College news Archives

This is the weekly College Needs News.

  • From Purdue University News article New design tool nixes mouse; users create shapes with hands only we find out about a design tool that enables people to create three-dimensional objects with their bare hands. The tool is designed by researcher at Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering. It uses a depth-sensing camera and advanced software algorithms to interpret hand movements and gestures.

    “It allows people to express their ideas rapidly and quickly using hand motions alone,” said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University’s Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “We’re democratizing the design process. You don’t have to be an engineer or an accomplished potter to use this. You can be a kid.”

    The tool is called Handy-Potter and I guess I would enjoy playing with it. The shapes shown in the picture were produced using Handy-Potter.

  • An article from The Chronicle of Higher Education relates about the online courses offered through Coursera and another company, Udacity. The title of the article is Coursera Hits 1 Million Students, With Udacity Close Behind

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    Udacity’s founder, Sebastian Thrun, said in an e-mail interview that his company planned to remain focused on computer science and related fields. “We are not doing humanities,” he said. Coursera, however, is now expanding into a variety of disciplines. Another start-up offering free online courses is edX which also has courses in several disciplines.

  • The Wasington Post writes about a strange book: Researchers write book using DNA. Researchers have encoded a full book in DNA, the largest amount of information stored on the biological medium yet.

    DNA (short for Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a nucleic acid containing the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms (with the exception of viruses, which contain another kind of nucleic acid called RNA).
    Nucleic acids are biological molecules essential for known forms of life on Earth. Together with proteins, nucleic acids are the most important biological macromolecules; each is found in abundance in all living things, where they function in encoding, transmitting and expressing genetic information.

    The scientists argue that DNA has unique advantages for data storage. They calculated that their method has by far the highest data density of any medium until now, beating flash media or even quantum holography by orders of magnitude. This is partly because DNA is three dimensional while other storage techniques are restricted to two dimensions.

    Yet the main advantage of DNA storage may be durability. DNA can survive millennia unharmed, as demonstrated by the sequencing of genetic information from ancient fossils. At the same time, the tools and techniques necessary for reading out the information will be present in future generations, because they are ubiquitous in nature.

    The main disadvantage at this time is expense. The cost and time needed to encode the information make it largely impractical at the moment, except for highly specific applications, like century-scale archiving.

    I wonder how one can read such a book. The scientist have done it and when reading out the information, the data was recovered with but 10 errors overall. Amazing!

  • From the blog at The College Puzzle we learn that public pressure leads to tuition freeze. The blog post cites an article published in the Hechinger Report. “After three decades of tuition hikes that have outpaced inflation and increases in family income, students, families, legislators, and governing boards are demanding a halt. Officials in several states — including Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Texas — are moving to limit tuition increases or feeling intense pressure to do so.” It is about tuition for undergraduate studies. This is really good news!

College News for College Needs

With the start of the new academic year, College Needs Corner wishes Good Luck to all of its blog readers. Following are some news that might interest you, current and future college students, and the first is about textbooks online.

Barnes & Noble

  • An article from Inside Higher Ed discusses some news about renting textbooks (for college but also for K-12 education) from the well-known Amazon and Kno, and also getting free digital textbooks from Boundless, which is a new start-up. Textbooks, especially those bought on campus, are very expensive. How come Boundless offers free textbooks? First of all the textbooks are in only several fields (Writing, Sociology, Economics, Psychology, Business, Biology, History and Physiology); secondly, the author of the above mentioned article says their textbooks lack in quality and that they are “mostly just a bunch of Wikipedia entries.”
  • A Battery That Folds! An Article from EE Times India appeared on 08/08/12
    and writes: “Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) researchers have developed a super-thin, flexible, all-solid-state battery that could one day lead to phones and gadgets that can be folded.” That would be really cool!
  • A report by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization advocating Latino educational success is cited by The Next America online publication. The report says that of the top higher education institutions that have granted the most STEM degrees to Latino graduates in the 2009-2010 school year, more than half are concentrated in just six states, according to a new report. These states are Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Texas. As I mentioned in my previous post College Needs and the STEM Fields US needs more students in the STEM fields. And indeed, the report mentioned above also says that “Given the relative youth of the Latino population relative to the aging of the U.S. population overall, supporting the increased growth of Latinos with postsecondary credentials in STEM is critical to meeting the projected workforce needs of the nation by 2020.” I just wish more Us students become interested in the STEM fields, whether they are Latinos or not.
  • Another minority in the STEM fields, in particular in Computer Science, consists of women. I often come across articles writing about this aspect of college life. A new article in Chicago Tribune writes: “Although computer science is one of the fields poised for exponential job growth over the next several years, there’s a glaring lack of women entering the field.”

    Since 1984, the number of computer science degrees awarded to women has steadily declined, and today only 13 percent of computer science graduates are female. Accordingly, top jobs in the field are male-dominated. A recent study by technology outsourcing and recruiting firm Harvey Nash Group found that out of 166 U.S.-based technology firms that replaced their CEOs last year, only six appointed a woman for the position.

    How to bridge the gap? The article suggests to start educating young girls from an early age (primary school already) to become interested in computers and computer programming.

    “From a very young age, we need to give girls the confidence to take risks and make a few mistakes,” Julie Gill, a recent Pace University computer science graduate, adds. “As a programmer your whole day is pretty much fixing your own mistakes, so we need to teach girls they don’t have to be perfect, and just outright encouragement for girls who are good at problem-solving.”