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Crawled News Article
Site: http://news.mit.edu/topic/mitmechanical-engineering-rss.xml

Traditional photography classes highlight lessons about lighting and framing a photo, but instead of learning these techniques, 40 high school girls learned how to build a camera and how to write code for Instagram-like filters in a recent workshop. On Saturday, June 4, these girls participated in the Girls Who Build Cameras workshop organized by MIT Lincoln Laboratory researchers at Beaver Works, just off MIT's main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This one-day workshop taught girls how to build a Raspberry Pi camera and how to program image filters. Kristen Railey '13, a member of the technical staff in the Advanced Undersea Systems and Technology Group at the laboratory and the founder of a series of workshops called Girls Who Build, organized the event, which gathered more than 40 volunteers from Lincoln Laboratory, MIT, and various companies around Massachusetts to teach the students. "Teaching girls engineering is an investment in our future workforce," Railey says. "Women are an untapped resource in the growing field of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math]. The most effective way to spark a girl's interest in engineering is showing her how it is applied to her passion — whether it is fashion, health care, energy, or education." Railey's idea to host a hands-on workshop based on cameras and programming filters came about because of the abundance of image-based social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat that use filters to alter photos taken with smartphones. Cameras, Railey said, also require versatile engineering including optics, computer science, and mechanics, so the students could learn which field of engineering they may be most interested in pursuing. In building the Raspberry Pi camera, the students were required to work in teams of four, and each team had a volunteer to guide them. Raspberry Pi is a series of credit card-sized single-board computers specifically designed for computer science education. Raspberry Pi, Inc. is a charity in the United Kingdom founded in 2009 to promote computer science education. The girls at the workshop used these single-board computers to build cameras of their own — only one girl had previously worked with Raspberry Pi. The students then programmed their cameras to produce several different image effects including flipping an image and using time lapse. In the afternoon, the students were taught to use the programming language Processing to write code for image effects. As an introduction to the activity, a programmer who is from the data visualization company Fathom and who uses Processing spoke to the girls. During this coding process, the girls learned to program an Instagram-type filter to flip the image, create a vignette, tint the photo, or single out one color from the image. While learning how to code for these filters, the students learned programming concepts like loops (continually repeating sequence of instructions) and logic (learning to think like a computer by breaking down tasks into specific instructions) to help them write the code. Volunteers from Lincoln Laboratory and other companies also spoke to the girls about their research involving cameras and image processing. Kristin Clark, a researcher from the Optical Engineering Group at Lincoln Laboratory, began the workshop by talking to the girls about her research in space cameras, most recently the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a NASA-funded project aimed at discovering exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars outside of our solar system. Alex Lorman, chief of technology at Sea Machines Robotics, also explained the components of a camera and showed the students his professional photography equipment, including various lenses. The program concluded with demonstrations at three stations to show the students how simple cameras can be applied to a variety of research areas. Jessica Johnson from Lincoln Laboratory's Space Systems Analysis and Test Group, displayed a light-field camera that captures the light density and direction in an image. Robert Schulein from the laboratory's Optical Communications Technology Group demonstrated photogrammetry — the use of photography to measure and map distances between objects. Tom Graves from DotProduct showed the students three-dimensional scanning with one of his company's products that employs a camera to capture a 3-D picture for use in verifying a building’s construction and in efficiently mapping underwater naval infrastructure. The students were exposed to multiple scientific disciplines and with the hands-on activity were able to experience working in those fields as well. The keynote speaker, Uyanga Tsedev, a mechanical engineering graduate student at MIT, spoke about her research creating imaging probes for surgeons to identify tumors. The students also heard speakers from the Society of Women Engineers and the Women's Technology Program at MIT. The Girls Who Build Cameras curriculum will soon be published on MIT Open CourseWare for educators and students everywhere. In the fall, Railey will work with staff at Lincoln Laboratory to jointly lead and advise the Girls Who Build initiative while she pursues a doctorate full time in the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Joint Program. "I believe a partnership with an MIT student organization would be incredibly beneficial to growing the program, with a larger volunteer base, more funding, and new perspectives for developing Girls Who Build curriculums," said Railey. Before the workshop, half of the girls had never programmed before, and after, 90 percent said they wanted to continue learning to code. "This was a great experience for me because I had wanted to start programming," one of the students said, "but I didn't know how or where, and this was a great introduction."

Crawled News Article
Site: http://motherboard.vice.com/

Iran's plan to isolate and monitor all internet services within the country will place huge limitations on Iranians' ability to safely express themselves online, according to a report published today by freedom of expression campaign group Article 19. The report, Tightening the Net: Internet Security and Censorship in Iran, outlines the wide-ranging and often contradictory objectives of the National Internet Project, which was first announced ten years ago under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and now scheduled for completion in 2019. On a technical level, the project includes many upgrades to current communications infrastructure within the country aimed at boosting ICT development and economic growth: One of the key targets is to add an additional 12,000 km of fibre optic cables to the country's telecommunications network, expanding internet penetration in rural areas and bringing 20Mbps broadband connections to seven main cities (by comparison, urban areas in the UK have speeds that average at just over 50Mbps). At the same time, Iran's IP space will be transitioned from the older IPv4 protocol to IPv6, making it a regional leader in the move towards global implementation of the standard and greatly increasing the number of allocatable IP addresses. But the overarching goal behind the project is to separate the Iranian internet from the global web—blocking access to external content that might be politically or culturally subversive, and centralising the routing of all online communications from within the country to allow for total surveillance. By way of a mission brief, Reza Taghipour, minister of information and communications technology from 2009-2012, told Iran’s Mehr News Agency that “[i]solation of the clean internet from the unclean portion will make it impossible to use the internet for unethical and dirty businesses”—a mandate which ties into the strict online censorship introduced in the Computer Crimes Law in 2010, which criminalised offences against “public morality and chastity” and the “dissemination of lies,” effectively legitimising the suppression of any criticism of the regime or its deeply conservative values. “Development of better infrastructure may well lead to faster internet access” said David Diaz-Jogeix, director of programmes at Article 19. “However, the aim of developing this domestic internet infrastructure for the National Internet Project ultimately is to restrict access to world wide web and harvest private information about internet users in the country. The completion of this project in its current form would have a devastating impact on internet users, and severely limit freedom of expression for people inside Iran.” In order to exercise this control over the country's internet, the government of Iran intends to bring as much as possible of the physical hosting of data and services used by Iranians within the country's borders. According to statistics published by Iran's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, 40 percent of the content currently visited by Iranian users is hosted inside the country, but the government's overall intention is to double this to at least 80 percent. To this end, alongside homegrown content providers such as the YouTube-like Aparat and social networking site Cloob, the government has funded the creation of bespoke national email providers, search engines, e-government services and even a national browser based on the open source Firefox. Additionally, selectively throttling access speeds to international services is employed as a way to drive Iranian users towards adopting domestic alternatives, with the upshot that they become far easier to monitor, especially when government-sanctioned channels are used in combination. Ironically, Article 19’s report suggests the construction of large-scale filtering and surveillance apparatus in Iran has been partly justified by a logic of protecting citizens from surveillance elsewhere. Members of the Iranian police and intelligence services had already expressed concerns about the interception of communications passing through US data centres, which the Snowden leaks revealed were grounded in fact, Diaz-Jogeix explained. “The knowledge that the US, UK, and other 'Five-Eyes' governments (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) were carrying out illegal mass surveillance programmes has not only had an impact on the privacy and freedom of expression of individuals in those countries, but has provided inspiration for expanded and far-reaching surveillance practices in other countries, including Iran,” he said. “The revelations that governments who hold themselves up to be beacons of freedom were (and still are) engaging in mass surveillance of their citizens encouraged Iran to form its own narrative on the need for further surveillance and censorship.” Since its inception, the National Internet Project has suffered from numerous delays, and the original planned completion date of 2015 has now been revised back to 2019 at the earliest. But the government is known to have allocated hundreds of millions of dollars towards further development, spending an estimated $285 million on works related to the project in 2015 alone, according to Article 19’s research. While the project is still under development, a chance remains for outside agencies to steer Iran towards openness. The report recommends that national governments and internet governance bodies directly address Iran's duty to uphold the digital rights of its citizens, and also advises that any foreign companies or investors work only within guidelines set out by human rights law. “While we urge internet companies to continue to engage constructively in discussions concerning increasing internet access in Iran, we unequivocally call on them to avoid providing assistance to the Iranian government's surveillance and censorship projects that would restrict the free flow of information and views online,” said Diaz-Jogeix. So far, Iran’s younger and more computer literate generation have proved themselves able to bypass attempts at censorship, but the government’s severe speed restrictions on unwanted traffic (including SSL connections which can be used to tunnel to other sites) is likely to push more people towards domestic services out of sheer practicality. “Whilst a particularly tech-savvy Iranian may find ways to circumvent a 'National Internet,' should it come into being, we do not know to what extent this might be the case," Diaz-Jogeix said. "We already know that the Iranian authorities have the power to slow down or 'switch-off' the Internet at critical moments, for example during elections. The National Internet Project goes a step further in creating an all-powerful state that closely monitors its citizens and blocks information from outside sources." With a population that is already familiar with the web, Iran is unlikely to be able to create anything as hermetic as North Korea’s hugely limited Kwangmyong network. But even if filtering and censorship is not total, such a level of intervention into internet access and content can only be a further blow to freedom of expression in the country.

Crawled News Article
Site: http://phys.org/technology-news/

Developed at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the vest uses sensors to measure a worker's body temperature and heart rate and sends the data wirelessly to a smartphone app, which instantly alerts users to any anomalies. The innovation comes amid concern at the growing number of heat-related accidents on construction sites. And it follows a NASA climate report warning that temperatures over the past decade have been the warmest in more than a century. Vice-Chancellor's Research Fellow in RMIT's School of Property, Construction and Project Management, Dr Ruwini Edirisinghe has been working on the smart vest concept for more than a year. She devised her heat stress vest as part of her research in to improving worker safety. "Heat related illness is of serious concern in the construction industry, and can lead to fatalities," Edirisinghe said. "It can cause heat stroke and damage to body organs and the nervous system resulting in permanent disability or even death. "A big part of the problem is some workers don't recognise the early warning signs. This technological solution will hopefully change that." National and international regulatory bodies such as SafeWork in Australia, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSH) in the USA and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK are increasingly recognising heat stress hazards in the construction industry. Workers in building and construction are at higher risk of death or injury than those in many other occupations, with figures from SafeWork Australia showing the industry accounted for 12 per cent of the nation's work-related fatalities in 2013-14. But other workers are also exposed to hot conditions on the job, including bakers, fire-fighters, welders, miners, boiler room workers, chefs, farmers, gardeners and foundry operators. The signs and symptoms of heat illness can include feeling sick, nauseous, dizzy or weak. Victims can also become clumsy, collapse, suffer convulsions and die. "Globally, the construction industry is one of the lowest performing industries in terms of its safety record," said Edirisinghe, who has a background in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and smart technologies in construction research. "Construction workers in extreme temperatures and humid environments, confined spaces and near radiant heat sources are vulnerable to risks." Edirisinghe said her smart vest kit takes the guesswork out of heat-related workplace safety by alerting construction workers or their supervisors before such problems arise. Data from the vest can be sent direct to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. Edirisinghe's project is believed to be the first of its type in the construction industry in the world. "While there are researchers working on anti-heat stress smart T-shirts using advanced fabrics, these have no sensors embedded so are unable to monitor or provide instant health data," she said. Edirisinghe has plans to extend the smart vest system to include smart glasses, enabling wearers to "see" warnings about the state of their own health and wellbeing projected right before their eyes. Explore further: Study sheds light on prevention of heat stroke for outdoor workers

Crawled News Article
Site: http://www.greencarcongress.com/

« European Parliament rejects proposed veto of plan to raise diesel NOx limits temporarily for RDE deployment | Main | UMTRI: average new vehicle fuel economy in US in January up from December » The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released its Report to Congress assessing the status of the 5.9 Gigahertz dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) to enable connected vehicle technologies and applications. The assessment found that DSRC is ready for deployment and DSRC-based technologies and applications offer a path to a safer and more efficient surface transportation system. DSRC is a Wi-Fi derivative technology developed to meet specialized needs for secure, low latency, wireless mobile data communications. It is uniquely configured to enable continuous, high-speed, trusted and authenticable data exchange among moving vehicles and between vehicles and roadway infrastructure or mobile devices, to support safety-critical applications, as well as less demanding mobility and environmental applications. The Status of the Dedicated Short-Range Communications Technology and Applications: Report to Congress also assesses known and potential gaps in DSRC technology and applications; describes a recommended implementation path; and discusses opportunities to use commercially available communications for connected vehicle applications under specific circumstances. DSRC has shown its ability to provide the critical attributes needed to support connected vehicle safety applications, which no other wireless technology has at this time, according to DOT. DSRC can be configured to enable real-time crash-avoidance alerts and warnings, offering a significant opportunity to transform transportation safety, including the potential to address 83 percent of light-vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers. DSRC also provides an important new capability for enhancing the performance and safety of automated vehicles, allowing automation to reach its full potential.

Crawled News Article
Site: http://www.treehugger.com/feeds/category/technology/

We've seen how social media can be more than just a place to share pictures of your dinner. It can play an important role in cultural movements, political discourse, tracking diseases and now, researchers have discovered that it can play a crucial role in natural disaster relief by predicting the true impact in just a few hours. An international study by researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), NICTA (National Information Communications Technology Australia) and the University of California in San Diego has found that analysis of social network activity during and in the hours following a natural disaster can quickly reveal the extent of damage. "Twitter, the social network which we have analyzed, is useful for the management, real-time monitoring and even prediction of the economic impact that disasters like Hurricane Sandy can have," says one of the researchers, Esteban Moro Egido, of UC3M. Hurricane Sandy was the perfect chance for the researchers to collect data because it was a very large storm that was being tracked and they could monitor Twitter for information before, during and after it hit areas. Hundreds of millions of geo-located tweets were sent by Twitter users referencing the storm in 50 metropolitan areas. The researchers were able to track the movement and impact of storm through Twitter activity as it pummeled the East Coast. The storm caused more damage than any other is U.S. history with an economic impact of 50 billion dollars. The researchers compared the Twitter data they collected with official FEMA data concerning the level of aid grants for different areas. The researchers found that there was a strong correlation between the mean per capita social network activity and the mean per capita economic damage for each area. The danger and actual disaster impact was directly observable in real time by monitoring the social network. The researchers have gone on to verify that the same correlation exists in floods, tornados and storms. The researchers believe that social networks could be a critical prediction tool for the damage of natural disasters, giving governments the ability to see where and how much relief will be needed much more quickly. It can also be used to see where people are in need of immediate help so that first responders can be dispatched to the hardest hit areas. The researchers say this finding is especially important as we face an increase in natural disasters due to climate change. "We believe that this is going to cause even more natural disasters and, therefore, the use of social networks will allow us to obtain useful supplementary information," Egido said. "We are trying to see if there is a relationship between activity on social networks and climate change which will affect us in the future". If social networks are monitored, more lives could be saved and the right amount of aid will reach the areas that need it much more quickly.

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