Explore engineering: cutting-edge research, career options, and implications for your discipline.


Spring 2015

More coming soon!

Save the date: March 12, Rob Wood, Harvard School of Engineering and Applid Sciences on MicroRobotics


Fall 2014


Spring 2014

The use of design ethnography in engineering medical devices for low-resource settings

Kathleen Sienko, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan

To develop medical devices that address the complex challenges of global health, we have studied how conventional engineering design processes can be supplemented by methods derived from social science fields such as anthropology. Design ethnography, which encompasses processes for gaining a complete understanding of stakeholders? actions, behaviors, words, and thoughts, provides a framework for acquiring tacit information from stakeholders which would not be obtained through commonly used methodologies in engineering design and market research. This presentation will draw upon medical devices we have recently designed and studied for traditional adult male circumcision and maternal health to illustrate the utility of design ethnography in the field of global health technologies.


Fall 2013: Engineering & Medicine

From Mathematics to Medical Device Design

Sarah Reed, Associate Program Manager, Farm Design, Inc.
Ms. Reed will discuss the product development process in the context of a variety of products that she has helped to develop, including her work on medical devices with Farm as well as her study of alternative wind turbine blade materials as a graduate student at MIT.


After studying and teaching mathematics, Reed transitioned to her present work practicing mechanical engineering.  She will also discuss her career path in this talk.



Designer Biomaterial Surfaces

Anita Shukla, Assistant Professor of Engineering, Brown University

Research in biomaterials is continuing to lead advances in treatments for a variety of critical medical conditions. Dr. Shukla will discuss her research on developing drug delivery coatings that are aimed at treating aspects of traumatic injury including infection.  She will also describe her research on designing biomimetic micropatterned surfaces to direct stem cell behavior.  In addition, Dr. Shukla will discuss her career path and how she transitioned from studying chemical engineering as an undergraduate and graduate student to becoming a professor focused on biomedical engineering research.


Spring 2013

For this series, engineering was highlighted in Celebrating QR Connections

Designing for the Developing World:  The Misconceptions, Challenges, and Adventure

Jodie Wu, founder and CEO of Global Cycle Solutions, a social enterprise that develops and distributes simple technologies that improve the lives of smallholder farmers, discusses and demonstrates some of the technologies developed while at MIT and at her company in Arusha, Tanzania, and highlights the various ways in which quantitative reasoning skills are essential in the design, testing, and improvement of these technologies.


Allometry Brings Together Engineers, Anthropologists, and Statisticians

Catherine Carneal, Biomechanical Engineer, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Brian Corner, Research Anthropologist in Biomechanics andBarry Decristofano, Chemical Engineer, both at the US Army Natick Soldier RD&E Center, explain how their search for information to confirm an assumption about potential scaling laws between internal and external anatomy - known as allometry - led engineers, anthropologists, radiologists, computer scientists, and statisticians to look for a way to draw conclusions about what we can't see inside a body from measurements we can make on the outside. Information gained from their research will enable development of highly accurate human models which can be applied in the fields of safety and protection, medical device development, and personalized medicine

Engineering at All Ages

Kristin Sargianis and Melissa Higgins, from the Boston Museum of Science’s “EiE: Engineering Is Elementary” Program, ask: What does engineering (and quantitative reasoning) look like in elementary school? What foundational engineering practices do students need as they move from elementary, middle, and high school into college? After engaging in a hands-on engineering challenge ourselves, we visit real elementary school classrooms via video, observe students in action, and discuss how what we see can translate to the university level and beyond.

Machine Learning and Data Mining:  How BIG data is having a BIG impact in Medicine, Finance, Sports and More

Every day, vast amounts of data are collected more or less everywhere.  What can we do with all these data? Learn!  Machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, is the study of computer programs for finding and analyzing patterns in data. Jenna Wiens, doctoral candidate at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, introduces us to the world of big data and the machine learning tools that computer scientists use to analyze it and learn from it. Together we explore exciting applications of machine learning and data mining in the fields of medicine, finance, sports and more. Recording of this talk on iTunes U.

From Grains of Sand to Asteroids:  Using Engineering to Understand Granular Materials

Dawn Wendell, Assistant Director of Admissions at MIT, is fascinated by granular materials that occur throughout nature.  Dr. Wendell, a mechanical engineer, discusses the underlying physics and special properties in granular materials that have implications in engineering systems from wheat farming to pharmaceutical processing and provides examples from her own research about digging in granular materials and implications for underseas exploration.