Multiple Authors
By: Rachel Ehrenberg, Knowable Magazine

If you’re lucky, you’ve tasted a perfectly ripe fruit—a sublime peach, perhaps, or a buttery avocado. But odds are most of the fruit you’ve eaten tastes more like wet cardboard. Although plant breeders have mastered growing large, perfect-looking fruits that resist decay, ship easily, and are available year-round, flavor has fallen by the wayside.

That’s starting to change. Amid growing consumer interest in sustainable farming and good food, researchers are delving into the complex biochemistry and genetics of fruit flavor with renewed zest. Here are some basic facts about fruit, how it ripens, why much of it tastes so bland—and how scientists are trying to reclaim lost flavors.

What is fruit and how is it made?

Botanically speaking, fruits are mature, ripened ovaries containing seeds. These seed suitcases can be dry, like a pea pod, or fleshy, like an apple or tomato. A fleshy fruit, from the plant’s point of view, is a fee-for-service: a nutritious meal offered to an animal in exchange for dispersing the seeds inside.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

For more than 50 years, Tri-State Plastics has been honing its skills in thermoforming, CNC machining, die cutting, assembly, and fabricating plastic parts for government and military applications. A restructuring of company ownership saw the organization pivot toward the lucrative but challenging opportunity of aerospace manufacturing.

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By: David Mitchell

Using a novel capability to reason about shape, function, and attachment of unrelated parts, researchers have for the first time successfully trained an intelligent agent to create basic tools by combining objects.

The breakthrough comes from Georgia Tech’s Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning (RAIL) research lab and is a significant step toward enabling intelligent agents to devise more advanced tools that could prove useful in hazardous—and potentially life-threatening—environments.

The concept may sound familiar. It’s called “MacGyvering,” based off the name of a 1980s—and recently rebooted—television series. In the series, the title character is known for his unconventional problem-solving ability using differing resources available to him.

For years, computer scientists and others have been working to provide robots with similar capabilities. In their new robot-MacGyvering work, RAIL lab researchers led by associate professor Sonia Chernova used as a starting point a robotics technique previously developed by former Georgia Tech professor Mike Stilman.

Multiple Authors
By: Phanish Puranam, Agustin Chevez

Flying sharks, waterfalls in the lobby, in-house top chefs, and dogs in the workplace. These are just a few tangible examples of experience design reimagining organizations beyond the traditional scope of organization design.

Organization design is concerned with how to shape interactions among members to further certain strategic goals. It typically involves decisions about authority and incentives, selection and recruitment processes, leadership, and culture. But the physical space within which an organization’s members interact has not historically been a part of the design palette. That’s changing rapidly today.

The concept of experience design (introduced by Pine and Gilmore) has been influential in the world of customer interactions. Principles traditionally used to attract, captivate, and retain customers are now being used by organizations to win talent in highly competitive labor markets. The idea, though new to office culture, is basically intuitive: Make work a fun, rewarding place to be, and employees will want to come on board, stay put, and work hard. Hence, the proliferation of foosball tables, bean bag chairs, and other rec-room-style touches in offices aspiring to hipness.

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By: Daniel Hess

We all expect hospitals to be open and operating when we need them, but extreme weather events like hurricanes are a strain on resources and pose significant challenges for hospitals.

Closing a hospital is an extreme action, but several hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina did just that before the arrival of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

With more than 300 hospitals and a higher share of older adults than any other state, Florida had a critical issue facing emergency planners during those storms.

As a professor of urban planning, I have studied emergency planning and evacuation and also co-authored an extensive report on how hospitals coped with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav. Hospitals plan for catastrophic events, but there are always lessons to be learned.

Hospitals try to stay open and care for patients already hospitalized as well as those who suffer injury or illness from a storm. Here’s how they do it.

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By: DNV GL

Workplace safety is a complex issue, addressing everything from rules for operating heavy machinery to guidelines for respecting your fellow employees. For many of these issues we, as a business community, have developed and applied a variety of best practices and global standards—such as ISO 45001—to help establish and preserve a safe and healthy working environment for everyone.

The U.S. Dept. of Labor estimates that two million employees are victims of workplace violence annually, resulting in a loss of 1.2 million workdays and an estimated $55 million in lost wages.  The long-term costs to business continuity and the human capital that supports it are almost staggering. 

As a society, we work toward the prevention of accidents that result in personal injuries; we have policies about professional behavior and decorum, and plans to deal with emergencies by natural causes such as fires, floods, and electrical outages. What we must now develop are the operational plans and policies to deal with targeted violence such as active shooter events. 

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By: Paul Foster

When Deloitte wanted to get people excited about employee training, the company decided to adopt a gamification strategy for its online training portal. Using elements like achievement badges, missions, and leaderboards, they achieved a 37-percent increase in participation.

And when Ford Canada gamified its sales and service training, platform usage jumped a massive 417 percent, with big gains in engagement among younger employees.

Saying gamification makes work a game is an oversimplification. In reality, it’s all about leveraging proven psychological principles around our motivation to compete, encouraging habits and behavior that improve business performance.

These principles can also be used in manufacturing to increase engagement in audits, which are critical to quality but often suffer from low participation. Key gamification tools and techniques to consider include mobile apps, competitions, and recognition programs.

Sébastien Breteau’s picture

By: Sébastien Breteau

Whether it be a move forced by the U.S.-China tariff turmoil, or a sourcing strategy long in the works, the exodus from China is a reality for a host of businesses, from small to medium-sized enterprises to multinationals.

While the departure is widespread, it isn’t universal—some major players, Nike and Intel among them, openly announce they have no intention to pull out of China, in a large part due to its importance as a consumer market. However, for businesses in pursuit of low-cost outsourcing, China is becoming an increasingly less feasible choice. With Vietnam—arguably the biggest beneficiary from the trade war fallout—almost at capacity, global supply chains in price-sensitive consumer goods segments are exploring new sourcing horizons.

That said, shifting one’s supply chain into a new country is never a trouble-free process. In the classic project management triangle of quality vs. speed vs. cost, only two facets out of three are available at any given time. The latest data collected by quality and compliance solution provider QIMA indicate that as buyers move into new sourcing regions, the quality dimension is the most likely to suffer.

Krystle Morrison’s picture

By: Krystle Morrison

From carrying food in from the field, to shipping processed products, to assembling a supermarket display, packaging matters. As a follow-up to our exploration of emerging trends in food packaging, we’re taking a look at several innovative technologies that could change the future of packaging.

The search for sustainability

More than half of consumers say that environmental sustainability is at least somewhat important to their purchasing decisions, and 41 percent of those shoppers look for recyclable packaging. To benefit the environment and ultimately please consumers with sustainability practices, food brands, startups, and researchers are discovering new ways to package products with recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable materials. 

Britta Voss’s picture

By: Britta Voss

When you email friends, you don’t have to worry about whether they use Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or some other email provider. You just enter their email address, write your message, and hit send. The reason this works is because there are layers of standardized protocols that all the email clients have adopted so emails can seamlessly fly between users regardless of which client they choose.

Many other types of digital information exchange are not interoperable like email. Instead, if you want to share some data with another user, you often have to use the same software. I encountered this challenge both through my research as a science policy fellow with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Division and my personal experience as a user of diabetes management technologies.

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