In The News Archive

This monthly summary includes excerpts from Illinois in the News, a daily service provided by the University of Illinois News Bureau and other media search tools. This collection of recent stories focuses on engineering topics and faculty contacted for their expertise by print and broadcast reporters around the world.

Adobe Research Intern

Fast Company (March 23) – Almost half of Adobe’s tech contributions of the last 10 years started with Adobe Research interns or as academic collaborations with college student interns. For example, Zhangyang “Atlas” Wang interned with Adobe Research in summer 2014 while a grad student in electrical and computer engineering at Illinois, helping to create DeepFont, a program for recognizing fonts.

Artificial intelligence

Inverse (March 22) – A paper co-published by Adobe and U. of I. researchers explains how a new artificial intelligence program could remove the background behind a person or object in virtually any situation, letting actors – who often must perform in front of a green screen – do their jobs in slightly more natural circumstances. Also: Digital Trends (March 22).

Electronics ban on international flights

Time (March 21) -- The Trump Administration's new ban on carry-on electronic devices on some international flights has left many wondering why certain devices and airports are being targeted, and why carry-on and checked luggage are treated differently. Sheldon Jacobson, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies aviation security, questioned whether the rules could create a "porous security environment" if other countries don't adopt similar rules. The United Kingdom followed the U.S. on Tuesday by announcing a similar ban on certain electronic devices, affecting select flights from six countries. Also: CBC News (Canada, March 21), Christian Science Monitor (March 21), BBC News (March 21).

Startup: Serionix

Chicago Inno (March 20) – An Illinois startup just got funding from NASA for its “smart” air filter technology that can remove toxic gases from spacesuits. Serionix, a company based at Illinois’ Research Park, was awarded a $750,000 contract from NASA to fund continued development of its filters. Also: Yahoo! Finance (March 20).

Tech workforce

Chicago Business Journal (March 16) – Billionaire J.B. Pritzker recently stressed that despite the state’s financial woes, companies are still moving to Chicago to tap its highly educated technical workforce churned out by the U. of I., the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Social media security

Los Angeles Times (March 16) – Security experts say the hacking of McDonald’s Twitter account Monday should be a lesson to corporations to better secure their platforms. “There are just so many ways, if you’re not careful, for an adversary to have access to your social media accounts,” says Michael Bailey, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois. “Corporations are ripe targets because they have such a large presence on social media.”

Physics of baseball

The Incline (Pittsburgh, March 15) – Alan M. Nathan, a professor emeritus at Illinois who has dedicated countless hours to researching the physics of baseball, says playing Major League baseball on a Little League diamond would dramatically throw off the game’s balance. “All you have to do is change the dimensions a little bit and the outcome could be very different,” Nathan says.

Supercomputing: Tornados and supercells

Gizmodo (Sydney, March 14) – A research team led by Leigh Orf from the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies used the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ Blue Waters supercomputer to visualize the inner workings of tornados and the powerful supercells that produce them. As part of the project, the researchers recreated a tornado-producing supercell that devastated the Great Plains six years ago. Also: Popular Mechanics (March 14), Popular Science (March 16).

Smart coatings

BP Global (March 14) -- Ground-breaking research is underway at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), a partner in the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials (BP-ICAM), into the potential of smart autonomous coatings that would enable engineers in the energy industry to see cracks in the coatings applied to structures, equipment, pipelines and tank walls and signal before overall coating failure occurs. This would drastically improve the ability to identify and manage risk, and significantly reduce maintenance costs.

Underwater modem

Chicago Inno (March 8) – OceanComm, a startup at Illinois, has created a wireless underwater modem that unleashes robots from cables and eliminates their dependency on support ships. OceanComm’s modem can communicate data with faster speeds and more efficiency than ever seen before. Also: ASEE FirstBell (March 10).

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