our armed forces with technological advancement," said Ash during an event at the Laboratory. "We lead in innovation, entrepreneurship, and research and development. This Phase Two award to the DFDC will help drive advanced fabrics for the defense industry. It builds on world-class partners who understand the unique requirements of defense. The applications will help keep the military safe. That Massachusetts innovates in such a way is a reason to cheer this holiday season."

This award follows a $2.2 million grant announced by Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito in May 2017 that helped launch the fall opening of the DFDC, which was established in collaboration with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) and the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA). This latest state grant will enable an expansion of the DFDC facility and its state-of-the-art equipment. This equipment includes CAD tools, fiber draw towers, prototyping equipment, and systems integration capabilities.

"We have ideas for fabrics that are embedded with small antennas for short-range communications, that can sense changes in the environment, or that can store or produce energy. We are not idea-limited," said Eric Evans, director of Lincoln Laboratory. "This new investment creates a way for the lab to stay on the edge of what's possible."

"What these technologies can do is empower, unburden, and protect our warfighters," said Matthew Correa, chief of the Design, Test and Analysis Branch at the U.S. Natick Research, Development, and Engineering Center. "The state of Massachusetts took this opportunity to seam these communities together to put these technologies on the back of our warfighters and eventually for industry utilizations."

The grant is part of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (M2I2) launched by the Baker-Polito administration in 2016 to help Massachusetts manufacturers adopt innovative new technologies. Several grants have been awarded this year, including a $1.9 million grant in October to the Laboratory for the acquisition of a germanium deposition reactor. The administration has committed more than $100 million in funding over five years to support M2I2 projects across the Commonwealth.

The M2I2 was also established to facilitate state investment in the federal Manufacturing USA program, a network of research institutes that focus on advancing innovation in manufacturing and stimulating job growth through public-private partnerships. One such Manufacturing USA institute is AFFOA, which was funded in part by the Department of Defense under the Manufacturing Technology Program.

AFFOA has established several fabric discovery centers in addition to the DFDC in its mission to revolutionize the fabric industry. The state has pledged $40 million in M2I2 grants to these AFFOA-affiliated centers in its objective to be at the forefront of this textile revolution. 

"The $40 million pledge to AFFOA has already been transformative to establishing fabric discovery centers, each with a specific area of expertise. Centers like the DFDC will develop advanced fabrics but will also make rapid prototyping accessible to local businesses and help local economic development. This is an exciting time for Massachusetts and the fabric industry," said Aimee Rose, chief technology officer of AFFOA.

"The DFDC is an important resource for our national security," said Stephen Luckowski, Department of Defense program manager of AFFOA. "But there are also many commercial applications that will emanate from this. I'm happy to be back here to further enhance the capability at the DFDC. The team at Lincoln Laboratory has done a fantastic job of bringing these partnerships together. I can't wait to see where they bring us in the new year."

MIT collaboration enriches community college experience

Posted: 02 Jan 2018 07:00 AM PST

A summer of research at MIT gives Boston community college students a pathway toward greater self-confidence, better academic skills, and a four-year college degree, MIT Materials Research Laboratory Education Officer Susan Rosevear said during a symposium at the Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall meeting in Boston.

"Many of them have barely heard about materials science when they come to MIT, and by the end of the summer, they get sort of a full dunk into the world of materials science, so they are better informed to go forward," Rosevear says. Over the past dozen years, 63 students from Roxbury and Bunker Hill community colleges have participated in the program at MIT. Of these, 45 went on to earn a four-year degree, with 34 pursuing degrees in science or engineering. Five continued on to graduate school in science or medicine.

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program is primarily funded through the MIT Materials Research Laboratory's National Science Foundation-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (NSF-MRSEC). Bringing in underrepresented or nontraditional students from the community colleges broadens the diversity of students in the REU program.

"We are trying, and I think succeeding, in providing opportunities to community college students that they don't have at their home institutions," Rosevear says. Students learn to use electron microscopes, X-ray diffraction spectrometers, and other advanced materials science characterization tools. Rosevear addressed a Nov. 27 session at MRS highlighting collaborations between community colleges and four-year colleges.

In 2005, the MIT MRSEC, then part of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, began the partnership with Roxbury Community College with seven students participating during its first year. In recent years, the summer program expanded to include community college professors in materials research on campus led by MIT faculty. So far, nine community college professors have participated. CMSE merged in October 2017 with the Materials Processing Center to form the MIT Materials Research Laboratory.

During the fall 2017 semester, Roxbury Community College Chemistry and Biotechnology Professor Kimberly Stieglitz offered a new course at Roxbury Community College, Research Science, (SCI 281) that brought students to the X-ray diffraction facility at MIT to examine their lab samples. "We keep finding new ways to leverage this partnership," Rosevear says. Stieglitz and other teachers who have participated in the summer teachers' program at MIT, also have incorporated material from their summer research into their classroom teaching, Rosevear notes.

Students must complete a basic engineering or science course, such as chemistry or biology, to be accepted into the MIT summer program. Community college teachers select the students based on academic record, statements of interest, and faculty letters of recommendation. "They've been great partners for us, which is really key to the whole thing," Rosevear explains. "Kimberly [Stieglitz] has told me, once they are selected, just knowing they are going to MIT changes their performance, they become more serious about themselves, their performance, motivation increases, and they have an increased commitment to STEM," Rosevear says.

Over the course of the summer, community college students attend weekly luncheon meetings covering topics such as crafting a high-quality poster presentation, applying to graduate school, understanding patents and trademarks, and pursuing careers in materials science and other engineering fields.

Interest among MIT faculty in hosting community college students continues to grow. "I have people coming to me and saying, how do I get one of these students? The students have sold themselves, is essentially what's happened," Rosevear says.

The community college program is distinct from the MIT MRL Summer Scholars program, which is open to undergraduates in science and engineering from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico who are citizens or legal residents. Applications for summer 2018 must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2018.