Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

Great opportunity for some no-cost instruction!  Learn more about the details concerning the topics to be covered, the amount of time per week you need to invest, and how this course can assist you in focusing your current studies to plan a career in the global economy post-graduation.  Click the link below (and watch the course intro video on their website, too).

Case Western Reserve University is offering a FREE on-line six week course called “Beyond Silicon Valley:  Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies”.  The course is from October 3 – November 21.  You’ll get a certificate at the end from Case Western.

Beyond Silicon Valley: Growing Entrepreneurship in Transitioning Economies

Explore how communities in transitioning economies around the world are working to enable the growth of entrepreneurship when the resources from the private sector alone are limited.

Instructor     M Goldberg Case Western

About the Course
The path for entrepreneurs to grow their companies outside of well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystems like Silicon Valley is challenging. Most markets around the world do not look like Silicon Valley, and they never will. But there are other models to support new businesses. In transitioning markets (where entrepreneurs do not have much access to private sector financing), government officials, donors, and business leaders are experimenting with creative approaches to support the growth of entrepreneurs.

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For those of us not spectacularly chemically inclined:  What IS lignin?

Lignin is an organic substance binding the cells, fibres and vessels which constitute wood and the lignified elements of plants, as in straw. After cellulose, it is the most abundant renewable carbon source on Earth. Between 40 and 50 million tons per annum are produced worldwide as a mostly non commercialized waste product.  [Source: The International Lignin Institute (ILI)]
Two really interesting articles on this substance:

Lignin-derived chemicals to hit market in 2021

Lignocellulose has huge potential for the production of bioplastics


If this field interests you, study, conduct research or find a job!  Wageningen UR has branches all over The Netherlands and abroad.  Lux Research serves clients on six continents from offices in Boston, New York, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai.

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August 13th, 2014

Have you been keeping up with the NASA Mars Rover, Curiosity?

She’s been roaming the red planet for 2 years sending information and images to scientists to assist in making human travel to Mars in the 2030s a reality.  To continue the journey of discovery NASA recently announced plans for the next generation of Rover mission that will be designed to advance scientific goals for Mars exploration; namely,  the potential for life on Mars.  The goal is to provide opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars.  Check out scientists talking about the 2020 Rover missions.  2020 Rover Video


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August 11th, 2014

Everyone likes to believe they could be an A+ level student or a sought after subject matter expert or the world’s most renowned someone or just darn good at SOMETHING!  Maybe you’ll have that opportunity with a boost from technology being investigated at Wright State U in Ohio…  Learn more about transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS.   Basically, it’s a device that uses electricity to stimulate your brain in all the right places. (Have a peek at their internal university posting, too, on Wright State University Newsroom and explore other avenues available to you at the school.)

 Brilliant for a Day: The (REAL) Science of Brain Enhancing Stimulation

 Brain stimulation


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At the University of South Florida in Tampa, Environmental Engineering students are hard at work devising and testing out possible methods for fertilizer production.

We have developed a novel system to treat extremely problematic wastes by recovering Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) and creating potentially high quality fertilizers while also generating energy (as methane) from the waste. Nutrient and methane recovery mitigates eutrophication of receiving waters and greenhouse gas emissions, addresses global P shortages, and allows for pecuniary gain. Through the system, we have created 6 different types of fertilizers that are created naturally from the waste and allow for recycling of the nutrients into beneficial agriculture. It also replaces the need to excavate and mine conventional fertilizer materials, a process that causes extremely deleterious environmental effects.
We evaluated our system at the laboratory scale and also performed a Life Cycle Environmental Impact Assessment and Cost Assessment. We also performed a preliminary assessment of the fertilizers we created using X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images along with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) to look at crystal characteristics and elemental composition of the fertilizers to evaluate their quality and effectiveness. We now need to evaluate the fertilizers in much more detail through a detailed SEM-EDX evaluation and an actual growth study. Our SEM-EDX study will be a great leap in understanding the elemental makeup of our new fertilizers. Furthermore, our growth study will be the first time that we will be proving that the fertilizers created in the system are just as effective, if not more effective, than conventionally made fertilizers.


Evaluating the relationship between the elements and the plants that need them is key in any growth study. Nitrogen, phosphorus, Potassium are all important elements for plant growth. Nitrogen promotes the growth of leaves and general vegetation. Phosphorus promotes the growth of roots and shoots. Potassium is crucial in the regulation of water and nutrient movement in plant cells. Potassium is important in flower and fruit formation. These three elements are under study because the fertilizers under scrutiny may possibly deliver these essential elements in unexpected ways that are as of yet untested.

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