Caroline Preston’s picture

By: Caroline Preston

There’s a lot of anxiety out there about robots gobbling up our jobs. One oft-cited Oxford University study predicts that up to 47 percent of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to automation. Other research suggests the share is much lower. But while the exact numbers may be debated, there’s little question that technology is changing quickly and reconfiguring the tasks many of us do.

As the labor market demands different and evolving skills, what does that mean for higher education? Is a four-year degree still the best way to obtain a well-paying job? And what subjects and experiences do students need exposure to while they’re in college?

Jennifer Chu’s default image

By: Jennifer Chu

Hearing aids, dental crowns, and limb prosthetics are some of the medical devices that can now be digitally designed and customized for individual patients, thanks to 3D printing. However, these devices are typically designed to replace or support bones and other rigid parts of the body, and are often printed from solid, relatively inflexible material.

Now MIT engineers have designed pliable, 3D-printed mesh materials whose flexibility and toughness they can tune to emulate and support softer tissues such as muscles and tendons. They can tailor the intricate structures in each mesh, and they envision the tough yet stretchy fabric-like material being used as personalized, wearable supports, including ankle or knee braces, and even implantable devices, such as hernia meshes, that better match to a person’s body.

Rohit Mathur’s picture

By: Rohit Mathur

Whatever the process or type of data collected, all data display variation. This is also true in software development. Any measure or parameter of interest to our business will vary from time period to time period, e.g., number of incidents per week or month, time taken in resolving incidents, number of tickets encountered in a production support environment per month, and defect density in code.

Understanding variation is about being able to describe the behavior of processes or systems over time. This variation can be stable, predictable, and routine, or unstable, unpredictable, and exceptional. Being able to distinguish between stable or common-cause variation, and unstable or special-cause variation, helps us to decide the type of action needed to improve the process. The control chart, developed by Walter Shewhart, is the tool that enables us to do so.

Knowledge at Wharton’s picture

By: Knowledge at Wharton

For decades, relatively easy access to space and the big profits to go with it have dangled elusively just over the horizon. With a little more R&D money and a few more advances in the technology, the thinking went, space would be ours.

Are we there yet? More than a few signs are pointing in the direction of a robust, varied space age of viable commercialization—as well as more audacious goals than we’ve seen in generations.

On the practical side, advances in reusable rockets, lowered per-launch costs, and miniaturization of satellites are opening up business opportunities well beyond aerospace and defense, and into IT hardware and telecom, according to Morgan Stanley. The global space industry is expected to generate revenue of $1.1 trillion or more in 2040, up from the current $350 billion, according to a recent report by the firm.

On the dream side, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently outlined a long-term vision for putting a trillion people in space colonies with one small step coming soon: an infrastructure starting with lunar lander Blue Moon. “We are going to build a road to space,” Bezos said at a May unveiling of his plans, “and then amazing things will happen.”

Victor Prince’s picture

By: Victor Prince

If you work long enough, you will have a micro-managing boss or two. These bosses think they know your job better than you do. Maybe they had your job before they got promoted to management. They focus on how you do your job instead of on the results you produce. They think that because you are doing your job differently than they would, you must be doing it incorrectly. Micro-management is a big driver of dissatisfaction and attrition in the workplace.

Seven strategies to manage a micromanaging manager

Diagnose the situation. Is your boss micro-managing others or just you? It is important to understand whether you are being singled out, or if you are just one of many victims. If he micro-manages others, too, it’s probably him, not you. But if you are the only one being micro-managed, it might be you, and it is worth figuring out why. Perhaps your boss is just more interested in your job than others. Or perhaps he thinks you need closer scrutiny. If your boss’s micro-management is due to problems with your performance, you need to surface that discussion and address it head on.

Gwendolyn Galsworth’s picture

By: Gwendolyn Galsworth

We have been examining motion and moving without working, the footprint of the invisible enemy: missing information. Added up, motion—in all its thousand and perverse forms—can steal 10 percent to 30 percent of our usable workday. Its impact is huge. We know the cure: Replace recurrent questions with visual answers, and motion dissolves because information deficits disappear. Do this by implementing visual workplace technologies, and the gain is companywide.

To conquer motion, we need to understand it even better than we do now and go beyond the power of information deficits to trigger struggle in the guise of seemingly innocent interruptions. In this article, I widen our definition of motion so you gain insight into the more deeply hidden triggers of motion—those tied directly to the physical work environment—and a work location I call the “value field.”
• The wider definition of motion: Motion is anything you have to do or you are unable do your workbut it is not your work.
• An explanation of the term value field: The actual physical location where you do your work.
• And let’s also define “work,” so there’s no guessing. Work means: moving and adding value.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Ordinarily, you won’t encounter a radiation thermometer until somebody puts one in your ear at the doctor’s office, or you point one at your forehead when you’re feeling feverish. But more sophisticated and highly calibrated, research-grade “noncontact” thermometers—which measure the infrared (heat) radiation given off by objects without touching them—are critically important to many endeavors besides healthcare.

However, even high-end conventional radiation thermometers have produced readings with worryingly large uncertainties. But now researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have invented a portable, remarkably stable, standards-quality radiation thermometer about 60 cm (24 in.) long that is capable of measuring temperatures to a precision of within a few thousandths of a degree Celsius.

Barrett Thompson’s picture

By: Barrett Thompson

A hot topic of conversation for many B2B industrial companies is the talent and skills gap due to the generational shift in the workforce from baby boomers to millennials. According to Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, “Too many employers are sleepwalking toward a significant skills problem that risks derailing their business strategy if not addressed. Not enough organizations are thinking strategically about workforce planning or even enough about the make-up of their workforce.”

Generational skills gap causing a quality gap

Recruiting and retaining millennials for sales teams is often cited as a primary concern. As baby boomers retire and exit the workforce, decades of quality experience, product, and market knowledge leave as well. Loss of quality is often the impact of this workforce transition on sales teams.

Sarah Webb’s picture

By: Sarah Webb

What you see in the image below is a lobe of a liver, times two. On the right, a flesh-and-blood one, removed from a transplant donor; and on the left, one created from plastic to represent bile ducts, arteries, and veins, which were laid down, layer by layer, by a 3D printer. The goal of such technology is to help surgeons plan and practice complex procedures, and train new surgeons with simulators that respond as a patient would.

Surgeons navigate complex anatomical terrain as they manipulate scalpel and suture to cut and stitch precisely and quickly. Their job is made harder by the fact that human anatomy is far from uniform. To properly prepare, they routinely use two-dimensional images from computerized tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to plan.

But increasingly they are turning to realistic 3D models that are specific for individual patients.

Such models are already used to educate patients, to do general training, and to plan and practice especially difficult procedures. But in the future, 3D models, be they physical or virtual, could become routine tools for training surgeons or mapping procedures in advance.

Brooke Kuei’s picture

By: Brooke Kuei

A  technique developed by researchers at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), in collaboration with Dow and Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, is providing atomic-resolution details about magnesium chloride, a material involved in the production of the most common plastic, polyethylene. This could help to create a path toward sustainable plastics. The team’s findings were reported in Advanced Functional Materials.

The researchers used pulsed electron beams in an electron microscope to produce first-of-their-kind images of magnesium chloride. A continuous electron beam rapidly damages this delicate, beam-sensitive material, but the new technique allowed the researchers to study it without harm.

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