3D-printed space habitats earn $400K in prizes at NASA competition

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One of the many considerations we will have should we decide at last to colonize another planet is where we’ll live. Should we bring inflatable habitats? Should we ship girders and metal sheets? Or should we, as explored in a recent NASA challenge, 3D-print the structures right there on the planet in question? Two universities’ early efforts to do so earned them a combined $400,000 at a competition held last week.

It’s not the first nor last of these challenges, but the culmination of phase two of the three-phase 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge. The idea is to figure out what materials, designs and other choices might factor into creating a strong, simple structure.

Beams, cylinders and domes were what the teams had to create, with materials that were at least 70 percent “indigenous material” — so something that could be found locally. After all, you don’t want to have to ship a bunch of concrete mix to Phobos.

The winning teams both chose “powdery Crushed Basaltic Igneous” as their indigenous base; the team from Branch Technology augmented this with recycled plastic, while Penn State attempted (with partial success) to create a cement-like material that incorporated water.

Besides the materials chosen and basic dimensions of the items required, the teams were relatively unfettered. “The rules were formulated so that the teams could have freedom to formulate a solution with as much flexibility as possible,” explained a NASA representative who was part of the event. “Both solutions have their own advantages and disadvantages, and these diverse solutions can help NASA formulate that best solution.”

Continue onto TechCrunch to read the complete article.

8 Inefficiencies in the Architecture + Design Industry (and possible solutions)

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MRad

LOS ANGELES, California – (February 7, 2018) – Every industry has their fair share of inefficiencies which can stifle production. But once in a while, a leader comes along who can not only identify the problems, but also offer solutions. These thought leaders have the ability to revolutionize an industry. The world of architecture and design is not immune to inefficiencies, but one industry leader has some ideas on how to fix the broken system.

“You never bathe in the same river twice, because things change, which keeps everything fresh and interesting,” explains Matthew Rosenberg, the founder of M-Rad Architecture + Design, located in Los Angeles. “The same goes for the architecture and design field, where for far too long the river was standing idle, becoming stagnant. Our business model and proposed solutions are helping to get it flowing once again.”

As a forward thinker in the field, Rosenberg has identified 8 major inefficiencies in the architecture and design industry, as well as a solution for each of them. They include:

  1. PROBLEM: Brokers. Paying a middleman to find projects takes away revenue for the architect.
    SOLUTION: Cut out the Broker by forming relationships directly with developers and clients.
  2. PROBLEM:Underpaid, overworked designers and architects. The architecture industry is notorious for low wages, heavy workload, stressful deadlines until you “make it” to the top.
    SOLUTION: Allow the designers and architects to take equity in their projects.
  3. PROBLEM:Designing independently from actual community needs.  When architecture firms design a building for a client without considering the needs and wants of the surrounding area, the project may not benefit the community or the client.
    SOLUTION: Use a positioning tactic to understand what the community is lacking and incorporate these ideas into the project.
  4. PROBLEM:The industry is heavily reliant on unpredictable markets. With the real estate marketing and cost of living in constant flux, it’s difficult to predict the stability of the industry, which is reliant on the financial status of the client.
    SOLUTION: Consistency, strategic business moves, and keeping an eye on markets allows architecture and design firms to be proactive and shift their practice to better suit the economy.
  5. PROBLEM:City planning process and restrictions. Sometimes designing or building structures takes many years, as they are stuck in the city planning process. One minor mistake can set a project back months or sometimes even years.
    SOLUTION: It can be difficult to get around or speed up the city planning process, but being involved in the community, town hall meetings, and voting on city measures can help improve the process.
  6. PROBLEM:Politics within the industry. Politics occur in every industry, but when millions of dollars are exchanged, expectations are high, and egos can get in the way of business.  The political elements in Architecture can get sticky.
    SOLUTION: Stay professional and only partner/work with people who have positive reputations.
  7. PROBLEM:The scope of the architect is becoming smaller. Technology advancements cause more complex buildings, which causes increase in liability and legal aggression which prompts architects to hand off elements of the design process to “experts in their field,” ultimately chipping away the responsibility and profits of the architect.
    SOLUTION: Increase the scope of the architect.
  8. PROBLEM:Stealing intellectual property. It’s hard to determine when a design is stolen or original.
    SOLUTION: No real solution. Can try to prevent your design being stolen by trademarking, keeping records, photographing the design progress, certifying the design, and by being careful of releasing designs to public view.

“At our firm, we have gone to great lengths to determine effective solutions to the inefficiencies within the architecture and design field,” added Rosenberg. “By making these changes, we are benefiting those who work in the field, as well as those we build the projects for. It’s a win-win for everyone to create the most efficient field that we can.”

Rosenberg‘s firm is on a mission to create better communities, neighborhoods, and cities. Their system includes a multi-faceted approach that starts with pre-architecture, maintains during the architecture phase, and continues during post-architecture.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Canada, Rosenberg spent nine years studying architecture and environmental design. Rosenberg has earned bachelor degrees in fine arts and environmental design in architecture, as well as a master degree in architecture. When he was ready to bring his architectural influence back to the West, he headed to Los Angeles to launch M-Rad and start making a difference.

About M-Rad Architecture

M-Rad Architecture + Design, based in Los Angeles, is revolutionizing the industry by revealing inefficiencies and creating solutions to universal problems. Their multi-faceted business model, allows M-Rad to expand the scope of the architect and build resilient communities through enhanced experiences. The M-Rad team is currently working on projects around the world; from apartment buildings in Los Angeles, to a private members club in Philadelphia, to a boutique hotel in Taipei. They have created mixed-use towers, luxury hotels, sports parks, and more. For additional information on the company and to view their unique business model, visit: https://www.m-rad.com.

 

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This One Simple Thing Can Help You Learn Better

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Listening to Music

Next time your dormie tells you to turn the music down, just reply, “it’s helping me learn!” A study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that listening to music can help the brain focus and organize information.

Listening—And Learning

For decades, researchers have been studying the link between learning and listening to music. The concept was introduced into the popular imagination in the early 1990s, when Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis coined the phrase “the Mozart effect.” The term referred to Dr. Tomatis’ finding that listening to Mozart could temporarily improve performance on certain spatial-temporal reasoning tasks, such as the Stanford-Binet IQ test. People quickly mis-translated the finding to “listening to Mozart makes you smarter,” and a new industry was born: To this day, there are all sorts of “intelligence-boosting” products available that claim to harness the power of Mozart.

The link between music and learning isn’t all hype, however. A 2009 study by Joseph M. Piro and Camilo Ortiz published in the Psychology of Music journal found that children who were exposed to music training performed better on vocabulary and reading comprehension tests than those who were not. The researchers hypothesized that studying music helped the children develop the mental coding systems necessary to learn language. Although they acknowledge that this is only a preliminary study—simply having different language instructors may have led to measurable differences in ability—the project is part of a growing body of research that suggests that music and learning are correlated.

Music Helps the Brain Focus

Enter the research team at the Stanford University School of Medicine. During a study designed to measure how the brain sorts out different events, they stumbled upon a concrete physiological link between the acts of listening to music and learning. The researchers played short symphonies by obscure 18th-century composers to subjects while scanning their brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. The research group found that music “lights up” areas of the brain involved with making predictions, paying attention and committing details to memory.

But don’t switch on that stereo just yet—peak brain activity actually occurred between musical movements. Dr. Vinod Menon, the study’s senior author, noted that “In a concert setting, for example, different individuals listen to a piece of music with wandering attention, but at the transition point between movements, their attention is arrested.” In other words, you get the most brain activity just after, or between, intense musical movements.

“I’m not sure if the baroque composers would have thought of it in this way,” Menon added, “but certainly from a modern neuroscience perspective, our study shows that this is a moment when individual brains respond in a tightly synchronized manner.”

So what does this mean for students? While Stanford hasn’t published a “learning with music” guide just yet, we think it probably can’t hurt to incorporate some tunes into your studying routine. Just remember: Study during the interludes.

Source: Study.com

The Top 10 Architectural Trends that Should Be Left Behind in 2018

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Smart Coffee Table

Each year, as technology progresses and lifestyles evolve, old trends are replaced with new ones. This process happens across all industries including architecture and design. But trends don’t appear from thin air – typically change comes from progressive industry leaders who are one step ahead of their competition. As new trends emerge providing better options, it’s time to expire outdated ones.

“We are happy to be at the forefront of change in the world of architecture,” explains Matthew Rosenberg, Founder of M-Rad, an architecture and design studio located in Los Angeles, California. “While some trends hold steady and survive the test of time, some trends should never have developed in the first place.”

Here are the top 10 architectural trends that should be left behind in 2018:

1. Furniture designer knockoffs. In 2017 millions of knock-off furniture pieces were sold, but what most people don’t realize is that supporting these cheaply made goods results in negative outcomes. Often there are safety risks and questionable labor practices involved. If you can’t afford the real deal, save until you can and support the craftsmanship and moral labor practices of authentic goods.

2. Artificial turf. While during drought stricken times, ripping up your lawn and replacing it with artificial turf may have seemed like a good idea, research shows ‘fake grass’ is harmful to the environment and human health. The synthetic fibers in artificial turf are typically chemical-laden, end up in landfills and eventually the chemicals seep into our oceans, contaminating marine life. While real grass and soil naturally regenerates itself and recycles the air, an organic process which lowers C02 emissions- artificial turf does not, creating a ‘heat trap’ layer which adds to global warming problems and allows bacteria and mold to grow, making it harmful for kids and pets.

3. Greenwashing. The words “green” and “sustainable” don’t mean much in the marketing world anymore. These words, and even the use of the color green have been so overused by industries to sell products (which may not even be at all environmentally friendly), consumers don’t know what is actually a healthy or sustainable product anymore. Since there is no true definition or regulation of the words, leaving them behind will give people a chance to evaluate a product without fear of misconception.<

4. Instagram Museums. Creating art merely for the sake social media hits is a trend that should be left behind in 2018. Instagram museums and art murals created solely for the purpose of social media misses the point of developing a piece of art. Art should be created for the sake of self-expression, not Instagram followers.

5. Realtors and Brokers. Leaving out the “middleman” in real estate transactions is a trend that will save buyers a lot of money. The future is designers working directly with developers. Cutting out the middlemen allows architects and designers to have more control and equity with the projects, which will help reduce costs for buyers.

6. ‘Smart’ coffee tables. A coffee table was never supposed to be a catch all, with a refrigerator, charging stations, lights, speakers, and more. Such all-in-one designs might make sense in a ‘man cave’ or den, but not for use in the everyday home setting. “Smart” coffee tables promote laziness and tend to look cheap and unattractive.

7. Patterned facades. One look around a newly developed city block and it’s clear to see, the patterned facade trend has gone too far. Facades are not always necessary however if using a facade, one simple pattern is more appealing than going overboard with multiple layers, textures, and patterns.

8. Basic residential interiors. As the “hygge” lifestyle becomes more popular, boring designs, flat ceilings, box style rooms will become a thing of the past. Complex designed ceilings, secret reading nooks and cozy crannies, unique lighting, and interesting angles are much more appealing than walking in a basic, square sterile room.

9. Dining Rooms. Millennials are buying houses now, and do not use a dining room for formal dinners like their mothers and grandmothers once did. The new norm is converting the dining room into a more efficient and useful multi-purpose space such as an office/ dining or additional living space.

10. One level parking lots.  As cities become more populated and real estate less abundant, one level parking lots will begin to convert to stacked parking or multilevel to make the most efficient use of valuable space. In the future, as lack of parking and green space continue to be a problem in growing cities, we will see designers and architects start to implement hybrid parking/ green space structures.

“The architecture industry is evolving at a rapid speed right now,” added Rosenberg. “But not all change is for the best. It’s important to recognize what trends are beneficial in the long run and allow people to make the most efficient use of places and things they interact with.”

Rosenberg, who was born and raised in Saskatoon, Canada, spent nine years studying architecture and environmental design. He has traveled all over the world to study structures and cultures which inspire him. Rosenberg has earned Bachelor degrees in fine arts and environmental design in architecture, as well as a Master degree in architecture. When he was ready to bring his architectural influence back to the West, he headed straight for Los Angeles to open shop and start implementing his vision into action.

Currently, the team at M-Rad are working on projects around the globe, from apartment buildings in Los Angeles to a private members club in Philadelphia, to a boutique hotel in Taipei. They have created designs for mixed-use towers, luxury hotels, sports parks, and more.

About M-Rad Architecture

M-Rad’s mission is to revolutionize the architecture industry by creating bespoke solutions to universal problems. M-Rad’s unique, multi-faceted business model incorporates their work in every step of the development process; from design and building to marketing, branding, and products. Expanding their scope allows them to re-conceptualize architecture and urban growth through social and environmental research and provide cities the opportunity to thrive. For more information on the company and to view their business model visit: www.m-rad.com.

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How Anyone Can Be an Influencer

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Indi

Indi’s technology helps everyone become an influencer.

Each day there are billions of people who use the Internet, and most are being influenced by others in one way or another. Many even seek that influence, especially when it comes to making purchases. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 82% of U.S. adults say they have checked out online reviews and ratings before making a product purchase.

Of those, 40% say they almost always check out online reviews before making a purchase. Online video reviews are the next big hit in marketing, and the good news is that now anyone can be the influencer, thanks to Indi.com.<

“People crave video reviews from others because it helps them make an informed decision about making a purchase,” explains Neel Grover, the founder and chief executive officer of Indi (www.INDI.com). “If you think about it, we all have ‘influence’ with our family or friends, so we have made it possible for anyone to become a paid influencer by sharing their reviews with their circle of friends, and they can earn money as they do it.”

Online reviews appeal to a wide demographic, according to the Pew report, but those under 50 are especially more likely to incorporate online reviews into their shopping. Furthermore, they report that 55% of adults in the country have watched online video reviews to help them make a purchasing decision. Whether they want reviews on the latest fashion trends and items, or they are looking for the best beauty products on the market, among many other products, video reviews give people the info and visuals they need.

With Indi, the playing field of who is offering online video reviews is leveled. Rather than people relying only on famous people to give reviews, anyone can create online video reviews using Indi. Their technology provides the ability to become an influencer, by sharing their video product reviews in a brand friendly environment. The site allows anyone to create shoppable video that can be shared natively into your social media channels, leading to retailers’ websites for direct purchases which then provide a commission to the content creator. This is an area especially popular with those who promote fashion, beauty, entertainment, electronics, travel, gaming, and fitness.

Indi’s platform helps bridge the gap between consumers who want to give their authentic and honest reviews, brands that want to engage with their customers, and the public who wants to watch online video reviews. Individual users can create their own channel, upload their content, share with their friends, family, and on social media outlets, and monetize it with commissionable shopping links to sell merchandise. Some of the categories in the Indi platform include beauty, fashion, shoes, jewelry, travel, electronics, and home and kitchen, among others.

For retailers that want to drive additional brand awareness and sales, they can turn their employee and customers into authentic micro influencers by being on Indi. Companies can create their Brand Ambassador programs on Indi whereby their employees and customers create video reviews that are associated with a direct shoppable link back to their website. Once approved, the videos and links can be natively posted by the customers and employees throughout social media to drive sales.

“Monetizing video reviews are no longer just for the famous YouTubers. It’s for everyone,” added Grover. “With our platform, consumers have the ability to get a wider range of product reviews, and everyone has the ability to become an influencer where they can post product reviews and earn money in the process. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved.”

Indi has over 100 million shoppable products in its catalog, featuring major name brands such as Canon, Nike, Adidas, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Zales, Walmart, The North Face, STS Blue and many more. Users on the site are able to create authentic content and share it into their social streams. Companies such as the Denver Broncos, “America’s Got Talent,” Domino’s and Starbucks have partnered with Indi and are using their platform to greatly increase their social media engagement and influence, all without using paid promotion.  Indi has made it possible for companies to turn employees and customers into brand ambassadors, allowing them to post video reviews of products and earn a commission when somebody clicks through their unique link and makes a purchase at the retailer’s website.

The Indi co-founders and much of the team have been together for years at Buy.com and Rakuten.com since they were one of the only ecommerce companies to have multiple consecutive years of profitability competing with Amazon. For more information on Indi and the options available to individual influencers, companies, and consumers, visit the site at: http://indi.com.

About Indi
Indi is a video engagement platform that is revolutionizing the online buying world. The platform gives people the ability to earn money from posting video product reviews, which help consumers make buying decisions and give brands the ability to turn their most loyal customers and employees into a trackable commissioned virtual sales force. The site is used by major brands and by people around the world. Based in Irvine, Calif., Indi brings together influencers, shoppers, and thousands of brands, all through the use of helpful videos and creative marketing “challenges” to drive word of mouth advertising and move people to buy. Start your Indi channel today at http://indi.com or get social @indichallenge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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Pew Research Center. Online reviews. http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/12/19/online-reviews/

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Expanded 2018 Expo Footprint and Festival Week Schedule

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San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering

March 3-11, 2018: Join more than 65,000 San Diegans for a week of innovation, creation at STEM-focused events; Expo Day features new Air Force Rapid Strike simulation experience; Festival Week brings ‘STEM in Your Backyard’ throughout San Diego County, and a special event for International Women’s Day

SAN DIEGO – Gather ‘round scientists and engineers, one of the largest STEM festivals in the U.S. is back and ready to “rocket”!

The organizers of the 10th annual San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, presented by the Illumina Foundation, is preparing for its highly anticipated EXPO DAY before its traditional Festival Week. The festival, hosted by the Biocom Institute, once again begins with the family-favorite EXPO Day on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at PETCO Park. EXPO DAY is the official kick-off celebration for festival week featuring hundreds of exhibitors and gives attendees a major preview of what’s to come to area businesses, schools, libraries and museums throughout the county during Festival Week. EXPO DAY is free and open to the public. In 2017, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering’s EXPO DAY broke attendance records, hosting 26,143 children, parents and STEM enthusiasts.

After EXPO DAY the fun continues with Festival Week (March 4-11) – eight days of learning, hands-on activities, innovation, and behind-the-scenes opportunities for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as adults and families to ignite their passion for STEM education. Many events are free and open to the public. More than 65,000 are expected to participate throughout the week visiting EXPO DAY and festival week events. Visit www.lovestemsd.org for festival week details.

Not only is the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering’s EXPO DAY jam-packed with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, but Festival Week also features interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities and dynamic speakers to engage kids, adults and families in the importance of STEM education.

A program of the Biocom Institute and presented by Illumina Foundation, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering aims to encourage and engage kids in STEM, and to increase San Diego County’s reputation of being a leader in the science industry. By hosting events and activities throughout the region, the festival demonstrates how science and engineering opportunities are in our own “backyard,” and are for science lovers of all ages. In fact, the STEM in Your Backyard series will now be accessible in areas all over San Diego County, including Escondido, Chula Vista, Lakeside and Barrio Logan.

Additionally, festival organizers plan to bring back the all crowd-favorite 21 and up series for adult science and engineering enthusiasts to continue, and share their passion for STEM with others. STEM education never stops and adults have the same fascination with science, technology, engineering, and math as kids do. Festival organizers are putting the final touches on the series and more information will be announced in the New Year.

“We’re very excited for the 10th anniversary edition of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, as we celebrate the history that brought us here along with our many long-standing partners and sponsors,” said Sara Pagano, managing director, Biocom Institute. “The week will represent a reflection into our past as well as a peak into the future of the Festival for years to come over the next decade.”

Sponsorships are available for the 2018 EXPO DAY and Festival Week. For more details, visit lovestemsd.org/become-sponsor.

Below is a preliminary list events hosted and organized by the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering. The entire 2017 Festival Week schedule will be finalized in mid-January 2018 with additional venues hosting more than 60 events throughout the week for budding scientists and their families. Visit the festival website at www.lovestemsd.org for more information. Schedule subject to change.

EXPO DAY

Saturday, March 3, 2018

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

PETCO Park

100 Park Blvd.

San Diego, CA 92101

Ticket Cost: FREE

Now in its 10th year, the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering involves hundreds of businesses, corporations, sponsors, and nonprofits in a week-long celebration of STEM education in San Diego County. Presented by Illumina Foundation, EXPO DAY at Petco Park is the Festival’s signature event providing interactive, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math exhibits, and activities to budding K-12 science lovers. In 2017, more than 26,000 children, parents and STEM enthusiasts attended EXPO Day, and more than 65,000 people participated in festival week events. There will be an MVP Luncheon (registration required) at 11:30 a.m. TEDxKids@ElCajon will also be the premier feature all day on the Dugout Stage and for families, the Pre-K Zone is back again!

STEM In Your Backyard: Barrio Logan

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Logan Heights Branch Library

567 S 28th St.

San Diego, CA 92113

Join the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering as we celebrate STEM in the Barrio Logan community! Bring your family to the Logan Height Branch Library for a FREE and fun filled day featuring over 25 interactive, hands-on exhibits from local businesses, nonprofits, and schools all meant to spark a love for science in your K-12 future innovator.

STEM In Your Backyard: South Bay

Friday, March 9, 2018

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Castle Park High School

1395 Hilltop Dr.

Chula Vista, CA 91911

Join the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering as we celebrate STEM in the South Bay community! Bring your family to Castle Park High School for a FREE and fun filled day featuring over 25 interactive, hands-on exhibits from local businesses, nonprofits, and schools all meant to spark a love for science in your K-12 future innovator.

NOTE: Additional STEM In Your Backyard venues in Escondido and Lakeside are in process of being confirmed.

About the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, San Diego

The mission of the San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, San Diego is to engage kids in science and engineering. By doing this, the organization expands the general public’s understanding of the relevancy of science and engineering in everyday lives, illuminates why the United States must maintain its leadership role in science and technology, and work with parents and teachers to inspire today’s students to become tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) innovators. For more information, visit http://www.lovestemsd.org or call 858-455-0300 ext. 4152. Connect on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/loveSTEMsd) and Twitter (@LoveSTEMsd).

About the Biocom Institute

The mission of the Biocom Institute is to support life science innovation and success in San Diego by providing our community with K-12 student and teacher STEM outreach, innovative industry-vetted professional development programs and key veteran focused mentorship and internship programs.  In pursuit of this mission, we support: mentorship that ensures diversity; science and technology information that mobilize communities; corporate social responsibility campaigns that strengthen the bottom line and a culture of collaboration that maximize resources. For more information, visit https://www.biocom.org/s/Biocom_Institute.

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Ford Motor Company Builds STEAM Careers

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FIRST Robotics

Ford Motor Company recognizes that robotics programs are a great way for children to start experiencing STEAM fields in action. For that reason, the company has been supporting FIRST® Robotics for nearly 20 years.

FIRST® – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – provides the opportunity for students in grades K–12 to work in teams, bringing STEAM fields to life by building their own robots. For two students in particular, the program was very beneficial to them even after they graduated from college.

Matthew Carpenter and Robert Self – former members of FIRST® – are now full-time employees at Ford through the company’s Ford College Graduate program. The rotational program gives college grads the opportunity to work in several different departments throughout the company over a 32-month period, before committing to an area permanently.

Carpenter became a FIRST® member in high school, after some friends who were heavily involved in the program encouraged him to check it out. “I was one of those kids that always took stuff apart when they were little, so this was right up there with the kind of things I was interested in,” he said.

Carpenter’s team was mentored by Ford employees, which helped him network and, ultimately, get into the Ford College Graduate program. He credits his ability to pick up technical skills like computer aided design and programming to his FIRST® involvement. He said participating in the program made him realize that he liked hands-on problem-solving, which led him to pursue engineering as a career, not just a hobby.

“I learned a lot about communicating with people who have different backgrounds than I do,” Carpenter said. “That’s an essential skill for working in cross-functional teams.”

Self joined the program during his junior year in high school and credits FIRST® with helping guide him toward a definitive career path. He says through the program, he learned core engineering skills that he uses in his position at Ford today.

“At the time, I was really involved in physics and chemistry and the core science and math courses, but I didn’t necessarily know exactly what I wanted to do,” Self said. “Being able to go and work with other high school students and industry mentors, develop my technical skills, and realize how math and science are used outside the classroom really opened up the window for me to realize that I wanted to be an engineer.”

His involvement in FIRST® has come full circle, as he is now on the Ford FIRST® board, working to improve employee involvement with mentoring.

Both Self and Carpenter agree that based on their experience in the Ford College Graduate program so far, it meets its goal – to help millennials build a career with Ford Motor Company.

Source: campaign-social.ford.com

Through the looking glass: Starbucks’ first in-store augmented reality experience

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Stand in front of the roasting cask at the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Asia and you’ll see a staggeringly beautiful, two-story copper vessel adorned with nearly 3,000 hand carved traditional Chinese chops, or stamps. 

But hold your phone up to it, and new worlds reveal themselves. Suddenly, it’s as if you’ve gone through the looking glass. Via your phone, you’ll be able to peer inside the cask. You’ll be able to watch an animated version of newly roasted beans dropping into the cask. You can virtually see them resting before they are whisked through copper pipes to the coffee bars. You can read about the process a bean goes through on the way to becoming a cup of coffee. What’s more, you can have that experience all over the Roastery.

“It’s like Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka,” said Emily Chang, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Starbucks, China. “It’s one thing to imagine a fully integrated in-store and digital experience, which brings together the impressive scale of the Shanghai Roastery with the highest quality small-lot coffee beans. It’s quite another to watch the AR experience get built, and come to life.”

The Shanghai Roastery is the first Starbucks in the world to offer an augmented reality (AR) experience to customers. Customers are invited to download the Roastery’s app when they enter the building – the gateway to a deeper experience. When they point their phones at key features around the Roastery, such as the cask, new information comes to life, serving as a digital tour guide. Along the way, customers collect virtual badges, and once they’ve earned all of them, they’ll receive a custom Roastery social media filter to share.

“We wanted to create a completely new brand experience for our customers,” said Chang. “Because you know, coffee is already such a deeply sensorial experience, even before the first sip: from hearing the unmistakable sound of beans being freshly ground, to inhaling that rich aroma and sipping your perfect blend, brewed just right. We wanted to take that customer experience even further.”

Visitors who don’t download the Roastery app, but who have a QR code reader on their phone, can still have a virtual experience by scanning QR codes embedded around the Roastery that unlock insider information, invisible to the naked eye. Starbucks’ scene-recognition software and AR experience is powered through a partnership with Alibaba Holding Group Ltd.

All of it is designed to help customers further understand the story of coffee, from bean to cup, said Jiang.

“It’s coffee as theater,” said Echo Jiang, director of customer experience at the Roastery.

Enhanced ordering

The new Roastery fills all the senses. You feel wrapped in warmth by the rich wood and copper décor. You can watch baristas handcraft beverages through brewing devices you’ve never seen, discover an animated hummingbird flying across a wall made of multipaneled doors, each embedded with thousands of LED lights. You can see Princi bakers (the exclusive artisanal food pairing partner at Starbucks Roasteries) bake bread and other delights. And all around you, the rich smell of coffee can carry you away. It’s easy to become transfixed.

That’s why the digital designers didn’t want Roastery visitors to have to be pulled out of the spell to go stand in line to order. Instead, they can order from anywhere in the 30,000-square-foot building.

“We didn’t want people to have to queue,” said Jiang. “We wanted to enable them to order wherever they want.”

Customers can look at the menu on the app, or point their phones at one of the icons hanging from the ceiling at various bars at the Roastery to see the menu unfold. Then, once they’ve explored, they can talk with one of the roaming baristas on the floor who will help them create and place an order exactly to their liking. The customer can pay on the spot and be digitally notified when their order is ready, along with the location where they can pick it up.

And, if visitors want to understand more about the particular way their coffee is being brewed by a barista, all they have to do is point their phone at one of the icons that hang from the ceiling, such as the symbol of a Chemex brewing method, to enter a virtual world and see the method demonstrated right on their screen.

“With AR, we are able to go beyond educating, enabling and engaging, to empowering our customers to experience the space on their own terms,” said Chang.

Continue onto the Starbucks Newsroom to read the complete article.

Is this the shoe that will help rewrite marathon history?

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Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly called ‘the most efficient shoe in terms of the energy required to run that anybody has ever studied.’

Will a new generation of high-tech footwear finally make it possible for elite runners to complete a marathon — 26.2 miles — in less than two hours?

Since the 1970s, Adidas, Nike, and other shoe manufacturers have battled one another to create a shoe that will enable someone, somewhere to complete the first sub-two-hour marathon. And treadmill tests conducted recently at the University of Colorado suggest that a shoe Nike introduced to the public last summer could be just the ticket.

In the tests, runners wearing a prototype version of the company’s $250 Zoom Vaporfly got a boost in running efficiency roughly 4 percent greater than that provided by Adidas’s Adios Boost 2, the previous “gold standard” shoe favored by many elite marathoners.

The research — sponsored by Nike but published in the peer-reviewed journal Sports Medicine — indicated that if Kenyan marathoner Dennis Kimetto had been wearing Vaporflys in 2014 when he ran a 2.02:57 marathon (the current world record), he could have completed the distance almost four minutes faster.

“This new shoe is the most efficient shoe in terms of the energy required to run that anybody has ever studied,” Dr. Rodger Kram, associate professor of integrative physiology at the university and leader of the research, says in a video released by the university. “Theoretically, if it can enhance performance this much, it should get a runner well under two hours.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

The Tricks Pixar Used To Make Coco’s Super Slick Skeletons

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Pixar’s new movie Coco is heartwarming, gorgeous, and—based on its $71 million opening weekend in the US—very popular. But it wouldn’t be any of those things without its skeletons. Like the toys, monsters, and robots Pixar has dreamed up before, the bags of bones are awfully charismatic. Unlike those creations, their phalanges took a little more finagling to get right.

Coco, out now, is the story of a kid named Miguel who discovers his family history on Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s celebration honoring ancestors on their after-life journey. While doing that, though, he finds himself as the only living boy in the City of the Dead. Nearly all his other costars are skeletons—bony characters whose awkward movements presented so many technical issues to Pixar’s animation teams the company had to overhaul its software.

“We knew going in we just didn’t have the technical ability to even put clothing on skeletons because of our simulator,” explains cloth and tailoring lead Emron Grover. (Yes, “cloth and tailoring lead” is a real job. Blame your guidance counselor if you’re just finding this out now.) The problem is that the simulator just didn’t know how to make clothes lay on characters made entirely out of thin objects like bones. “We spent three years revamping our collisions system so that we could be able to have robust collisions” between the skeletons and what they were wearing, Grover says, adding that the new system kept the characters’ bony nature prominent even under fabric.

“We tightened all the clothing,” he explains. “We cinched it around the spines and tightened it around the rib cages so you could really feel the ribs underneath.”

Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Clothes

One of Pixar’s long-standing rules is that everything on screen must be true to the materials they’re made out of. That meant Coco‘s cast was much lighter on its feet than most. A skeleton is only 20 percent of a body’s weight and much lower density, so they walk far more fancy free than their flesh-and-bone counterparts. But while keeping them light was fairly easy, giving them expressions was less so.

“Hard bone on the face was challenging,” says supervising animator Gini Santos. “A lot of our expressions are done by pulling the sides of the mouth or scowling the brows, and we weren’t going to have any of that.” Instead, the animators broke the rules by giving the skeletons eyeballs, eyelids, and sockets that mimicked eyebrows. They also fused the jaw-bone mandible, replacing it with “skeleton lips,” allowing for angular but shapeable mouths without gums or tongues.

Working with skeletons also provided unique opportunities because of their very different body language—and their ability to fall apart without it looking weird. “They use this magic invisible life force to keep the bones together, but it was very loose,” explains Grover. “They could separate bones extremely far to the point where the skeleton could completely fall apart and then all come back together magically.”

While that makes for dramatic moments in the movie, it caused headaches during its creation. “The problem with that is when you’re wearing a pair of pants and let’s say the femur and tibia/fibula separate,” hypothesizes Grover. “The cloth will tend to pinch in between, and then when you bring those bones back together it will all snag up because of excess material around the joint.” To prevent this, the team digitally wrapped joints with really stretchy invisible material. That way when the bones separated, the pants would touch that cloth and not fall into the gaps.

Continue onto WIRED to read the complete article.

The man behind some of America’s most recognisable logos, Ivan Chermayeff, has died

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Ivan Chermayeff mightn’t have been a household name, but his work certainly was.

Born in London, the American graphic designer died on Saturday, aged 85. With a career spanning six decades, Chermayeff’s legacy varies between poster art, illustration, sculpture and collage.

It’s his logo designs, however, that people all over the world will instantly recognize.

In 1957, Chermayeff set up a design firm alongside collaborator Tom Geismar, where they designed graphic identities for a range of governmental and commercial organizations.

Chermayeff designed now iconic logos for Showtime, HarperCollins, the Smithsonian Institution, Pan Am and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

His firm, now named Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, was behind the design of logos for Mobil, Chase Bank, NBC, National Geographic, PBS, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Museum of Modern Art, and numerous others. It’s safe to say you’ve come across their work.

“Ivan was a brilliant designer and illustrator, with a vibrant personal style that reflected joy, intelligence and wit,” Geismar said in a statement.

“He loved surprise, large-scale objects, and the color red. For over 60 years, Ivan and I have enjoyed a partnership, to which we each brought complimentary talents, in an alliance cemented by shared values and mutual respect. Ivan’s contribution to the field of design will remain unsurpassed.”

Chermayeff and his collaborators are significantly responsible for what corporate America looks like today, with simple and effective images that stand the test of time.

“There are different answers as to what makes a good logo,” Chermayeff said in a interview at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2015.

“They should be very simple. Appropriate for the audience. It is usually a two month process to get to that point but it should look like it took five minutes. It has to be understandable and hold its own.”

Continue onto Mashable to read the complete article.