Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Students from the University of Exeter are helping a family-run Cornish business reduce their carbon footprint by embracing the renewables revolution.

Trewithen Dairy joined the ‘renewables revolution’ by installing solar panels at its site, as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment in recent years. Now, they are planning on installing a wind turbine near the site, to help generate electricity for the dairy and for the National Grid.

They enlisted the aid of the undergraduate students of University of Exeter to do a feasibility study. The resulting report will be utilized by the dairy.

 blog exeter

This is a “win-win” situation: the students get a “hands on” experience and the local business benefits.



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February 27th, 2015

Decades ago, a now-classic episode of the TV program “I Love Lucy” had a hilarious sketch involving Lucy and her best friend, Ethel, hand rolling and packaging chocolates on a conveyer belt.  This particular show is still among my favorites – not least because it involved chocolate, of which I am passionately fond!

There have been a lot of advances in assembly-line technology since then.  Here’s a look at:

The rarely-seen robots that


package what we eat


 Delta robotsThe robots actually in factories don’t have hands…they’re more unusual (SPL)

And a very interesting look at the man who ‘started it all’:  Reymond Clavel of EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)


Robots are handling many of the tasks that used to require human dexterity.  Are you part of the advance of the machines? (Although, they probably won’t make you laugh til you cry like Lucy and Ethel did!)

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The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is taking driving to roads hitherto untraveled!  They’re testing vehicles in a ‘fake city’ constructed on their campus under the auspices of the Mobility Transformation Center, a partnership with industry and government to lay the foundations for a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated mobility.  Read the story straight from the school:

U-M’s cityscape will test driverless vehicles

UMich Mobility

Photo Credit © The Regents of the University of Michigan, Mobility Transformation Center

Called M City, the one-of-a-kind facility will include a network of roads with up to five lanes, intersections, roundabouts, roadway markings, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, bus facilities, benches, simulated buildings, streetlights, parked cars, pedestrians and obstacles like construction barriers.


The story is getting play from the UK tabloids as well…   The Fake City Helping Create Tomorrow’s Cars

While it might seem like an image out of a Hollywood movie clip, the advances that are made on this “stage set” are hoping to lead to the implementation of a connected and automated mobility system on the streets of southeastern Michigan by 2021.

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February 13th, 2015

As we become more and more globally connected daily, the need for clear communication grows by leaps and bounds.  Dialects, accents, ‘slang’, and just plain old grammar rules can get in the way of comprehension – and missing the point of a communique can lead to dire consequences!

At IBM, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is one of the big areas of tech getting a lot of focus.  And there’s a push to ‘internationalize’ the Watson system for global usage.  Read about one application here:

IBM Watson: Watson’s Learning Japanese

 “The fact that humans and Watson are good at different things makes them good partners. The more languages Watson understands, the greater its utility will be in various endeavors and disciplines.”


Don’t think this is an area that matters?  This article from the Huffington Post gives a lot of information about why and how language is central to our moving forward in all phases of business and education:

Technology to the Endangered Language Rescue?


Whether you spend more of your time communicating by keyboard or phone, it’s essential to be clear in the message you provide to your audience.  Language is at the core of human interaction – written or verbal; what do you have to say?

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Last year University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Peru created a billboard that filters 100,000 cubic meters of air every day, benefiting residents and workers in a 5-block radius. The University has installed its first air-purifying billboard near a construction zone in Lima, a city that’s famous for having the worst air quality in all of South America.

Take a look at what they did:

YouTube Preview Image

The purifying process is continuous, uses 100 percent recyclable water and consumes little energy, the team says – roughly 2.5 kW (2,500 watts) per hour.

UTEC continues to change the world using technology with billboards – most recently – to produce clean water.

What great ideas do you have that can make a big impact on the quality of our resources?

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