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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May 2015 media appearances

Superfast MRI

Medical Daily (New York, May 31) -- What happens in the brain when we sing or rap, or when we are confronted with fear? Researchers have been scanning for nearly 25 years, yet still find new insights into what makes us tick inside. The U. of I. used an MRI machine to demonstrate muscle movement while a patient sings.

Tattoo sensors

IEEE Spectrum (May 29) -- John Rogers and his research team at Illinois have developed a way of building circuits that act like skin, collect power wirelessly, and can be worn just about anywhere on the body.

Superdense teleportation

Science 360 (National Science Foundation, May 29) -- By taking advantage of the mathematical properties intrinsic to the shape of a donut—or torus, in mathematical terminology—a research team, led by Illinois' physicist Paul Kwiat, has made great strides by realizing “superdense teleportation.” This new protocol effectively reduces the resources and effort required to teleport quantum information, while at the same time improving the reliability of the information transfer. Also: Phys.Org (May 28), ScienceBlog (May 28), Fusion (June 4).

Sprint student challenge

The Huffington Post (May 28) -- Back in February, Sprint challenged college students across the U.S. to find innovative and profitable ways to extend the life of old smartphones and help address the pressing issue of e-waste. The second runner-up was a team from Illinois, who came up with Neo, a concept that would transform pre-owned smartphones into affordable computers for budding programmers.

Black holes

Salon (from Scientific American; May 27) -- Most galaxies have a supermassive black hole lurking at their centers, but a galaxy 10.5 billion light-years away looks like it might have two – and the pair may be set to crash together in just 21 years. “This was a fortuitous catch,” says Stuart Shapiro, a theoretical astrophysicist at Illinois not involved in the research. “We don’t know of another candidate that’s anywhere near that close [to merging].”

Language app

Chicago Inno (May 27) -- Wasting time on the web is not a new concept for the Internet age. But what if that time spent on Facebook, Reddit and Tumblr could also help you learn a new language? That's the idea of Flipword, a venture that just won $15,000 in seed funding from Illinois' annual venture challenge, the Cozad New Venture Competition.

CS alumnus finds path to Google

San Francisco Gate (from Business Insider, May 24) -- CS alumnus Rohan Shah is 22, and he's a software engineer at Google. He was offered the job just before his senior year of college at Illinois. But his career with Google started six months prior, in January 2013, when he was 20.

Women in STEM

Chicago Inno (May 21) -- More than 29,000 Twitter users made the hashtag #GirlswithToys -- a call to highlight women in science -- go viral, thanks to Illinois anthropology professor Kate Clancy. Also: Elle Magazine UK (June 10).

Self-destructing electronics

Phys.Org (May 21) -- University of Illinois researchers, led by aerospace engineering professor Scott R. White, have developed heat-triggered self-destructing electronic devices, a step toward greatly reducing electronic waste and boosting sustainability in device manufacturing. They also developed a radio-controlled trigger that could remotely activate self-destruction on demand. Also: Fortune (May 22), Product Design & Development (May 21), ScienceBlog (May 21), Science 360 (National Science Foundation, (May 22), BGR (India, May 22), PrepSure (May 22), Business Standard (May 22), New Electronics (May 22), Military Technologies (May 22), Uncover California (May 22), Nanowerk (May 22), Times of India (May 22), GizMag (May 22), Rock River Times (May 22), iConnect007 (May 22), CrazyEngineers (blog, May 22), ENCmag.com (May 22), NDTV (Indo Asian News Service, May 23), Maine News Online (May 23), TechRadar (India, May 24), The Indian Express (May 24), Engineering.com (May 25), Space Daily (May 25), The Engineer (May 26), Science 360 (NSF, June 8).

Illinois produces most engineers

Chicago Inno (May 19) -- Chicago has a way to go before it reaches the level of a tech hub it wants to be, and one big area of improvement is retaining tech talent. Illinois produces more engineers per year than the next four top engineering schools combined, and many leave for companies on the coasts.

Alumnus shares entrepreneurial secrets

Chicago Inno (May 19) -- Several entrepreneurs who teach at Chicago's universities, while growing their own ventures, include Illinois alumnus and University of Chicago entrepreneur-in-residence Mark Tebbe (BS 1983, Computer Science).

Speed of Light Internet

ITworld (Framingham, Mass., May 19) -- Researchers from Illinois and Duke University recently looked at the main causes of Internet latency and what it would take to achieve speed-of-light performance in a paper titled “Towards a Speed of Light Internet.”

Cancer cell mutation mystery

Medical Xpress (May 18) -- Approximately 85 percent of cancer cells obtain their limitless replicative potential through the reactivation of a specific protein called telomerase (TERT). A collaborative team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at the University of California, San Francisco has shown that highly recurrent mutations in the promoter of the TERT gene are the most common genetic mutations in many cancers, including adult glioblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. Also: Science Codex (May 18), ScienceBlog (May 18), News-Medical (May 19).

Illinois among 2015 Hidden Gem Index award winners

College Recruiter.com (May 6) -- College Recruiter--the leading niche job board used by recent college graduates to find entry-level jobs and students to find internships--announced winners of its 2015 Hidden Gem Index for the best colleges and universities for employers who want to hire high quality graduates now. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was selected as an award winner, specifically in the areas of Actuarial Science, ChemE, Physics, and Statistics programs.

MechSE's Naira Hovakimyan profiled

ECNmag.com (Rockaway, N.J., May 18) -- Illinois professor Naira Hovakimyan has emerged as a leading voice in flight control safety.

Rogers' biostamp

FOX-8 TV (High Point, N.C., May 14) -- A patch of gold, just a few centimeters wide and light as a feather, could reveal your innermost thoughts and feelings. This is the premise of MatSE professor John Rogers’ Biostamp. By attaching flexible, miniature sensors to the user’s temple, he has been able to track brain waves in real time and transmit them as messages.

Comparative genomics bee study

Genome Web (May 14) -- Saurabh Sinha, a professor of computer science, and Gene Robinson, a professor of entomology and IGB director; and an international consortium of 52 scientists used comparative genomics to discover that the evolution of bee society is associated with increases in the complexity of gene regulation. Also: Nature (May 20), The New York Times (May 25).

Rules for oil tank cars

Chicago Tribune (May 14) -- The federal government on May 1 unveiled new regulations aimed at making tank cars stronger to survive fiery derailments, but critics say the new rules don't provide adequate protection against fire and heat, factors that cause cars to explode. Christopher Barkan, a railroad engineering professor at Illinois, said the new tank car design standards will make a "huge difference" in terms of impact resistance during derailments, but was disappointed the the 3-5 year phase-in period. "In 2015, we would like to have a tank car that doesn't fail after 100 minutes or, better still, never fails at all."

Large telescopes

Quartz (New York, May 11) -- A new approach to large telescopes comes from a team of researchers from Northwestern University and Illinois. Usually, once large telescopes are built, the mirrors are pretty much fixed. However, a new telescope will use mirrors coated with magnetic material, along with a moving magnetic head (like the head of a magnetic computer hard drive) that can coax the mirrors into new positions, correcting for distortions (project is #13 on the list).

UI Labs opens

The Chicago Tribune (May 11) -- UI Labs opens on Goose Island amid high expectations. Now it's time to see if the $320 million, public-private partnership can do what officials hope it can — breathe life into the nation's sagging manufacturing economy through encouragement of digital innovation. Also: The Chicago Tribune (related infographic, May 11), The Chicago Sun-Times (May 11), Curbed Chicago (May 11), WGN-TV (May 11), DNAinfo (May 12), Chicago Inno (May 11), Crain's Chicago Business (May 11), WLS-TV (May 11), Riverbender.com (May 11), CBS-TV Chicago (May 11).

3D microbattery

NanoWerk (May 11) -- By combining 3D holographic lithography and 2D photolithography, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a high-performance 3D microbattery suitable for large-scale on-chip integration with microelectronic devices. "This 3D microbattery has exceptional performance and scalability, and we think it will be of importance for many applications," explained MatSE professor Paul Braun. "A miniaturized high-energy and high-power on-chip battery would be highly desirable for applications including autonomous microscale actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, monitors, and portable and implantable medical devices." Also: ScienceBlog (May 11), The Engineer (London, May 12), R&D Magazine (May 12), Azo Materials (May 12), Overclockers Club (May 12), Slash Gear (May 12), iConnect007 (May 13), Enterprise Irregulars (May 14), Engineering.com (May 14), 3ders.org (blog, May 16), 3D Print.com (May 16), International Business Times (May 20), The Register (London, May 27).

Laptop cameras can recognize depth

The Wall Street Journal (May 10) -- This year, Intel Corp. is rolling out its RealSense technology, which gives the cameras in laptops the ability to see and understand depth, just like Microsoft ’s Kinect. Illinois professor Sanjay Patel, CEO of Personify, says he thinks RealSense will show up in tens of millions of notebooks this year, as every major PC manufacturer has revealed models that incorporate it.

CS student success story

ECNmag.com (Rockaway, N.J., May 7) -- Illinois student Marrissa Hellesen is just a few weeks away from completing her Bachelor of Science degree requirements from one of the most prestigious computer science programs in the world. Hellesen’s journey began 11 years ago, when at the age of 15, the Rockford native decided to drop out of school.

Illinois' universities net record levels of research funding

ASEE FirstBell (May 7) -- In February, the Chicago Tribune reported that “despite spending cuts and sequestration in recent years, Illinois’ universities are capturing record levels of funding for basic, applied, and development research in science and engineering.” Illinois remains the eighth-ranked state for $300 million spent on university research and the combined research expenditure of Argonne and Fermi national labs exceeded $1 billion in 2013. The combined research expenditures of Illinois’ three largest research universities—the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago—account for more than three-quarters of all academic R&D expenditures.

Levchin's tech lending start-up raises $275 million

New York Times (May 6) -- Affirm, a San Francisco-based consumer lending start-up, is adding $275 million in debt and equity to accelerate its growth plans. “We’re building a financial technology company for the next generation,” said Max Levchin, the chief executive of Affirm, and Illinois computer science alumnus who was a co-founder of PayPal.

"Deflategate" physics

The New York Times (May 6) -- Despite its fussy language, the new NFL report on "Deflategate" – in which the New England Patriots were accused of under-inflating footballs to gain a competitive advantage – received a generally positive reaction from scientists. “Looks pretty reasonable to me,” says Alan M. Nathan, a nuclear physicist at Illinois who is known for his work in the physics of baseball. "Although the scientific details are not presented, I suspect the conclusion reasonably follows from the data and simulations."

(More) Women in Engineering

Chicago Inno (May 6) -- If you're a woman studying engineering, chances are you're surrounded by men: According to the Society of Women Engineers, only 18 percent of engineering students nationwide are women. Students at Illinois, a consistently top-ranked engineering school in the country, are hoping to change that.

$1M in VC for ECE alumnus

Crain's Chicago Business (May 4) -- Dhruv Saxena and Divey Gulati, co-founders of the Chicago-based company, ShipBob, just raised $1 million from a trio of Silicon Valley investors, Silicon Valley Angels, Funders Club and Wefunder. Gulati, an Illinois alumnus, received his bachelor's in computer engineering and MBA from Illinois.

Microwave ovens

Digital Trends (Portland, Ore., May 3) -- Illinois engineering professor Bill Hammack explains how a microwave differs from other cooking methods.

After-school program introduces STEM

News-Gazette (May 3) -- The St. Elmo Brady’s STEM Academy, an after-school program at Booker T. Washington and Garden Hills elementary schools in Champaign, looks to bring minority students to STEM subjects through activities and experiments. Sponsored by the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department at the University of Illinois, the kids spend time learning how to conduct various experiments that align with science and math concepts they've learned in class. Also: ASEE FirstBell (May 4), Daily Illini (May 4).

Engineering alumnus

The New York Times (May 2) -- Dyson engineer and Illinois alumnus Sean Hopkins is profiled on making machines work.

Alumnus on "Computing after Moore's Law"

Scientific American (May 2015) -- "You have to understand that the era of traditional transistor scaling, where you take the same basic structur and materials and make it smaller--that ended about 10 years ago," said Mark Bohr, engineering alumnus (BS, 1976; Industrial Engineering, MS, 1978, Electrical Engineering) and director of process architecture and integration at Intel. Bohr was quoted in the article, "The Search for a New Machine," that discusses the end of basic miniaturization of transistors on a chip as manufacturers look to entirely new architectures for improving speed and performance.

Wearable electronics

Crain's Chicago Business (May 1) -- Wearable electronics could become a faster and cheaper substitute for silicon in the limitless market for semiconductor chips. “The vistas that will open are going to be huge,” says Joseph Lyding, an Illinois professor of electrical and computer engineering. “But there are all sorts of materials challenges. Right now, it's just the ground floor.”

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