Engineering and medical advances

Last night I sat down and read a couple of the latest EE Times. It’s a freebie publication and only tiny bits of it are relevant to what I do, but I find reading it occasionally fascinating. There were some big pieces in there on Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway. He gave a keynote address at the recent Embedded Systems Conference, and one of the topics he addressed was how to inspire students to get interested in science/engineering.
It’s certainly an interesting and challenging question to address head-on, especially as we read lots of reports in the news about the outsourcing of engineering jobs, and that our federal government ignores the conclusions from our most prominent scientists. It is enough to drive anyone in sci/eng to despair.
But lately I’ve been reading more and more interesting reports on discoveries from satellites around distant planets, findings from the Hubble, the Mars Rovers, and crazy medical break-throughs. This stuff has got to inspire people. The breakthroughs in genetic engineering and cellular whatsits are pretty amazing. I found a couple good ones today I wanted to point out:
These guys have figured out a way to basically print cellular structures using something akin to an inkjet printer. When they printed layers of chicken heart cells, the whole thing began beating like a chicken heart after 19 hours. What would happen if we could coerce stem cells into particular types and then use this same technology to print custom human body parts? Hmmmmm very intriguing stuff.
These folks have figured out how to reverse cell division. What?? Reverse cell division? What good would that do? Well, how about reversing cancer cell growth. Hmmmmm… fascinating.
So we may see fewer people pursuing hardcore mechanical, electronic, and computer engineering these days. But hopefully a lot of smart minds will be inspired by announcements like these, and move into these new cuttting-edge fields. It’s certainly very exciting stuff.
I guess it’s time for me to order my “Discovery DNA Explorer Kit” so I don’t get left behind!