Sunday, February 20, 2011


I recently chauffeured several high school students around UNT's Discovery Park campus. This was a group of Lake Dallas High School students that were interested in engineering. By the way, if you're a high school teacher or parent of a high school student and you want to take a tour of the campus, let this lady know.

Anyway long story short they got to see our Engineering Technology department, Materials Science department, and a demo of robotics from students in Electrical Engineering. This demo in particular was quite interesting - it demonstrated different applications of fairly common devices and how robotics can be used in - say - a Mars roving environment. This ties into a grant that UNT's electrical engineering students take advantage of. These students are tasked with thinking of and creating feasible Mars rovers or perhaps even asteroid rovers that need to be able to navigate, think, and maneuver a foreign surface. You may be aware of robots that NASA recently sent to Mars to explore the martian surface. As I am told, these robots are controlled manually by humans in Houston. Do you know how long it takes for a transmission to go from Earth to Mars? 10 seconds. A lot can happen in 10 seconds. Try driving a remote control car with a 10 second delay. Not easy. These students are in a bid to develop totally autonomous Mars roving bots.

Try guessing what this bot is made of!

As my title promises, here's a video of a laser. This thing requires ~3000 watts of power!

The laser starts at about :50 seconds

What it's doing is etching someone's name into the casing of their phone. Mind you, they did not stick their whole phone in there, they simply removed the back case. One kid had an iphone and really wanted his name etched into it, but he couldn't ;)

In all fairness, plastic melts pretty well at those temperatures, so it didn't turn out as great as he would have liked. In fact, the plastic casing looks more like it has been shot or something, or a grenade went off next to it. Metallic materials are best for etching. This is not what Material Science is all about mind you, this is just 1 of a million uses and applications of this type of science.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recently at Discovery Park

Despite how my blog is an excellent source of info about UNT's Discovery Park, there's actually a lot of things that happen here that I don't cover on my blog. Occasionally, we get newsletters through the school e-mail system. The most recent one being this one. It just so happens there are several students I know that appear in this issue. The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at UNT pictured a couple kids I knew, as well as the UNT Robotics Society pictured yours truly, along with fellow blogger and ambassador Jordan Simleness! Although I don't know if we made a good enough impression on her...

The letter also gives you a nice feel of what PhD students accomplish. If you ever read my "random criticisms", one of them mentioned how our traffic system is very inefficient, and we desperately need an engineer. Well Yiwen Wan heard my call, and he is on the case:

Yiwen Wan and colleagues assembling traffic surveillance equipment on Loop 288

As pictured in the student newsletter, Wan is pictured here fiddling with traffic surveillance equipment.

"Ms. Wan submitted a video-based traffic surveillance system for which she leads the development. Specifically designed for remote locations, the system communicates via wireless to the base station. The camera autonomously calibrates and, in addition to collecting traffic statistics, watches for incidents." -Source

Also mentioned in the article is her receiving of the Wanda J. Shafer Graduate Scholarship. There are many scholarships available for those dedicated (and lucky) enough to receive one. Deadline is March 1st!! So start applying!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ice Day Consequences

In the short run of things, ice days are great. They allow you to put off that assignment til' tomorrow, sleep in, and have snow ball fights. I mean, everyone loves snow right? And this is Texas, we never get snow. Want to know what happens when we do get snow?
Here's us at the back of the walmart parking lot. Fellow UNT Engineering blogger Jordan also shared her experience with the apocalyptic snow storm as she had a dickens of a time simply filling a prescription. It just so happens I was there for medicine too for quite the case of cabin fever (and a nasty cold).

In the long run, ice days stink. We missed 6 days of class because of it. I live in Texas for the 110 degree days, not the 10 degree days. We will receive no make up days, and I missed a Physics lab because of it. Not to mention I almost got steam rolled by an 18 wheeler that was barreling down a frozen over highway too fast.

On a positive note, it was so refreshing to see other people hating on the cold. I saw plenty of people falling on their arses, and people actually shivered. You know how annoying it was being the only one shivering in New York? I'm surrounded by a bunch of eskimos up there. Here, I'm with my own kind...