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Palpable Hits

Mark Matthews

With this issue, we introduce a boldly redesigned Prism, featuring a new masthead and typefaces and subtle use of a prism symbol as a colorful element on various pages. We’re hoping this new look will encourage ASEE members to continue enjoying the magazine in print form. But starting this month, readers also have two online options: the familiar Prism website, with convenient search and sharing functions as well as videos and a 14-year archive; and a new .pdf format (PDF: 27MB) that reproduces the layout and most of the illustrations of the paper version.

Those illustrations shine vividly alongside our cover story, in which Alison Buki and Tom Grose take us behind the scenes of the entertainment industry. Movies and video games are top U.S. exports, and university engineers have made – literally, in Paul Debevec’s case – contributions worthy of an Oscar, from the digital technology that shows Brad Pitt aging backward in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to sensors allowing game players to control a fighting 3-D animated robot with voice or gestures. Applications reach well beyond recreation. They include turning supercomputer-crunched data into stunning visual re-creations of the early days of the universe.

For engineers to develop such technology – or even get a degree – they need mathematical tools. Inadequate preparation in math has become a major headache for incoming freshmen and educators alike. Deputy Editor Mary Lord learned this when she accompanied her son to orientation at the University of Vermont. But an engineering solution is taking shape at Vermont, Cornell, Wright State, the University of Utah, and elsewhere. As Lord recounts in “Hands-on Mathematics,” courses developed specifically for engineering students are helping them get past the first-year hurdle and stay on track.

Among other offerings this month, you’ll enjoy reading a profile of ASEE President Walter Buchanan, as well as the first of his letters to the membership. And check out the stream of emails that arrived in response to our summer cover story, “Steeper Ascent.” If you have a comment on the September Prism, please let us know.

Mark Matthews


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