Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

The thought of making my own TOYS has a real appeal to the inner kid I’ve never left far behind.  Although, I’m not sure I am thrilled with the idea that these creations have a ‘shelf-life’ of two days or so.  According to the interviewee, Nicholas Liverman (co-Founder of Old World Laboratories), that’s about the length of the attention span for his own children before they move on to something else (can you say landfill, boys and girls?).  Custom Toys

Of greater value, this creative outlet has applications in the education sphere.  Increasing affordability of 3-D printers may allow for them to be available in more classroom settings!  Imagine the possibilities for the children in lower income settings to have actual hands-on experience with materials that have never been available to them before…




“3D printing allows for more authentic exploration of objects that may not be readily available to education institutions, including animal anatomies and toxic materials. The exploration of 3D printing, from design to production, as well as demonstrations and participatory access, can open up new possibilities for learning activities.”


How will you apply 3-D production of goods/services to your current work to bring about great changes for a Smarter Planet??

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As a follow on to the Vertical Farms blog post by Kimberly (published August 6th), read about this Thesis project from Philipp Hutfless who’s studying Industrial Design at University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt,  Germany.  He was inspired by a trip to Japan which sparked his desire to design a food system that could be sustained offshore.

Here’s a sketch of his work in his own words on the

James Dyson Foundation website:




Another description of the project is posted on the Fast Company exist website  (They have all kinds of reviews, musings, op ed pieces and product information on their site – check it out) Floating Ocean Greenhouses Bring Fresh Food Closer To Megacities



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August 24th, 2014

After a long summer of working, we’re back at it again! Classes have started this past week at North Carolina State University, and we’re picking up where we left off in the spring with our senior design project.

At the spring Design Day even on campus, we placed with our design poster for the Solar-Powered Compost System we’ll be building this semester (seen below).

Design Day Poster


All credit for the marvelous work is due to Neil, our resident artist, craftsman, and worker of all things magic. It’s amazing what a lifetime of working in audiovisual, music, and photography can do in the engineering world!

We all worked internships at different companies over the summer, but were able to meet and continue to refine the design at least twice. In addition, we had to start ordering parts, since the motor and the tumbler itself would both have very long lead times for manufacture and delivery.

We were fortunate to have the very, very generous folks at Mantis sold us one of their wonderful Original Compostumbler systems at a significant discount, and that will be the basis for our project. We were greeted with the new tumbler when we returned to campus this past week, and we’re excited to get to work in the very near future. Stay tuned for more updates to come!

Two deceptively small boxes, all things considered…

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Mouad and I posing with our new toys, ready to start putting things together.

Camera Uploads 2069



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August 22nd, 2014

Inspired by the wings of desert beetles, a new device made of millions of tiny carbon tubes could one day be used to pull water from the air — even from the most arid desert air in regions where such a device would be especially useful.

Pulickel Ajayan and his colleagues from Rice University created Hygroscopic Scaffolds that attract water molecules from the air.

The amount of water vapor captured depends on the humidity of the air. The new water collection device doesn’t require any external energy, but the production costs of carbon nanotube arrays continues to be a bottleneck.

blog water

Perhaps your expertise could advance this very innovative water collection process?

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If you are a resident of the European Union (EU), here’s a chance for you to make money while finding out if candy is really dandy!  Take a look at the job posting (also linked in the article below from Time online).

Cambridge Is Looking for a PhD Student to Study Chocolate

However, you will be needing more than a love of chocolate to secure this experimental post.

Interested chocoholics will also need a good university degree, a background in engineering and physics as well as a record of scientific experimentation. Good maths and extensive experience of studying soft solids are also on the tick list for potential candidates. [from The Telegraph: Cambridge University seeks sweet­toothed student for chocolate PhD]


And from the Cambridge News: Cambridge University is looking for a sweet-toothed PhD student to work on a project aimed at inventing a heat-resistant chocolate bar.


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