if not thousands of students across the nation packed more than a suitcase
full of clothes to go home this winter break. Boxes of bedding, computers,
textbooks, stereos, and TV equipment littered the sidewalks in front
of dormitories in mid-December, waiting to be put into storage for another
semester. Another year. Another day that may never come.
many schools felt the impact of September's terrorist attacks, as Middle
Eastern students fled to their homes across the Atlantic and Arab Americans
simply stayed home to avoid anti-Muslim retaliation. Five miles from
the Pentagon building at American University in Washington, D.C., for
example, 32 international students left, most returning to the Persian
Gulf, within 10 days of the attacks.
City College, a City University of New York school located little more
than two miles from Ground Zero in Manhattan, students have overcome
fear, uncertainty, and homesickness to show the rest of the nation that
they will not be intimidated.
Karim, CCNY dean of engineering, says, "I have checked around both
in our graduate and undergraduate offices. I would be inclined to state
that NO ONE has dropped out from our engineering programs."
particularly surprising in light of the large contingency of international
students at CCNY. The college "truly offers diversity," says
Karim, who claims that none of the 51 Arabic-speaking engineering students
withdrew from school. "I'm very proud to be a part of this."
Out of tragedy comes a cohesive bond that will not be severed.
Teaming Up Against
university-based research teams have been awarded a total of $300,000
from the National Science Foundation to assess damages and disaster
response resulting from the September 11 attacks on the World Trade
at George Washington University and the University of Colorado at Boulder
are studying the collaboration and initial response of emergency, medical,
law enforcement, military, and NSF-supported research center personnel.
universities of Maryland and California at Berkeley, researchers are
examining the structural performance of the towers from impact to collapse.
Teams at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the State University
of New York at Buffalo are focusing on collateral damage to the area
surrounding Ground Zero.
of Florida engineers are working toward disaster prevention by using
a laser system to produce high-resolution views of damaged buildings
to pinpoint structurally compromised areas of both the interior and
exterior. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, they are concentrating
on infrastructure interdependence, such as the effect of power loss
on control systems.
were dispensed within two weeks of the tragedy "so the researchers
could collect perishable data--such as the condition of the steel or
evidence of temperature changes--before the building materials and debris
were removed from the site," according to Amber Jones, public affairs
specialist at the NSF.
Eye on the Enemy
of the reality-based TV show "Big Brother" have nothing on
Terrance Boult. The Lehigh University computer science and engineering
professor has developed a tracking system that provides constant, uninterrupted
surveillance with a 360-degree field of view.
with the help of Columbia University computer science professor Shree
Nayar, has greater aspirations for the Lehigh Omnidirectional Tracking
System (LOTS) than keeping an eye on wacky TV contestants.
LOTS will allow the American military to locate and track remote enemy
soldiers attempting to infiltrate U.S. positions. The software enables
users to view moving targets and to eliminate the distortion of the
omnidirectional camera. It is designed to alert users of enemy presence
with a pop-up icon on an electronic map.
has already tested the surveillance system in trials to see if troops
can sneak by undetected. The U.S. Navy has an interest in revamping
LOTS as an appendage to submarine periscopes.
and Niyar are working on an infrared system to incorporate into LOTS,
allowing U.S. troops the same surveillance capabilities at night. The
technology is not currently employed by the United States military,
but Boult states he has been asked to work on further technology, including
a modified form of the LOTS system for a cave-exploring robot to carry.
you get when you cross the Flintstones with escaped convicts and lederhosen?
the Jailhaus Bedrock. These were the themes adopted by the winning teams
at the 2001 Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race in Kingston, Ontario,
end of this month, more than 600 students from Canada, Europe, and the
United States will descend upon the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg
to try and outdo their previous year's performance in the 28th annual
GNCTR, the largest civil engineering student competition in Canada.
objective is to design and construct a toboggan that meets safety and
dimensional requirements and maintains a braking system that can withstand
two races down a steep, icy hill. The vehicle must weigh less than 135
kilograms (almost 300 pounds) and accommodate five people. Any surface
that touches the ground must be concrete.
at the GNCTR are judged by a variety of criteriasome less technical
than othersfrom the quality of their concrete mix design to the
creativity of their uniforms. Last year, the University of British Columbia
"Fugitives," decked out in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs,
took home first place in the overall competition and clocked the fastest
speed at 46 kilometers per hour (close to 30 mph). The University of
Alberta's design was anything but prehistoric as the Flintstone "Bedrockers"
bedazzled the judges with the Best Boggan.
favorite in 2001 combined students from three German and Austrian universities.
The "Euroboggan" team, dressed in traditional Oktoberfest
outfits complete with hats, suspenders, and lederhosen, was recognized
with the People's Choice and Best Uniforms awards.
Check This Out
kids slip "surprise" boxes of sugar-coated cereal and funky-colored
condiments into your grocery cart, you'll find relief from sky-high
bills in the latest student design at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Anant Panday and Ram Viswanathan have developed and patented a smart
cart that price-scans items before customers take them to the checkout
incorporated an optoelectronic device with wireless technology to design
the cart through RPI's summer Undergraduate Research Project. The students'
product could be in grocery stores as early as next year.
believes that other applications exist for his and Viswanathan's concept.
Their technology may be used to control and monitor electric devices
such as lights and TVs in the home from cell phones and Palm Pilots
around the world.
joined with three friends and several advisers in early 2000 to found
the company ImagenAR at the Rensselaer Incubator in Troy, N.Y., where
they strive to come up with technology that will "simplify the
life of an average person."
Drenning is an associate editor for Prism. She can be reached at email@example.com.