In The News

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.

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September 2014 media appearances

CS team a finalist in CIE + Cisco EIR Innovation Challenge

UChicago News (Sept. 30) -- A student team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one of three finalists in the “CIE + Cisco EIR Innovation Challenge.” The Challenge was created this year by the Chicago Innovation Exchange and Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence to support early-stage startups building game-changing products in the Internet of Everything, Big Data, cloud computing and other transformational areas. CS postdoc Kirill Mechitov leads the Embedor team from Illinois, which is looking to reduce catastrophic bridge failures by improving the way structural and civil engineers assess and analyze the health of bridges.

Kirill Mechitov, a postdoc in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, leads the team, which is looking to reduce catastrophic bridge failures by improving the way structural and civil engineers assess and analyze the health of bridges. - See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/09/30/chicago-innovation-exchange-cisco-narrow-field-three-teams-innovation-challenge#sthash.27PSzQMM.dpuf
The Challenge was created this year by the Chicago Innovation Exchange and Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence to support early-stage startups building game-changing products in the Internet of Everything, Big Data, cloud computing and other transformational areas. - See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/09/30/chicago-innovation-exchange-cisco-narrow-field-three-teams-innovation-challenge#sthash.27PSzQMM.dpuf
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been named finalists in the “CIE + Cisco EIR Innovation Challenge.” - See more at: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2014/09/30/chicago-innovation-exchange-cisco-narrow-field-three-teams-innovation-challenge#sthash.27PSzQMM.dpuf
Celebrating Innovation High School Initiative

WAND-TV (Sept. 29) -- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will recognize and celebrate high school students' innovative, creative, or inspirational contributions through a new awards program called "Celebrating High School Innovators." The awards program was created to honor Illinois high school students who have been able to meet current and emerging social needs through innovation in one of the following five areas: Arts, Media, and Literature, Business Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Food, Health, & Nutrition, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Also: University Herald (Sept. 29).

Top-ranked place to study CS and tech

Computer Science Degree Hub (Sept. 26) -- Champaign ranks No. 4 on the list of 50 great cities for studying computers and technology, thanks to Illinois. The Urbana-Champaign area, according to the ranking, is a prime destination for tech, IT, and STEM job-seekers and entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs

Crain’s Chicago Business (subscription required, Sept. 25) -- Illinois researchers figure that the same techniques that can be used for tracking missiles and space junk can make wearable fitness devices perform better. Their startup, Rithmio Inc., has raised $650,000 from investors, led by Illinois alum Marcin Kleczynski, founder of antivirus maker Malwarebytes.

"Skin-like" monitor

Product Design & Development (Rockaway, N.J., Sept. 24) -- A new wearable medical device can quickly alert a person if they are having cardiovascular trouble or if it’s simply time to put on some skin moisturizer, reports an Illinois and Northwestern study. "These results provide the first examples of 'epidermal' photonic sensors," said John A. Rogers, the paper's corresponding author and professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois. "This technology significantly expands the range of functionality in skin-mounted devices beyond that possible with electronics alone." Also: Gizmag (Sept. 25), Tech Times (New York City, Sept. 25), Wired UK (Sept. 25), Science 360 (NSF, Sept. 30).

Ray Ozzie & Talko

The New Yorker (Sept. 24) -- In the seventies, when Ray Ozzie was a student at Illinois, he used an online chat-room service called Talkomatic, which people nicknamed Talko. Later, Ozzie became famous for creating Lotus Notes, the collaboration software for office workers; Bill Gates reportedly called him “one of the top-five programmers in the universe. Also: The New York Times (Sept. 23).

Physics of baseball

Newsday (Sept. 22) -- Alan Nathan, professor emeritus at the U. of I. and an expert on baseball physics, says that sports safety experts sometimes debate whether 12-year-old pitchers can react quickly enough to avoid line drives. Also: Men's Health (Oct.).

CS program seeing more female students

News-Gazette (Sept. 21) -- Profile of Marrissa Hellesen, a 25-year-old computer science student at Illinois, who “is a teaching assistant and has been involved in organizing hackathons.” Hellesen “recently wrapped up an internship at Groupon in Chicago where, to her surprise, she found herself among more women than men on her project team.” The article reports that the University of Illinois has seen a significant uptick in the percentage of female undergraduate computer science students, noting that “women make up 24.6 percent” of the program’s incoming freshmen this year, “triple what it was two years ago.” Also: ASEE FirstBell (Sept. 23).

Camouflage material

Engineering.com (Mississauga, Ontario, Sept. 17) -- Researchers have produced a sheet material which can change color selectively on demand. John Rogers, a materials science and engineering professor at Illinois, says the new sheet was the fruit of a collaboration between experts in biology, materials, computing and electrical engineering. “Animals in the natural world, particularly cephalopods -- octopus, squid and cuttlefish -- have really spectacular color-changing capabilities.”

Related article: The Washington Post (Sept. 22) -- For millions of years, hiding has been a primary means of survival for soft, gushy and often defenseless cephalopods, which predators find so alluring that squid and related creatures are a bait of choice for fishermen. Engineers can learn a lot from these masters of deception. “The power of evolution is spectacular,” says John Rogers, a materials scientist at Illinois who is part of a multi-institutional team developing high-tech camouflage. “We are taking inspiration from nature to build devices that can respond and adapt to the lighting and coloration of whatever environment they are in.” Also: Stars and Stripes (from The Washington Post; Washington, D.C., Sept. 24).

LaValle returns to campus

Chicago Tribune (Sept. 18) -- CS professor Steve LaValle has returned to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign following a two-year stint as principal scientist at Oculus VR Inc. That’s the California-based startup behind the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. LaValle led Oculus’ research and development until March when Facebook agreed to buy the company for $2 billion. Also: ASEE FirstBell (Sept. 19).

Related story: Fast Company (Sept. 22) – New York University professors aren’t alone in pushing for more virtual reality education. The U. of I. and the University of Houston both recently announced expansions of their virtual reality programs.

CS Alumnus introduced Apple Watch

CNET (Sept. 17) -- One of the stars of last week’s Apple event wasn’t a well-known name or even a regular on stage for product demonstrations. Instead, it was a person who once cheered as a steamroller (and blender and dynamite) demolished an iPhone. That man was Illinois alumnus Kevin Lynch. It was Lynch who had Apple CEO Tim Cook’s trust to show off Apple’s newest baby -- the Apple Watch. Lynch studied interactive computer graphics at Illinois, working with artists and engineers in the Electronic Visualization Laboratory.

Bond named MacArthur Fellow

Crain's Chicago Business (from The Associated Press, Sept. 17) -- CEE professor Tami Bond is among the 21 winners of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants." Prof. Bond is an environmental engineer an expert on global effects of soot on climate and health. Also: New York Times (from AP, Sept. 17), Chicago Tribune (Sept. 16), International Business Times (Sept. 17), Washington Post (Sept. 17), SF Gate (Sept. 17), Chronicle of Higher Education (Sept. 17), Inside Higher Education (Sept. 17), NBC Chicago (Sept. 17), NPR (Sept. 17) Wall Street Journal (video, Sept. 17), Huffington Post (includes video features, Sept. 17), News-Gazette (Sept. 18).

Milestones in the digital revolution

Vanity Fair (Sept. 16) -- As ordinary folks began flooding onto the Internet, in 1994, another phenomenon exploded: the World Wide Web. It was created by Tim Berners-Lee, an Oxford-educated engineer who took a job at the CERN laboratory. His web spread rapidly after Marc Andreessen, then an undergraduate at Illinois, created an easy-to-install browser that allowed personal-computer users to call up Web sites.

Biomedical temporary tattoos

AZoNano (Warriewood, New South Wales, Sept. 15) -- In the near future, it is very likely that hospital patients will no longer have to be hooked up to wires and monitors thanks to the emergence of temporary electronic tattoos which can be used to monitor the vital signs of a patient. This innovative biomedical device was created by Professor John Rogers and a team of Illinois researchers, and is a significant breakthrough in human-machine interfaces.

Caterpillar opening data analytics lab

Washington Times (from The Associated Press; Washington, D.C., Sept. 11) -- Caterpillar Inc. plans to open a new data analytics laboratory at Illinois, the Peoria-based company announced this week. The heavy-equipment maker already operates a center in the university’s Research Park where it uses computer-aided engineering to simulate and develop new products. Also: News-Gazette (Sept. 10), The Republic (Columbus, IN, Sept. 11). Chicago Daily Herald (Sept. 11), ForConstructionPros.com (Sept. 11), WICS-TV (Springfield, Ill., Sept. 11), WAND-TV (Decatur, Ill., Sept. 11), Crain's Chicago Business (Sept. 11), Equipment World Magazine (Sept. 15).

Clean energy funding

Washington Times (from The Associate Press, Sept. 9) -- The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded more than $8.4 million to research centers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University. The U. of I was awarded $2.45 million to study carbon dioxide capture and storage. Also: The Pantagraph (from AP, Bloomington, Ill., Sept. 9), ASEE FirstBell (Sept. 11), Chicago Daily Herald (from AP, Sept. 10), Progress Illinois (from AP, Sept. 9), The Republic (from AP, Sept. 10), Greenfield Daily Reporter (from AP, Sept. 10).

Student entrepreneurs

Chicago Reader (Sept. 9) -- When Tim Deppen and Nishana Ismail’s friend and classmate was mugged on the U. of I campus last year, the two mechanical engineering students were inspired to develop a new personal-safety device for potential use in campuses across the country.

Alumnus Max Levchin

The Seattle Times (from the San Jose Mercury News; Sept. 7) -- Illinois CS alumnus Max Levchin’s success with startups since PayPal would be the envy of almost anyone else in Silicon Valley, but he wants to surpass what he has already accomplished.

Stored blood ages

R & D Magazine (Sept. 5) -- Using advanced optical techniques, University of Illinois researchers, led by ECE professor Gabriel Popsecu, measured the stiffness of the membrane surrounding red blood cells over time. They found that, even though the cells retain their shape and hemoglobin content, the membranes get stiffer, which steadily decreases the cells’ functionality. Also: Counsel & Heal (Sept. 5), Laboratory Equipment (Sept. 5), Medical Daily (Sept. 5), ScienceBlog (Sept. 5), Medical Xpress (Isle of Man, Sept. 5), Science 2.0 (Sept. 6), Science 360 (NSF, "Picture of the Day," Sept. 9), Bergen Record (Bergen, N.J., Sept. 9), Scientific Computing (Rockaway, N.J., Sept. 8), Fox News (Sept. 5), Science World Report (Sept. 8), Bioscience Technology (Sept. 5), Lab Manager Magazine (Sept. 6), TheHealthSite (Sept. 6), Medical Research News and Interviews: MedicalResearch.com (Sept. 6), China Topix (Sept. 7).

Miss Possible

WPSU (from NPR; State College, Pa., Sept. 3) -- Two young women who studied engineering at Illinois want to inspire girls to become scientists by offering dolls based on real people, like Nobel Prize-winning chemist and physicist Marie Curie. Also: WBUR-FM (90.9) (NPR; Boston, Sept. 3).

Cancer treatments

Science Blog (Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 2) -- Most types of tumors, including cancer, require a supply of blood to grow larger than a few millimeters. Scientists have made great progress in combating cancer by finding effective ways to stop the formation of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis. In four recent papers, U. of I. bioengineering professor Princess Imoukhuede and co-authors have made significant progress in personalizing angiogenesis inhibition cancer treatments.

Buckling up

Health Canal (Melbourne, Australia, Sept. 2) -- Obesity is associated with many health risks, including heart disease and diabetes, but Illinois researchers led by Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science and of mathematics, have found a possible way to mitigate one often-overlooked risk: not buckling up in the car. Also: KVNU AM-FM (Logan, UT, Sept. 4).

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