Gilbert_AbaloneShell07_8359Water bears. Undersea snails with teeth harder than steel. Shrimp that clobber their prey with “hammer-like clubs that accelerate at speeds exceeding that of a .22 caliber bullet”. Do I have your attention?

These are just a few of the marine animals which engineering professor David Kisailus and his students will bring to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum this weekend. Why? To talk about how these strange, exotic, and even bizarre organisms can inspire human engineering.

The event will showcase research done in Kisailus’s Biomimetics and Nanostructured Materials lab by both Riverside undergraduates and a team of younger students from Mira Loma Middle School.

The event is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, 3580 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside. It is free and open to the public. Advance registration is not required. Read more about the event at the UC Riverside website.

Nine student groups will present on Saturday. Here are just a couple of our favorite abstracts:

Water bears go where no man has gone before

Students: Steven Herrera, Ashley Carrillo, Irma Gonzalez and Tayler Halverson

Abstract: Water bears possess a talent for survival. They can live in the vacuum of space, resist the pressure of deepest ocean trench six times over, and bear temperatures from one degree above absolute zero to 300°F. Researchers at UC Riverside unravel the secrets of this microscopic lumberer.

Using snails with tough glowing shells for deep space expeditions

Students: Jessica Hernandez, Leslie Martinez, Jessica Richardson and Chris Salinas.

Abstract: Mollusks have evolved a wide range of calcified shells to survive in a variety of habitats. Certain mollusks (gastropods) have a shell with an architecture that makes it tough. Here, we study a very unique gastropod, which is tough and also has evolved to allow green light to penetrate through its thick shell. Investigation of the structure of this shell could lead to development of fracture resistant windows that control intensity and wavelength of light, which would be used for growing plants for food on deep space missions.

We’re intrigued!

All nine abstracts can be found in the original announcement on the UC Riverside website.

School is back in session for Engineering students across the country. So, let’s talk about the future of Engineering. It is one of the oldest fields of study. It is also an industry integral to the everyday workings of our infrastructure. What can we expect of and for our engineers in the next two decades?

Recently, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers released a study on the future of the Mechanical Engineering profession, specifically. The survey included results from 1,200 engineers with a minimum of two years of experience in mechanical engineering-related positions. According to an article in Virtual-Strategy Magazine, “The study also revealed that early career engineers and students will play a major role in meeting global challenges over the next 10-20 years, especially in the areas of sustainability or renewable energy, bioengineering and biomedical fields, nanotechnology, green building technology, energy storage, smart grids and greenhouse gas mitigation.”

Other positive results from the survey showed that over the next 20 years:

  • The prestige of working as an engineer will increase
  • The financial rewards of working as an engineer will be greater
  • The number of engineers working in less-developed countries will be greater
  • The need for engineers to increase their ability to communicate more effectively, increase language skills and manage global teams will increase
  • Skills in motion simulation, animation and virtual prototype creation are needed

This is all great news, both for Engineering students still looking forward to beginning their careers, as well as for those who graduated in recent recession-hobbled years and may have struggled to enter the Engineering workforce.

But there is another trend in the Engineering industry that doesn’t quite jive with this expected uptick in demand, prestige, and reward. Even a cursory review of the enrollment figures for Top Engineering Schools indicates the presence of the problem. Continue reading “Conflicting Trends in the Engineering Industry”