Va. Tech Engineers Cited as Most Philanthropic

The National Association of Engineering Student Councils has deemed Virginia Tech students as the most philanthropic in the country for 2012 and found that that they operated the best Student Engineers’ Council. The Virginia Tech council has raised more than $1 million over the past decade from organizing one of the nation’s largest career fairs. The money partially funds more than 30 engineering organizations, including the hybrid electric vehicle team; the outdoor-terrain motorsport team; and the Baja and Formula Society of Automotive Engineers’ teams.

Financing for Upstart Young Entrepreneurs

A former Google executive has launched a company, called Upstart, with a new method to finance recent graduates-turned-entrepreneurs. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, it works by having investors give money directly to individuals in return for a percentage of future income from their ventures. Founder David J. Girouard, who raised $1.75-million in seed money, expects it to be of interest to students who want to pursue any field that is entrepreneurial and high-risk, such as screenwriting or starting a technology company. Five universities are participating in a pilot program: Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and the University of Washington. Find out more.


Summer Tour de Force 3: Steering a Mars Rover

When engineers behind the Mars rover Curiosity encountered a problem a few months ago, they turned to 19-year-old intern Riley Avron for help. The engineers needed to maneuver a Curiosity test double across the simulated Martian landscape dubbed the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters. That meant spending several minutes typing out lines of code. With their eyes locked on a computer screen, they couldn’t watch the rover. Solution? As the Pasadena Sun reports, Avron developed an iPhone app that allows rover drivers to plug in a distance and direction and then hit go.” The project took 10 weeks and 8,000 lines of code, but the app “has become a crucial tool for engineers.” Avron, an electrical engineering sophomore at Purdue, is one of 450 interns at the lab and 30 on the Mars project.

Summer Tour de Force 2: On a Roll

Heard of Maker Faire, a California rite of spring for hackers, inventors, and do-it-yourself creators? A group of engineering and design students, mostly from Stanford, has picked up the idea and taken it on the road. After raising $300,000 to outfit a panel truck with rapid-prototyping tools, including two 3-D printers, a laser cutter, sewing machines, and a clay oven, the students have spent the summer driving their “educational build-mobile” across the country to spread the fun of hands-on learning and show kids how “to find their inner maker.” Aboard the SparkTruck, they park at schools, libraries, and children’s museums to demonstrate what a child’s natural urge to build a tree house, say, can produce with high-tech equipment. Read more here and here and follow the journey on their website.